OnePlus confirms it's going to make cheap Android phones again

OnePlus X with box
OnePlus X with box (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • In a recent interview, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau said his company is re-focusing efforts to create cheap phones once again.
  • It's part of a new strategy to create an ecosystem of connected OnePlus devices.
  • More premium phones like the OnePlus 8 Pro aren't going away.

If you're a long-time OnePlus fan, chances are the company's last couple of releases have been somewhat disappointing. Devices like the OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 8 Pro have proven to be excellent phones that cost considerably less than ones from Samsung and Apple, but their prices have still been noticeably higher than the days of the original OnePlus One and OnePlus 2.

You wouldn't be wrong in thinking that recent OnePlus phones have lost sight of what made the company so appealing in the first place, and thankfully, it looks like OnePlus is well aware of that. In a recent interview with Fast Company, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau confirmed that OnePlus is shifting gears to once again offer seriously cheap Android handsets.

Once known for selling nice phones at hard-to-believe prices, OnePlus wants to get back to making more affordable phones while also expanding into new product categories, Lau says.

Lau doesn't explicitly mention any new devices by name in the interview, but it's safe to assume that the rumored OnePlus Z will be the first cheap phone that gets OnePlus back into this niche. We do get some insight into the rollout of the phone, with part of the interview noting that:

OnePlus isn't revealing any of those products yet, but a glimpse of the new strategy will arrive soon with an announcement for India. Later this year, the company hopes to bring lower-priced devices to other markets, including North America and Europe.

OnePlus 8 Pro

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

The idea of having a genuinely cheap OnePlus phone again is quite exciting, but the company's reasoning for doing so is a bit different this time around. Back in 2014 and 2015, OnePlus needed those low prices to attract a customer base as a brand new company. Here in 2020, those low prices are now intended to get more people into the OnePlus ecosystem and build up a connected system of devices that all work seamlessly together.

Per Pete Lau:

We indeed have come from background and roots as a hardware company, but from what we see looking forward, building an ecosystem is a forward trend.You have an Android foundation, but it's really looking at this seamless experience where it gets challenging, where Android won't create a full solution. Android's able to bring it from zero to one, but it's the one to 10 that you really have to put a lot of work into yourself.

It's not surprising that OnePlus wants to extend its offerings beyond one-off smartphones. We've already seen it dabble with wireless earbuds and its OnePlus TV in India, along with there now being rumors we'll soon see an AirPods competitor from the company. The phone is the gateway into all of this, and if OnePlus can release quality devices with lower prices, it'll be much easier to get more folks into that OnePlus ecosystem it seems so intent on making.

Even if you don't care about that ecosystem, though, you'll still be able to reap the rewards of OnePlus going back to basics with a quality Android device that doesn't cost a penny shy of $1,000.

A budget-minded OnePlus Z is necessary to win back longtime OnePlus fans

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

8 Comments
  • Oneplus devices are cheaper than the likes of Samsung but I don't think you can say that they are considerably cheaper any more.
  • Good I'm glad I hear that. This will give those that have been belly aching about the 8 series something to focus on. My budget is pretty tight too, I'm eager to see the OnePlus Z. Though I'm sure history will repeat itself, OnePlus will launch a phone in the $400 - $500 range and OnePlus fans will complain it doesn't have wireless charging, Superior cameras or IP68. I love my OnePlus devices but their old school fans expect everything for $400.
  • Don't only make them cheaper, make them smaller and lighter.
  • Smaller does not fit in with their users tastes. Definitely doesn't work for me, I like a large screen.
  • The thing is in Asia, and especially in India, the general market requirement is for a big screen. Simply because for a lot of people, their smartphone is their primary media consumption device. My mother loves her OP7 because she can read very easily on the big screen
  • They're gonna make cheaper devices without flagship specs
  • Cool. I haven't bought a OnePlus phone since the 3T and price was one of the reasons (The notch/hole and lack of led notification light or always on display are the other reasons.)
  • I don't think they'll remove the notch/hole or add a led notification light (they are on their way out) OnePlus is working on AOD for OxygenOS.