The beauty of smartphone industry is that being a highly competitive and a saturated one, it still has a lot of scope for innovation. Companies that are courageous enough to innovate and think out of the box, may even get a chance to live their dreams. Although there were a lot of promising startups that emerged during the last few years, none were able to maintain the consistency of Xiaomi and OnePlus. I’ll talk particularly of OnePlus as despite having such a small portfolio their devices have become sort of Android Flagships.
I’ve been following OnePlus since the time it was a “rumor” and then when OnePlus One was launched, I remember telling my brother in law, ala Bollywood style, that this company has great potential and can rule the smartphone industry. He, being very unaware of Tech, just nodded. A few months later he rung me up seeking my help to get the One!
That was the time when a metal bodied smartphone was considered premium and Samsung still ruled the market. OnePlus One was launched and soon became a cult of a device. Rarely, owning that phone made a geek so proud. It soon became a show-off stuff quite like THE iPhone. The reasons behind such a success was not only the scarcity of the device or the loaded spec sheet or the price but also the fact that people were ready to accept a startup that was trying to be different and gave them more than the value of their money. While all the brands were busy copying each other’s “full metal body device” this startup dared to bring a unique “Sandstone finish”. I still remember how the sandstone back cover felt the first time I unboxed the phone. Quite an experience it was!
The first device itself raised expectations and in the case of OnePlus, it was now getting noticed globally for two reasons, it’s bizarre and never heard of invite system and the device itself that was being sold at less than half the price of any other flagship in the market. The hype was so strong that even the invites were being sold at a premium!
The expectations were so high that even OnePlus two had a tough time fulfilling them. People had a crazy level of expectation from the company and few did write off the device. However, I have been using the One and the Two till date and am really happy with both.
OnePlus 3 again changed the paradigm altogether. Outrageously powerful device with 6GB RAM, beautiful sleek design, and a superlative camera. Dash charge itself made it one of the highest sought after device. While the company did not change the design in OnePlus 3T, it did make sense and there were worthy enhancements. Despite 3 and 3T being the costliest OnePlus phones, they did really well and have been highly sought after phones on Amazon.
When OnePlus 5 was announced, it did create the same sort of buzz and euphoria like the first few versions did. With leaks and rumours coming out every single day the company decided to showcase the design officially and seeing that, I felt disappointed as a fan.
We already knew how similar the OnePlus 5 looks to an iPhone. Similar to an extent that it is being called as a “Poor Mans’ iPhone”. Although at Rs. 38,000, its neither an iPhone nor a phone meant for “poor”! Not only is the design highly inspired by the iPhone 7 Plus it is exactly the same to OPPO R11. Yet the company claims that this design is a result of 3 years of reasearch. How come two companies claiming to be separate have exactly same design and research ?
That’s where the problem lies, while the senior executives have been justifying the design and marketing teams of OnePlus is doing its every bit to ensure that they put their thought process across to the users.
As a fan, I was looking forward to a very practical yet innovative design. I’m sure no one expected a Mi Mix sort of a design, its OnePlus so its got to be unique and affordable. Unfortunately, OnePlus 5 is neither! With each passing iteration, the cost of the device has gone up considerably. That affordability factor is missing all together. Of course there is tonnes of hardware crammed in to the phone, however, do we really need 8GB on a phone or even 6GB RAM? Which application or game needs that much of horsepower? None for sure. So what happens here is that as a consumer we got what isn’t that important and is of no use practically while the important things like a higher resolution display, larger capacity battery or OIS is just not there. Still we would end up paying a high price.
The company that came with the tagline Never Settle has indeed settled for way less than what it is capable of. I really hope that the next Onelus device is more focused on features, lesser on spec number game and comes with a unique design.
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