OnePlus 6 will be unveiled at an exclusive London launch event on May 16th. The ticketed event, which sold out in hours, comes after months of cryptic tweets from OnePlus executives, teaser trailers, and leaks from the supply chain. Based on everything we’ve heard ahead of the launch, OnePlus 6 sounds like a pretty stellar smartphone.
The next-generation handset looks set to follow the formula OnePlus has refined over the short four year period it has existed as a company – try to stand toe-to-toe with the latest flagship smartphones, while maintaining a more reasonable price tag.
Last year, OnePlus 5 boasted a dual-camera system with the ability to shoot Portrait Mode-style photos, fast charging, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 coupled with 8GB of RAM, and a space-grade aluminium unibody design. For comparison, Samsung Galaxy S8 only included a single-lens camera, and maxed-out at 6GB of RAM.
When it launched, OnePlus 5 was the most expensive smartphone launched by the Shenzhen-based company. One year earlier, its flagship smartphone – OnePlus 3 – was available for $380 SIM-free.
The price increase was a reflection of the quality of the materials used in the OnePlus 5, the cost of doubling-up on rear-facing cameras, and the top-of-the-line silicon powering the handset. However, it was also a testament to the value of the company’s brand.
That customers were willing to pay $550– and $600 for the maxed-out Midnight Black model – showed just how much customers had come to trust and value this four-year-old manufacturer. And for those who had never heard of OnePlus, and stumbled across the smartphone in their local store, the higher price alluded to a level of quality that its predecessors’ $400 price tag simply did not.
So, what to do this year? OnePlus has already confirmed its new flagship phone will have an edge-to-edge display, broken only by a small notch to house the front-facing camera, speaker grill, proximity and ambient light sensors. This all-screen notched design has become increasingly popular since the launch of the iPhone X back in November 2017.
LG, Huawei and Oppo have all launched flagship smartphones with a cut-out at the top of the display – however, this is not a design that is available on mid-range or budget devices. OnePlus is expected to improve its dual-camera system, as well as include a water resistant design.
The smartphone start-up has already confirmed its new flagship will be powered by Qualcomm’s SnapDragon 845. That’s the same chipset included in the Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium and Samsung Galaxy S9. OnePlus 6 will also sport an all-glass design, hinting at the possibility of wireless charging.
On paper at least, it sounds like the latest OnePlus will be capable of standing toe-to-toe with rival premium smartphones. So, should it be priced like these rival handsets? Or is the reasonable price tag still part of the appeal of OnePlus’ products?
If the OnePlus 6 launches with the same price tag as its predecessor, but includes an all-new glass design, wireless charging, water resistance, notched edge-to-edge display, and improved dual-camera photography – it would surely sell like hot-cakes.
But it would be difficult for OnePlus to be perceived to be in the same league as its pricier rivals, like Apple, Sony and Samsung. Increasing its prices could help change that perception, but could be a kick in the teeth to the loyal fanbase that have helped to build OnePlus into what it is today.
The Shenzhen company will need to judge the price just right on May 16th, even if that means stymieing its own ambitions slightly.