The OnePlus 2 of 2015 isn’t the flagship killer of 2016

Welcome to the hype machine, hope you enjoy your stay! The spin cycle on this phone sounds as boastful as ever. It’s supposed to be, that’s how marketing builds your attention towards a launch event like this one for the OnePlus 2. Sure, it has great specs and the cache the company has with its forum followers is extremely strong. But what does it mean to “kill” a flagship?

Flagship Kill la Kill?

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This phone ain’t made of Life Fibers and Honnō City isn’t going to fall because of this phone. Few people are treating the OnePlus 2 or even the OnePlus One like it is.

Time doesn’t make way for “future flagship killers,” so if you’re looking to put up a spec fight between this device and others, don’t. Give the phone credit for what it has and what it will always have: a revised Snapdragon 810 SoC, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, a optically stabilized high-resolution camera, dual-SIM slots and software that got its name from the OnePlus fanbase. All of this might very well pale to what might come in 2016. Even at that point, though, these specs wouldn’t look half-bad.

There has to be something more than just plain spec-gazing that appeals to an audience OnePlus wants to grow.

Are OnePlus’s marketers killing flagships in their own minds? Or are they really thinking they’ll eventually outsell the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the iPhone 6S? The term “flagship killer” has never been explicitly defined. There’s a clear line to where OnePlus’s popularity will go, based on its marketing model and niche-oriented power user catering. 1.5 million shipments don’t sound too bad for just stepping out of the gate. However, if you’re looking for “the kill,” you’re going to need to multiply shipments and get off the internet to tell people about this phone.

I think OnePlus knows better than to ever bet on that. Company co-founder Carl Pei knows better than to say anything brash. He was reserved in addressing our questions in an interview from last May:

Pocketnow: You seem to be extremely confident that the OnePlus One phone will be superior to the products of other manufacturers, going as far as calling out the competitors with provocative posters on your site and social media.  What do you think makes the OnePlus One a betterhandset than other flagship smartphones[…]?
 
Carl Pei: The One offers flagship specs with incredible design and build quality. It also features great software and, perhaps most importantly, was made together with our fans.

Competitive specs, build and software are not flagship killers. They are what make flagships. So, what do we make of that part about the fans?

Avenging for the fans

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OnePlus is looking for the right type of customer to buy its phone. It wants a creative and communicative prospect who loves giving input, loves something new and loves to be part of an enthusiastic movement. A good consumer profile for a marketer to tell us about so that we can tell you about who it’s looking to buy its phones.

But let’s step into the shoes of someone who’s buying a OnePlus phone and work our ways backward …

If the price and specs are right for the phone, why would I choose this phone other than on just plain value principles? Maybe it’s because other flagship phones I’ve used before this didn’t provide an experience I could thoroughly enjoy. The Galaxy S5 was okay, I just didn’t like the software. That camera on the HTC One M8? Horrendous. The Sony Xperia series provides an okay all-around experience, but I don’t want to have to import that at a huge premium. Man, these phones just don’t fit my style.

I want a phone that can provide an excellent camera, software I can tailor to my liking, a power slicer through all my apps and a whole lot more. I don’t want to make compromise on what I use to help me get through my day. And I want to know about what all the tech in there means for me and for what I want. If a company can make all of that about the device clear for me, then I’ll be pretty happy with it.

The ideal consumer is focused on the product and not terribly much how it gets to him or her. Ultimately, how the OnePlus 2 kills any flagship you’ll see this year or the next has been left to the customer’s satisfaction. If the OnePlus 2 can provide something to a certain user that other phones couldn’t, it’s done its job. And if the OnePlus 2 fails at that, you can bet that OnePlus will do more than a typical company would to try and provide that something to the customer.

What makes a flagship killer for you? Which device out in the market do you think makes a great flagship killer right now? It could be the OnePlus 2. Maybe it isn’t. Tell me in the comments.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.