Yes, OnePlus just got certified as a Premium Player
“How does it compare with the OnePlus 7 Pro?”
If I had a rupee for every time I have heard that query from someone or the other over the past few days, I would have made a tidy sum. For, even as Samsung was launching one of the most notable (oh yes, pun intended) phones of the year, the event actually served as a sort of confirmation that one of its rivals, OnePlus had finally arrived in the premium segment of the market.
Some might consider that statement to be a little off the market. After all, data has shown OnePlus to be one of the major players in the premium segment of the phone market – it has indeed even beaten Apple and Samsung in the Indian market in that segment. The truth, however, is that all the stats notwithstanding, OnePlus was always seen as a bit of a budget option. Yes, it was perhaps the best option for anyone wanting a phone with a budget in the vicinity of Rs 30,000 (the point at which the “premium” segment is believed to begin, as per many agencies), but it never really came into contention when compared with the super-premium flagships. Yes, there would be some random comparisons made, but the price gulf was just too vast, and well, for all their virtues, OnePlus devices often did lose out in a few parameters, most notably design and cameras, to their super-premium counterparts.
In fact, as we pointed in one of our articles a while ago, OnePlus to many was the spiritual successor of Google’s Nexus series, representing the core values of that worthy – good hardware, clean and regularly updated software, and well, if it lacked a few nuances seen in other flagships, a super competitive price more than compensated for that. And even though OnePlus kept ascending the price ladder gradually, it was always seen as a budget flagship. Some loyalists would mention it when much more expensive Android devices were launched, but it was, to paraphrase Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront, was not seen as a real contender.
In foodie terms, OnePlus was a bit like a pizza from Domino’s – accessible, more than reasonably tasty and critically, far from expensive. It was however not considered competition for a gourmet meal. And just as anyone seeking a gourmet meal would not really consider grabbing a pizza at Domino’s, anyone looking for a super-premium phone would not really think of a OnePlus. In the past, people who were considering a Galaxy Note would think of similarly priced devices from other brands (Apple, HTC, Sony and LG in the past, Apple and Google more recently), and OnePlus was but a speck on the radar – to be noted, not considered.
Until a few months ago.
With the OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus made its first really serious play at getting into premium smartphone territory. To do so, it pulled out all stops to rectify the two departments in which it was seen to be lagging behind those on top of the price ladder – design and cameras. The OnePlus 7 Pro’s design might have looked a little Samsung-inspired with its “tapering over the edges” display – but with its sleek gradient finish, and use of clearly premium materials, it was a sight for sore eyes. In the camera department, it ran up impressive DxOMark scores. And of course, it still came with the best flagship processor in town, lots of RAM, a fast-charging battery, and a clean interface.
Quite significantly, the OnePlus 7 Pro also came with a much higher price tag as compared to its predecessors. At Rs 48,999, it was no longer a budget flagship but was moving on to the radar of premium flagships. When we reviewed the device, we said that while only time would tell if it was a premium flagship killer, it definitely was a headache for premium flagships, because, with its design and camera touches, the OnePlus 7 Pro had moved well beyond its budget flagship roots.
The Galaxy Note 10 was the first really high-end premium phone to be launched after the launch of the OnePlus 7 Pro. And the frequency with which many people compared it with the OnePlus 7 Pro – and some even considered it superior (“that pop-up camera is so cool, no notches” one correspondent said) – proved that OnePlus had indeed arrived in the premium segment. It had moved beyond being a blip on the radar and now was very much in the line of sight of “really” premium flagships. Just how long it will stay there is a matter of conjecture at the time of writing.
But if what we have seen over the past few days is any indication, brands looking to launch phones in the “real” premium zone (read “above Rs 50,000”) in the coming months, would do well to be prepared for a single question about them:
“How does it compare with the OnePlus 7 Pro?”
No, it is not perfect, but as the world woke to the joys of the Galaxy Note 10, the OnePlus 7 Pro confirmed its presence in the premium smartphone segment. The pizza just went gourmet!