A few days from now, the much-anticipated and hyped OnePlus Nord will be officially announced. This will, after a long time, be a mid-range device from OnePlus and not a flagship phone like the OnePlus 8 Pro. The OnePlus Nord is a significant new Phone, like Apple’s $399 iPhone SE earlier this year. For one, the OnePlus Nord marks a big shift in OnePlus’ strategy in India, with nearly one-third of revenues coming from this market
This time, though, the phone’s expected price is grabbing more attention to its specifications. The new OnePlus Nord will reportedly cost under Rs 24,990 and if the brand wants it – the phone’s price could come down to Rs 20,000 for the entry-level model. If that happens, the OnePlus Nord will become the cheapest 5G-enabled smartphone, complete with a Snapdragon 765G chipset, 90Hz AMOLED panel, and dual selfie cameras.
For a company that only sells premium smartphones, OnePlus’ shift to mid-range phones comes as a surprise to many in the industry. If we look at OnePlus’ market share in India, it does need to offer a mid-range phone. The brand dominates the premium segment and is counted among the top three players.
While some think the OnePlus Nord is an answer to the iPhone SE, I think a medium-priced phone is a part of the long-term game. The main idea behind the OnePlus Nord is not to convince consumers to buy a low-cost alternative to the OnePlus 8, but to pull them into the ecosystem.
Besides selling smartphones, OnePlus has been growing its product portfolio, which now includes TVs and soon maybe truly wireless earbuds. Until last year, OnePlus was concentrated more on the high-end of the smart TV market. But last week, the brand entered the mainstream TV market with its Y-series that starts from just Rs 12,999. The cost of the 32-inch TV is on par with what the competition charges for its products. This gives us some fair idea of how Vikas Agarwal and his team are moving the needle and making their products accessible to the masses.
A medium-priced phone with the right set of specifications when sold to customers serves both purposes. This could not only increase smartphone unit sales but also expand the brand’s reach, especially among a new set of customers who otherwise would think twice about spending their money on an expensive OnePlus smartphone or TV. And here’s the thing: the expansion of the ecosystem means the same customer who bought the OnePlus Nord might be tempted to buy a high-end OnePlus 4K TV. This strategy does help OnePlus to grow beyond the smartphone market, which is now reaching saturation like PCs.
But will the strategy work in India? It’s one question that still has no answer. By entering the mid-range smartphone and TV segments, OnePlus is actually competing with Xiaomi and its own BBK-owned brands at the end of the day. OnePlus’ revamped market approach is unlikely to have any direct impact on Samsung or Apple.