Another Big Plus

Will the OnePlus 2 Alter an Industry?

OnePlus_2_lChinese smartphone maker OnePlus has had a single phone model since its founding in late 2013, but it’s a device that’s mattered. The OnePlus One caused a stir among other second-tier smartphone makers, and its invitation-only system created a viral marketing sensation based on scarcity. It caused a few controversies, but OnePlus has managed to leave a mark with its first phone.

Yesterday, the company introduced the OnePlus 2. Its new components and updated style should move OnePlus closer to the mainstream market, challenging competitors like Huawei, Lenovo, Sony and Xiaomi on price and specifications.

The OnePlus 2 has a 5.5-inch, Gorilla Glass-protected 1080p screen, runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, has four gigabytes of RAM, comes with 32 or 64 gigabytes of on-board storage, a 13-megapixel rear camera with laser autofocus and a five-megapixel front-facing camera. It’s dual-SIM, has a 3300 mAh battery, NFC, USB Type-C (reversible) and a fingerprint sensor — a feature that’s now standard in high-end smartphones. The OnePlus One runs on the Cyanogen operating system, but the OnePlus 2 runs the company’s OxygenOS on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. The starting price for the phone will be $329, competitive given the device’s specs.

The company’s Web site calls the device a “2016 flagship killer”, indicating confidence that the OnePlus 2 can grab share from leading devices from Apple and Samsung. It’s too early to say whether OnePlus can affect the market for highly subsidised phones, but OnePlus has pushed flagship features down to affordable levels for regions like India where consumers pay for cash for handsets. Mid-tier phones might never be the same.

OnePlus sold about 1 million phones in 2014, so it’s still a very small player in the bigger picture. But the company is probably correct in believing that demand for its latest phone will be significantly greater. OnePlus sets up waiting lists for its devices, and says it has also updated its invitation process for purchasing. The company will need to scale up quickly to alter the sales of industry flagships, but the basics are in place. OnePlus shows that the market for smartphones is changing.

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