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2021 Winners and Losers: OnePlus

OnePlus had a rather turbulent year announcing plenty of changes that await fans and users in 2022 but one of the biggest surprises is that the OEM skipped its T series this year. The OnePlus RT was allegedly comming in December, but that never materialized. And we must say that this year, we feel like there were more losers than winners at OnePlus’ camp. So we’ve picked the highlights from this year, as we usually do. Here it goes.

Winner: OnePlus Nord series

It feels like the Nord lineup is slowly becoming the leading OnePlus lineup. Last year we praised some of the Nord phones and this year Nord 2 5G and the Nord CE 5G were very successful midrangers. In fact the Nord 2 5G is probably the best handset you can get right now at €400. In countries, where it’s available that is, which sadly doesn’t include the US.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G and Nord CE 5G
OnePlus Nord 2 5G and Nord CE 5G

OnePlus Nord 2 5G and Nord CE 5G

One could even argue that the Nord series bring back what OnePlus was all about in the beginning – great price/performance ratio. The Nord 2 and the Nord CE are well-built, balanced and powerful handsets and make a lot of sense if you are into OxygenOS. Although, that last part is rather debatable given recent developments with Oppo’s ColorOS merge. But more on that later.

Loser: OnePlus Watch

We honestly expected more. Especially when the first rumors of OnePlus’ watch started flying in. And then, it turned out to be a glorified fitness tracker. OnePlus could have at least put WearOS on it – a missed opportunity there.

2021 Winners and Losers: OnePlus

When you add the uninspiring watch faces, lengthy strap, no always-on display and limited amount of workout modes to the list of cons, the watch starts to make even less sense. At $159 asking price, it’s even a bit overpriced in some markets.

Winner: OnePlus 9 Pro

Sure, the OnePlus 9 Pro has its issues but it’s a solid phone nonetheless. It’s a relatively more affordable than most flagships with the same screen size and it has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a proper flagship phone. Moreover, the 9 Pro is quite competitive in markets such as the USA, where there are less manufacturers present, and India, where it’s avaialble at a barganous price.

2021 Winners and Losers: OnePlus

The only thing that’s not really all that competitive is the camera experience, which brings us to our next point.

Loser: Cameras

OnePlus has been promising to improve its camera experience for years now. It’s been the only blemish on the maker’s CV. Speedy and clean software are nice, but a flagship needs to cover all bases if it to compete against the big guys.

The whole Hasselblad marketing worked out well for the hype but didn’t translate into spectacular image quality. The first time we heard about the news we thought that OnePlus is really onto something here. After all, we haven’t seen the legendary Hasselblad brand on a smartphone, so we hoped it will be more about exchanging know-how and less about marketing.

2021 Winners and Losers: OnePlus

We are not saying the cameras are bad, we are saying that they are not as good as the best in the industry. Of course, we saw a great improvement in the ultrawide camera but it wasn’t enough to replace the 8 Pro in our cameraphone 2021 Buyer’s guide. Also, while everyone is making periscope cameras nowadays, OnePlus is still stuck with a modest 3x telephoto unit.

Loser: OxygenOS

OxygenOS and its fans are probably the biggest losers this year. After all, the timely updates, clutter-free and speedy OxygenOS software has been the staple of OnePlus’ success over the years and since the company announced that it’s merging its OS with Oppo’s ColorOS, there has been an outcry in the community. Gone are the days of stock-looking Android.

2021 Winners and Losers: OnePlus

This will surely push away some older OnePlus diehard fans and when you account for the rather troublesome OxygeonOS updates for new and old phones, there’s no surprise that users will be taking their business elsewhere.

You can make a case that OnePlus just lost its identity and this move almost completely closes the gap between Oppo and OnePlus phones.

There’s a silver lining to all of this, though. As OnePlus and Oppo point out, sharing R&D and software support, OnePlus may actually stand to gain more than it loses. It could potentially mean that Oppo’s ColorOS updates would come faster with fewer issues.

We hope this turns out well for OnePlus and we will see how this unravels in 2022.

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