OnePlus 2: Not A Phone For The Future

OnePlus 2: Not A Phone For The Future

Whenever new smartphones are released, the manufacturer and carriers (if they are involved) go to great lengths to promote it. After all, people need to know that a new device exists in the first place before they can be expected to purchase it. Marketing, promotion and advertising play a very large role in influencing the buying decisions of the average consumer. XDA Developers represents only a selective niche audience of conscious consumers who do their research thoroughly before making their purchase. Most people don’t necessarily bother to do the same, thereby restricting their choices to the phones on display at Best Buy and Verizon, all of which claim to be the next best thing since coffee and beer.

It is natural for an OEM to endorse its latest release device, with the usual points of focus being advancements in technology employed in the smartphone, the creative ways devised to combat issues on other similar phones and in the case of budget and competitive phones, how the new device offers the best experience for the price it asks. What is rather unusual is when an OEM would remark on how their flagship Phone A is in direct competition with their own unreleased Phone B. Stating that the decision to choose amongst Phone A and the unreleased Phone B is a tough one, reflects poorly on the OEM’s judgements of what a flagship should be, and may even discourage consumers from making a purchase in order to wait for the upcoming phone to be released.

However, this is the essence of the words of OnePlus co-founder, Carl Pei, in an interview with USA Today.

Q: Any plans for another phone this year?

A: There’s going to be a second phone this year, before the end of the year. Hopefully for Christmas.

It may or may not be (higher spec’d than the OnePlus 2). When I saw the prototype for that phone I was like ‘holy s— that’s going to be my daily driver’ but then when the OnePlus 2 production version came out it’s also super nice, so its really hard to decide now what to use.

It’s going to be amazing, but today I’m not going to talk about it.

The OnePlus 2 was released on July 28th 2015, amidst a much hyped virtual reality unveiling. The company left no stone unturned when boasting about the features and capabilities of the OnePlus 2, going so far as to say that it is the Flagship Killer of 2016.

However, critical reception of the OnePlus 2 focuses a lot on the features that the “future flagship killer” misses out on. For starters, the USB Type C port with only USB 2.0 makes very little sense when looked at in the context of its lack of Quick Charge, as the only convenience that the Type C port adds in this case is reversibility. Then there’s the whole NFC fiasco, which restricts the new fingerprint scanner to simply unlocking the device. Along with this, lack of wireless charging and the use of the dubious Snapdragon 810 makes one wonder if there was indeed some settling done when designing the 2016 flagship killer.

If you separate the community’s general hate towards the marketing tactics employed (“Never Settle”, “2016 Flagship Killer”) from the OnePlus 2, it does stand out as a decent product. The OnePlus 2 offers an upgrade in a lot of areas from the OnePlus One, and for the sake of a counter point, regresses on a few. However, for all it’s worth, it does not stand as firmly against the competition for its price point as the OnePlus One did.

Now, with an arguably ‘settled’ product like the OnePlus 2 unveiled to the public, it is worrisome when the Co-founder himself shares his doubts on choosing between a flagship and an unreleased phone. Assuming that December’s phone release would be something along the lines of the “OnePlus 2 Lite”, choosing between this and a flagship device should pose little challenge. And on the other hand, if this prototype device is better equipped than the OnePlus 2, OnePlus would have effectively already killed the “2016 Flagship Killer” by itself, in 2015.

Even though the statements come from a biased source such as the co-founder of the company, these remarks only spell doom for an otherwise decent product (sans the marketing fluff). No matter which way you look at it, the conclusion that comes across is that there are doubts on the potential success of this flagship phone.

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From the same article:

Q: OnePlus fans are upset about not including NFC in the OnePlus 2, Why didn’t you add it?

A: I think the entire issue of NFC is overblown. Very few people are using NFC, so we cut it. It’s as simple as that.

I know that Android Pay is coming but all that is in the future. It (NFC) is going to gain widespread adoption in stores 12-18 months from now. By that time people will have moved on to the next device.

Carl Pei himself admits that NFC is part of the future. Having NFC in a device and not using it is a different situation than not having it entirely, as it essentially removes the option to use it in the future. On top of that, it is assumed that people would move on from the 2016 flagship killer in the next 12-18 months, which by math, still happens to be very much 2016.

The OnePlus One was a great device, and still continues to be good competition in the low/mid end category device even after a year of release, as OnePlus intends to continue sales for this year too. Similarly, the OnePlus 2 is also a great good device from the initial impressions, provided you look past the marketing gaffes. However, if you purchase phones and plan for them to last longer than two years and still expect them to be relevant, the OnePlus 2 may not be your best choice at this moment – or whenever you do receive your invite.

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What do you think about OnePlus’s decision to remove NFC from the OnePlus 2? Will NFC usage grow in the near future, or will it be relegated to a marketing gimmick status? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Image Credits for the OnePlus 2: Engadget