OnePlus needs to tread carefully with pricing or defeat half the point of its phone

For being the first product coming from a small startup company with a vague history and questionable PR stunts, the One from OnePlus sold like crazy when it was made available last year. In the end, it turned out to be quite a good phone, but even before anyone knew how it performed, there were two main selling points that largely drove the OnePlus One to its viral success: its price and its specs. The market has grown significantly since the One’s release, with phones like the Idol 3 and Zenfone 2 taking over the budget space, but at the time there were very few low-cost phones worth anyone’s money, so it’s easy to see why people got so worked up over it. Now, OnePlus is teasing its sophomore flagship, and while we like we see so far, there’s just one problem — CEO Pete Lau has noted that the OnePlus Two will cost more than its predecessor.

I’m hesitant to criticize the pricing, given that the rumors point to it still being just $350 — that’s only a $50 premium from the initial $300 price tag of the OnePlus One. After all, the OnePlus Two has already been confirmed to ship with a new edition of the Snapdragon 810 SoC, dubbed “v2.1,” and USB type C, two awesome features that even phones twice the cost are only just now rolling out. But while the specs are undeniably impressive and even top-notch, OnePlus is risking losing its grip in the budget space if it pushes its next phone’s cost too high. After all, the ASUS Zenfone 2 is configurable for up to a whopping 4 GB of RAM for just $300, and the Idol 3’s front-facing speakers and dual quad-core chipset are quite the catch for $250.

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If the One was any indication, the OnePlus Two will likely offer a nicer design than either phone (I’m still in love with that sandstone back), and a clean near-stock Android interface, so it’s not as if the phone will be without its laurels. But given the extreme demand of its last phone, and the crazy invite system that came with it, not to mention OnePlus’s supply issues, the company may have trouble selling the Two to everybody that wants one, and ultimately many would-be buyers might simply find it easier to look elsewhere — which is why making the phone as cheap as possible is absolutely imperative to the phone’s success.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe OnePlus has everything under control. Maybe OnePlus knows exactly what it’s in for, and it plans to surprise us with killer bundles included with the phone, or some great new feature that the other phones just can’t match. Whatever the case, it’ll be interesting to see how the OnePlus Two performs once it launches on July 27.

What do you think? Is pricing the key to OnePlus’ success, or is $350 still cheap enough to woo potential customers? And most importantly, do you plan to buy the OnePlus Two?

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Hayato Huseman