The recently released Counterpoint report clearly shows that OnePlus is currently ruling the roost in the premium segment of smartphones in India. The company has pipped Samsung and Apple to get there and it looks like they are going to stay there. When we try and look at the rise of OnePlus as a brand in India, there are three very important factors that set them apart from others and these are also the reasons why they are on top now. Let us try and look at these facts now
There are a lot of formidable and really large brands that are jostling for the top spot in the Indian market and it is no mean feat for any brand to get there and stay on top. OnePlus has just recently pulled this of. This means that there is something that sets them apart from other brands in the mind of the Indian buyer. When I went out and spoke to people about this, there were three very clear reasons why this has happened. Without much ado, here are the three key factors
To put it in the words of Carl Pei, Co-Founder, OnePlus “OnePlus is very clear as a company that we don’t want to do anything that is consumer-hostile just because our competition is doing it or talking about it. It may be something that is perceived as cutting costs but in the end, our devices will deliver a value proposition that is unlike any other brand in the market and we will do it consistently” And having studied and very closely observed them over the years, I can say that the institutionalized priority of not doing something just for the sake of it has stood them in very good stead. Take the OnePlus 6 for example. The device is their biggest success till date and when you look at the spec sheet for the phone you will see that things like an IP certification for water resistance and wireless charging have been carefully left out from it. While there are those who say this is a problem, the larger number of people who swear by the value and performance that OnePlus devices deliver will know that adding these would have added to the cost of the device and simply not made much practical sense in the long run either. The end result of this thinking pattern has been the fact that OnePlus devices have been consistently hailed as the best performing Android phones whenever they were launched. People know that they get exactly what they expect from OnePlus
Listening as a process
Let us try and understand this with the facts that we have on hand. The logical starting point to understand all this is certainly at the beginning of it all. When the OnePlus One came on the scene, it had the best hardware that one could think of running with Cyanogen that was arguably the most fluid version of Android at that time. The price at which this package came was a miniscule fraction of what other brands wanted for similar devices. This combination intrigued the Indian buyers so much that they did not mind jumping through the hoops of an invite system and the overheads of getting the phone shipped into India from overseas. There was a mad craze for the OPO and it wasn’t looking like dying at all.
Then the divorce happened with Cyanogen and personally I consider it more Cyanogen’s loss than anything else. Oxygen OS was born and around about the same time, the OP2 also took birth. This was a tad bit of a challenge for the brand as the UI and the device were more of a miss than a hit with the public. There was a long list of issues that people had with the OS and the phone. At this point, OnePlus did something that proved to be a pivot into the big league for them. They buckled down, owned up to the issues and setup a brilliant listening channel with the community and went to work on the issues. Iterations followed on Oxygen OS and it became one of the most appreciated flavors of Android around.
Then the OnePlus 3 happened and the brand never looked back from there. The OP3 was a resounding success and they did what most brands would never do, come out with a mid-cycle refresh with the OP3T and the users loved it. The numbers were good and the brand was singing all the way to the bank. The same is true for the OP5, OP5T and now the OP6
OnePlus’ operating system, OxygenOS, offers a refined Android experience that is faster, cleaner and more customizable than other Android experiences. You may think that this is a bit of an exaggeration when I put this here as a factor for the brad succeeding, but believe me, there are people who swear by the Oxygen OS experience and want nothing else. They are like brand ambassadors for the OnePlus experience on the field.
Like its approach to hardware, OnePlus’ approach to software is centered around an experience that is refined, efficient and minimalistic. New features are vetted by OnePlus users through channels like the OxygenOS Beta Program and only added once OnePlus is confident the features can improve the way users use their phone.
While it is light, there are subtle customizations that OnePlus users now love. Some of the good ones are
- There is full gesture support for navigation and it works pretty well, after moving to this, I am now unable to imagine going back to the navigation bar.
- It has one of the fastest implementations of face unlock in the Android world
- Apart from navigation, there are gestures like flip to silence and three finger screenshot that are pretty practical and thoughtful
- Oxygen Os supports a lot of third party icon packs that you can use right out of the play store
- The zero screen which is called the shelf gives you easy access to things that you do most often on your phone
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Oxygen OS is one of the biggest reasons why the OnePlus devices are as fast as they are.
In summary, doing the key things right, listening consistently and making the experience smooth are the three key factors that have helped OnePlus pip the big boys and take the top spot in India in the premium segment.