Two phones.
Launched on consecutive days.
One from Apple.
One from OnePlus.
One with a price starting at USD 399.
The other with a starting price of USD 699.

oneplus 8 and iphone se: an upside down smartphone world? - op8 se2

Now, traditionally you would think that the more expensive of the two comes from Apple and the more affordable one from OnePlus. After all, OnePlus has been known to bundle top of the line specs with surprisingly affordable price tags whereas Apple, on the other hand, has been accused of being ridiculously overpriced more than once. These two companies, for a major part of their lives, have played these roles where one introduced flagship killers and the other introduced, well, flagships. If someone had told us in early 2019 that the lesser expensive phone of the two phones comes from the house of Apple, while the more expensive one is a OnePlus baby, most of us would have laughed that thought away.

But not in 2020.

On April 15, Apple launched the new iPhone SE at a starting price of USD 399. A day earlier, OnePlus had revealed its OnePlus 8 series starting at USD 699.

At first sight, that seems shocking. But if you really think about it, it is not THAT surprising. OnePlus may have donned the Robin Hood cape when it first came in the business, where the brand was trying to provide the masses with best in class specs for a fraction of the price of the flagships present in the market then. But we have been seeing the brand take little steps up the price ladder with almost every new OnePlus in the years that have followed. The brand still stuck to its flagship killer identity up until last year, when it went from being a flagship killer to being a flagship, with the Pro series. That said, it still had a comparatively affordable OnePlus device – the 7 and 7T. That has changed this year. The company released two smartphones, the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro. And it is safe to say none of the two came with an affordable OnePlus-like price tag – the starting price of the OnePlus 8 is USD 699, which is the same as the base model of that range of phones considered super-premium, the iPhone 11.

oneplus 8 and iphone se: an upside down smartphone world? - iphone se 2020

Apple, on the other hand, has had this image of a brand that has only focused on the premium segment. A brand that is perceived to have simply never tasted the stream of affordable phones, it has actually been known to have taken out a cup every now and then from this brook. And it seems to be inclining more and more towards this path of late. Back in 2018, the Cupertino tech giant introduced the iPhone XR which came with a reasonably more affordable price tag (USD 749) than the rest of the iPhones in the series, which started famously at USD 999. And then came the iPhone 11, which succeeded the iPhone XR, and surprise surprise, came with an even lower price tag: USD 699. The pricing of the iPhone 11 surprised many and indicated that the brand might not stride boldly towards lower price tags but is definitely taking baby steps in that direction.

Then came 2020 and things went literally upside down – read the beginning of this story again if you do not believe us. Now we actually have a brand new iPhone, the iPhone SE 2020 that costs almost half as much as a new OnePlus, the OnePlus 8 (about 57 percent of the OnePlus 8 to be exact).

oneplus 8 and iphone se: an upside down smartphone world? - oneplus 8

It is almost like these two brands have switched places. Yes, we know that this does not mean that Apple will now become an affordable brand and will completely move to more affordable high-end smartphones. In fact, we are pretty sure the iPhone 12 (if that is what they are going to call it) will come with a price tag that will bring back those “sell a body organ to buy an iPhone” jokes. And we are not too sure that OnePlus has totally moved on from its flagship killing days. Indeed, there are some people who think that OnePlus will bring out a more affordable OnePlus in the near future, the rumored successor to the OnePlus X.

But that is something one has to wait and see. Until then, remember and savor this moment. We did not think we ever would say this, but it seems like Apple has got a little OnePlus-ified, while OnePlus is definitely taking an Apple-bite.

What’s next, 2020? An “affordable” Rolls Royce that costs lesser than a “premium” Maruti? Judging by what we have seen, we would not bet against it.

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