The spate of leaks and ‘hands-on’ videos ahead of the OnePlus 5T launch meant we all knew what OnePlus was going to reveal. The 18:9 display was expected, the Face Unlock feature was leaked in another video and details about the improved camera and lower aperture were all seen as given. OnePlus has also stuck with the same pricing for the OnePlus 5T. It starts at Rs 32,999 and goes to Rs 37,999 just like the OnePlus 5. Frankly, the launch event had few surprises.
With OnePlus 5T, some users might not see the big deal. After all, the company has just slapped on a bigger display to its older phone, added Face Unlock and tweaked the camera. There’s no water or dust resistance added, the headphone jack is still here, so supposedly no courage. The battery size also remains the same.
OnePlus itself doesn’t think this is a big enough upgrade to warrant a change in the number. OnePlus 5T might have a bigger display, but the ‘T’ addition means this is still a mid-cycle upgrade. OnePlus 6 we are assuming will be radically different, or at least that’s the expectation. But for OnePlus, the 5T as a strategy is an important one, especially in a market like India where it has made gains. Given how the company has managed to capture the Indian market’s premium segment, the 5T model with a new design comes at the right time.
OnePlus 5T is now technically a newer, mid-range alternative to flagships launched in the second half of 2017. The list includes Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, Apple iPhone X, iPhone 8 series and the Google Pixel 2 series, which were all introduced after OnePlus 5. The bigger 18:9 display also means OnePlus 5T levels the playing field with other flagships, which is crucial for a company that pitches itself as an alternative to premium priced flagships.
If one looks at the recent state of the mobile market in India, OnePlus has managed to emerge as the top player in the online premium segment. Admittedly this is a very small pie of the Indian smartphone market, perhaps less than one-third of the overall market in India. Still OnePlus’ achievement is no small feat, considering the brand does not have money or manpower like an Apple or Samsung.
According to research firm IDC, in the $400-plus price range, OnePlus has a 62 per cent market share. This is only for the online segment, but it still puts OnePlus above Apple and Samsung. Also OnePlus 5 was the number one selling smartphone in the segment, according to IDC and has nearly 25 per cent market share.
Meanwhile, data from Counterpoint, another research firm, shows that OnePlus has captured one-third of the Indian smartphone premium segment (above $300 segment) and is actually second after Apple in this segment and ahead of Samsung. Going by the current numbers for OnePlus 5 and OnePlus in India, the title of ‘flagship killer’ seems apt for the company.
Even when OnePlus One was launched, the hype really was around the specifications that the Chinese company was offering, at a price which seemed unbelievable at the time. With the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 5 series, it has managed to do a consistently good job delivering on this promise. And for now, the numbers are on its side, at least in the Indian market. With OnePlus 5T, it will hoping to hold on to that premium segment share in India.