OnePlus Just Had Its Biggest Launch. So Why Is the Company Feeling Under Pressure?

OnePlus Just Had Its Biggest Launch. So Why Is the Company Feeling Under Pressure?

For a company that released its first phone a little over three years ago, OnePlus has sure come a long way. OnePlus One may have been the underdog when it debuted in 2014, but there’s been nothing low-profile about the company’s newest smartphone, the OnePlus 5.

From teasers that started weeks before the launch, to roping in India’s biggest movie star as a brand ambassador, and throwing in a splattering of other minor celebrities and ‘influencers’ expressing their ‘love’ for the smartphone; if you live in India, the OnePlus 5 hype machine has been hard to escape. While this translated into giving the company its fastest selling smartphone till date, the increased time in the spotlight has also put some of its flaws firmly in focus, when they might have been overlooked in the past.

Carl Pei, the co-founder and the most visible face of OnePlus, says the team is surely feeling the pressure. Pei was in Delhi last week and Gadgets 360 sat down for a chat with him. As you would expect, we ended up spending most of our time talking about the OnePlus 5.

Pei started the conversation by rattling off some stats about the number of viewers that tuned in to witness OnePlus 5’s online launch, claiming they were second only to the kind of audience Apple and Samsung get for their events. Then came the first admission that the company might be feeling the weight of the increased expectations.

“These numbers are good, but it also gives us a lot of pressure because our customers, our fans, they expect us to be at the same level as Apple and Samsung in every area,” Pei said. “So in a way we’re put under a microscope. It’s been good response, but also a lot of pressure for our team.”

The OnePlus 5 may have been the company’s biggest launch, but it’s also been the most controversial – if you ignore the cries of OnePlus 3 buyers when they saw the OnePlus 3T, that is. The design of the smartphone was in focus weeks before launch, and its similarities to Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus were rather hard to miss.

On OnePlus 5 camera and DxOMark

In the days leading up to the launch, Pei and the company’s official Twitter handle teased the camera capabilities of the OnePlus 5. That may be ’business as usual’ for launches in the age of social media, but this, and an iPhone 7 Plus-like dual camera setup, meant that expectations from the smartphone’s camera were sky high, especially since the OnePlus 3T camera had received largely positive reviews.

But things didn’t quite go as planned. While the ‘main’ camera on the OnePlus 5 still clicks pretty good pictures, the dual-camera functionality can be best described as half-baked. First, there was criticism of the company’s use of the term ‘lossless’ to describe the zoom functionality, which it was forced to retract. Second, in terms of performance itself, the secondary rear camera was found to be more hit than miss by most reviewers.