Whenever someone asks me what I think about OnePlus or the OnePlus One, I hesitate to answer. I constantly fluctuate between feeling aggravated and being impressed. For one, I don’t like OnePlus’s marketing tactics, but I appreciate the One and how it inspired more bang-for-your-buck in phones from other companies in the Android ecosystem.
I gave the OnePlus One a rave review because it deserved it—it’s a great phone with stellar specifications for an affordable price. That’s something that few mainstream Android manufacturers offer, and it’s helped that OnePlus controls almost every aspect of its business. That’s also been to its detriment, however, as we’ve seen play out over the last year.
Now, we’re two weeks away from the launch of the company’s second-generation flagship, the OnePlus 2. There’s already an abundance of rumors and pre-announcements buzzing around about what the phone will look like and what’s inside it, and it sounds promising. But OnePlus has to change the way it’s been doing business before it can fully restore my faith in it as a company—and before it can truly refer to its products as “flagship killers.”
What we expect from the OnePlus 2
Most of the details of the upcoming OnePlus 2 have already been plastered all over the Internet. The company recently announced that its next-generation flagship will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. OnePlus also confirmed that its next phone will utilize a USB Type-C connector and that it will come with a lightning-fast embedded fingerprint sensor. CEO Pete Lau also promised that the OnePlus 2 will cost less than $450.
But that’s not all. OnePlus took to Reddit in an effort to build up more hype for the OnePlus 2 in an AMAA. There, the company announced that the successor to the One will offer a sizable 3,300mAh battery pack and support a wider variety of LTE bands. That same announcement teased that “camera-wise, we have a bunch of things that we believe will set the OnePlus 2 apart.” There’s also a ton of work being done to Oxygen OS to make it into a “real solid product.”
As for what the OnePlus 2 will look like, OnePlus pointed to this photo and teased, “under this OnePlus One, there’s a OnePlus Two.” So, the case is smaller—hopefully because the bezels are slimmer, not because the display is significantly smaller.
What we hope to see from OnePlus, the company
I’ll admit that it’s nice to know a bit about what’s going into the OnePlus 2. We know it will remain an affordable device and that it’ll be just as beefy as some other flagships out on the market. We also know that OnePlus is doing a hell of a lot of outreach to get Android Fans to reconsider OnePlus as a brand worth trusting, but in this particular case it just feels like damage control. This is a company whose one and only product, a year after release and several patches later, is still suffering from major touchscreen problems for some users.
During the Reddit AMAA, user carpe02 (OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei) said, “Dude, I started crying in a recorded interview when I was asked about hardships we faced in the beginning and how our community supported us.” That’s definitely heartfelt and sweet, and a testament to how much OnePlus appreciates its customers, but in the end it’s actions that speak louder than words.
OnePlus is not a big phone maker like Samsung or Motorola and it doesn’t have the mainstream appeal or marketing budget that those particular brands do. Thus, it needs turn around its business to win back Android fans like me, and I’m struggling to see how it will manage that if it doesn’t first change the way it actually sells handsets. I don’t deny that manufacturing is a costly endeavor, but when you’re trying to push units out the door and you have diehard Android fans complaining in your forums and on Google Plus that they’re sick of waiting to put their money down, you know you have a problem.
OnePlus needs a solution to the archaic invite system it used for the One—or at least more transparency. For example, the company could use a queue of sorts, where you get a number and know exactly where you are in line for the OnePlus 2. It might also be helpful to offer a priority system, where customers can pay some up-front money to get to the front of the line. Fortunately, OnePlus has already confirmed that it will implement an “improved version of the invite system”—whatever that means. We won’t know until the phone’s launch. I’m just hoping that it’s something that doesn’t frustrate everyone. Again.
OnePlus also needs to rework its marketing tactics. This slow roll of rumor mongering and spec leaks might be fun for hardcore Android fans, but it isn’t doing much for the brand’s overall appeal to the mainstream. I’m also still really irked about the sexist marketing tactics it employed last year. Community is definitely key to building a new Android brand, but there are tactful ways of doing so that don’t objectify women and cause comments like this to exist.
Last, OnePlus needs better Quality Assurance. The Reddit AMAA featured plenty of users complaining about the touchscreen issues that plagued the One last year. Patch after patch claimed to fix the problem, but OnePlus could have avoided the entire ordeal in the first place if it had properly tested its devices before sending them out to users. Oh—and let’s not forget the exploding battery issues from last summer. OnePlus is not an exception to quality assurance simply because it’s a smaller company.
The OnePlus 2 is OnePlus’s chance to turn around all the bad press that’s plagued its business over the last year. Will it succeed? We’re looking forward to finding out July 27.