There are no shortcuts to greatness and no smartphone maker knows this more than Chinese startup OnePlus.
To fully understand and appreciate the company’s new OnePlus 6 Android smartphone, we need to take a brief trip back a couple of years.
In 2014, the company nobody had heard of had, against all odds, successfully launched its first phone, the OnePlus One.
The sales pitch was remarkably simple: The best Android hardware paired with virtually unmodified (aka “stock”) Android software with prices that’d cost hundreds less than premium phones from Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony, or whoever.
Android diehards flocked to OnePlus. Through word of mouth and gimmicky “invite-to-buy” tactics, the company delivered what Samsung and Google’s Nexus devices couldn’t.
This unexpected disruptive momentum went straight to co-founder Carl Pei’s head and in 2015, the young and soft-spoken executive boldly hyped the OnePlus 2 successor as a “flagship killer.” OnePlus even went as far as launching the phone in a cringe-worthy VR live stream.
The OnePlus 2 was a good phone, but it was hardly a threat to any premium Android phones or the iPhone.
That cockiness has haunted Pei for years. But it has also humbled him and OnePlus. The company’s never uttered “flagship killer” since, instead opting for a more restrained “Never Settle” motto that pervades through every product the company makes.
Now that $1,000 phones are slowly squeezing everyone’s paychecks, the stakes in mobile are higher than they were when OnePlus landed on the scene. We’ve never needed a “flagship killer” more than now.
With the OnePlus 6, the company finally delivers on the hype.