So, this week brings with it another OnePlus event. The second for 2015 and the third in their history. It does sort of feel like there has been more than two major product launches from OnePlus already. The company is in the headlines so frequently, that it feels as though they should have more than two products on the market. That is, excluding the likes of this. In reality, this just highlights the effect and impact OnePlus has had on the market overall. Their debut device started so strongly and built up such a fan-base (myself included), that the expectations have become extremely high for the company.
At least, they were high prior to the unveiling of the OnePlus 2. Their second device was one which saw an almost hysteria level of speculation prior to its launch. This was partly due to the existence of the OnePlus One and the consumer-belief that the OnePlus 2 would be the true successor to the One. In fact, OnePlus thought it was so good that they believed it would still be relevant this time next year. Of course, that is simply not going to be the case. Too many, including a portion of the OnePlus community, are already finding it difficult to see its relevance now. These heightened expectations were always going to be an issue with the OnePlus 2 and a point I made the weekend before the OnePlus 2 event took place.
Either way, we have now reached the week when the OnePlus X will be announced. It does seem to be confirmed now that this will be the name of the device. While, in terms of the specs, these are largely believed to now be understood as well – thanks to the number of leaks that have passed through. To (very) briefly recap, the OnePlus X should come with a 5-inch 1080p display, 3GB RAM, Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor (maybe a MediaTek), 16GB (maybe 32GB) storage, 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel (maybe 8MP) front-facing camera and a 2,450 mAh battery. If these pan out to be correct, then in reality this is pretty much a OnePlus One, but in a smaller body. Which raises the question, will the OnePlus X be a hit like the OnePlus One or a miss like the OnePlus 2?
In truth, it is difficult to know. At the moment, it does feel like it will be a miss. Interest does seem to have died down with OnePlus and in fact, if anything, it is starting to seem as though people are becoming turned off by the company lately. Which is in stark contrast to six months ago. This in itself is a bit of a tell. Even the expected low price is not something that is attracting as much attention as would have been expected, which is a BIG tell. However, OnePlus do have the ability to surprise and sometimes, lowered expectations can work in your favor. Take a look at the Nexus 6P for instance. Prior to the launch of the 6P, very few people seemed interested. That is, by Nexus standards. The industry just did not seem that enlightened by the device and especially were rather skeptical of its looks, the bump and the general presentation. In fact, prior to the Nexus event, everyone seemed far much focused and interested in the Nexus 5X, which looked certain to be the hit device. Now that they have both been outed, the Nexus 6P is the only Nexus in town. So lower expectations can and do work.
Then there is also how and where OnePlus will choose to market the OnePlus X. This will be a massive factor in deciding whether or not it is a success. At launch, the OnePlus One was only available in a select number of markets. If this is the case for the OnePlus X, then choosing these markets will be integral to its success. Many have speculated that this is a device which is designed for certain budget-to-mid oriented markets. This could be quite possible and will offer a decent level of specs for the cost. However, these markets are already becoming saturated at the budget-to-mid level. It is currently one of the most highly fought areas of the smartphone market and whether the OnePlus X can insert itself in the market, without any local carrier affiliations, remains to be seen.
Not forgetting, the big elephant in the room…
Invites. This is likely to be one of the biggest hurdles OnePlus will encounter. If the OnePlus X is to be a success and any sort of killer, then it will need to be readily available for consumers to buy, when they want to buy. The invite system did create a level of exclusivity for the OnePlus One, which did in turn, help to build the brand they now have. BUT, the invite system has failed in helping the OnePlus 2 and if anything, is now hurting the brand. This factor will be the single most significant aspect which will determine the success or failure of the OnePlus X. The invite system has to go.
So, will the OnePlus X be a hit?
It has the potential to be. The OnePlus X will be a good, solid, reliable device and will arrive at a fantastic price-point. But that is not always enough. The device has done all it can now and the success of the OnePlus X will be solely in the hands of OnePlus.