After I lost my Nexus 5 phone, I was very clear about replacing it with a OnePlus One as my new smartphone. I recommended it to my friends too.
But six months into using it, OnePlus One began giving problems. The phone would heat up, there were problems with its touch functionality and it would restart without any warning. I found out that I was not the only one facing these issues.
Unfortunately, these glitches were carried on to OnePlus 2 so, naturally, the consumer feedback was not very positive. Fast forward to June 2016 and things have changed. OnePlus released their third flagship phone, OnePlus 3, and this time they have come out with a true winner. The company took their past debacles seriously and worked on them. There are some lessons here that other smartphone makers would benefit by learning.
1. Gimmicks won't work for long
Initially, OnePlus was hung up on the concept of 'invites' for buying the phone. Many people who wanted to buy it couldn't just because not enough invites were available. Besides, OnePlus held some bizarre promotions such as asking customers to smash their old phone to be able to get an invite and a sexist campaign where they asked women to draw the OnePlus logo on their bodies.
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 820|
|Rear Camera||16 MP with OIS|
|Front Camera||8 MP|
|Price||Rs. 27, 999/-|
This time around, OnePlus has ditched the invite system for good. "The invite system has a special place in our history. When we first started out, our team was incredibly small. We had no idea what the demand of the OnePlus One would look like. We also weren't fans of flash sales, where there's a risk of everything selling out immediately, forcing fans to wait indefinitely," explained Carl Pei, the co-founder of the company.
2. Boring can be good
OnePlus 3 is the company's first full metal body phone, a departure from the sandstone back design. many have commented that the design is a bit boring and similar to the design language of HTC phones such as HTC M9. Still, it is far from horrendous. The phone looks sleek and has a 'premium' feel to it. If you want style augmentation, OnePlus has released 5 cases for the phone.
The other specs are also in line with the top-end phones in the market without any monsters lurking under the hood that could hamper performance.
3. Repeat after me, "Software is Important"
For the first edition of OnePlus, the company went with the custom ROM makers, Cyanogen. Later, they switched to their own Oxygen OS. But the move didn't do much for the persisting software problems that customers were facing. People complained that their cameras were very slow and that there were ghost touches on the phone. OnePlus' response was too little too late. The Android Marshmallow 6.0 updates to OnePlus 2 were released just before OnePlus 3 was unveiled.
But up until now, the software experience in OnePlus 3 has been great. It doesn't have many additional features over stock Android, but the ones which are included are very useful. From the night mode, to gestures, and the double tap to wake are useful. The harmony between software and hardware is evident in the device.
"Now our software team is pretty comfortable with the nature of Oxygen OS, so the next Android update will be much faster. We dedicated a lot of resources to give a great performance to the users of the software," said Vikas Agarwal, OnePlus' India head, in an interview with HuffPost India.
4. Listen to your customers; they care.
Last year, OnePlus 2 was launched with a lot of fanfare. A VR launch was held but surprisingly NFC, which supported that VR headset, was missing from OnePlus 2. The camera was mediocre and design was still not anywhere close to premium. That apart, USB 2.1 standard was used with USB C port and there was no fast charging technology included. Not good for a company whose motto is, "Never Settle".
OnePlus 3 seems to have incorporated all the customer feedback the company received. The camera has improved by leaps and bounds, and the dash charging technology lets you charge the phone from 0 to 60 percent in half an hour. Even if you are in a hurry, the phone will give you good battery life after a 10-minute charging session.
"Good products make people happy, great products make people passionate. OnePlus 3 is one such product," Agarwal said.
5. Focus on the post-sales service
After the boom in online sales of smartphones in India, many companies took their eyes off post sales service. Among the dissatisfied, OnePlus customers were somewhere at the top of the list. I personally experienced bad customer care by OnePlus.
Now, OnePlus wants to redeem themselves. They are changing the back-end process for customer query resolution. The company claims that now 70 percent of the requests are resolved within an hour. It is also releasing an app that will help people locate service centers, lodge a complaint and track requests. It will also allow users to approve any additional purchases required for repairs.
"Apart from our 60 service centres across 34 cities, we have also started opening our own exclusive centres in cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi, Pune and Hyderabad. These centers will guarantee a resolution of the issue within one hour," Agarwal said.
OnePlus 3 has received positive reviews overall. Apart from minor glitches which can be fixed by future software updates -- OnePlus has already had two updates in a short span of time -- the phone is great. Also given the price point, it is in a unique category. It is ideal for people who want a flagship experience but don't want to shell out the money for a Nexus 6P or a Galaxy S7. Other smartphone makers looking to sell their smartphones in India can pay close attention to OnePlus 3 as an example worth emulating.