OnePlus is making a major change to its smartphone strategy, but the road ahead begins with the cancelation of a OnePlus 9T release in 2021.
OnePlus has confirmed that the company will not be launching a mid-year ‘T’ refresh of its flagship phones this year, which means there won’t be a OnePlus 9T making its debut in 2021. The latest move marks a new direction for the Chinese smartphone maker, which has launched a ‘T’ refresh in the second half of the year ever since the OnePlus 3T in 2016. These mid-year refresh models were usually a minor upgrade to keep up with the latest trends in the smartphone industry, such as faster charging or high-refresh-rate screens.
OnePlus doubled down on the strategy with the debut of OnePlus 7T Pro in 2019, marking the first time that a OnePlus ‘Pro’ flagship got a mid-cycle refresh as well. However, OnePlus pulled the plug on this approach the very next year, as the company only launched OnePlus 8T and skipped a similar ‘T’ refresh for the OnePlus 8 Pro. Back then, OnePlus outlined a new policy that it would launch a mid-year refresh for only the vanilla models in its flagship series, and not the more premium ‘Pro’ sibling.
It now appears as though another change to that strategy is happening this year, as there won’t be a ‘T’ update for any OnePlus flagship phone — effectively ending the prospects of a OnePlus 9T. OnePlus chief Pete Lau confirmed in an interview with The Verge that a OnePlus 9T is not happening. Adding more about the shift in its smartphone strategy, Lau wrote in a blog post that the company will unveil its next flagship series in 2022. More importantly, the upcoming flagship series will offer a unified OS that has been created following the codebase merger of OnePlus’ OxgenOS and parent company Oppo’s ColorOS Android skins.
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Lau doesn’t explain why OnePlus has canceled a ‘T’ refresh model for 2021, and also doesn’t clarify whether a mid-cycle refresh is happening in 2022. However, the decision has been taken most likely as a portfolio streamlining measure as launching two flagship series in a year means more spending on research and product development, and lower returns on investment, while a longer shelf averts those risks to a certain extent. Another reason, which Lau’s OnePlus 2.0 strategy points towards, is that the company is focusing more on region-locked budget phones from the Nord series, all of which have been fairly well received.
The OnePlus chief mentions that the company’s affordable phones in the Nord series will become more localized in the foreseeable future. For example, the OnePlus Nord CE and Nord 2 were restricted mostly to the Asian market and some European countries, while the Nord N series didn’t make it to the Asian markets. As per a recent leak, a OnePlus 9 RT is currently in the making and will soon be launched for the Indian market, succeeding the OnePlus 9R that was exclusive to buyers in India and China.
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Source: The Verge, OnePlus
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