The OnePlus 5 finally released in India on 22 June, after a marketing blitz and the build up of an incredible amount of anticipation by OnePlus fans. The phone featured a top of the line Snapdragon 835 processor, a fast charging feature that promised to give "a day's power in half an hour", and dual cameras that promised great photos in low light conditions. However, when the phone actually landed, it was surrounded by controversies.
The phone apparently tried to cheat on the benchmarks, at least in the devices the company circulated to reviewers. There were issues with the Wi-Fi, which may just be affecting a few models, but the concerns have not yet been addressed by OnePlus. The device settled for a low resolution display, which was not in line with the otherwise high specifications on the phone. The performance of the camera was not as great as expected, especially the Bokeh feature which had earlier been introduced on the iPhone. The appearance of the OnePlus 5 was almost indistinguishable from that of the Apple iPhone 7.
Once Jony Ive does something in a particular way, it is hard to come up with a different and superior approach. While some consider the similarity to be a good thing, others do not want to be seen with an imitation iPhone. David Pierce, reviewing for Wired, says “It looks a lot like an iPhone 7 Plus, which I say as a compliment.” Vlad Savov, reviewing the device for The Verge says “I don’t want to be seen carrying an iPhone-wannabe phone. I did enough of that as a kid having to wear Reebuk sneakers. The look of the OnePlus 5 is, in a word, inauthentic.”
Does anyone still remember the commotion regarding the OnePlus 3 design before it came out? It stopped as soon as people got the device. — Carl Pei (@getpeid) June 14, 2017
In the Forbes review for the device, Ewan Spence called it the “best Android-powered iPhone the world has seen.” Pete Lau, the CEO of OnePlus when asked about the phone being equated to other phone designs in an interview with The Indian Express, said “I am used to it. Ever since the OnePlus One, we have seen this. But time has proved everything. OnePlus One has become a classic.” Well, the "commotion" did not exactly stop after the release of the device. OnePlus quoted Business Insider in its launch livestream to show that the similarity between the OnePlus and Apple was more than skin deep.
Apart from the extreme fanboyism by a section of the consumers of both Apple and OnePlus products, there are other similarities as well. Both the companies release a few phone variants each year, instead of a lineup of devices targeting every price bracket. The prices of the flagship devices are increasing each year. The OnePlus One was available for Rs 21,999 while prices for the OnePlus 5 start at 32,999. When it comes to the Jelly Screen effect, OnePlus responded to the problem in the same laconic manner as Apple has previously handled consumer complaints.
The UI is wobbly on some devices, believed to be caused because the screen on the device has been put in place upside down. OnePlus has denied that this is a problem, and the company responded in Twitter that the effect was actually caused due to "persistence of vision." Then the tweet went on to explain what persistence of vision is. This does not explain why only some models are affected by the jelly screen effect though.
The screen so called jelly effect is caused by the user' eyes persistence of vision (visual staying phenomenon or duration of vision).
— OnePlus Support (@OnePlus_Support) July 6, 2017
The response was understandably, not received well by fans.
Blaming the customer for a shortcoming in the product is another trick OnePlus seems to have taken from Apple. When the antennagate controversy of the iPhone 4 was raging, Steve Jobs wrote to Ars Technica with a characteristically brilliant solution, "If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases." All we want to say about that is: ¯_(ツ)_/¯.
Now the OnePlus One was a legendary device. The OnePlus 2 had its shortcomings, and was not really a "flagship killer". The OnePlus 3 has been well received, although there were some issues with the battery life. OnePlus skipped the number 4 because it is considered unlucky in China, and released the OnePlus 5. Considering the capabilities of the OnePlus 3, and problems with the OnePlus 5, even the ardent OnePlus fans are already waiting to see what the company can come up with next year. OnePlus seems to be settling into a pattern where devices released every alternate year are the good models.
For regular Apple consumers, this is a familiar pattern, known as the tick-tock development cycle. Users can save some cash by upgrading to the latest model every two years. Invariably, the models chosen for consumers who follow this purchase pattern is the more powerful S versions of the device. There are indications that Apple may be moving away from the the tick-tock development cycle, which may disrupt the established buying patterns of users.
Whether it is deliberate or by circumstance, OnePlus can't seem to help following in the footsteps of Apple. If there are any similarities between the two companies that we missed out on, do let us know in the comments section below.