The tech world is buzzing as OnePlus gears up for the release of its first folding phone, the OnePlus Open, scheduled to hit the market on October 19th.
As the excitement builds, a tantalizing glimpse of the device, reveals a sleek and slim design. Notably, the phone retains a beloved feature among OnePlus enthusiasts: the three-stage alert slider.
OnePlus President and COO, Kinder Liu, has been vocal about the OnePlus Open’s potential to elevate the foldable experience to new heights. Despite entering a market long dominated by Samsung, Liu emphasizes that this device, to be released under a different name by parent company Oppo, has undergone extensive research and development, spanning over two years.
According to Liu, the OnePlus team encountered technical challenges during the initial stages, leading to a delay in the product’s launch. Their commitment to delivering a fully refined product underscored their decision not to rush it to market. As Oppo’s Find series of fold-style phones, which have remained within China, played a role in the OnePlus Open’s development, lessons learned from this endeavor likely contributed to its readiness.
User Demand vs. Manufacturer Push: The Foldable Dilemma
The OnePlus Open arrives amidst a question: Do consumers truly desire folding phones, or is it a trend driven by manufacturers rather than real user needs? OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei shares a skeptical view, emphasizing that it’s the industry, not the customers, that fuels the push for foldable phones. Liu, however, asserts that his team conducted extensive research to ensure that the OnePlus Open aligns with genuine user demand. The objective is to meet users’ aspirations for expansive screens, addressing the shortcomings found in current foldable options, which are often deemed cumbersome and bulky. By reducing weight and thickness, OnePlus aims to eliminate the friction experienced with current foldables.
While Samsung stands as a heavyweight in the foldable phone segment, Liu believes there is room for OnePlus to make its mark. Market forecasts anticipate growth in the foldable space, and Oppo has already claimed a significant portion of the foldable market in China during the first quarter of 2023, marginally surpassing Samsung. In a smartphone market characterized by contraction, foldables represent a bright spot of expansion.
Liu underscores OnePlus’ commitment to the user experience and needs, prioritizing them over concerns about competition. The OnePlus Open aspires to be a flagship foldable without compromises. Yet, designing such a product entails a delicate balance, prompting decisions about what to include and what to omit.