It’s been 5 years since OnePlus has entered into the Indian market, and now it’s the #1 Premium Smartphone Maker in India. Throughout the journey, OnePlus had seen both ups and downs, but one thing it did well is gaining loyal fans. OnePlus 7 series, the next flagship lineup is launched recently, and we thought why not take a look at the history of OnePlus flagship phones launched by them in India? This is so we get an idea on what has changed, and how the company promises to #NeverSettle.
This is definitely not the OnePlus’s brand story, but it’s more of revisiting the past. I’m sure you’ll feel nostalgic reading this. It’s also filled with my experiences, and also how OnePlus had to cope with the competition and rose to the number 1 premium smartphone marker. So, why late? Let’s get started!
OnePlus History – Launch of ‘OnePlus One’ in India 
I remember it was in 2014 when my colleague Nidish had spoken to me about this Chinese brand which was offering premium-end smartphones for a cheaper price. Well, it didn’t make sense until I saw what the phone and its features. It’s indeed the OnePlus One! Sooner everyone in India was talking about it, and I do remember it was the same time when Xiaomi entered into the Indian market. Even though Xiaomi launched the Mi4 and Mi3 in India, everyone’s eyes were on the OnePlus One because of the flagship specifications.
My Colleague Nidish did write an article on How to get OnePlus One smartphone in India and even I made an article on top 5 reasons why you should buy OnePlus One. With so much anticipation, OnePlus indeed came to the Indian market in partnership with Amazon; OnePlus One [64GB] was made official on Dec 2nd, 2014 for a price of Rs. 21,999. The flagship killer has got some hefty specifications, but there was a catch in purchasing it and I bet you remember how! Yup, we were only able to purchase OnePlus One via invites which were very similar to their global invite system. On the contrary, Xiaomi had also made its way to the Indian market which launched their smartphones in partnership with Flipkart and was sold in flash sales.
The Invites System
Invites were actually given a huge advantage to the OnePlus as it gave enough buzz amongst the audience and made them purchase invites too. Everywhere bloggers were giving away the invites which made them gain so many followers instantly. The zeal of owning a flagship smartphone which can only be purchased using an invite has indeed made the OnePlus brand a UNIQUE OEM in the market.
Success Started with OnePlus One Itself!
Looking at the popularity, OnePlus even made a couple of sales invite-free and ran some open sales and it alone speaks a lot about their success. One other major aspect which I feel attributed to the OnePlus prime success was its Cyanogen OS but it had a short life.
The OnePlus Two – The First Fall! 
With a huge success behind, OnePlus India launched OnePlus 2 on July 28, 2015, for a price of Rs. 22,999 [16GB ROM]. Unlike the previous lottery system in giving the invites, OnePlus has tweaked it to a queue system [first come, first serve basis]. Even then, the demand for the phone was huge, and people started purchasing invites just like in the case of OnePlus One. I got in touch with the PR handling OnePlus who was reluctant in sending a unit but somehow arranged an invitation for me. It was actually my first OnePlus device, and thanks to Amazon speed delivery, I got the device on the same day!
I couldn’t stop myself and posted it on social, just to get people requesting me for invites, and asking how I got the device first. Moving on, I had a fun time exploring the OnePlus 2 and at the same time, had suffered a hand-burn. I’m serious! I did spend almost 23K on a smartphone which is touted to offer flagship experience, but then the OnePlus 2 was more of an oven. I mean, it gets heated so quick, that I could literally feel the burn with a mere 2-minutes of browsing or watching videos.
I remember this was the first backlash that OnePlus received. Previously, they had an issue with Cyanogen which led to a temporary ban but it was all sorted out. Still, the heating issue was straightly their own fault, but that didn’t stop users’ purchasing it. Besides the heating issue, I hadn’t faced any other but sold the phone right after the review [phewww]. Should I say it as a failure? Quite not. Even though the phone had a heating issue, people were purchasing it and some people bought it for more than the selling price. Nonetheless, I personally feel this was the first fall.
OnePlus X – Added Fuel to the Fall!
On the same year, OnePlus wanted to test its luck in the budget-end segment with better specifications. Just after the 3 months of launching OnePlus, OnePlus X was officially launched to the India market On Oct 25th, 2015 for a starting price of Rs. 16,999. The sale was quite similar to the OnePlus 2 i.e., you can only purchase it using an invite. OnePlus X is something that people didn’t expect, but it was really a good phone. However, no one thought that OnePlus would make it a customary of launching 2 smartphones every year. Before we get into it, let me discuss more on OnePlus X.
Maybe for the first time, OnePlus had also offered a limited Ceramic edition which was sold for a price of Rs. 22,999. The difference you find in OnePlus X to the OnePlus 2 is a smaller size, AMOLED display, and a-year-old flagship chipset [Snapdragon 801]. Also, both OnePlus 2 and OnePlus X had started using Oxygen OS rather than CyanogenMod. I don’t consider it to be a flop, but it was a little pricey compared to the phones offered by Xiaomi at that time.
Anyway, 2015 wasn’t a great year for OnePlus in India, but they got heads up in the form of community building.
OnePlus 3 – The Rising Star 
Just so you know, every year, the RAM was kept increasing, and so is the price. OnePlus 3 was launched on June 14th, 2016 for a starting price of Rs. 27,999. Well, even before the launch event, Hindustan Times has mistakenly posted the OnePlus ad, and thus everyone got to know its price beforehand. In addition to that, even the Amazon listed it mistakenly. Anyway, compared to the predecessors, OnePlus 3 has an amazing display, higher RAM, better memory management, and of course the dash charging.
I tried my best to reach out to the same PR for the device, and this time, I didn’t even get the response :p But hey, have I mentioned that OnePlus 3 was sold invite-free? Even before the launch, OnePlus has confirmed that OnePlus 3 would be sold without the need of invites. This was an official end to the invites system which actually brought hype and fame to the company. Nonetheless, the OnePlus 3 was sold like hot cakes, and it unanimously became the flagship killer of 2016 until it was overtaken by OnePlus 3T.
OnePlus 3T – Confuses Fans, but it was a beginning
Just like the OnePlus X which was launched 3 months after the OnePlus 2, OnePlus teased about the next smartphone launch in November. Like as expected, there were a couple of leaks which gave away everything about OnePlus 3T, and it was unveiled on November 15th, 2016. It was officially launched into the Indian market on December 2nd, 2016 for a starting price of Rs. 29,999 [64GB]. For the first time, the price of a OnePlus smartphone has reached 30K mark and also exceed the mark as the 128GB variant was priced at Rs. 34,999.
There was a sudden rage in fans as it wasn’t even 6 months, and their OnePlus 3 phones were already outdated as the successor was launched. Also, if you observe the differences, the chipset was latest, and the OnePlus 3T has a bigger battery compared to OnePlus 3 but that doesn’t really justify the price hike of almost 2,000 INR. However, as the invite-free system was already in effect, the so-called raged fans and other audience made sure to grab one for each. Just like the OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T was indeed a huge success, and if there’s one thing the loyal fans, and other people learned is, OnePlus is going to launch smartphones every 6 months; One to give competition to the smartphones announced or launched at MWC, and the other at IFA. [I’m only talking about flagships here.]
OnePlus 5 – Dual Cameras 
On June 22nd, 2017, OnePlus 5 was officially launched into the Indian market for a price of Rs. 32,999 [6GB RAM] and Rs. 37,999 [8GB RAM]. Does the pricing ring any bell? It’s true that the RAM is increasing, and again, so is the pricing. There was a mere 3,000 INR difference when compared to OnePlus 3T but there was a lot of feature upgrades. Before we go into that, what happened to OnePlus 4/4T? Well, it was skipped because of Tetraphobia.
OnePlus 5 is truly an upgrade to the OnePlus 3T in every way, and the phone even got a dual camera on the rear side which is a very first in the OnePlus lineup. But there was a backlash about the way it was designed as it was quite similar to iPhone 7 Plus. Well, OnePlus 5 wasn’t the only phone that looks like iPhone 7 Plus and there were many. Even with the backlash, OnePlus 5 was turned out the fastest selling smartphone in OnePlus lineup. It even got positive reviews from all the major tech publications, and unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to test that out and you know why! [psst…networking with PR has become a herculean task] The dual camera on the rear side is indeed an asset in the phone. However, the OnePlus 5 has become old in just 5 months as the successor OnePlus 5T was launched.
OnePlus 5T – Birth of Bezel-less
Just after 5 months of OnePlus 5 launch, OnePlus 5T was officially launched in India on November 28, 2017, for a price of Rs. 32,999 [6/64GB] and Rs. 37,999 [8/128GB]. The pricing is quite similar to the OnePlus 5 which again brought a major backlash from the fan base. Unlike before, keeping the same price for marginal upgrades indeed created a lot of mess than a price hike.
There weren’t any changes in the specifications wise, but the OnePlus 5T has got a bigger display [18:9], and the fingerprint reader is moved to the rear side. Thus the OnePlus 5T users were stuck to using the on-screen buttons. The rest of the phone is as same as OnePlus 5, I mean the so-called iPhone 7 Plus clone. But hey, this might be the first time to notice a significant design change in the ‘T’ series which was further followed in its predecessors.
Just after a month, OnePlus launched a ‘Star Wars Edition’ of OnePlus 5T which was the most expensive OnePlus phone at that time. On December 14th, 2017, the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition was launched in India for a price of Rs. 38,999 [8/128GB]. This might be the beginning of launching limited edition smartphones from OnePlus and the tradition has continued in the successors.
OnePlus 6 – Notch is the New Trend 
It was the time when OEMs were focusing on reducing the bezels and noticed a new thing called ‘NOTCH’ on iPhone X. Dozens of Android phones launched with ‘notch’ and OnePlus 6 was one among them. It was officially launched into the Indian market on May 22nd, 2018 for a price of Rs. 34,999 [6/64GB] and Rs. 39,999 [8/128GB]. OnePlus also launched Marvel Avengers: Infinity War limited edition for a price of Rs. 44,999.
OnePlus 6 had the same design style as OnePlus 5T but with a notch. In reality, OnePlus takes the design inspiration from OPPO phones, but launch it with a flagship processor. This has been a tradition right from OnePlus 5. Coming to the pricing part, there was a 2,000 INR price hike compared to the predecessor OnePlus 5T, and again, this was the first time for OnePlus to hit the 40K range, and also exceed it with the limited edition. Year by year, the price of the OnePlus phone was getting higher, and almost going in the range of typical flagships like Galaxy series, Pixel series, etc.
Even with all the price increments and criticism from a few journalists, OnePlus 6 had indeed become a successful smartphone for the company. I don’t remember anyone purchasing the Avengers limited edition in my circle. To be honest, there weren’t any differences in the phone except the storage option, and in terms of design, there was a little touch up of ‘Avengers’ logo. Anyway, the success of OnePlus 6 was quickly overtaken [again] by its successor – OnePlus 6T.
OnePlus 6T – Bye Bye headphone Jack
The notch trend was on high last year, and OEMs have also adopted reducing the notch and converted that into a water/teardrop. In addition to that, the in-display fingerprint sensor has become a reality. Combining all these features, Oppo’s clone – OnePlus 6T was launched into the Indian market on October 31st, 2018 for a price of Rs. 37,999 [6/128GB] and Rs. 41,999 [8/128GB]. There was also a higher-end version with 8GB and 256GB storage which was priced at Rs. 45,999.
Yet again, there was a 3,000 INR price hike when compared to OnePlus but this wasn’t the case that made people go rage-mode. OnePlus has actually removed the ‘headphone jack’ from 6T onwards, and that seriously hit a backlash on the brand. Even though it was a definite move to transit towards wireless, but the very purpose of purchasing a OnePlus device was to experience everything in a budget. OnePlus did offer their wireless headset on offer, but that really didn’t help to calm the fans. Anyway, all of these didn’t really matter as OnePlus 6T has become the best selling smartphone in 2018.
Just like the Marvel’s Avenger Edition, OnePlus launched OnePlus 6T McLaren edition on December 12th, 2018 for a price of Rs. 50,999. This was the first phone from OnePlus that touched the 50K mark and has a whopping 10GB RAM. Currently, the McLaren edition was selling at a price of Rs. 46,999 but again, who’d really need 10GB RAM on their phone?
What’s Next? – OnePlus 7 Series
OnePlus 7 is all set to launch in India today, and one of our team member Kavea is attending it. I’ll update the story once I get enough details from her, but at this moment, you can look at the leaked specifications and the price of the series.
Okay, fam! OnePlus 7 & 7 Pro was officially launched on May 14th, 2019 and the prices are as follows. The OnePlus 7 Pro was priced at Rs. 48,999 [6/128GB], Rs. 52,999 [8/256GB] and Rs. 57,999 [12/256GB]. This might not be the first time, but the price of OnePlus 7 Pro has reached 50K and actually exceeded it for 256GB variant. Also, this might be the first phone to offer a whopping 12GB RAM. Along with the pro version, the OnePlus 7 was launched for a price of Rs. 32,999 [6/128GB] and Rs. 37,999 [8/256GB]. Does this ring something?
It’s true that the OnePlus 7 Pro is an extremely high-end phone which was developed by keeping gamers in mind as it offers 90Hz refresh rate, a game boost, and the 12GB RAM. So, OnePlus justified the price of 50K+, and even then, it’s priced lower than the existing and about to launch flagships. However, there are a few things missing. Even now, there’s no IP rating, no wireless charging capability, and of course ‘NO HEADPHONE JACK’. OnePlus recently took Iron Man fame Robert Downey Jr. to be the brand ambassador but they received a severe backlash. Even though RDJ has a positive impact on the brand, it wasn’t well received for just one reason. The company has enough funds to take RDJ on board but doesn’t have money to get IP certification or provide wireless charging which is important to us.
Anyway, they got brownie points with OnePlus 7 pricing. Why don’t you read its pricing again? It starts at Rs. 32,999 which is way cheaper than OnePlus 6 and 6T. It’s as same as the pricing of OnePlus 5 & 5T. There you go! The reasons for offering such a low price is to give competition to the flagships from Asus, Xiaomi, etc. There is quite a big difference in the Pro version, and the normal one, but the pricing for OP7 is a hell of a deal.
What did we Learn from OnePlus History?
Every year, they keep better themselves both in terms of providing hardware upgrades and superb software optimization. However, the price hike for each lineup is making people worried. It’s true that to keep up with the competition, and at the same time delivering what they promised can’t happen simultaneously, but that doesn’t mean increasing price would change it.
Nonetheless, It all started with an idea of providing premium-end smartphones for a cheaper price and the rest is history!
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