OnePlus vs Apple. In a reversal of roles, Apple has taken the budget segment with the iPhone SE, while OnePlus has chosen to take on flagships.

Last week was an interesting week for smartphones. OnePlus, the company which used to pride itself in its “flagship killer” smartphones announced the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro starting at $699 (S$998) and $899 (S$1,298) respectively.

Meanwhile, Apple, the company which started the thousand-dollar phone trend, released the iPhone SE which starts at just $399 (S$649).

OnePlus 8 vs iPhone SE

We’ve already had a spec-for-spec comparison between the two phones, which showcased why the iPhone SE might actually hold its own against the OnePlus 8.

For $300 less, the iPhone SE provides IP67 water and dust resistance and wireless charging, both of which the OnePlus 8 lacks. It’s also got a top-of-the-line A13 Bionic chip, alongside what is likely to be a decent camera, albeit with just a single lens.

It seems like the tables have turned between the two companies. $399 was the starting price of the much beloved OnePlus 3, which I owned and still consider my favourite phone till today.

To think that in just 4 years the company would increase the price of its cheapest offering to $699. To think that we’d even be talking about OnePlus vs Apple.

Now let me be clear, the OnePlus 8 is certainly a better phone than the iPhone SE. It’s got a higher resolution, high refresh screen, better set of cameras, a much bigger battery, and a modern design. But is it worth the extra $300 (S$349)?

OnePlus and its core audience

My argument is about the value proposition that OnePlus used to stand for. It seems that in its pursuit to make a flagship, it has forgotten its flagship killer roots.

I’m not against OnePlus putting out expensive flagships like the $899 OnePlus 8 Pro, but I feel that OnePlus should also cater to its core fan base: the value-seeking enthusiast.

Many of these fans want the right balance of features and price, and by not giving them that option, OnePlus is essentially alienating its core fanbase.

Of course, all hope is not lost. It is possible that OnePlus might still release a more budget-friendly phone in the future.

It was rumoured that OnePlus would release such a phone, named the OnePlus Z, alongside the OnePlus 8 series. But that didn’t happen during the unveiling last week.

Popular leakster @OnLeaks claims that the cheaper OnePlus Z was in fact going to be released, but was delayed by the current coronavirus (covid-19) situation until the summer.

Little is known about the OnePlus Z, but let’s hope that the rumours are true. Otherwise, the OnePlus that we knew and love is dead, and other brands such as Realme (which is actually under the same parent company as OnePlus) will have to take its place.

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