It's pretty impressive for a fledgling smartphone company to put out its first device in one year, and then release both a successor and a whole new range the next. The dust has barely settled since the OnePlus 2 came out in August, yet OnePlus has already launched a whole new line with the OnePlus X.
So what is OnePlus up to? Experimentation, that's what. OnePlus knows it has a solid device in the flagship OnePlus 2 and a mostly loyal audience of fans. But the OnePlus 2 was always going to be too big, too expensive or too sand-papery for some people. Enter the OnePlus X.
The OnePlus X is targeted at almost the opposite end of the spectrum – those who value looks over performance and prefer smaller phones. The iPhone crowd, basically. And the OnePlus X certainly has a little iPhone 4s in its DNA. The main difference is that the OnePlus X costs less than a third of what an iPhone does, but arguably looks just as good.
But the OnePlus X isn't all show either. The X range is destined to be OnePlus' playground for new materials and design, whereas the “flagship killer” line is where the company delivers the latest tech and cutting-edge features. And there is absolutely room for both.
The best thing about the OnePlus X is that although the focus was on the design and manufacturing, the OnePlus X still looks like it will be a very solid device, performance-wise. It may have a two-year-old processor, but the rest of its specs and near-sock interface should deliver perfectly sufficient performance for those not obsessed by specs sheets.
OnePlus can't afford to take too many huge risks on its 'money-maker' device. Imagine the risk of combining untested new specs with adventurous design and a high price in one phone. Failure could be ruinous.
If you're going to gamble, playing with proven hardware and a lower price point makes a lot of sense: there's simply less riding on it. So while releasing a phone at the OnePlus X's price point may seem like a big gamble, it's an extremely well-calculated one. And if it fails, OnePlus could escape relatively unscathed.
With the already-low priced OnePlus 2, and now the even cheaper OnePlus X, OnePlus is showing it is interested in emerging markets and the lucrative low-cost end of the smartphone spectrum. While this segment has become increasingly crowded of late, OnePlus co-founder and CEO Carl Pei claims “there is no competition for the OnePlus X”.
We're not sure that's entirely true, but the OnePlus X does cut a striking figure: those looks with that specs sheet and that incredibly low price are sure to capture the attention of a decent chunk of the market.
The OnePlus X is a line in the sand. If the idea pays off we're looking at a new split structure of innovation for OnePlus, with specs and features on one end and design and materials on the other. The two may well blend over time, but if the whole idea behind the X flops, then the company can simply pick back up where the OnePlus 2 left off. Either way, the OnePlus X is a bold move, but this time the hype might just be backed up by substance.
What do you think of the OnePlus X? A wise gamble or a foolish risk? Let us know in the comments.