OnePlus has long been associated with Oppo, dating back to the early years of its inception. The connection between the two brands associated with BBK has deepened in recent years, with the two companies moving closer together earlier this year as their R&D activities are merged.
OnePlus has now announced that it will “continue to integrate” with its larger stable companion. We don’t know exactly what this means, but CEO Pete Lau insists OnePlus will remain an independent brand. With OnePlus’ oppo-ification already an observable trend, we can think of a few reasons to be both excited and nervous about this news.
Why are we so excited
Table of Contents
We could see faster, more stable updates
Luke Pollack / Android Authority
One of the main reasons to stay positive about the strengthened relationship between the two brands is that we might see more frequent, more polished updates from OnePlus. In fact, Lau specifically mentioned this example in the blog post announcing the news.
More frequent, more sophisticated updates from OnePlus would be very welcome.
This could be an especially big deal considering that OnePlus has been a little slow on the update front lately and will have some serious bugs when they finally get released. Any improvement on this front would be very welcome.
OnePlus has also confirmed it Android authority that the Oxygen OS skin would continue to be used for global devices. So that takes some of the pressure off OnePlus fans.
Access to more resources, R&D expertise
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Another benefit touted by OnePlus is that it will benefit from Oppos’s wealth of resources. This could be of great benefit to the company as Oppo actually has a ton of resources and expertise due to its success in China.
It wouldn’t be the first time OnePlus has taken advantage of Oppo in this regard, either, as we’ve seen several OnePlus phones over the years that have been essentially optimized Oppo devices. Hopefully, the better access to resources and expertise means that OnePlus will be able to come up with more unique designs that inherit Oppo’s resources without mimicking its performance.
Connected: A study of the OnePlus and Oppo devices over the years
Oppo has also unveiled a variety of cutting-edge technologies over the years, such as the latest rollable phone Oppo X 2021 and the variable zoom camera. The company has also reportedly launched its own bespoke chip plan, which could prove invaluable in the event of further U.S.-China tension. All of these technologies could theoretically be available to OnePlus.
The prospect of wider availability
Luke Pollack / Android Authority
Oppo phones are available in a wide variety of markets around the world, while OnePlus also has a fairly large global presence. But the two companies have a few loopholes between them.
For example, Oppo phones are not available in North America, while OnePlus phones are not available in Africa or Latin America (except Mexico). So some sort of merger between Oppo and OnePlus could result in phones of each brand becoming available in new markets. That means the possibility of Oppo devices in North America and the possibility of OnePlus devices in Latin America and Africa.
Why are we nervous
Oxygen OS by name only?
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
A main reason we’re nervous about the Oppo / OnePlus pseudo-merger is the possibility that Oxygen OS will become little more than a renamed version of Color OS. Many OnePlus fans already complained about the aesthetic changes in Oxygen OS 11, which look more like Color OS (and Samsung’s One UI).
It stands to reason that OnePlus goes a step further and makes Oxygen OS look and feel even closer to Oppos’s skin. Because if they followed this path before the merger, it is likely that they will continue to do so afterwards.
Oxygen OS could hardly be more than a renamed version of Color OS.
There is still the possibility that OnePlus will actually listen to fans and that Oxygen OS will, to a certain extent, distance itself from Color OS. After all, Stablemate Vivo has its own custom FunTouch operating system for global users and the radically different Origin operating system for Chinese users.
Of course, we could see Color OS replacing Oxygen OS entirely. As mentioned, Lau has ruled this out for now, but it’s fair to worry too. After all, OnePlus phones in China are already running Color OS.
The possibility of further rebrandings
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
Another cause for concern over its closer affiliation with Oppo / OnePlus is that we’re seeing fewer original OnePlus phone designs. The company has offered optimized versions of Oppo devices for years, but until recently they felt more like the exception than the rule.
Similar to the software situation, we’re concerned that the Fusion is offering OnePlus an excuse to take the rebranding path more often than before – especially with its new budget devices like the Nord N200. That would be a shame, because devices like the OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 7 Pro were generally chic designs.
The prospect of too many devices
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
OnePlus previously pursued the strategy of only releasing a few devices each year. In 2019, the company released four devices (excluding 5G variants and McLaren edition devices). This consisted of two flagships in the first half of the year and two flagships in the second half of the year. In the meantime, only two devices were released last year (or three if you include the OnePlus 6T McLaren).
There has been a pretty notable surge in OnePlus versions over the past year, with six devices launching in 2020 (excluding regional / carrier variants). In the second half of the year we only saw one flagship, but three new Nord devices. This upward trend could continue in 2021, with the Nord N200 and Nord CE already launched and the Nord 2 expected to be launched later this year. That would mean we’ve officially released five devices in mid-2021 and at least one more is on the way (with the exception of a T-series release).
One possible side effect of the frequent release schedule is that OnePlus just has too many devices to support. This certainly seems to be the case with the Nord N10 and Nord N100, which should only receive an Android version update. We don’t have much confidence that the company will commit to two or three Android version updates for new budget phones as devices release more frequently.
Oppo becomes a real pro player
OnePlus started out as a budget flagship brand that brought a high-end core experience to the table at a much cheaper price than the competition. The company has been slowly increasing the price of its flagship phones, but has been offering a two-tier flagship range for a while now. That said, it has the standard OnePlus flagship at a reasonable price, as well as a high-priced Pro device with lots of extras.
Connected: How the price of OnePlus phones has changed over the years
However, we’re a little concerned that Oppo could position its Find X flagships as a true premium family of devices at the expense of OnePlus. The ongoing drive for cheaper phones certainly suggests that OnePlus intends to focus on cheaper segments. There’s nothing wrong with the Oppo Find X series as the Find X2 Pro and Find X3 Pro are both great high-end offerings. But the OnePlus 8 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro delivered top-notch experiences at a cheaper price than their Oppo stablemates.
There’s nothing wrong with being a value brand either, as that would be a return to OnePlus’ roots in a way. However, it would be a shame if OnePlus essentially becomes BBK’s Poco shortly after it entered the premium segment and just a few months after the Hasselblad deal.