Two factors defined OnePlus’s seemingly out-of-nowhere growth in the middle of the last decade: solid specs and a budget price tag. But markets change, and companies must adapt to survive. As someone who has followed the Chinese smartphone maker since close to the beginning, I can confidently say that it hasn’t wavered from that first part. The second bit, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story.
OnePlus has experienced a bit of a price creep as it has continued to add features to set itself apart from the competition. In the early days, the smartphone maker was content to wait a generation or two before embracing new tech, for the sake of keeping costs down. But increasingly, it has come to pride itself in being among the first to things like in-screen fingerprint readers and 5G.
Today, however, it’s announcing a bit of a return to its roots, with the Nord. The upcoming phone has been the subject of all manner of rumors under a variety of different names in recent months, but OnePlus just confirmed its name and arrival by way of an extended behind-the-scenes documentary on Instagram. Details are pretty slim at the moment, though the company confirmed that it will be priced at under $500.
Co-founder Carl Pei — who discussed the company’s place in the budget market at Disrupt last year — noted in the video, “There’s a huge change every two years. Anything can happen. Thousand-dollar phones are decreasing in sales.” It’s a pretty well-established phenomenon over the last few years that has led to, among other things, companies like Samsung, Apple and Google to embrace lower-cost devices amid stagnant sales figures.
OnePlus’s devices have still remained relatively affordable, compared to the competition, but the addition of the Nord will find it’s getting back to where it started with a line aimed at a wider range of consumers and different markets. More info soon, no doubt.