OnePlus may be preparing to announce the OnePlus Z, based on an interview in which the company's CEO announced his intention to make cheaper products again.
OnePlus' founder and CEO Pete Lau talked about this with Fast Company, as well as in a statement on Chinese social network Weibo Weibo (via Ishan Agarwal on Twitter). The interview talks about how Lau wants the company to go back to its roots of making budget devices, as well as talking about the company's plans to go beyond smartphones.
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OnePlus has made great progress since its founding in 2014, making phones with premium specs while keeping its prices well below Samsung and Apple. However, as its phones like the OnePlus 8 series and last year's OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7T have become more and more fully featured, the prices have risen considerably.
This is why many are looking forward to the OnePlus Z, which would add a new competitor to the mid-range market currently locked down by the iPhone SE 2020. The Google Pixel 4a is also on the way, but it looks to be delayed until July or August.
The OnePlus Z, which has also been called the OnePlus 8 Lite, is rumored to feature a 6.4-inch OLED display running at 90Hz, a Snapdragon 765G processor with 5G connectivity, three rear cameras and a possible price of $499. None of this is confirmed, but it would give the Pixel 4a shoppers a tempting alternative.
Meanwhile, the Pixel 4a is rumored to be much cheaper at $349 while offering a 5.8-inch OLED screen, a Snapdragon 730 processor without 5G and a single rear camera. But that doesn't mean that OnePlus isn't working on a direct competitor in the same price range as the Pixel 4a and iPhone SE.
While it's an old-fashioned design in some respects, the iPhone SE offers Apple's latest A13 Bionic chip and iOS 13 software, meaning you can expect the same performance as someone who buys the more expensive iPhone 11, only for around $300 less. You will have to make do with large bezels and a single rear-camera with no Night mode, but otherwise, the new iPhone SE is an impressive handset.
The Weibo statement mentions "new members" coming to the OnePlus family now that the company has the necessary experience to handle a larger range of products. The Fast Company interview revealed that there is an incoming OnePlus announcement for India, with later events planned for Europe and North America, so hopefully we won't be waiting too long to hear about what these new devices will be.
Last year, OnePlus released the OnePlus TV, although this is only available in China and India. It's an interesting example of an Android-powered smart TV, and is perhaps an indicator of where OnePlus' ambitions beyond phones lie.