OnePlus succeeds because of its desire to copy Apple

OnePlus is gearing up to launch a new phone soon, and as the case has been for the past couple of devices the company's released, the leaks and rumors we've seen have caused a lot of people to voice their many complaints. Whether it be due to rising prices, new gesture systems, or its notch, the OnePlus 6 has already gotten a lot of folks flustered even before it's been announced.

Since the launch of the OnePlus 5, OnePlus has been accused of copying Apple with its design, presentation, and marketing choices. The OnePlus we know today is very different from the one we were introduced to in 2014, and while people will continue to yell about its increasing similarity to Cupertino's golden boy, OnePlus's willingness to become the iPhone of the Android world is the very reason it's still relevant and hasn't failed like just about every other startup that's entered this industry.

Before we get into that conversation, however, we need to talk about the hardware OnePlus has to work with. OnePlus is a sister company of Oppo, and the phones it releases are based on designs that Oppo uses for its own lineup. The OnePlus 5 looked nearly identical to the Oppo R11, the 5T shared a lot of similarities to the R11S, and the upcoming OnePlus 6 is looking a lot like the Oppo R15.

OnePlus has freedom over some of the more minute details, but for the most part, it relies on Oppo to determine what it has to work with.

This is the OnePlus 6 and its notch.

This is the OnePlus 6 and its notch.

Oppo is based in Dongguan, China, and it's one of the largest smartphone brands in the world. Oppo makes money because of its affordable iPhone clones, and it's essentially up to OnePlus to find a way to make them sell in the markets it operates in.

Faced with this situation, OnePlus has a couple of options at hand:

  1. Take the iPhone-like design, ignore it, and try to do its own thing
  2. Embrace the similarities to Apple and become a better version of the iPhone for the Android world

We've seen OnePlus move more and more towards Option 2 for its last few hardware releases, and I really do think this is the reason the company's continued to be so relevant in the smartphone space.

Looking at the Oppo R15 (the phone the OnePlus 6 is based on), there's nothing all that exciting to see. It's got a notch and dual rear-camera system, and it could easily be passed off as a generic iPhone X copycat with nothing special to see. The OnePlus 6 is basically the same phone, but rather than accepting it and not doing much else, OnePlus is going all in.

OnePlus is becoming the Apple of the Android world, and that's precisely why it's still around.

OnePlus started messing with its own gesture system on the 5T, and this will also be found on the 6. Carl Pei had an interview with The Verge solely to defend the OnePlus 6's notch and how it was created with more thought than what we've seen from other Android OEMs. There's a "Designed by OnePlus" logo on the back of the 6 (Granted that phrase was also found on the back of the OnePlus One, but still.) These similarities aren't coincidences.

It's easy for any Android fan to hate on Apple, but at the end of the day, what is it about the company or its products you don't like? For me, and I imagine most people, it's the many restrictions found within iOS. I prefer Android's software for my smartphone, but even so, there's no denying that Apple knows a thing or two when it comes to hardware.

If OnePlus wants to copy Apple, so be it. This can strike a nerve with some consumers, but all it means is that we get phones that look good, feel great in the hand, offer one of the best Android experiences around thanks to OxygenOS, and come in at prices well below what you'll find from the likes of Samsung, Google, and even Apple itself.

The way I look at it, that's a win-win for just about everyone.

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

87 Comments
  • The notch looks really good. Can't wait to see all the phone with a notch this year.
  • Then buy the ugly iphone x
  • Loving the snarky reply followed by a kiss 😂
  • I also like the small notch and swipe gestures. Its like Apple and android had a baby. Get best of both worlds.
    Best thing is you can customise to your liking. Icon packs, etc
  • That's why I will never buy one plus
  • No one plus for me. They should rename it the iPhone one plus & notch included. Great innovation Carl Pei!
  • @t well - Well then, you should not be using any android devices since android itself is an iOS/iPhone clone to the core. How do you accept one and not the other? I love reading comments like this, because it shows folks ignorance.
  • You literally don't know what you are talking about.
  • Yup he does! Heck even Android Central had a 6 piece Article on the history of Android and all the players in the involved. The iPhone Influence "As a consumer I was blown away. I wanted one immediately. But as a Google engineer, I thought 'We're going to have to start over,'" Googler Chris DeSalvo is quoted as saying. "What we had suddenly looked just so ... '90s [...] It's just one of those things that are obvious when you see it." Andy Rubin's reaction was equally visceral, according to The Atlantic — "Holy crap. I guess we're not going to ship that phone." " "That phone" was "Sooner," the HTC-built device with a physical keyboard. The prevailing argument has been that the decision to ship a different phone — the touchscreen-centric "Dream," which became the T-Mobile G1 — was directly due to the arrival of the iPhone. Google could've launched Android on Sooner, well, sooner, but held off until it had something better capable of competing with Apple's offering" https://m.androidcentral.com/android-pre-history
  • Android was invariably influenced by iOS, and has directly copied things from it. The reverse is also true. What Android isn't is "an iOS/iPhone clone to it's core". I agree with the sentiment, but that Foundation is so shaky even Trump wouldn't try to build on it. Unless it was cheap land. Or possibly if it was culturally, historically or environmentally significant land... I digress.
  • Really, Android did not bring anything to the table, it's just an open version of iOS, nothing more. Same concept, Microsoft at least made an effort with Windows mobile even when it failed. It's the reason why more than a decade later, Apple's influence is everywhere in the current mobile space. As long as that remains so, Apple is not going anywhere and so is the current vision.
  • if android was nothing more than an open version of iOS, then why didn't steve jobs go through with his thermonuclear war against android.
  • Not that he did not try, but you never get those kind of results through the courts. Money is what you typically get and Apple did not really care about the money. Not when they were printing money themselves.
  • "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this." ~Steve Jobs. he really didn't care about money, so once again, if he and you all are so convinced android is nothing more than a stolen product, why didn't he go through with the thermonuclear war.
  • Repeating it won't make it any less true if that is your aim here. Besides Steve is dead, and everyone just need to look at the current mobile world to see everyone is using the iPhone template. Try as you might to deny so. It's funny the people involved have admitted as much but somehow the fanatics can't.
  • thats quite funny because the narrative has always been android is copied/stolen from iOS but nobody has ever mentioned how besides some quote from google engineers. which brings me to the original point, if android was truly a stolen product and steve jobs was so adamant about it, why did he not go through with his war? you all are pushing the same narrative as he did. this is intellectual property we are talking about here.
  • IBM made the first smart phone.
    Called "the personal communicator" or something.
    Apple have loads of patents but very few original ideas.
  • i really dont care which company made what first, because it doesn't offer any value other than bragging rights. do you know who loves bragging rights, little kids. mercedes benz made the patent-motorwagen, do i really want to hear mercedes benz fans telling everyone they made the first modern car? hell no. im still waiting for proof other than some quote from google software engineers as definitive proof that android was copied/stolen.
  • @droider59 It's the same situation in the past with Apple suing Samsung for copying Apple by trying to mimic their phones like Apple's iPhone. Even at the end when Apple won they were only awarded a fraction of their original sum. You think a company like Samsung really got punished? Heck no. It was worth it for them cause they made billions in profits and only ended up being fined for less than $200 million.
  • i was really hoping you would bring up apple's lawsuit with samsung. samsung made a black candy bar phone with a display and square icons and apple lose their minds and sue them. according to steve jobs, android is a stolen product and vowed to destroy them. so where was the action against android?
  • Well the 130 + page they were caught with shows they really were trying to copy Apple as much as they could. Which at the end they got away with. I can't speak for Steve Jobs as to why they didn't go after and sue. Maybe it wasn't worth it for the long run just like in their case with Samsung. Maybe it would have hurt with the Google apps and etc they have in their Apple store not being there or something.
  • were these 130+ pages proof of apple's intellectual property being stolen by samsung or android? im still waiting on proof of android stealing from apple.
  • It was an internal document samsung had on how to copy everything about Apple's iPhone. Never said Android stole from iOS. Agreed that Android was based off iOS after their OS was redone from originally trying to look more like BlackBerry's OS.
  • you did say android is just an open version of iOS, nothing more...that sounds a lot like copying right?
  • You do realize that was a different user who wrote that to you
  • doesn't matter, thats the common narrative and all we hear about. you did indeed say android was rewritten to look like iOS, which in other words is copying.
  • Yeah it was. Even Andy Rubin and his team admitted they had to redo their OS after seeing the iPhone since their original OS was based on the keyboard OS's of that time. Iphone /iOS with its larger screen and multi touch interface made all keyboard smartphones look old at that time. So yes, Android was based to be more like iOS
  • so since android is based off or in other words copied or stolen from apple, why didnt steve jobs go after android? he went after samsung for stealing their design but let android off the hook for stealing elements of the OS? how is that consistent?
  • steve jobs vow to bring thermonuclear war against android was never about money, he wanted android completely gone, which was why he threatened to spend every last penny of his company to make that happen.
  • Google doesn't officially make any money on Android. Apple would have a hard time going after Google. Apple did go after Samsung and the ruling was in Apple's favor for a large sum of money. Apple also went after HTC and HTC settled for an undisclosed amount of money.
  • You digress because you just don't have a clue
  • Compelling, thoughtful and well reasoned argument... That was sarcasm, by the way. I'm guessing you're the type of person that needs that pointing out.
  • I don't understand all the notch comparisons. If anything, the notches coming out are in between what essential did before the iPhone x and the iPhone x. It's a smaller notch and it will probably come with a software option to enable or disable. Personally I will disable but at least the option is there. I also don't agree that they are copying Apple. They are simply following the market as everyone else does. Really hate these comparisons. OnePlus is a great company and I recently switched from my OnePlus 3 to the new Samsung Galaxy S9+ and brought it back within a week and back on my 3. I'm gonna stick to OnePlus and wait for the 6 to upgrade.
  • Currently have a OP3T and considering Galaxy S9(+). Why did you decide to bail on the Samsung?
  • The little things I guess. The gestures. The quick updates. Even the widgets for data usage, storage and battery. Also the cameras on phones since 2-3 years are quite good. To be honest the S9+ camera was better especially in low light but 25% of the time the OP3 would get the better shot. For the 1300$ cad price tag, it just wasn't worth it to me. I just hope the next OnePlus has wireless charging and water proofing. Oh and really hope they keep the headphone jack(so practical still!)
  • I've always used Android phones but I know Apple also makes great products. Some would argue with that but all opinions are subjective. Price has always been a barrier to my going Apple but now with older model new iphones like the SE and iphone 6s selling at midrange prices or below, the only reason I hesitate is the effort required to switch ecosystems. I suppose it's a form of mental inertia or maybe I'm just lazy. Anywho.... maybe OnePlus offers an in between step.
  • I got the 6s Plus for about $500. It still has at least two years of support left
  • Apple should release an iPhone without a screen just to troll on these copycats.
  • That's a bit much. Its always seemed to me OnePlus"s main strengths have been their cheaper pricing for high-end specs & materials, and the clean stock like firmware. There's no doubt they've been too willing to follow Apple's lead in the design dept, and I'm not a fan of the notch or the iPhone like back of the 5/5T. But the line has been so awesome overall since the OP3 launched that it's hard for me to hate be too bitter about that. For me it's between Google, OnePlus, and Nokia this year to replace my 3T
  • Pretty much nailed it Tubbs, I agree almost completely. Whether that's good or bad, I'll leave to you Haha!
  • Lol..👍
  • I agree with that. I would also consider Motorola with their stock-like OS and great hardware for their price points.
  • If OnePlus worked on the Project Fi network I’d absolutely look at one.
  • Whatever you say, man... There's no question that Oneplus had been aping (far too much of) Apple's design. But to say it's the reason for their success seems pretty naive to say the least... Besides, we all know the Pixel is androids iPhone.
  • EXACTLY. Terrible conclusion.
  • I'm seeing "iPhone clone" being tossed around a lot, to describe these top-notch abominations. These are not "clones", if they were they'd be running iOS and the device wouldn't necessarily need to look like an iPhone. Could we just use the term "copycat" please? ;)
  • What a click bait headline.
    Hopefully Oneplus will do the partial top bezel much better than the iPhone.
    If someone could let me know any feature of the Oneplus phone that Apple actually invented I would be grateful.
    It's kind of ironic a company famous for using other people's ideas is getting so much credit when others also use them.
  • In what world is Oneplus anything less than a shameless clone company devoid of original thought or product?
  • The claim that this, and that, phone is an Apple rip off, is getting old. Yes, smartphones are flat and have a touchscreen - so what? More likely: all phones, including iPhones, just look the same. Get over it.
    Win a lawsuit or it didn't happen
  • Funny reading this, when the whole mobile world is using the iPhone template, have been for the past 10 years. And it does not look like we are moving away from it anytime soon. Apple's influence on the mobile world can't be denied, no matter how much you may wish it to.
  • You're the smartest on here. Although I agree OnePlus pushed things a bit far with the notch. Asus and Sharp already got their notches. It's a shame. But wait ....why didn't the iPhone x get the heat for copying Sharp, Xiaomi and the Essential Phone's bezeless display?
  • Iphone X doesn't resemble any of those phones designs. Unlike all these OEMs trying to rip off on the hype of the X's look /design. Apple went bezelless not to copy /follow them as they were already planning for years of an screen phone with the removal of the button since 2011.
  • I used to like OnePlus but the OnePlus 6 is proof that they no longer care what they're customers want and they're becoming more and more like Apple, the Chinese version of Apple. I came back to Android (I'm never going back to Apple) to get away from Apple and their horrible restrictive, limited and overpriced iPhone, and OnePlus has now made sure I'll never buy any of their phones now thanks to their insistence on the stupid notch, the Pixel will be the only phone I will be buying, it's as overpriced as the iPhone but it's Android the way I like it and it's my favourite version, and while I would have considered the OnePlus 5, there's just too many issues with OnePlus, the data breaches, OnePlus tracking their users data and sending it to China and the BS update where you have to send your OnePlus 5T to OnePlus just so you're able to watch Netflix and Amazon in HD, totally ridiculous.
  • Yeah ok.
  • Blah blah blah. Can you have an original thought please?
  • Perhaps, but I think people are drawn to OnePlus because of their flagship specs with an inexpensive price tag. I personally wouldn't purchase a OnePlus device just because it lacks many hardware features I like (NFC, wireless charging, water resistance, QuadHD, etc.), but for those who purchase the device, they don't seem to mind that those features are missing and enjoy it.
  • OnePlus does have NFC
  • Maybe for the general public but being an iPhone copy helped sales but it was certainly not the reason most tech savvy bought the phone. To summarize briefly... Just about stock Android
    Pixel/Nexus like speed
    Nexus like dev support
    1/2 the price of the other flagships Only short coming is the camera. It's not terrible it's just not up to flagship quality. For the $400 difference just drop a few extra benjamins and have a nice entry DSLR. For the "in the moment" shots just about any 2017 or 2018 phone has a camera up to the task.
  • All these people hating on the notch and then we will see few months down the line that OnePlus is doing just fine and selling them pretty well as usual 🤷‍♂️
  • I actually like OnePlus Oxygen OS which is very close to stock Android/Pixel. Why I won't buy a OnePlus phone is because of their BS and plus their mediocre camera and OnePlus don't care about consistent monthly security patches which is one of a few a major reasons why I want to pay the extra mula for a Pixel 2 XL plus the Pixel 2 XL has my favourite version of Android, pure and with Google services and apps which doesn't get any better than that for me.
  • Actually they have a great camera. Love my 5T
  • If that's the case, then I'll expect to see a 6.5-inch vanilla Android smartphone, hopefully at a very reasonable price, from them before the end of the year.
  • Why this Android site continue to make Apple a topic on this forum, I'll never understand. All these manufacturer copy from one another the problem is when apple do it they get a pass. Last time I checked, one plus had to wait on google for the latest OS.
  • Much as I hate to admit it, this article is right, 10 years on and the iPhone remains the template in which all Android OEMs (sadly) are still adopting, Google is already going in that direction with the Pixel line but as long as they don't make Android closed off and restrictive like iOS then I'm fine with it as I've never been interested in anything else but stock Android, particularly the Pixel formerly known as Nexus, I wasn't interested in the original Pixel as it looked too iphoney but the Pixel 2 XL (in particular) finally won me over with its better design and thinner bezels, the regular Pixel 2 is meh though with those ugly bezels.
  • I think the Pixel 2XL is meh with the subpar screen. I think the Pixel 3XL should be interesting if they add facial recognition and wireless charging. I am curious too see if they set a new standard like they did with the camera
  • The display on the Pixel 2 XL isn't that bad, sure it should have been better than it is but I don't think it's not "sub par" like the Nexus 6 was, overall I think the display on the Pixel 2 XL is not the best but it is still good enough and it still has the best camera.
  • IBM made the first smartphone I believe.
    Apple are the absolute masters of taking other people's ideas, making them work and work well, then taking the credit for the Idea.
    I really don't mind an Android version of an iPhone. That's why I like Pixels.
    I want a phone that has all the best ideas and tech not one that is missing things because someone did it first.
  • It seems Android manufacturers hurry and put out things that are half done. What Apple does is change things around and create new technologies and they work very well and are very simple.
  • Well, not everyone. Some companies are often criticized for introducing phones later, but I'd rather not have something that comes out half done as you say. I agree with your comments that the iPhone had a huge influence on the market (I've had every one of them since gen 2), but I would not say that Apple does everything "best". Even phones that get overlooked can top the iPhone depending on which features you are looking for. For example (and I'm using this since it's one of several phones I actually own), the HTC U11 has a better camera than the iPhone X and 8 Plus, better battery life, better screen than the 8 Plus (which we also own), equals the performance of the A11 Bionic in real world use, and has better audio quality than any Apple product. Apple has licensed a number of things from HTC, like the metal back/dual antenna bands beginning with the iPhone 6, and even Live photos. Nothing wrong with that, and it's nice to see Live photos gaining traction under a larger company. I use both platforms by the way: Bought my iPhone 7 (128GB in matte black) on the same exact day as the U11, my sons have the iPhone 6, 6S, 7, and 8 Plus, and just last week I picked up a 5S for the sake of nostalgia.
  • Your comment is just silly. The HTC 11 doesn't have a better camera than the iPhone X. The SD835 in the HTC U11 doesn't hold a candle to the A11. To even suggest they are equivalent speaks to a very simple use case on your part. Try doing something that is actually processor intensive before making such comments. Also, no, Apple did not license the metal back from HTC. Apple was suing HTC and HTC chose to settle and they agreed to cross licensing of some things. The HTC design of the metal back comes directly from the 5th generation iPod Touch which predates HTC's use of that overall design.
  • So, I suppose you think something like the Tesla is just a copy of the Ford Model T, right? The iPhone is far more a portable computer than a phone. The phone market was considered mature before Apple stepped in and the iPhone changed everything. It changed the entire user interface. It changed the relationship with carriers, it changed how apps were purchased, installed and updated. It changed how updates were sent to phones. etc, etc.. To ignore this is just an exercise in ignorance.
  • I love how all these "experts" that write articles on any phone giving credit to Apple for inventing the notch. The first phone I know of with a notch was the Essential phone. But I forgot Apple invented everything. Also I question if he has even used a OnePlus, by light years one of the best Android phones made, innovative not copied.
  • I don't know that the "notch" is an actual invention as it is a design language. The Essential had a circular bubble for the camera and it looks nothing like the notch on the iPhone or the Oneplus notch.
  • It's going to be fun to watch all the heads explode should the next Pixel have a notch.
  • Apple have done the notch very badly.
    If done right it should just look like your notifications are in a bezel.
  • No the Pixel event will mock Apple for it this year, then next year the presenter will very quickly mumble that they’re adding a notch
  • My problem with the notch is this Apple failed to put all those sensors that it wanted to put in whilst making a phone that is totally screen hence he notch. Now of Android OEMs were going to put all those sensors in as well then maybe people could swallow it. But most OEMs are not going to do that so the question has to be asked what is the point of the notch for android? Especially since as well as getting the notch we are also getting a bottom bezel on most of these phone's. Nobody who wants a Apple phone is going to fooled so this makes no sense to me. Applause do need to go to Samsung and Xiaomi who at the moment remain notchless.
  • The notch is not something added to a phone it's 2/3 of the bezel removed.
    You can use that saving to house the notifications and thus turn the notification bar into screen.
  • Sorry all......the iphone is the new standard bearer
  • Maybe the prices originally. But I really don't like a notch...
  • The point of Android was to be its own OS, not copy iOS. And that's the frustrating part. If I wanted an iPhone, I would...get an iPhone and deal with everything that comes with that. However, seeing so many Android devices copy off Mother Apple is disappointing and represents a lack of creativity on OEMs. This is why I don't like OnePlus currently. Of course, Carl Pei would have the interview with The Verge because The Verge is a OnePlus advertisement machine (yeah I know they gave the 5T and 8/10, but that doesn't mean they aren't an ad machine for OnePlus). But the question is, will people stop buying OnePlus phones because of this? I doubt it. Hopefully, enthusiasts prove me wrong. But here's another thing: Everyone is copying everyone, which is making smartphones very boring.
  • It really doesn't bother me if my smartphone of choice has features taken from other phones.
    Be that a touch screen or removing 2/3 of the bezel.
    If it's a good idea I want it on my device.
  • Why does everyone gets excited to put the headlines as copying Apple, when the first companies to launch a phone with a notch are Essential, Sharp and Chinese companies. I can understand Verge doing that but why in Android Central.. Please high light facts on headlines. Articles say that notch of Huawei is smaller than that of Apple iPhone X and not bigger than Essential. Amazing
  • If OnePlus was available officially locally I would buy the 1+6. It looks nice, I don't care much about that it looks like the iPhone X, that look is mainly forced by technology limitations, it's not here to stay. Smartphones all look similar, the difference are minor. It's about optimal usage and handling. The phone must be thin, have large screen while the body footprint isn't any larger.
  • Is copying a bad thing not all the time think way bad the IBM PC was copied many many times over that is why Dell, ASUS and many other companies are around today and also Microsoft and many other sfotware company's. So I see it as part of the evaluation of technology things change and thing get copied and made better and cheaper. Just think about it most everything gets copied and duplicated and changes come from that as well This is just my point of view..
  • « There's a "Designed by OnePlus" logo on the back of the 6 » Based on what the article is saying, that’s just a lie! « Designed mostly by Oppo » would