OnePlus 5 is officially out for India. Just like everything else that was confirmed by the leaks, the India pricing of the phone didn’t deviate from what was predicted. OnePlus 5 with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage starts at Rs 32,999 and the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant is priced at Rs 37,999.
Also for the first time in India, OnePlus is crossing the Rs 35,000 price mark with its new smartphone. But pricing wasn’t the only thing that changed with the coming of the OnePlus 5. The big scale launch event for the OnePlus with fans and a bevy of celebrities attending as well as a Rs 1-crore prize made it clear that the brand is aiming big in India. OnePlus doesn’t want to be seen as a start-up anymore, it’s a full-fledged brand now with fans lining up to buy its phone, just like they do for Apple’s iPhone Well, at least that’s the perception OnePlus wants to sell.
Of course, OnePlus isn’t the only brand in India that has held events with fans. Xiaomi has made fan events a big deal in India, though the last one in Delhi didn’t really go to plan. OnePlus, though, charged fans Rs 999 to attend the launch for a seat in the NSCI Dome to watch the unveiling of the phone.
Clearly, the company is positioning itself as the ‘flagship’ brand to be reckoned with, in the Indian market. Sure the majority of volume is in the Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 segment, but OnePlus has always been about this price band. Right from the OnePlus One, the brand has pitched itself as one promising an affordable flagship, without the flagship prices. Now, the OnePlus 5 wants to cement that position.
According to data firm IDC’s stats, in Q1 2017, the average selling price of smartphones in India was $155, and nearly two-thirds of smartphones being sold in the country are from a China-based vendor. The price range averages between $100-$200, according to IDC. Essentially one-third of the market in India is above the $200 price mark, and OnePlus is playing in that category.
In December last year, it was reported by IDC that OnePlus was number three in the premium segment market in India, which is any smartphone above $300 price mark. No wonder, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau was quoted as saying last year that India might end up surpassing the China market in terms of volume for the company. Though of course, there have been no official numbers for India yet.
Today’s OnePlus 5 launch makes it clear the company has no plans of holding back punches in India. The grand event, inviting fans, all of this is to drill the message that the brand has arrived. Also not to be missed is that fact that while the global launch was a live streamed event, here the company CEO was in front of the crowds himself.
Then there’s the issue of pricing. If you look at the specifications of OnePlus 5, it is essentially the most affordable smartphone in the market sporting flagship level specifications. This is right now the cheapest smartphone running the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. HTC U11, which also has this processor, comes at a price tag of Rs 51,990, while the Sony Xperia XZ Premium sports an even more exorbitant tag of Rs 59,990.
In a market like India, where a lot of the conversation is driven by talk around specifications, OnePlus has played the card right. There’s a whole lot of RAM, 8GB on board the more expensive version, and it will grab eyeballs. Sure most of us might not have any clue of why that 8GB RAM is needed on a smartphone. Then there’s a the dual camera with unique 16MP +20MP combo.
OnePlus has brought what can only be described as ‘insane’ specifications, at a nominal pricing. For the Indian audience that wants the most out of every penny, this as a strategy is good enough to grab attention. Now whether it converts into volume is what remains to be seen.
(The author attended the launch event in Mumbai on the invite of OnePlus)