The OnePlus 6T launch disappointed in one major way

OnePlus has a history of disrupting the mobile market, but has it really shaken things up in 2018 with the launch of the OnePlus 6T? News and Features Editor James Laird gives his take on what the OnePlus 6T launch means for the plucky Chinese company – and the mobile market in general.

Not many companies can truly wear the ‘disruptive’ sticker. At least, not without being laughed out of the room by a jaded tech journalist like myself.

In recent years, only a handful of companies have genuinely changed the way most people go about their day-to-day lives – Uber, Airbnb, and Tinder being the triumvirate that immediately spring to mind.

Chinese hardware manufacturer OnePlus should also count itself on that shortlist.

When it debuted the OnePlus One back in 2014, it added ‘flagship killer’ to the geek lexicon and changed the smartphone market for the better. For just £229, you could buy a phone that offered a premium handset experience at a fraction of the cost of devices from more established lines: the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) being but two examples.

All of a sudden, your mobile needs couldn’t just be handled adequately, they could be handled with aplomb – and you didn’t have to pipe down when your flagship-toting friends started talking about their spec sheets, either.

It was, in short, a game-changer.

A game-changer that cost less than a wet fart in an Apple Store – in 2014, this particular unpleasantry was known as the iPhone 5C.

Which is why I’m worried that this year’s OnePlus 6T launch heralds the end of an era for the company.

Related: OnePlus 6T vs iPhone XR

This presumptive fear isn’t rooted in the handset itself – as our OnePlus 6T review reveals, it’s highly impressive in the main – but rather from a sinking feeling that OnePlus is losing the ‘Never Settle’ ethos that made it so attractive in the first place.

I’m not talking about the avalanche of leaks that preceded the 6T’s launch. Or the (somehow) still controversial abandonment of the 3.5mm headphone jack.

As a journalist who has championed startups throughout their career, I’m dismayed that OnePlus opted to move its latest launch event a day forward on account of Apple’s October event.

In doing so, OnePlus founders Carl Pei and Pete Lau have effectively admitted that the new iPad Pro is a bigger deal than their latest flagship. Does an incremental tablet upgrade really trump a new handset from the industry’s reigning cult hero?

I would argue not.

And I would also argue that in making this concession – a victory for the iOS status quo over the Android upstart – OnePlus risks its once deafening ‘Never Settle’ battle cry being diluted to just another meaningless mobile marketing whimper.

OnePlus used to want to make an iPhone killer, and I believed it could. Now, it’s seemingly content catching a tan from the flames of the dragon it once said it would slay.

Quite simply, we deserve better from OnePlus – if only because OnePlus implored us to demand more in the first place.

Do you agree with James? Has OnePlus let us all down? Tweet your thoughts to us @TrustedReviews.