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OnePlus is losing reputation with cheap smartphones

OnePlus has a reputation for offering a lot of smartphone for a reasonable price. Cheap devices such as the OnePlus Nord N100 detract from that. You pay little, but you get even less.

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Reputation OnePlus suffers from cheap devices

OnePlus once stormed the market as a price fighter. The OnePlus One turned out to be a real one flagship killer: a smartphone that was almost as good as the top phones from major brands, but cost a lot less.

That was obviously not a sustainable strategy. Once OnePlus gained sufficient brand awareness, the company slowly started charging more money for its smartphones. With the price-quality ratio of the OnePlus 8 Pro 5G, it is still fine, but you can no longer call the device cheap. After all, you pay 899 euros for it.

The fact that OnePlus now also wants to release phones in the middle segment is not a problem in itself. With the OnePlus Nord, the Chinese manufacturer found a smart balance between price and performance. The device is fast enough, has a good screen and a reasonable camera. In practice, you don’t notice much of the lesser build quality and other small concessions.

Too cheap is not good either

If it had stayed at that, we wouldn’t have had to write this piece. The problem is in the even cheaper phones that OnePlus recently launched on the market. The OnePlus Nord N10 5G and especially the Nord N100 hardly distinguish themselves in their price range.

You can call the existence of the Nord N10 questionable. At 349 euros, the suggested retail price is only 50 euros below that of the OnePlus Nord. However, the N10 has a less beautiful screen, a slower processor, lesser cameras and will not receive support for as long. That is a lot ‘less’ for a saving of barely five bucks. With the Nord N10, OnePlus seems to focus mainly on countries where the original OnePlus Nord did not appear. Think of the United States.

oneplus nord n100 review

The big pain point is the Nord N100. That device really does damage the reputation of OnePlus. In our review of the device, we found that this cheap smartphone has a mediocre screen and regularly shows glitches. In addition, the N100 still runs on Android 10 and only gets one major update. Android 11, the most recent version of the operating system, is therefore the final destination for this phone.

With that, OnePlus is turning away from a successful strategy. The company once stood for smartphones that offered a good experience regardless of their price. By releasing models like the N100, OnePlus loses its identity.

Is Carl Pei’s departure a coincidence?

Carl Pei, who co-founded OnePlus with Pete Lau, has never made a secret of his admiration for Apple. He wanted to make smartphones that felt just as fast and polished as iPhones, but at a lower price. OxygenOS played an important role in this. This modified version of Android is praised by many for its smooth user experience.

It is therefore striking that Pei left OnePlus in mid-October. He didn’t give a precise reason for that, but we can speculate. The Nord N10 and certainly the Nord N100 do not offer the quality that OnePlus has been pursuing for years. Pei may have found it difficult to reconcile with the new policy of also serving the lower end of the market.

OnePlus Nord N10 5G

Of course, even Apple occasionally releases a cheaper smartphone. The iPhone SE focuses on the same market as the OnePlus Nord. Apple does use a different strategy. The SE has an old-fashioned design, but is very fast and will receive software updates for years to come. What you see is what you get. No buyer will feel cheated.

What Apple does not do is release iPhones at rock-bottom prices in order to gain the largest possible market share. It is a pity that OnePlus is now starting with that. There are plenty of gray mice in Android land.

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