OnePlus has been at the core of innovation from the very beginning. The company firmed its reputation by branding itself as a flagship killer brand but has now slowly entered the big leagues with the likes of Apple and Samsung. The shift has not just come in features and design but also pricing. The phones, out of all the products, come at flagship price. We take a look at how 2021 has been for the company and why its best to skip it this year.
Product Releases in 2021
In January 2021, OnePlus came out with the OnePlus band for INR 2,499. This was followed by the major OnePlus launch event where the company launched 4 devices. OnePlus 9R, OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro and the OnePlus watch.
Let's start with the band first, it was a successful launch and a significant number of people bought it. It is still listed as an "Amazon's Choice" product. There are multiple issues with the band that does not bring it even close to its competition like the Mi Band 5 and the Honor band 5. However, there are 2 major issues that need to be highlighted. Firstly, sleep tracking. The functionality on the band is not accurate. This is considered to be one of the most basic feature for a fitness tracker to have. Secondly, the OnePlus health app has a lot of features that are missing and is a half-made app. The product has not edge over its competitors.
Coming to the phones, starting with OnePlus 9. There are stark differences between the Indian and the US variants of the phone. The Indian variant has only two 5G bands whereas, the US variant a chunk of them. The Indian variant of the phone does not 15W wireless charging unlike the US variant which is compatible. Meaning that if you do not buy the OnePlus wireless charger in India, you won't be able to charge your phone wirelessly.
OnePlus has always branded itself as an "Innovative Startup", who like to keep the manufacturing cost of their products low. This was also the reason why their phones were not IP68 certified because it costs extra money. However, now the company has spent a 160 million USD on a 3-year partnership with Hasselblad cameras, which as of now is only adding colours to the camera and optimizing the UI. Basically a filter on your photos.
Talking about the OnePlus 9 Pro, it in itself is a good device but there are again 2 issues. Firstly, the pricing. The price jump between OnePlus 7t Pro to 8 Pro and finally to 9 Pro is massive. In 3 years, the prices of flagships has seen a jump of INR 20K. That takes the company away from being a flagship killer once upon a time. Second the presence of OnePlus 9. The phone is not bad, but it is compromised on so many levels that the company is pushing buyers to go for the Pro variant. The OnePlus 9 does not have OIS, even the OnePlus Nord has OIS, which is a budget segment device.
The OnePlus 9R was the most talked about on the launch because of the price and specs, but the 9R does not really exist. It was launched exclusively in India, but it is a rebranded OnePlus 8T, last year's flagship. There is no good reason to have the 9R when the 8T is already present in the market.
Finally, the OnePlus watch. It can be considered as one of the most disappointing launches by the company. There is no reply to notification on the watch. This is a standard feature that needs to be present in a "smartwatch". The watch is only available in 46 mm. The usual watch size is 36-38 mm. If translated into clothing sizes, 46 mm is XXL. If you are a girl or someone with thinner wrists, this is not the product for you. Lastly, it does not Wear OS, so there are no apps that can run on this. For the same features, users can get the Oppo watch.
In conclusion, it is about the business at the end of the day. Every company wants to make more money, profits and have a bigger presence in the market, but it can hurt enthusiasts to see the brand transform into something like this.