Startups face a rough road, especially in an industry as competitive as mobile phone manufacturing. It isn’t easy breaking into a field that never stops evolving. So when someone sees room for improvement, how does he get a foot in the door? Entrepreneur Pete Lau and his team of passionate technophiles found a way—and created a feature-rich, affordable smartphone in the process.
OnePlus is a young tech company taking a new approach: they’re designing devices with a certain type of user in mind. By focusing on a core audience of true tech enthusiasts rather than striving for mass appeal, they’ve encouraged the early adopter crowd to spread the word for them—a strategy that's working. Still, bringing a fresh voice to the market is easier with help from a well-established one. That’s why OnePlus collaborated with Qualcomm Technologies on their first product, a smartphone optimized for Android enthusiasts.
“Qualcomm provides core components, but they’re more than just a supplier. Our relationship is strategic, boosting our innovation potential.”
— Pete Lau, Founder, OnePlus
The OnePlus mantra is “Never settle,” an idea that steered the creation of their first device. The OnePlus One device runs on an Android operating system fine-tuned to optimize the already powerful and efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. This makes for super-sharp image capture, immersive 3D gaming capabilities, and incredible battery life—over 60 hours of music playback on a single charge.
Qualcomm Technologies lent a hand by introducing OnePlus to key carriers and providing marketing insight. But the biggest impact came from engineering support. When it came to fine-tuning the One’s camera, OnePlus had the best help available. There was also assistance with a last-minute upgrade from Snapdragon 800 to 801. As a result, OnePlus was able to make a more powerful device available faster.
OnePlus was able to keep the price low by eschewing the usual marketing blitz. Instead, they grew buzz within online communities, interacting directly with their target audience. OnePlus staffers didn’t just join discussions on Internet forums; they incorporated fan feedback into the phone’s design. They also chose to sell the phone exclusively online, avoiding expensive retail costs. With sales initially by invitation only, the One was in high demand months before its release.
At launch, the One was sold at cost, meaning that OnePlus wouldn’t make a profit on it. And that’s the plan: to spend two years getting the phone into people’s hands and let its performance do the talking. The team is building a loyal following that’s just like them: eager for high-quality, reasonably priced devices. With that mentality, who knows what could be next?