The upcoming flagship has to improve on the weaknesses of its predecessor and come with features OnePlus fans really want. Can the company do it, and still undercut competing flagships by a big margin?
The obvious fixes
The first thing the OnePlus 7 needs is a faster in-display fingerprint scanner. The one on the OnePlus 6T isn’t the best — it’s both slower and less accurate than traditional fingerprint readers typically located on the back of smartphones.
Sure, the OnePlus 6T arguably offered the best technology available at the time, but that excuse won’t work for the 7. Fingerprint sensing tech has advanced. Qualcomm announced the world’s first 3D ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor back in December, which can read fingerprints through contaminants like oil and water. Oppo also announced an improved in-display fingerprint scanner said to be 15 times larger than current solutions, and it can read two fingerprints at the same time for improved security. Xiaomi revealed something similar, and we can expect more companies to do the same in the near future.
A better in-display fingerprint reader would improve the overall user experience.
Using one of these solutions on the OnePlus 7 is essential, especially since most 2019 flagships are expected to feature an in-display fingerprint scanner, including the Galaxy S10 series.
The next thing the OnePlus 7 needs to take on the best of them is an IP rating (IP67 or IP68) for protection against water and dust. OnePlus fans have long requested this feature, which is present on most high-end phones released last year. The majority of 2019 flagships that will compete with the OnePlus 7 are expected to be waterproof as well, including the Galaxy S10, Huawei P30 Pro, and LG G8 ThinQ.
Having an IP rating gives you peace of mind that your expensive phone won’t stop working when you get caught in the rain or accidentally spill a glass of water on it. It’s a popular feature and it’s why many decided to skip the OnePlus 6T. Not including it on the OnePlus 7 would be a mistake.
The OnePlus 7 needs a better camera than its predecessor.
Top-tier phones stand out through the camera experience they provide, an area where OnePlus has never really shined. The cameras on the 6 and 6T aren’t bad and can take great-looking shots in well-lit conditions, but they struggle in low-light. OnePlus’ Nightscape tech helps a little in increasing sharpness and dynamic range, but the difference is hardly noticeable.
The company doesn’t have to equip the OnePlus 7 with three or four rear cameras to improve image quality. The Pixel 3, for example, is one of the best phones for photography on the market despite its single camera.
This is where OnePlus should focus, potentially improving Nightscape to make it competitive with Google’s Night Sight and Huawei’s Night Mode. A lot of phones — even budget ones — can capture decent images when there’s plenty of light, but only great ones can handle low-light photography. The OnePlus 7 should be one of them.
Another no-brainer is wireless charging. It’s in high demand, mainly because of the convenience it offers.
Stand up on your own
This one’s subjective, but OnePlus fans might also appreciate a new and original design for the upcoming flagship. OnePlus tends to borrow designs from its sister-company Oppo — both brands are part of BBK Electronics. This copy-paste strategy should end with the OnePlus 7. It doesn’t sit well with many fans and gives the products a sense of cheapness OnePlus should definitely avoid.
The OnePlus 7 needs to be a little bolder. A simple design element can make a big difference in the overall look of a device. Good examples of this are the Pixel 3 with its two-tone glass back and the older Huawei Mate 10 Pro‘s reflective stripe running horizontally across the cameras.
Thinking beyond the product itself, more carrier deals could bring the OnePlus 7 in front of more users, which could have a big impact on sales. Most phones in Western markets are sold through carriers, mainly because they are subsidized and can be paid off monthly. Better distribution would also improve OnePlus’ overall brand awareness. Since the company sells most of its phones online, a lot of consumers have never heard of it. Even those who have heard of OnePlus may not be comfortable buying a phone online before seeing it in person.
One of the drawbacks of this strategy is that it could reduce OnePlus’ margins, as the carriers would take a cut from each phone sold. However, OnePlus would likely still make more money overall due to the increase in sales.
What about pricing?
There’s a good chance the OnePlus 7 will be more expensive than its predecessors. I think most OnePlus fans will be able to live with a price hike, but only if the OnePlus 7 delivers some of the features mentioned in this post — and possibly a few additional ones. However, the company has to be careful not to jack up the price too high.
From day one, OnePlus has sold competitive devices for far less than handsets from Samsung, Huawei, and LG. This must not change with the OnePlus 7. Despite its popularity, the company’s brand is still not strong enough to charge $800 for the entry-level version of its flagship. At that price, most people will pick the latest Galaxy S or Pixel phone.
OnePlus could get away with raising pricing by up to $40.
The OnePlus 6T starts at $550, $20 more than its predecessor. The company could get away with charging up to around $40 more for the OnePlus 7 if it delivers in all the areas we’ve discussed. This would still make it considerably cheaper than Samsung’s latest Galaxy S series and high-end phones from LG, Huawei, and other brands.
People are willing to pay more for a device if it offers more value. OnePlus shouldn’t be scared to raise prices for adding extra features in high demand. Gimmicks are another matter. Things like adding 10GB of RAM — which is expected to happen on the OP7 — only increase the price without adding any true value.
Which features do you think the OnePlus 7 needs in order to grab more attention and outsell its predecessor? Let me know in the comments!