OnePlus has not-so-subtly revealed that the company’s first smartwatch is on the way. This isn’t OnePlus’ first crack at the wearable whip, it reportedly had a watch prototype developed in 2015 – early in the firm’s existence – but it ultimately decided against a release.
The important question is: what will the new device mean for major smartwatch rivals like Apple and Samsung? Quite a lot.
Google’s Pixel 5 has just landed, but is it any good? Watch my review here.
Before OnePlus released its wireless buds, I wrote about how the company’s focus on smart connectivity between its devices would be the key selling point. Buy a OnePlus device and be rewarded with ecosystem-specific exclusives: like the ultra low-latency mode the Buds automatically switch to when gaming on a OnePlus phone.
A Fast Company interview with OnePlus CEO Pete Lau in May explained where the company plans to take this ecosystem vision in the future. “As early examples, the company points to how its smart TV has a shortcut for switching between apps and can automatically reduce volume when a call comes in on OnePlus phones”, the story explains.
Lau calls all of this “deeper optimisations” and I suspect it’ll be the same for the OnePlus Watch. I’m excited to see how the company makes all of its associated tech sing harmoniously together. I can imagine, for example, a OnePlus Watch being used as a remote for your OnePlus TV with more in-depth controls. But that type of collaboration between OnePlus devices isn’t why Samsung, Apple and others should be worried. How OnePlus prices the watch is what’s important and I’d be happy to bet the Chinese company goes very, very low.
The reason I mention the OnePlus Buds is because they were surprisingly cheap. They launched at $79 – significantly less than Google’s Pixel Buds ($179), Apple’s AirPods ($159) and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus ($149). The new OnePlus Buds Z are even cheaper at $50.
The OnePlus 8 took the company back to its roots with high-end specifications at a low cost. The OnePlus Nord did the same but went one step further on price. The company’s “flagship killer” marketing line it unceremoniously dropped – as its phones crept up in value – could now make a legitimate comeback. The OnePlus Watch will almost certainly follow the company’s recent abrupt switch in pricing strategy. Expect the wearable to be not just $20 or $50 cheaper than the expensive competition, but something approaching two-thirds of the cost or even less.
It’s not just OnePlus going down this route. Google stepped away from making a top-tier flagship for the first time in years and Samsung released a surprisingly cheap version of the Galaxy S20. Many of the tech briefings I’ve virtually attended this year have talked about making cheaper devices for cash-strapped consumers who have less money because of the economic damage Covid-19 has caused. OnePlus’ deluge of cheap 2020 devices suggests it is following the same logic, which means we can expect a similarly aggressively priced wearable at some point in the near future too.
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