At a time when selling premium smartphones to customers seemed like an uphill climb with the pandemic affecting the disposable income of people around the world, OnePlus says its new high-end OnePlus 9 series will not only impress its customers. loyal fans, it will also help the brand attract new users in India, its largest and most crucial market.
“Consumers are not just looking for powerful performance, they also want a device without compromise,” says Navnit Nakra, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, OnePlus India. NEWS BLOCK.com in an interview before the world debut of the OnePlus 9 series.
Nakra said OnePlus’s philosophy of understanding what the community wants hasn’t changed and with each new flagship launch, the brand tries to improve its smartphones. “So for those consumers who really want the best product in terms of specs, design, performance and everything that a flagship phone can provide in terms of a comprehensive experience, I think the OnePlus 9 is that full experience flagship phone,” he said. . saying.
During a digital-only event, OnePlus unveiled three smartphones from the OnePlus 9 series, along with its first smartwatch. All three phones, OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus 9, and OnePlus 9R, are aimed at a diverse customer base with different prices. Nakra says having three new premium devices will expand the high-end phone segment in India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market.
While many say that premium smartphones have gotten boring and that there is no scope for further improvements other than beefing up the hardware, Nakra notes that the OnePlus 9 series comes with improved camera systems. OnePlus smartphones have always been praised for their specs and neat OxygenOS. However, the camera is a part where OnePlus phones can’t beat iPhone or Pixel devices. The new partnership with Hasselblad, the Sweden-based luxury camera maker, aims to address those concerns.
“One comment that will always come is that the OnePlus camera module is good, but can we improve the color reproduction and color performance in our cameras? So for the OnePlus 9 we collaborated with Hasselblad to create what’s called the Hasselblad camera for mobile devices. , to offer honestly unmatched, high-quality, aesthetic color reproduction for future mobile imaging, ”he says, explaining what the Hasselblad name means on the OnePlus 9.
OnePlus plans to invest more than $ 150 million over the next three years to improve imaging capabilities on its smartphones. “With Hasselblad, we are not only working on high-quality images, but also creating better color calibration,” he says, adding that “there is a lot of work going on around the software and new camera modules. and how to integrate with the hardware. “
“The OnePlus brand has really invested a lot of effort and assets and explained to consumers what a great flagship device is and a lot of those messages have been directed not only at the first users of premium brand smartphones, but also at the users. existing, ”he says.
Both the OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9 are at the higher end of the market and are intended for power adapters, while the OnePlus 9R is presented as an “accessible flagship” smartphone. OnePlus promises faster performance, better high-refresh displays, and 5G network connectivity on its new smartphones.
The launch of the OnePlus 9R, which will be exclusive to India and the most affordable among the three smartphones, is what many are expecting from OnePlus’ response to growing competition in the mid-range segment, especially from Samsung in recent months.
OnePlus has used this strategy of having a mid-range smartphone before and the brand succeeded to some extent with the OnePlus Nord. Although the OnePlus 9R will not replace the OnePlus Nord, Narka says the idea is to have a smartphone at a more affordable price, but still have all the premium features that the brand is known to offer on its flagship phone. OnePlus 9R, according to Nakra, is designed for those who are active in mobile gaming.
“I would say that the OnePlus 9R is the best flagship phone in its class, which will be launched exclusively for India. “It will be priced a bit more affordable compared to the OnePlus 9 or the super flagship phone. [OnePlus 9 Pro]. “
“The OnePlus 9R does not replace the Nord, it will continue to be in our flagship portfolio,” confirms Nakra.
Nakra, who was previously with Apple as head of affordability in India, says that as OnePlus’ product portfolio continues to grow, the emphasis is clearly on how to make its products more accessible to users. For Nakra, the priority is not only to expand the brand’s online visibility, but also to build partnerships with major offline retailers, especially mid-tier ones, across the country, where players like Apple and Samsung have an edge.
He admits that the brand was too focused on attracting customers in major cities in India, and while it helped OnePlus become a well-known brand in the premium smartphone space, Nakra says that from now on the emphasis will be on on how to reach a customer. inside of India they will be willing to buy a OnePlus smartphone or its other products. “I think consumers will find out what price is right for them and, in all honesty, what value it offers them,” he said.
Positioning OnePlus as an aspiring brand will be the key focus, but at the same time, Nakra and his team want to reach consumers in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of India with premium mid-range offerings. OnePlus has had success with OnePlus Nord and a range of smart TVs in those markets in the past. Nakra says OnePlus will continue to bring more products into that segment, but like its peers, the brand also aspires to create a product ecosystem.
OnePlus clearly seeks to replicate the success beyond smartphones. Customers are more likely to learn about OnePlus if the brand ventures into new product categories, something Nakra agrees with. Earlier this year, OnePlus debuted its first wearable device, which is an inexpensive fitness tracker that is listed at Rs 2499. Now, the company is launching its first smartphone on the market. The OnePlus Watch, which will take over similar smartwatches from Xiaomi and Amazfit, has a circular look and offers features like heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, IP68 water and dust resistance. Interestingly, the clock can be used to control the OnePlus TV. A limited edition OnePlus watch with a gold cobalt alloy case will also be available on the market, in addition to the standard model.
“The idea of offering it at a very attractive price, which allows a very broad spectrum of users in our community to go for their first watch, maybe update some of the watches they have been using,” Nakra explains.
But OnePlus has bigger plans to expand the device ecosystem in the future. “We will look at products for the smart office and hopefully somewhere in the near future we will see devices for the smart car,” Nakra said while hinting at how the next generation of OnePlus products will be part of growing growth. higher. ecosystem, making it difficult for consumers to get out of it.