Miguel Ventura's blog : Three Years of OnePlus One

Three Years of OnePlus One

This is the phone everyone wants
but only a few can get.

OnePlus One
OnePlus One, the original flagship killer

I used to play Ingress, a geocaching kind of game. It was the predecessor of Pokémon Go. While on vacations, away from my usual territory, I met with a fellow player. We talked, shared stories and exchanged game items. When I got to see the phone he was running the game on, I was impressed. By then I had my second Nexus phone which was signaling the need of retirement. When it was under load, the screen would flicker like old TVs used to do. The performance was already poor for a few apps. The phone would drain its battery fast, even while turned off. This was all quite disappointing, as the phone had about 2 years. Especially disappointing considering the lifespan of the cellphones I had before the smartphone era, and especially disappointing considering that Nexus phones were supposed to be representative of the best Android had to offer.

When I asked my fellow player what phone was he using he introduced me to the OnePlus One. I had no idea what that was about, so he proceeded to explain to me how OnePlus was a recent brand in China, how they were making an awesome device, comparable to flagship products from other brands but much cheaper due to different marketing and distribution techniques. This is the phone everyone wants but only a few can get, he told me. It's invite only. I can hook you up with some folks who might be able to get you an invite. I asked if it was that good and he went on telling me how awesome everything worked in that device. I was certainly impressed. The Net Promoter Score here was clearly over the roof.

Back from vacations I got my hands on an invite and proceeded to order the OnePlus One, also known as OPO, the only device OnePlus had delivered so far.

Along with my device I also got an email message. You are now an ambassador of the OnePlus brand. That's not the same as saying thank you for buying our product. This is a statement that these folks take word of mouth very seriously. This usually means that they put a great deal of effort in customer satisfaction. And the best way to get customers satisfied is by delivering a great product.

Being used to the Nexus devices, and having seen many other Android, iPhone and Lumia devices, the OPO was an incredible surprise. This phone cost about half of other flagship phones. Its camera was incredible. Its performance was incredible. I was used for GPS to take at least 1 or 2 minutes to lock on the Nexus, but on the OPO it was incredibly fast.

But it's not fair to compare a phone that just got into the market with the ones that are already there. Because before installing many apps and filling the storage with lots of photos, many phones feel fast. It's more interesting to compare it after 3 years of usage. And after all this time I can say that the OnePlus One is a truly remarkable device. The apps and games being delivered today on the app store work flawlessly, with great performance. The battery life is still acceptable with nearly 5 days of standby on 2G without internet, or 2 days with WIFI always on, or 1 whole day with WIFI with 4G, which is the same I see recently bought phones performing.

OnePlus' glass after a few falls
OnePlus One after many falls marking the protective glass

This phone has been with me through hail and heat, snowy mountains and desert sand, climbing and camping. It has seen Europe and Japan. It withstood a few falls which left heavy scars in the screen protector and the case, both bought directly from OnePlus. The phone itself, however, got away without any noticeable scratches, except at the bottom where a tiny scratch can be seen in the metal junction.

With great products come… great problems?

Overall I think the biggest problem that OnePlus might face is having a product that's just too good. It's over 3 years now and I feel no pressure for upgrading. The same happens with other people I know who bought OnePlus One or the newer OnePlus 2 models. Like me, they seem excited to know about what's coming up new with OnePlus devices, but they feel so good with their current device that there's just reason to change. Good, durable quality means OnePlus will have some trouble selling new products to its loyal customers.

Will this be a problem for OnePlus' growth as a company? It's might be, but it's the best kind of problem to have. With this feeling of satisfaction with the product comes a great Net Promoter Score, and that is hugely valuable. How huge? I might not feel the need to upgrade my OnePlus, but since I got mine I influenced 4 persons in my family to switch to OnePlus.

What a great problem to have!

Update: after far too many drops, the bottom of the digitizer finally stopped working correctly in July 2020. The rest of the phone is still working. Six years of flawless lifetime is actually way more than the Nokia 3210 I had (a model famed for being indestructible) resisted on my hands. Can you guess the brand of the new phone I got to replace my One?

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