Fast Charge: OnePlus was right to ditch ‘Pro’ phones – Apple should do the same
OPINION: OnePlus confirmed this week that there won’t be a OnePlus 11 Pro or a OnePlus 11T later this year in a bid to simplify its flagship smartphone offering – and I think other companies should follow suit.
The smartphone market is significantly more complex than it once was, no matter if you’re looking at budget, mid-range or flagship phones.
While companies would once upon a time release a single all-encompassing flagship smartphone – like Apple and the iPhone 5 – the modern flagship offering isn’t quite as straightforward. Apple’s latest line-up includes the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, each of which offer slightly different specs at different price points.
The iPhone 14 has finally dropped to a far more tempting price
Amazon has just chopped £55 off the RRP off Apple’s iPhone 14. That brings down the steep £849 starting price to a more palatable £794.
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To be clear, it’s not just an issue exclusive to Apple, it’s something that practically every smartphone manufacturer does in 2023.
There’s also the newer trend of mid-year refreshes from companies like Xiaomi, Oppo, Samsung and others in a bid to keep smartphones competitive as the year goes on and new rivals appear on the market, but these are rarely anything more than a minor spec bump.
Some might argue that more choice is great for the consumer, and I don’t disagree, but there’s a difference between choice and simply flooding the market with different variations of a smartphone in a bid to make as many sales as possible.
In fact, I think that the modern scattergun approach to flagship smartphone releases can be confusing for consumers, and it forces them to choose what they want most rather than getting a great all-rounder.
Let’s use the current iPhone range as an example. The iPhone 14 is the basic flagship iPhone, the iPhone 14 Plus is similar to the base model but with a larger screen and a bump to battery life. The iPhone 14 Pro offers better display and camera specs with a small form factor and the iPhone 14 Pro Max offers that same premium experience with a larger display.
To the average consumer who doesn’t follow the latest smartphone developments, that can be an overwhelming choice. They know they want the latest iPhone, but that’s about it.
Wouldn’t it be easier if there was just one flagship iPhone that combined all the best technology from Apple? It takes the confusion out of the process and gives the consumer the best overall experience, rather than prioritising specific features like camera or battery life at the cost of others.
It might also have the knock-on effect of stopping the runaway costs of top-end smartphones like the £1199/$1099 iPhone 14 Pro Max and £1249/$1199 Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Companies can keep rising the top-end price because they have other variants of the flagship at cheaper prices, but if there was only a single smartphone, it’d have to be competitively priced to stop potential customers from going elsewhere.
This is exactly what OnePlus accomplished with the OnePlus 11, which I highly praised and gave a 4.5-star rating with the Trusted Reviews Recommended award in my review. It’s pro in all but name with top-level specs, a premium design and most importantly, a very competitive price tag. It’s easily one of the go-to Android recommendations for 2023.
The simplification also allows OnePlus to free up the resources that would usually push out Pro models and mid-year phone updates and to focus its efforts on other interesting projects like the OnePlus Pad and the OnePlus mechanical keyboard.
Imagine the possibilities for companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google if they only had to focus on developing a single smartphone each year (the Apple Car might be less of a pipe dream).