For the longest time, OnePlus has been the undisputed king of the budget flagship smartphone segment in India. Anyone looking for a flagship phone in the Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 price bracket would just naturally choose OnePlus over everything else. Mostly because there really wasn’t any competition.
That changed this year, and in such spectacular ways that I’m unsure how to really put it in a clear, concise way. But I’ll give it a shot.
The OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro
OnePlus launched the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro in May this year, and they seemed to be continuing OnePlus’ legacy of making budget flagships. At the very least, the OnePlus 7 was the main OnePlus phone, with the OnePlus 7 Pro built to showcase what the company could achieve — a 90Hz bezel-less curved high-resolution display, bigger battery, a pop-up camera.
The OnePlus 7 Pro was to OnePlus what the iPhone X was to Apple, when it launched alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. It was Apple’s way of showing what the future of the company’s smartphones looks like.
For the next few weeks, the OnePlus 7 stood unopposed in the budget-flagship market in India. I myself recommended it to a bunch of my friends who were wondering what phone they should get. It was truly a great smartphone that was typically OnePlus.
Then, in June, Asus brought the Asus 6z to India with its flip-camera design, top-of-the-line specs, and everything else at a price that undercut the price of the OnePlus 7, bringing everything that the OnePlus 7 brought to the table, along with stock Android.
Back then, we tested the 6z and compared it to the OnePlus 7 and it had so many things going for it. A headphone jack, a dedicated microSD slot, a physical fingerprint scanner, feature packed cameras, and a much larger battery.
Redmi K20 Pro
Last year, Xiaomi took shots at OnePlus with the Poco F1, which by the way is still one of the better budget phones out there what with all the price cuts, and the soon-to-arrive MIUI 11 update. This year, Xiaomi went all out with the Redmi K20 Pro. A bezel-less flagship with an AMOLED display, the Snapdragon 855, pop-up cameras, and a big battery. Everything you’d get from OnePlus, for just Rs. 27,999, with the high-end 8GB/256GB variant available at just Rs. 30,999.
The K20 Pro still caused some people to bash Xiaomi over the pricing, probably because they were expecting Poco-levels of extremely competitive prices. However, I think there are multiple reasons for Xiaomi to go with the Rs. 27,999 price here. For one, there’s an AMOLED display here, with a better build and design with a bezel-less display. For another, Xiaomi probably didn’t want the K20 Pro to be considered a Poco F2 anyway, and with the Rs. 27,999 price tag, the K20 Pro was still one of the best priced budget-flagships out there, and it was definitely undercutting OnePlus by a lot.
ROG Phone 2
The ROG Phone 2 dropped in India right before the OnePlus 7T launch happened, and that’s when things started to change.
Look, we all had the leaks for the OnePlus 7T, we knew what it was going to bring. A 90Hz display, teardrop notch, Snapdragon 855+, triple cameras; all of that goodness for under Rs. 40,000.
When the ROG Phone 2 dropped however, it brought a 120Hz display, Snapdragon 855+, and a massive 5,000mAh battery in tow along with a slew of gaming-centric features including air triggers, and it launched at just Rs. 37,999, which is smack-dab in OnePlus pricing territory.
It was immediately clear that the ROG Phone 2 was taking a shot at OnePlus’ dominance in that price segment. So when the OnePlus 7T launched at its Rs. 37,999 price tag it was obviously compared with the ROG Phone 2, and that phone poses a good threat to OnePlus’ dominance.
Red Magic 3S
Hammering in another nail in the proverbial coffin of OnePlus’ market dominance in India, Nubia launched the Red Magic 3S recently.
That phone brings in a Snapdragon 855+, 90Hz refresh rate, and a massive 5,000 mAh battery. What’s more, it also has an actual fan inside the chassis to cool the device along with liquid cooling technology.
Nubia went ahead and priced the Red Magic 3S at just Rs. 35,999 for the base 8GB/128GB variant, undercutting the price of the OnePlus 7T, which honestly is the only new OnePlus phone worth considering, with the OnePlus 7T Pro being, in my opinion, a phone that OnePlus shouldn’t have made.
OnePlus’ Dominance Is Clearly in the Rough
With all the great smartphones being launched in the exact same price bracket as OnePlus’ main flagships, there’s good reason for OnePlus to worry in India. True, the regular smartphone user who’s looking for a flagship in this price bracket would probably still go with OnePlus — the OnePlus 7T does, after all, look better than both the ROG Phone 2, and the Red Magic 3S, and it also has a better camera (although I haven’t tested the cameras on the Red Magic 3S, but I’m fairly certain it won’t match up to the OnePlus 7T).
However, these new phones coming in at the same price as the OnePlus 7T is a clear indication that brands are looking to overthrow OnePlus from its throne.
What’s more, the Realme X2 Pro will launch soon with flagship specs, and the way the Poco F1 threatened OnePlus last year, and the Redmi K20 Pro is kind-of threatening it this year, the Realme X2 Pro should cause OnePlus to worry a bit.