OnePlus runs into a setback in its biggest market

OnePlus 12 camera island next to OnePlus 11
(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • OnePlus phones will not be sold at 4,500 retail chains across six states in the southern and western parts of India.
  • The retailers association noted encountering 'significant obstacles' with OnePlus, including delays in processing warranties, and slender profit margins.
  • The sales ban will go live on May 1.

OnePlus has always counted India as its biggest market; at one point in its ten-year journey, the manufacturer noted that a full 50% of its global sales came from the country. And that's particularly true in 2024 considering the manufacturer sells a lot of budget models under the Nord series — including the latest Nord CE4 — which sell incredibly well in India.

But OnePlus's momentum may come tumbling down in a key part of the country. According to Money Control, select Indian retailers in the southern and western regions are set to enforce a sales ban on OnePlus in the coming weeks, following issues with profit margins, delays with warranty processing, and needless bundling of products.

If the ban goes through, the best OnePlus phones, tablets, and accessories will be taken off shelves of over 4,500 retail outlets in six states: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. These aren't small retailers either; the likes of Poorvika, Sangeetha, Big C, and Pooja will no longer carry OnePlus from May 1.

OnePlus 12 next to OnePlus 9, OnePlus 10, and OnePlus 11

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

The South Indian Organised Retailers Association is a body that oversees issues facing major retail chains in the south, and its president, Sridhar TS, sent a letter to OnePlus India informing the company of its decision:

"Throughout the past year, we have encountered significant obstacles associated with selling OnePlus products, which remain unresolved. As esteemed partners, we had hoped for a more fruitful collaboration with OnePlus. Regrettably, the ongoing issues have left us with no alternative but to discontinue the sale of your products in our stores. ORA painfully wishes to inform our collective decision to halt the retail of OnePlus products in our establishments from 1st May, 2024."

These grievances include delays with warranty and service claims, along with slim profit margins, and bundling of accessories with products: "We have experienced instances where we are compelled to bundle products or services with OnePlus devices, limiting our flexibility and hindering our ability to cater to diverse customer needs. Consequently, this has resulted in stagnant inventory and loss of sales. Despite our persistent efforts to address these concerns with your company, little progress or resolution has been achieved. Promises made have not been fulfilled, leaving us with no recourse but to take this drastic measure."

Obviously, the move affects the company's ability to make its products available to mainstream consumers, but the impact may not be severe. While OnePlus sells its phones and accessories at offline stores these days, a sizeable majority of the company's sales are still via online channels — like its own website, and Amazon India — and those are unaffected.

There's also the fact that retailers are unable to match the enticing offers that are exclusive to online sales, and this has been a point of contention for nearly a decade. I remember retailers blocking sales of Xiaomi products back when the manufacturer was starting out in India, so this particular tactic isn't new.

OnePlus, for its part, says that it "values all the support" it has garnished from its retail partners over the last seven years, and that it is working with the retailers to address highlighted issues. 

In a statement to Android Central, OnePlus said: "At present, we are working with our partners to address the areas highlighted, ensuring our continued commitment to a strong relationship going forward."

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.