Counterpoint Conversations: OnePlus Focusing on User-centric AI to Redefine Smartphone Experience

Generative AI was the headline trend at MWC 24. From smartphone OEMs to operators and chipmakers, everyone showcased the AI use cases they have been working on. In the same vein, OnePlus announced the Watch 2 smartwatch and a special edition Genshin Impact 12R smartphone and spoke about how AI can enhance both productivity and personalized creativity.

Jan Stryjak, an Associate Director at Counterpoint, met with Gary Chen, Director of Software Product Strategy at OnePlus, to dive into the company’s vision for AI in smartphones. Chen also provided an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming Smart Image Eraser feature on OnePlus smartphones.

The Interview

Key Takeaways from the Discussion:

User-centric Approach:

– “We spent a lot of time discussing with the team what the real user scenario is, what is the real benefit of generative AI, and not just talk AI everywhere.” – Gary Chen.
– OnePlus is prioritizing identifying real user scenarios where AI can provide tangible benefits.
– It will simply avoid adding AI features for marketing purposes.

Two Key Directions:

• OnePlus sees AI playing a crucial role in two areas:
– Boosting productivity by summarizing articles and translating languages to enhance daily tasks.
– Personalized creativity like removing unwanted objects from photos.

Using AI for Efficiency:

– The new Trinity Engine in OxygenOS uses AI to optimize smartphone performance.
– It can predict user behavior to pre-load apps and also manage power consumption during sleep.

Strategic Partnerships:

– OnePlus is collaborating with Qualcomm on hardware.
– It is also partnering with Google and Microsoft on the cloud.

Key Challenges and Considerations:

– Identifying genuine user benefits.
– Defining hardware needs for AI features (balancing between cloud and on-device processing).
– To ensure responsible AI development considering data privacy and content control.

Analyst Takeaways:

• OnePlus was one of a few smartphone OEMs that launched devices at MWC, keen to regain some momentum in Europe following a few difficult years where its share has plummeted, further exacerbated by a licensing dispute with Nokia. However, now that OnePlus has overcome those hurdles, it is looking to grab some attention with its user-centric AI capabilities.
• The capabilities are impressive, particularly in the areas of productivity and creativity, further helped by OnePlus’ powerful Trinity Engine and some useful partnerships with Qualcomm, Microsoft and Google.
• The challenge that OnePlus faces is that lots of other smartphone OEMs are also pushing on-device AI, and some, such as Samsung, Xiaomi and HONOR, are arguably doing and communicating things a bit better.
• If OnePlus can capitalize on the resurgence of its parent company OPPO in Europe, which is itself a big ask, then it might be able to stand out from the crowd.

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