There are a lot of players in the mobile space these days. Samsung, Huawei, LG, Sony, HTC, Oppo and Motorola to name a few but over the last couple of years the manufacturer that has impressed me the most in their evolution is OnePlus.
In the first instance they were seemingly another manufacturer to add to the never ending list of Android manufacturers. But from the outset they were a bit different, offering CyanogenMod as the default install OS as well as high end specs at a low end price. It intrigued many buyers, particularly those who enjoyed modding phones, and sold way higher numbers than they were expecting.
The drama days
Despite the interest they generated, OnePlus were somewhat plagued with issues in the early stages of their existence. They had the touchscreen issues with their first model which (from a consumer perspective) took far too long to fix.
Consumers wanting their phones were tormented by the invite system which in the first instance was in place to ensure they didn’t get ten times the volume of orders their manufacturing could handle, but moving forward became farcical in that it was exploited several times through different attack methods during the launch of the OnePlus 2.
This was followed by great CM split of 2014 and the drama that came along with it. This was played out far too publicly for anyone’s liking, particularly Steve Kondik, the originator of CyanogenMod. Eventually it came out that the fish did indeed rot at the head with Steve speaking out after he had left the company — not OnePlus’ fault after all.
Then there was the credit card leak… far from ideal and many were affected by this, including myself – I have purchased from them and my card is quite possibly involved in that breach which concerned me at the time.
What impressed many around the tech circles is the fact that the team at OnePlus led by their founders Carl Pei and Peter Lau acknowledged the issues and attempted to tackle them head on. Around the time of the OnePlus 5 launch they did a lot of media events to deal with what had been a PR nightmare at times – improving the profile of the brand and their upcoming devices, letting everyone in on what had happened behind the scenes.
In their defence
They’re not the only manufacturer to have hardware issues – who remembers the exploding Galaxy Note 7? Or the Nexus 9 which had CPU issues? Or the Pixel 2 XL with screen issues? These are all manufacturers with a far more mature manufacturing process and experience levels in the market far higher than OnePlus.
Data breaches are far too common these days also, it just happened to be that OnePlus were the target this time and credit cards were involved. Strava, MyFitnessPal, Facebook (although they deliberately sold your data, not technically a security breach), Dropbox, Uber, Catch of the Day, Ebay, Evernote, Sony Playstation network… I could go on, for a very long time. They’ve all been subject to a security breach of some sort in the past few years making their users (you) a victim.
The story of 2018
Fast forward to 2018 and OnePlus have done a lot to improve. The OnePlus 5 was a huge success for them and the company profile and reputation continues to grow. So much so It has grown to a point where the OnePlus 6T is not just releasing soon through their previous distribution pathway, but is being sold by T-Mobile in the United States – a huge step for OnePlus in their marketing strategy to partner with a major carrier in the US.
— Carl Pei (@getpeid) September 19, 2018
The device is rumoured to be something that will meet many of the expectations of users who want high end devices and they do seem to be following the major brands with a move to ditch the headphone jack in favour of the Type C connection and adaptor to plug headphones into. They’ve also got an in-display fingerprint sensor showing they’re willing to adopt new technologies before they become common in the marketplace.
Company growth and development
After their drama of the first couple of years, OnePlus have been really smart and more importantly careful about their development over the last 12 months or so to stay off the radar of the tech world and avoid that public criticism. There hasn’t been any high profile PR issues like the previously mentioned which reflects in the growth of the company.
#OnePlus in Europe:
2016 = 3 people and 1 Airbnb
2018 = 1 EU HQ, 6 EU regional offices, over 80 people and n°4 premium smartphone brand.
— Akis Evangelidis (@Akis_Evan) September 19, 2018
From an external perspective, their leadership seems to have taken a look at what they did wrong and have righted the ship, with spectacular results. They’ve developed – correction – earned a reputation for releasing high quality products and for adopting Android software updates quickly. They’re no longer a choice based on budget alone, the OnePlus devices are a smart choice for users who want a quality device, timely software and security updates all delivered at a reasonable budget. What they need to do now, is invest in their manufacturing to produce on a larger scale enabling them to ship worldwide on release.
They’ve taken huge leaps since the inception of the company as evidenced by their status in Europe which has steadily grown to where they stand today.
Number four premium smartphone brand in Western Europe, who would've thought? This is a good milestone.
Now, back to work. 👷 https://t.co/24WklOVaHY
— Carl Pei (@getpeid) September 19, 2018
OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 6, now with the 6T approaching rapidly they have a massive opportunity to grasp a section of market previously out of reach. When all things are considered, if the Pixel pricing this year is as horrendous as we potentially expect there will be a plethora of Pixel refugees looking for a new home. With their hardware quality and evolution, OnePlus now offer a viable and cost effective alternative to the $1400 + flagship devices.
Having owned a couple of their devices now, the hardware is developing steadily and each time met my needs – When the OnePlus 6T hits the market I’ll be looking at a pathway to get one into my hands that’s for sure.