OnePlus is launching a new range of smartphones, promising handsets that are more affordable and that will sit underneath their ongoing flagship phones. Long-rumored – and requested – from fans, the new OnePlus phones will be the handiwork of a new team, led by former product hardware development lead Paul Yu.
Right now, specifics are in short supply. We don’t know exactly what OnePlus’ CEO Pete Lau means, exactly, when he promises “a really solid smartphone that meets … everyday needs, and for a more accessible price.”
Still, given OnePlus’ history of pushing the envelope when it comes to price tags, it’s unsurprising that the brand’s followers are already excited. The company built its reputation on delivering flagship phone features at more attainable cost, without necessarily sacrificing design along the way. Since those early days, however, price tags have generally nudged upwards.
It has led to some concerns among OnePlus fans that the company had lost sight of its original premise. Instead, it seems that splitting the range into two distinct lines was the goal. To start with, however, it’ll be fairly restrained.
“As we have always done when we try something new, we are going to start relatively small with this new product line by first introducing it in Europe and India,” Lau explains. “But don’t worry, we’re also looking to bring more affordable smartphones to North America in the near future as well.”
Value is, of course, subject to interpretation. OnePlus’ recent flagships – like the OnePlus 8 Pro – undercuts its rivals while still offering features like a 120 Hz display, Snapdragon 865 processor, and up to 12GB of memory. It also packs in multiple cameras and other recent must-haves.
Even so, while more affordable than phones from Samsung, Apple, and others, its $899 starting price isn’t exactly cheap. It leaves plenty of space for OnePlus to innovate at more affordable points in the market.
That’s arguably where we’ve seen the most interesting movement in recent years. Companies like TCL have leveraged increasingly-capable midrange processors from Qualcomm and cheaper camera sensors to deliver entry- and mid-tier smartphones that don’t demand the degree of compromise you might expect for their $300+ price tags. Whether OnePlus can do the same with its new, as-yet-unnamed handsets remains to be seen, though certainly the company is motivated.
Back in May, Lau said during an interview that expanding the OnePlus range in general was a priority for the company. That would paving the way to seeing OnePlus “sell a lot of phones with lower price tags, then spin them into an ecosystem of connected devices,” the CEO suggested. Rumors have hinted that the first handset from the new series could be the OnePlus Z.