The OnePlus 9 won't be able to escape OnePlus' biggest problem — itself
OnePlus has always done things differently. The company started by making some of the best Android phones you could buy but selling them at a much lower cost — and it still does a pretty good job of offering you a lot more than other phone makers when you compare by price. Now we see that same OnePlus DNA moving to the budget phone segment and expect OnePlus to meet all of its internal goals even if it doesn't sell millions and millions of them.
Another thing the company has done is to release a brand new model every six months or so. I think that's something the brand doesn't need to do any longer, and the OnePlus 8 Pro will be one of the best phones you can buy for a good long while.
Phones have come a long way in just a few short years, but in other ways, the tech that powers them hasn't. During Android's (and OnePlus') heydays, we would see new versions every six or eight months with new features that meant a phone might need newer or faster or just more hardware to keep up. Nowadays, all of that has changed.
OnePlus has changed, too. The company has grown into one that doesn't need to catch our attention all the time because the quality of its gear does a fine job at it. Android has become very polarized the past few years where it's now a case of Samsung versus the rest when it comes to making phones people actually buy, at least in North America. It didn't use to be this way, or at least it wasn't quite so lopsided.
OnePlus was able to grab the spotlight among the Android faithful by making something good twice each year. That's how it competed against the Motorolas and LGs of the Android world. Circle around to 2020, and Motorola and LG have slowed down the production lines and we're not seeing nearly as many models and not seeing phones nearly as often.
The different models we are seeing are also broken down a lot more. No company is releasing multiple flagship phones each year unless you count Samsung's foldables like the Z Flip against the "normal" Galaxy S line. The likely death of the Galaxy Note furthers the idea that a company can make its mark by releasing one really good phone in each segment per calendar year.
OnePlus can do it, too, and there are some good reasons why we might want to see it. A spring release of the flagship and fall release of the budget models means OnePlus can wait for the next big thing in hardware. Everyone knows a new Snapdragon is coming, for example, we just don't know exactly when. It will be in early 2021, but is it currently being tested by partners? If not, it won't be in the OnePlus 9.
If it does make it into the OnePlus 9, the phone that comes six months later won't have anything really new to offer except a slightly bigger price tag. We've seen exactly that the past two years from OnePlus; the same basic phone with a promise of improved cameras or some other minor change and a new name released twice each year. This doesn't really hurt anything, but it does make everything more hectic and confusing for the company itself.
It's not our job to worry if anything is hectic or confusing for OnePlus because we're consumers and all we should be concerned about is getting our money's worth. But OnePlus slowing down the rapid-fire releases does do one other thing that benefits us — we get better software. More time to build all of the things that make a OnePlus phone on the software side means fewer bugs for us to deal with, both when a new model comes out or when we see an official update on the phone we have. That's something we can all get on board with — I think.
OnePlus is the closest thing to a Chinese brand we have here in the U.S. By that I mean the company's shared roots with Oppo, Vivo, Realme, and others reflect on what it has to offer to us as customers. We see that manifested in physical things like crazy fast wireless charging and with corporate-minded things like multiple releases every year.
That makes it kind of fun; we learn all there is to know about the current new OnePlus phone but know that another new OnePlus phone is already in the works. Some of us would miss that if the company was following a more "normal" release schedule. But I think the trade-off of having the newest hardware inside every flagship phone when it releases and knowing that it will have been tested with the latest version of Android instead of rushed out the door would be worth it.
OnePlus goes full flagship
The OnePlus 8 Pro marks a big shift in OnePlus as a company. While every device prior to this has cut some corner or feature, the 8 Pro does none of that. In addition to the beastly processor and RAM you've come to expect from OnePlus devices, the 8 Pro also delivers a stunning 120Hz AMOLED display, a 4,510 mAh battery, 30W wireless charging, an IP68 dust/water resistance rating, and 5G connectivity. Yes, it's expensive, but it's also one of the most fully-featured flagships on the market.
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Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.