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Based in the UK - Phone: OnePlus 10 Pro - Tablet: Samsung Tab S8 - Watch: Scurfa Treasure Seeker in white

OnePlus Builds The Ecosystem



OnePlus LogoOnePlus didn’t have any hardware surprises at today’s summer launch event – the Nord 4, Tablet 2 and Watch 2R and Buds 3 Pro were all officially revealed in advance of the show. But what was interesting was OnePlus commitment to an ecosystem of affordable products. OnePlus might have started out with “flagship killer” phones but we’re beginning to see a ecosystem to rival Samsung. Of course, I don’t think OnePlus are going to start selling fridges and washing machines, but for smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and earbuds they’re doing a pretty good job of joining the dots. As is de rigueur for today, Nord 4 and Pad 2 will feature “AI” (though I’m still unconvinced that AI does anything useful for anyone normal).

Milano, Italy, hosted the Summer Launch Event, opening with Tuomas Lampen, head of Business Strategy in Europe, revealing the Nord 4 smartphone. It’s priced at £429 / €499 for the 12 GB + 256 GB and £529 / €599 for the 16 GB + 512 GB version and there are some discounts, trade-ins and gifts available at launch. Full specs are over on the web site but the aluminium unibody really makes it stand out from the current crop of glass phones.

Available in three colourways, or Nordtones as OnePlus now brands them, Mercurial Silver is the one to get. Apparently it takes 12 mins to laser engrave the case for that scalloped look. Performance-wise the Nord 4 is running a Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3, which will outperform a top-end phone from 2022 (8 Gen 1). Charging the battery from 1 to 100% takes only 28 minutes and there’s Battery Health Magic to keep the battery in good shape for at least four years.

James Paterson, Global PR, demonstrated the Nord 4’s Aqua Touch in an artificial rainstorm and fortunately he was in a raincoat as it got pretty wet. Aqua Touch is a feature that allows the phone to respond as if the screen was dry rather than being covered in rain drops. It’s perfect for playing Pokemon Go in bad weather, which is most of the time in the British Isles.

The Nord Buds 3 Pro were next on stage. Priced at £79 / €79 / $79.99, these earbuds have 49 dB active noise cancellation and pair well with other OnePlus phones and tablets. They come in a neat pebble-style charging case with an overall battery life time of 20 hours with ANC on and 44 hours with it off. Two colourways offer Starry Black and Soft Jade.

The OnePlus Pad 2 brings us back to flagship killing with a new tablet built round the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. By all accounts, the original OnePlus Pad and the newer, Go, have been successes for the company. The new Pad 2 is very much in the same vein as its predecessors with the centrally positioned rear camera. Coming in at £499 / €549 / $549, this is an impressive price point for a latest gen chipset (cf Samsung Tab S9 FE+). It’s a 3K 7:5 ratio 12.1″ screen with Dolby Vision and six speakers round the edges for great sound. The Pad 2 has the multitasking Open Canvas from the OnePlus Open baked, which is good for productivity and upgrades to the keyboard and stylus enhance the tablet’s usefulness. There’s tight integration between the Pad 2 and OnePlus smartphones.

Finally, the OnePlus Watch 2R took to the stage. It’s an evolution of this year’s Watch 2 with an aluminium (rather than steel) which makes it about 25% lighter which is handy for a big watch like this. It’s in the style of a super compressor dive watch with two crowns on the right hand side and it’s swimming pool safe. The 2R comes in at £249 / €279 / $229. I like it. As you’d expect, there’s a complementary app to record your activity.

That’s the Summer Launch Event in a nutshell and I think you should be able to see how OnePlus is building that ecosystem to compete with the likes of Google, and Samsung. Yes, it’s a form of lock-in but it’s also productivity enhancing and it looks to have much to offer. Every device competes well on value with devices from the competition and with OnePlus’ commitment to updates for many years, that value will be maintained.

You can watch whole event here – the show starts 5 minutes in.


OnePlus Shows Off New Products



OnePlus LogoOnePlus’ big summer reveal is still on in Milano next week (16th), but to pre-empt the Galaxy Unpacked event, they’ve dropped some teasers to show off what’s coming soon. As expected, there are four devices inbound: the Nord 4, the Pad 2, Nord Buds 3 Pro and the Watch 2R. No new product lines, simply updates of existing models, unless there’s a “one more thing” moment on the day. Here’s what can be expected on Tuesday.

One Plus Nord 4

The new Nord 4 brings the metal unibody back to the smartphone world. A new antenna design allows the phone to be made from aluminium, bringing up market feels to their mid-range device. At a smidge under 8 mm, this will be the thinnest Nord ever. That’s a good looking phone.

OnePlus Pad 2

The Pad 2 joins the original Pad and the newer Go in the tablet line up: The new Pad 2 is slightly bigger at 12.1″ though retains the 7:5 aspect ration. Although not confirmed, it’s strongly rumoured to be running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and if the price bump isn’t too big, this could be a great alternative to the Samsung Tab series.

 

 

 

 

OnePlus Nord Buds 3 Pro

I’m always confused by OnePlus’ naming convention when it comes to earbuds but let’s assume that this will be excellent value-for-money earbuds with ANC. The blurb says they’re a “significant leap” from their predecessor with “a symphony of depth and richness”.

 

 

 

 

OnePlus Watch 2R

It was only February when the Watch 2 came out to considerable acclaim and now there’s the 2R. It’s not totally clear what the difference will be but pics and specs point to a revised case design aluminium rather than steel case for the smart watch. I’d suggest avoiding swimming in the sea with this one.

More next week.


OnePlus Nord CE4 Lite Drops for Europe



OnePlus LogoOnePlus has revealed the latest iteration of its CE range with the unveiling of the OnePlus Nord CE4 Lite 5G, to give the phone its full name. That’s way too long so it’ll be shortened to CE4 for the most of the story. Regardless of what it’s called, the Nord and Nord CE lines have been big hits for OnePlus and I’d expect the CE4 to continue that trend with a fun phone offering excellent value for money.

Let’s get the headline specs out of the way. The Nord CE4 Lite has a Snapdragon 695 CPU, powering a 6.67″ screen with a 1080 × 2400 pixels display giving 394ppi. Inside, there’s just the one configuration, with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. Software tricks allow an additional 8 GB to be allocated from storage to keep 26 applications running in the background until they’re needed again.

If 256 GB isn’t enough for you, the CE4 will take a memory card upto 2 TB but it shares the space for the second SIM, so bear that in mind if you want to have personal and business numbers on the same device.

This is all run by a 5,110 mAh battery which delivers over 9 hours of gaming and 18 hours of social media. Apparently the battery is a little smaller in the EU and UK because of regulations on battery sizes compared with 5,400 mAh in some other territories.

For the photographers, there’s a 50 MP Lytia 600 main camera sensor with OIS, plus a 2MP depth-assist camera and 16 MP front camera. Numerically, that’s a drop from the 108 MP of the CE3, but the Lytia sensor comes with in sensor 2x zoom which should keep the snappers happy.

Following on from bright Pastel Lime of the CE3, the new CE4 comes in two great sounding colours – Mega Blue and Super Silver. How can you not love those? The Mega Blue looks great in the press shots and would definitely be the one I’d choose, though the Super Silver looks pretty sleek too.

For lovers of wired headphones, the CE4 retains the 3.5 mm audio socket, but if you want to party with friends, there’s an audio boost feature which turn up the volume on the stereo speakers by 300%. Tuuunnne!

The CE4’s screen also comes with AquaTouch, a technology that keeps the screen responding properly when the screen gets wet. Anyone who’s played Pokemon Go in Ireland knows how great this feature can be.

Pricewise, the OnePlus Nord CE4 Lite 5G is going to come in at £299 / 329 € with with pre-orders starting from 24 June.

There are some special offers for early birds.
From 24th June to 1st July, choose from a free pair of OnePlus Nord Buds 2, a case or a power adapter,
and from 24th June to 2nd August, there’s a 50 £/€ discount, bringing it down to £249 / 279 €.

The full quirky reveal is available on YouTube here. Skip through to about 4’30”.

 


OnePlus Watch 2 Launches Next Week at MWC



OnePlus LogoOnePlus is returning to wrists with the OnePlus Watch 2, three years after their first model came out in Spring 2021. The details on the new model are fairly scarce with only a few pictures, a promised 100 hour battery life and a quote from the  COO and President of OnePlus, Kinder Liu.

After a three-year hiatus and a reflective pause following the OnePlus Watch 1, the Watch 2 re-emerged, and we are more confident than ever about this product. This confidence is not unfounded, it’s built on a foundation of substantial advancements in our technological ecosystem and capabilities. Watch 2 indicates our determination to transform from “Flagship Killer” to “Ecosystem builder”. It will provide you with experience that’s not just improved, but transformed.”

In addition, a 100 hour battery life has been claimed while in Smart Mode – that’s 4 and a bit days, if you are trying to do the maths and failing. That comfortably exceeds the duration of competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch series which tops out at 80 hours for the 5 Pro.

The Watch 2 will follow the design aesthetics of the new 12 and 12R smartphones, and will come in two versions, Black Steel and Radiant Steel.

There’s no news on the OS but the smart money is on a WearOS device rather than the proprietary OS of the Watch 1. OnePlus seems to be all-in with Google as OnePlus rounds out the ecosystem but it’s not without pitfalls While the Pixel Watch 2 looks great, it’s battery life is poor and Google’s approach to Fitbit hasn’t exactly endeared itself to fans of the original brand. There’s definitely an opportunity here if OnePlus executes well.

Price hasn’t been revealed though there are some discount offers over at OnePlus for early interest.

The OnePlus Watch 2 will be fully launched at MWC in Barcelona on Monday 26th February. More news then.


OnePlus Buds 3 Confirmed for Launch



OnePlus LogoWith the launch of the OnePlus 12 & 12R later this week, OnePlus have confirmed that the latest smartphones will be joined by a new set of earphones, the OnePlus Buds 3. These continue OnePlus’ mantra of “Never Settle” with “Harmony Unfiltered” reflecting hi-fi sound and easy of use. Over the last few year’s, the company has worked hard to bring a suite of products that work neatly together at multiple price points.

The new Buds 3 come with dual dynamic drivers with a 10.4 mm woofer and a 6 mm tweeter with a broad frequency range of 15 Hz to 40 kHz, which should give a good performance across the spectrum. As you’d expect, there’s active noise cancellation (ANC) with up to 49 dB of noise reduction. Perfect for screening out noise for a bit of peace and quiet.

Looking at the picture, the Buds 3 continue OnePlus approach to earphones with an accompanying battery case that charges the buds while they’re inside. No details in the release about charge times or battery lengths.

There are two colours, Splendid Blue and Metallic Gray. The former looks great, though it would appear to be a move away fro OnePlus green which has been a feature going back as far as the 8 series of phones, if I recall.

The Buds 3 come with a new feature – volume control on the stems. Simply slide your finger up the earbud to raise the volume and down to lower it. Brilliant.

Without the “Pro” moniker, I’m guessing that these will slot in as a mid-range device, below the Pro range but (well) above the Nords. At this point, no details on price. That will undoubtedly be revealed at the global launch event shortly.


Sneak Peak for the OnePlus 12R



OnePlus LogoWith the OnePlus 12R smartphone coming to Europe and North America, there’s been plenty of interest in what the new phone will look like. Fortunately, OnePlus have given us a clue with another invite to their Smooth Beyond Belief launch event on 23 January 2024.

Coming in Cool Blue and Iron Gray, the 12R looks very similar to the 12, and I think it looks good with a milled edge round the circular camera array. The Cool Blue edition is a glossy finish with a “light, fresh appearance”, while the Iron Gray model has a matte feel to give a “sophisticated and strong feeling”. In the picture, the Iron Gray is very reminiscent of the original sandstone finish. 

The traditional alert slider is now on the left side in order to accommodate a new antenna on the right, just like its big brother, which improves performance during online gaming. The R Series started back in 2021 with the 9R but until now has only been available in India and China. The OnePlus R series phones are flagship devices designed to give gamers the best possible online gaming experience and it’s now time to offer the phone globally.

Now celebrating 10 years, OnePlus will be launching both phones at the OnePlus Smooth Beyond Belief launch event on 23 January, 2024. Check invite for the relevant time-zone.


OnePlus 12 Series Drops 23 January for RoW



OnePlus LogoAfter the OnePlus 12’s initial reveal in China, the launch date for the rest of the world has been confirmed as 23 January 2024, which is something to look forward to in the darkness of winter after the post-Christmas buzz of CES. In a surprise move, OnePlus has confirmed that the 12R will be coming to Europe and USA. Normally the 12R remains within India, and in China, it’s known as the Ace series. Think of the R versions as high-end specs with mid-range prices. OnePlus will then have quite a range in their portfolio from the Nord series, the R and then the full 12.

I’m not going to spoil the full specs and save those for the launch event for the 12, but suffice to say that the handset is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 3, there’s a 4th gen Hasselblad-blessed camera array with a 3x periscope lens, and wireless charging returns (thank goodness, what were they thinking?) The design’s an evolution of the 11, but there’s an attractive pattern on the back called Flowy Emerald which is modelling after a river delta.

And this comes within the 10th anniversary celebrations for OnePlus. Long time readers of GNC will know that I’ve been a user of OnePlus devices right from the very beginning. I managed to blag an invite code for the original phone and bought it to replace a Google Nexus 4 (which had wireless charging!) Since then I’ve probably had a phone from each generation, though my most recent purchase remains the 10 Pro. I’ve always appreciate the value, design and performance of these flagship-killing phones. OnePlus has documented a large chunk of my children’s lives and while the cameras haven’t always been the best, pictures taken on the 10 Pro are outstanding. I wish OnePlus the very best for the next 10 years. There’s more on the birth of OnePlus here in a festive fireside chat with Pete Lau and Kinder Liu, and an inspirational 10 year celebration here.

The launch event, OnePlus Smooth Beyond Belief will start at 9am EST, 14:00 GMT, 15:00 CET and 19:30 IST on 23 January, 2024