Why not launching a OnePlus 8T Pro this year would be a bad call
OnePlus is said to have learned from the criticism that surrounded the OnePlus 7T Pro, and the company is rumored to only launch a single OnePlus 8T model this fall. This information hails from a leak that was released earlier this week. Is this good news for OnePlus fans as the company consolidates its product line? Not necessarily.
2020 is apparently the year of redemption for OnePlus as a company. After extending an olive branch to its legions of disappointed fans where the flagship smartphone market is concerned with the release of the OnePlus Nord, the manufacturer might want to make people forget the pitfall that was the OnePlus 7T Pro last year.
— Max J. (@MaxJmb) September 7, 2020
In this tweet from well-connected leaker Max J, we learned that OnePlus could overlook the Kebab2 model of its upcoming device range. Kebab is the internal code name for OnePlus 8T (the code name for OnePlus 7T was Hotdog, for instance), so the leaker predicts that there will be no OnePlus 8T Pro that will roll off production lines later this year.
This can be considered to be a logical choice for the manufacturer, who had failed to convince the masses with the relevance of the OnePlus 7T Pro, as the OnePlus 7T itself delivered plenty of bang for your hard-earned money when it came to the entire OnePlus line-up last year.
But while it is entirely possible that OnePlus has learned from the launch of OnePlus 7T Pro, the absence of the OnePlus 8T Pro in 2020 is not 100% a given, and this does not necessarily translate to good news for the consumer market.
A throwback to a single logical but amazing flagship…
I’ve talked a lot about it here: OnePlus has been adopting a specific strategy to market its numerous flagships for the past few years. Their technique involves a somewhat watered-down version of the flagship model as the basic offering, which does not make it too attractive to its Pro equivalent.
The whole idea is to design a basic flagship device that teases you to an extent where you end up lusting after the premium and naturally, more expensive model. It is a well-known marketing strategy, many have talked about it, so there’s no need to deliver into it any further.
The T range, which can be compared to Apple’s S range or Samsung’s Note range, is a slightly more upscale compared to the numbered line-up. Take last year’s offerings for example – the OnePlus 7T was a little more expensive (€599) as opposed to the OnePlus 7 (€559), but it came with a Snapdragon 855+ processor and a 90 Hz refresh rate for its display, which were unavailable on the basic OnePlus 7.
It was also significantly cheaper than the OnePlus 7 Pro (€709) while it was equipped with a more powerful SoC (the 7 Pro had the Snapdragon 855, and not the 855+ version of the 7T). There were only minor tweaks made to the camera module, the screen size, and the presence of a tear-drop notch (the 7 Pro and 7T Pro came with a pop-up camera) work against the OnePlus 7T.
Overall, it was the best compromise there was and therefore, it delivered the best value for money where the OnePlus 2019 line-up is concerned. As a result, the OnePlus 7T Pro lost much of its relevance. If you didn’t want to bring home the OnePlus 7 or the 7 Pro, it was better to pick the 7T as opposed to the 7T Pro. So it happened that cannibalization was bound to happen, although it would be the other way around.
In a perfect world, OnePlus could very well have understood this potential conflict in its catalog and choose to market only one model of the OnePlus 8T to make things crystal clear to the masses. I myself smirked when I formed this sentence, with plenty of hope that the manufacturer is currently facing a “moral” choice.
Especially since OnePlus sold its flagships like hotcakes last year. The OnePlus 7T Pro, which I had described in detail, was even voted Best Flagship of the Year at the Global Mobile Awards 2020 and its McLaren edition ran out within seconds of its launch.
So why would OnePlus abandon this strategy, no matter how detrimental it would be to the clarity of consumer choice, if there is so much more upside?
Expect the OnePlus 8T to see a price increase
Let us assume that the manufacturer really decides to release only one OnePlus 8T model. Depriving yourself of a more expensive Pro version translates to a potential loss in earnings.
So what would stop OnePlus from being tempted to raise the price of the OnePlus 8T? In any case, given the price increase experienced by the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, there is no doubt that the OnePlus 8T will be sold for more than €699 ($ 820), which would be the price of the basic OnePlus 8 model.
But where it could have been sold for €749 ($ 880), following more or less the price increase between the OnePlus 7 and 7T (€559 and €599 respectively), it could be aligned to a price of €799, which places it in somewhat an amicable compromise between the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro (€699 and €899 respectively).
At that price point, OnePlus would have in their best interest to ensure features that, at the very least, are not already present on the OnePlus 8, in order to make its 8T model sufficiently attractive. That’s right, without someone playing the role of a bad cop (the OnePlus 8T Pro), things do end up more complicated on the marketing front.
There is a theory floating around that the OnePlus 8T should therefore offer a 120 Hz display (compared to 90 Hz on the OnePlus 8) and an 865+ Snapdragon SoC (compared to the 865). According to Android Central, the first snippets of information about this future smartphone do happen to point in the right direction.
It only remains to be seen whether a OnePlus 8T, which is a wee bit better than the OnePlus 8 and will be sold for €800, will be able to deliver better value-for-money as the OnePlus 7T did in its day.
Personally, this OnePlus 8T theory makes sense from a logical point of view when it comes to marketing consistency and supply chain theories. But it is less likely from a financial point of view for OnePlus and (potentially) less beneficial from a pricing point of view among consumers.
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