- Foldable smartphones made up a little more than 2% of US smartphone sales in 2022 but remain a growing and promising segment.
- OnePlus is the third OEM to enter the US market with a book-type foldable featuring strong hardware specifications rivaling Samsung and Google.
- The OnePlus Open will sell unlocked and retail for $1,699.99 at OnePlus.com, Amazon.com and Bestbuy.com with pre-orders beginning on October 19 and full launch on October 26.
OnePlus launched its first foldable smartphone, the book-type OnePlus Open, on Thursday to enter the small but growing US foldable market. The new launch, which is now open for pre-orders, makes OnePlus the third OEM with a book-type foldable in the US market, competing with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google’s Pixel Fold. Motorola is the only other OEM that has foldable smartphones in the US market, namely the new RAZR and RAZR Plus, but these are clamshell-style foldables.
In 2022, US foldable smartphone sales accounted for just over 2% of overall smartphone sales in the country. The portion has grown further in 2023. Foldables are an important segment for the Android market as they are one of the few categories where we are seeing iOS to Android conversion.
The OnePlus Open is a strong contender versus both Samsung’s Fold 5 and Google’s Pixel Fold, as the company spent over a year on R&D with the help of OPPO. The new device is currently the lightest (239g) and one of the thinnest (5.8mm unfolded) foldables available in the US. It also supports one of the lightest hinges with only 69 parts made with various metals and materials to make the hinge lightweight but durable. OPPO will release the same phone as the Find N3 in other markets. Compared with the other two devices on the market, OnePlus is priced very competitively. It is $100 cheaper than its counterparts and has better or on-par top-line specs, aside from not having wireless charging.
A short review – a multimedia powerhouse with a strong camera and Open Canvas
Having personally tested the device over the last two weeks – the OnePlus Open holds up to the hype. The flagship specs make the device a breeze to use. The fingerprint sensor is snappy, the battery lasts a full day, and pictures turn out great, especially if you like the signature Hasselblad look.
OnePlus has also added a new feature called Open Canvas which enables multi-window operations and promises to be able to resize 95% of apps without weird, forced visuals or use adjustments. Up to three windows can be displayed on the screen at the same time.
OnePlus also added a desktop-like taskbar for easy application access. Unfortunately, it does not have a desktop mode like Samsung’s DeX, which would have enabled even more productivity with the device. There is no compatibility with the OnePlus Stylo either. However, the overall device was quite impressive and OnePlus’ commitment to make a competitive foldable flagship is commendable.
OnePlus’ foldable outlook – promising if branding efforts continue
The key for OnePlus will be getting the media and consumers’ attention with its Open since it is not being ranged in carrier channels. This is where the Pixel Fold and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 will have a leg up as over 90% of smartphone sales happen within a postpaid or prepaid channel sale. Selling open market is often challenging as consumers are used to getting “free” devices from carriers with an upgrade and/or trade-in or new line offer creating the illusion of bargains that are ultimately recouped by carriers via higher service plans or customer loyalty to a carrier.
OnePlus is offering some very competitive promotions on its website to gain a competitive advantage in the open market. Customers can trade in any device, any condition, and receive at least $200 off on the Open, and get up to $1,000 off. This matches Samsung’s Fold 5 trade-in value promotion while Google Fold’s maximum trade-in value is $590. Additionally, OnePlus is giving customers free OnePlus Buds Pro 2 ($150 value), offering 24 months 0% APR financing, three months of YouTube Premium, and a six-month Google One 100GB membership.
If OnePlus is able to get deeper into the public eye with its brand and new foldable, the device could become a strong contender in the still-nascent US foldable market. In the past, OnePlus has partnered with the Boston Marathon, Riot Games, and the UFC to get its name out to different customer segments. It needs to continue these efforts to drive potential customers to the open market sales channels for the device to be successful.
The OnePlus Open will sell unlocked and retail for $1,699.99 at OnePlus.com, Amazon.com and Bestbuy.com with pre-orders beginning on October 19 and a full launch on October 26.