OnePlus has been releasing smartphones since 2014. The company has come a long way since then, and on its journey, it released only one smaller device. That device's name is the OnePlus X, and it arrived alongside the OnePlus 2 in 2015.
Since then, OnePlus had released quite a few phones, but all of them have been fairly large. Smartphones, in general, have been increasing in size. Smartphone manufacturers have been utilizing larger displays, and trimming down bezels on smartphones.
The OnePlus X was a mid-ranger, not a flagship
That being said, the OnePlus X was a mid-range smartphone. Every other phone that the company released in its existence is considered to be a flagship, a high-end phone, except the OnePlus X.
That device did not sell all that well, and that may be the reason why the company opted not to release another device with a smaller footprint. Well, the reason it did not sell all that well may lie somewhere else.
The OnePlus X was the only mid-range phone the company released, so that may have more to do with its sales than the fact it was small. People genuinely like the OnePlus X when it launched, even though many of them wished for it to be more powerful.
On top of that, back then, OnePlus was a relatively unknown manufacturer. Most of its consumers wanted flagship-grade phones with affordable price tags. The OnePlus 2 was just that, so many of them opted to get the second-gen flagship, rather than a mid-ranger like the OnePlus X, despite its size.
Things are considerably different now, OnePlus should go for a smaller flagship
Well, things have changed a bit since then. OnePlus is now a very well-known smartphone manufacturer, it's in fact regarded to be one of the best out there. On top of that, the company now releases four phones a year, two at the same time.
That strategy kicked off this year, as the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro were introduced in May. The OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro followed later in the year. The thing is, none of those phones are small, in fact, they're all quite large. The non-Pro models are smaller than the Pro ones, but only barely, and I quite frankly don't understand why.
The fact is, OnePlus should offer a flagship-grade, compact phone. Dare to go down that road once again, and see how people will react. Many people out there don't want huge phones, and that's what most of today's flagships are… huge.
Many well-known brands release compact flagships every year
At this point in time, it's safe to say that OnePlus is a competitor to the largest smartphone manufacturers out there. I'm talking about Samsung, Huawei, Apple, and Huawei, first and foremost. What do all those companies have in common? Well, all of them have a compact flagship phone in the race, unlike OnePlus.
Samsung had released two flagship-grade compact phones this year, in fact. Well, depending on what you consider a compact phone. Both the Galaxy S10e and Galaxy S10 are considerably smaller than anything OnePlus has to offer at the moment. In the case of Huawei, something similar can be said, as the P30 is a compact beast of a phone.
Apple has the iPhone 11 Pro, which is essentially a compact variant of the 11 Pro XL. They're on the same level in pretty much every other way, thus providing consumers with options. Something similar can be said for the Pixel 4 as well. The Pixel 4 is the same as the Pixel 4 XL, except it has a smaller, lower-res display, and a smaller battery. That is actually one misstep Google made this year, as the battery life on the Pixel 4 is really bad. If Google got that right, they'd have an extremely powerful compact phone to offer.
The point is, every single major OnePlus competitor has a compact flagship to offer. The best of all, all of those phones are almost on the same level as the larger flagship. So, neither of these companies decided to lower the bar with their smaller offerings.
OnePlus, if you release a smaller device, make it flagship-grade phone
Some rumors arrived in the past, saying that OnePlus is considering the idea of releasing a smaller device in the future. The company's executives always leave that option open, but thus far, they did not indicate we'll see something like that happen.
If OnePlus does opt to release a smaller handset, it should definitely be a flagship. It seems like consumers are not really interested in mid-range offerings from OnePlus, not when they can get flagship-grade phones and pay considerably less than for offerings from other major smartphone manufacturers.
So, if OnePlus ever ends up releasing a smaller flagship, it should be on the same level as the flagship one. In other words, the OnePlus 7 and 7T could have been smaller flagships, all OnePlus had to do is trim down that display. Instead of including a 6.4 and 6.5 displays, it could have gone with a 5.8 or 6-inch ones.
OnePlus should not skimp on the processor, and other aspects of such a phone, though, as it did with the OnePlus X. It should utilize the same chip, equal amount of RAM, and a high refresh rate display as well.
This is what I believe such a device should look like
OnePlus should keep the design on its compact flagship as close to the large one as possible. The two phones should differ in a couple of ways only. The smaller phone should include a smaller display, logically, and with that lower resolution, if necessary. Why lower resolution? Well, mainly due to a somewhat smaller battery that would go inside it. I'm not saying OnePlus should skimp on battery capacity like Google did, but a battery in the smaller phone won't be as large as the one in the large phone, that's just logic. Less space inside a phone = less space to include a larger battery. With that in mind, consumers won't mind if a phone ends up being 1-2mm thicker if it includes a larger battery, that's for sure.
It should include the same processor as the large model. So, if the large phone includes the Snapdragon 855, so should the smaller one. The same goes for RAM, cameras, and everything else. OnePlus actually did a great job with the OnePlus 7T in that regard. In fact, if the OnePlus 7T ended up sporting a smaller display, the difference between that phone, and the OnePlus 7T Pro would be more pronounced. And thus, consumers would have an easier time decided on which device to get. That would be a smarter choice than releasing just one of the two phones in the US, for example.
The OnePlus 8 series probably won't bring us a smaller flagship, but there's always hope
Both the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro already leaked. OnLeaks shared renders of the two phones a while back, more than half a year before they're scheduled to arrive. If those renders, and included information, are to be believed, we won't see a more compact flagship. OnePlus is once again planning to announce two large flagships, one more affordable than the other.
The OnePlus 8 is rumored to include a 6.5-inch panel, while the 8 Pro will sport a 6.65-inch display. OnLeaks did say that it's expecting the OnePlus 8 to be 72.9mm wide, which is an improvement over the OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro. It's not a huge improvement, but it's a step in the right direction. That phone will still be awfully tall, though, over 160mm.
OnePlus should release a phone that is closer to the iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 4, and Galaxy S10e in size… while keeping it at the flagship-level. OnePlus, give people options, they deserve them.