Most successful phone companies try to create an ecosystem that extends beyond smartphones, some companies are more successful than others in this pursuit. Xiaomi is a great example, they are primarily known for high-performance budget phones and extend that philosophy to their entire ecosystem. This can be seen with their affordable 4k TVs offering robust performance for the price. OnePlus is another brand that entered the market offering flagship devices in a budget, but lately, they have positioned themselves as a more premium brand. OnePlus’s ecosystem of devices doesn’t really extend beyond the usual wireless headphone but that is going to change with the OnePlus TV (Yup! That is what they are actually calling it) launch.
Now, all things considered, Display quality will still be the talking point for any TV, something OnePlus will have to nail. Most of the Chinese brands source their displays from big Chinese manufacturers, which do the job but enthusiasts are left wanting more. OnePlus is going with a Samsung display, offering a 55-inch QLED TV at the launch. The company won’t be looking to match pricing with manufacturers like Xiaomi, not with this display they won’t. They are instead targeting the premium segment, I would say around the 700-1000 US$ mark.
Coming to the software, OnePlus will use Android TV OS but with a custom UI like what they have done with Oxygen OS. OnePlus is really going with the whole “Never Settle” experience with their software with Pete Lao stating “We really want to take advantage of the current strong user base of OnePlus smartphones and to really improve what the current TV doesn’t have, which is good interactions and user experience especially connecting with your smartphone and we want to improve that, and I believe that’s going to be our advantage,” There is also this buzz with smart displays and IoT devices these days and it seems OnePlus is going to bake some functionality pertaining to it, OnePlus’s CEO hints this in the Gadgets360 interview stating “I think in the future, at a person’s house he or she is no longer going to have one or two displays, they may have multiple displays in several rooms and each room may display different things — but all the displays are connected to each other.” further stating “Which is the reason why we want to do a TV — I don’t have any interest in doing a traditional TV-like others.” It will be interesting to see if they can come up with a pragmatic approach to the whole smart display thing since power consumption is a real thing with TVs.
In his interview with Gadgets360, Pete was very upfront with what potential buyers can expect with the pricing. He stated “In terms of pricing, we want to benchmark against the most premium products available in the market, which means we are benchmarking against Samsung and Sony,” he says. “Because of the strategic partnership with Amazon, our price may be slightly cheaper than their products, but it won’t be half the price.” This will disappoint potential buyers who were expecting a comparative price to other Chinese manufacturers, but as I stated earlier in this article OnePlus isn’t quite the flagship killer company anymore. The mid-end market has become very competitive and this gives brands less maneuverability with pricing and innovation, OnePlus is now set up as a premium brand, something that exists between Apple and Xiaomi in a scale.
Premium pricing won’t deter buyers because I feel there is a big market for high-end TVs, the real challenge will be to convince Indian buyers to spend a seemingly considerable amount on a OnePlus TV, instead of going with a safer option from one of the bigwigs (Sony, Samsung, and LG). The launch is reportedly on the 26th of September, but OnePlus hasn’t confirmed the date yet. India is going to be the launch market but it will definitely come to most places by the end of this year. You can check the Amazon landing page for the TV here.