In news that’s unlikely to shock anyone, OnePlus has announced that their 8 series of smartphones will be unveiled through an online event at 11am EST on 14 April. If I’ve converted that right, it’s 15:00 GMT / 16:00 BST.
What can we expect? As usual, OnePlus will undoubtedly drip-feed little teasers in advance of the event but a few things are already out in the open.
- There’s going to be more than one device. It’s a series, but is it two devices or three?
- All the devices will be 5G. The press release says, “bringing a full series of 5G devices”.
- There’s a new display with a 120 Hz refresh rate. That’s up on last year’s 90 Hz.
- It’s not going to be purely iterative. From the release, “a handful of other new and exciting technologies”. Rumours abound for wireless charger and water resistance.
“With the OnePlus 8 series, we’re excited to introduce our most powerful and beautiful smartphone series ever, combining blazing fast 5G capabilities, specially engineered high refresh rate displays and OnePlus’ signature powerful performance setup. The OnePlus 8 series will bring a truly ‘burdenless’ experience to all our users, who have come to expect nothing but the best all-around flagship smartphones from us,” said Pete Lau, Founder and CEO of OnePlus. “No detail is too small for us, as OnePlus always strives to deliver the best user experience possible with our premium flagship devices.”
If you want to watch the event (and it’s usually done well), it’ll be live-streamed from the OnePlus at https://www.oneplus.com/launch and YouTube http://onepl.us/8SeriesLaunchEvent.
OnePlus and its slogan Never Settle have been on the mobile scene since 2014, and it’s become a well-known brand amongst aficionados. For sure, brand awareness isn’t up there with Apple or Samsung – my mum would have no idea who OnePlus are – but the logo’s recognisable from across the room. However, the OnePlus team have decided to give the VI (that’s Visual Identity in design-talk) a bit of a spring clean, changing the font, reversing the image, adjusting the plus. It’s nothing dramatic and I’m sure there will be both lovers and haters. I kind of liked the original blocky 1 as it had a bit of a retro vibe to it…cough, I notice that the web favicon.ico hasn’t been updated yet.
Here’s the old and new side by side.
Apparently it took over seven months to refresh the look and I’m pleased they retained the red, even if Pantone reckons that Classic Blue is the “Colour of the Year 2020”. Mats Hakansson, global creative director of OnePlus said, “OnePlus is not changing who we are, but to reinforce what we stand for – the true spirt of Never Settle. We always design for our users. We feel that these changes maintain the iconic elements of our brand that are beloved by our staff and our community, while injecting both excitement and balance into our visual identity.”
He went on, “No detail is too small. By starting from thousands of user data points, the team arrived at a new holistic visual language inspired by OnePlus’ burdenless philosophy. OnePlus has grown a lot from an idea to a major smartphone player. Introducing a fresh new look is just one example of how we continue to bring our Never Settle mantra to life.”
Anyway, thrilling as this is, the benefit to consumers is that OnePlus are doing some discounts on the existing flagship, the OnePlus 7T. Starting today ’til 1st April, 2020, Europeans who purchase a OnePlus 7T from oneplus.com can use the code “SAMEONEPLUS” during check-out to get a £50/50€ discount. There’s also 20% off on the purchase of OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro accessories and 50% off the purchase of OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T accessories. There’s already $100 off for Americans, so they don’t need to feel hard done by the deal.
As the OnePlus publicity machine winds up in advance of their biannual smartphone release, CEO Pete Lau has announced that the new range of phones will support 5G.
“This is a milestone both for OnePlus and our users. We’re proud to be among the first smartphone manufacturers to have full 5G line up for our next launch,” said OnePlus Founder and CEO Pete Lau. “OnePlus has achieved many firsts with 5G, and this time’s no exception.”
“We believe that following the dawn of the 5G era, the smartphone experience will go through a dramatic development,” Lau added. “5G’s low latency and enhanced cloud services will undoubtedly help us achieve a truly interconnected experience, while also providing exciting developments in areas like gaming, which are vitally important for OnePlus’ tech-savvy users.”
As a OnePlus owner (6T) this sounds like good news, though I maintain a dose of skepticism on 5G – we heard much of the same noise when 4G launched. Anyway, I imagine the new phones will be one of the more cost-effective ways of purchasing a 5G phone. However, it’s likely there will be some kind of price bump over the 7 series. In an interview with CNET, he said, “Last year we launched the 7 Pro and the 7 together and there was a lot of excitement around this,” Lau said. “I think that this year again everyone should expect a lot to look forward to in 5G products with a reasonable price.”
The new models weren’t confirmed in the interview but the expectation is that there will be an 8 and an 8 Pro. There are also persistent rumours about an 8 Lite which were neither confirmed or denied by the CEO and founder. From a subsequent tweet by Lau, it looks like the phones will be using the Qualcomm 5G chipset.
The grapevine has the launch pencilled in for mid-April. I imagine it will be an online event given the current spread of Covid-19.
OnePlus has always indulged in a few side projects and their latest
publicity stunt efforts are remote-controlled snowball-shooting robots. Based in Lapland, the Snowbots will be controlled via OnePlus smartphones across the 5G network courtesy of Finnish telco Elisa.
The snowball-flingers will be taken into battle by OnePlus community members from all around the world, taking advantage of the fast low-latency connection that 5G offers.
The OnePlus Snowbot Battle, hosted in Ruka-Kuusamo area, Lapland, Finland, will start on 9th March at 1200 GMT with a special Human vs. Robots event, with preselected people joining in teams to play against the 5G-powered Snowbots. From the evening of 9th to 12th March, the Snowbot Battle will run 24 hours a day, allowing everyone to join a team in the ultimate snowball fight. Let battle commence!
There a four Snowbots in total, with two on each team, and it’s a basic snowball fight. Try to hit your opponents with snowballs without getting hit yourself and the winner is the person who hits their enemy more times than they get hit. Simples! Watch out though, there’s limited ammunition and only eight snowballs. Mind you, these are snowballs that go 120 mph / 190 km/h.
In addition, OnePlus will host a special community contest on its social channels to select a few lucky users who will have the opportunity to travel to Lapland and join the OnePlus Snowbot Battle in person.
There’s a video coming soon showing the construction of the Snowbots, but for now there’s just a teaser trailer.
A friend of my daughter called round the other day to proudly show off her brand new iPhone XR in yellow. As she pulled it from her bag, her face went from joy to shock, and when she turned the back of the phone towards me, I could see that it was smashed. She was totally gutted.
With hindsight, it was unwise not to have a case on the smartphone (she’d ordered one) but I really have to wonder about the practicality of a glass back on such an expensive phone. What is the point of having a material that breaks so readily that it’s essential to put a case on? An aluminium rear would look just as good and be a hundred times more practical. Certainly, Apple aren’t the only manufacturer sporting glass backs on the smartphones, but where Apple leads, many follow.
The iPhone XR starts at GB£629. Apple, being Apple, charges a premium for the repairs, especially without AppleCare+. To get the back replaced, it’s “up to” £396.44. Even if you have taken out AppleCare+ at GB£149, there’s still £79 excess so that’s £228 in total. Either way it’s pricey. An independent repair isn’t really an option as the phone is still in warranty.
Of course, the phone’s owner could have done things differently – put on a case, not swing her bag around – she’s not blameless. However, it is a factor that needs to be considered when purchasing a new phone: the fragility, the extra cost of insurance, the annoyance. Breaking the front screen is bad enough, but having to worry about the back is unnecessary.
Like all good rock stars, the OnePlus ConceptOne is going on the road with a short US, European and Indian tour. Kicking off in Paris on 5 February, the show will visit Seattle on Feb 6, take in three cities in India on 8 February before finishing in Copenhagen on 19 February. Each event will give people the opportunity to experience the ConceptOne for themselves, seeing the electrochromic glass in action and feeling the Concept One’s premium leather finish. Full details of the Tour are here including details of how to attend the events.
And if that’s not enough, OnePlus and McLaren are offering the chance to win one of sixteen tickets to the MCL35 car launch. On 13 February, the iconic McLaren Technology Centre will host one of the most exclusive events of the year, as McLaren reveals the MCL35 which will compete in the 2020 Formula 1 season.
In addition to trying out the new OnePlus Concept One, winners will get an exclusive seat to witness the MCL35 reveal before anyone else in the world, along with a guided tour of the McLaren HQ to introduce the history of the McLaren brand. That’s one top prize.
More details on the contest are here. Good luck!
CES might be full of wacky and wonderful gadgetry, but it’s also good to see some products for the day-to-day. Moshi have released a couple of gadgets for mobile users at CES this year which will appeal to a wider audience.
First up is compact portable battery pack with built-in cables for both USB C and Lightning. This is great for those of us who have a newer Android phone and Apple iPads. If similarly afflicted, the IonGo 5K Duo is for you. The sleek new battery is crafted from stylish and sustainable vegan leather and is small enough to fit in your pocket or lose in the bottom of your bag. For Apple devotees, it is MFi certified, and should retain 80% battery capacity after 500 charge cycles. The IonGo 5K Duo (US$70) is available in Fossil Gray and can be purchased from mid-May.
Second is a stylish desktop charger that holds your phone at the perfect viewing angle and charges it at the same time. Part of Moshi’s Scandinavian-inspired Q Collection, Lounge Q is a wireless charger and stand. It supports both Apple (7.5 W) and Samsung (9 W) fast-charging. Lounge Q (US$70) will be available in mid-April.
Next is Moshi’s new “USB C to HDMI Adapter with Charging” which connects USB C devices to an HDMI display. Interesting and very handy if you want to watch a bit of Netflix on a big screen and you don’t have a streaming device handy. The adapter has an extra USB C socket that can be used for charging while viewing. Surprisingly, it is compatible with a wide range of platforms and devices – Windows, macOS, iPadOS, Android, and ChromeOS, in addition to Huawei PC mode and Samsung Dex mode. The Adapter (US$45) is slated to be available from mid-April.
And finally, the newly released SnapTo Wireless Charger is the latest addition to the company’s growing magnetic mounting system for iPhones. The wireless charger doubles as both a wireless charging wall mount and a horizontal stand for your phone – check out the whole range of mounts over at Moshi. It’s quite a clever system if you haven’t seen it before. The SnapTo Wireless Charger (US$49.95) is available now.
All these devices will be available on moshi.com and from select retailers, and come with a 10 year guarantee – impressive.