- 1+4+X strategy focuses on a flagship smartphone and surrounding ecosystem of products
- OnePlus 11 launches without “Pro” model in open market starting at $699
- OnePlus Buds 2, OnePlus Pad, and Keyboard 81 Pro also announced
- New concept phone teased with showcase to come at MWC Barcelona
Smartphone OEM OnePlus launched its latest flagship OnePlus 11 globally at the Cloud 11 event in New Delhi on February 7, with viewing parties in New York and London. In addition to the new smartphone, OnePlus debuted the OnePlus Buds 2 Pro TWS, OnePlus Pad tablet, a mechanical keyboard and a sneak peek at a new concept device being revealed at MWC Barcelona. These announcement were made under OnePlus 2023 roadmap which it called 1+4+X. OnePlus, like Samsung’s Unpacked event, also featured a brief presentation from Google to showcase its partnership with the Chinese OEM.
OnePlus is tightening and refocusing its strategy in 2023. There is no more “Pro” model and, instead, OnePlus is only offering one flagship model that has all the features a premium device should have. This is the “1” in its strategy – one smartphone model offering all flagship-killer specifications at an affordable price. The OnePlus 11 will cost $699 (in the US) for 8GB RAM/128GB storage and $799 for 16GB RAM/256GB storage, with pre-orders starting February 7 and sales opening February 16. OnePlus will not range the device at T-Mobile, choosing to go open market instead. The US carrier premium market is tough, with the entrenchment of Apple and Samsung, and even Google Pixel crowding the space. This is a difficult decision for the OEM, but the marketing money it saves will be used to strengthen its community outreach and lower the cost of the flagship device.
The OnePlus 11 comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 platform, 6.7-inch 2K 120Hz AMOLED display, up to 16GB LPDDR5X RAM memory, up to 256GB UFS 4.0 storage, 5000 mAh dual-cell battery and an 80W SUPERVOOC battery charger that charges the device from 1% to 100% in 27 minutes. It is also offering four years of Android updates and five years of security updates, a must since Samsung is offering this for all its flagship and mid-range devices. The camera system includes a Sony IMX890 50MP main sensor, IMX709 32MP portrait lens and IMX581 48MP ultra-wide camera, coupled with third-generation Hasselblad color calibration software. Having tested the OnePlus 11 for several weeks now, the device has solid battery life, and taking pictures with the new Hasselblad software is impressive, especially in low-light conditions. The device is snappy and responsive due to RAM-Vita technology, which uses AI and ML to allocate onboard storage to maximize memory.
Where OnePlus falls behind with the OnePlus 11 is the lack of wireless charging, which OnePlus says is not an issue with its GaN battery-charging technology. However, as a premium device, and especially with its newly announced OnePlus Buds Pro 2 that has wireless charging, the product messaging becomes muddled. The OnePlus 11 also only has the IP64 rating instead of the standard IP68. While the OnePlus 11 supports all US carriers for certain LTE and 5G bands, it doesn’t come with mmWave for Verizon. Overall, the OnePlus 11 is a solid flagship device. However, not having the device ranged at T-Mobile will be a challenge for OnePlus in 2023.
The “4” in OnePlus’ strategy refers to its ecosystem of TWS, TV, smartwatch and, now, tablet devices that will connect together. The OnePlus Buds Pro 2 has spatial audio technology in partnership with Google, LHDC 4.05 Lossless Hi-Res Audio, up to 48dB Adaptive Noise Cancellation, dual device connectivity and Google’s Fast Pair, 54ms low latency and Bluetooth 5.3LE for a smooth gaming experience. Like other new OnePlus devices, it also has Dolby Atmos audio along with Dolby Head Tracking technology. The battery life is impressive with 10 hours of playback and up to 39 hours with the case. It is available for $179, with pre-orders starting February 7 and sales opening February 16.
The other device announced was the OnePlus Pad, the OEM’s first tablet. It will be available for pre-orders in April. The tablet has an 11.61-inch screen with a 7:5-ratio screen and 144Hz refresh rate, powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chipset.
Lastly, the “X” represents products that will connect with the OnePlus ecosystem, such as the Keyboard 81 Pro, the OEM’s first mechanical keyboard. OnePlus wants to push the envelope within IoT and create its own ecosystem approach with seamless connection and integration between products.
OnePlus’ future in North America
The launch event underscored OnePlus’ strategy for North America with CEO Robin Liu emphasizing the launch of the OnePlus 11, OnePlus Buds 2 Pro and OnePlus Pad for the US market. The departure from the premium smartphone space at T-Mobile will be tough for OnePlus as it now doubles down in the prepaid space with its N-series devices at Metro by T-Mobile. However, OnePlus now has additional resources available to spend on marketing its brand and expanding mindshare with the money it is saving from not being in the premium T-Mobile space. This is likely the reason OnePlus is launching more IoT devices, as it takes a broader approach to the North American market.
More emphasis on community. Monthly community events, NYC pop up on Feb 11, and deeper collaboration with Qualcomm and Google. #Cloud11 this is a must for OnePlus to maintain and grow it's presence in North America pic.twitter.com/kz0CZW8x9D
— Maurice Klaehne (@MKlaehne) February 7, 2023
OnePlus has improved its overall messaging, but there are still areas that it can improve on in the future. The newest 1+4+X strategy makes sense but the messaging around the products could be more consistent still. Not having a “Pro” model but claiming flagship performance needs the inclusion of wireless charging, especially if you are marketing the Buds 2 Pro with wireless charging and a premium look and feel.
The North American market will be challenging for any OEM, especially in 2023 due to macroeconomic conditions. This is likely the best time for OnePlus to exit the premium space at T-Mobile, but in the long term, the OEM needs to re-enter this space to remain competitive and bolster revenue gains.