The summer months are usually a time when the smartphone industry takes a bit of a breather in terms of announcing new flagship devices. That may not be the case for the summer of 2017. In addition to rumors that Android co-founder Andy Rubin could launch his mysterious “Essential” phone during that time period, OnePlus has admitted its next flagship phone, the OnePlus 5, is due for a launch sometime in the summer.

The rumored hardware specs for the OnePlus 5 point towards a phone that can compete with devices like the LG G6, the HTC U11 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. However, one of the mainstays of the OnePlus lineup is that it offers phones that have cheaper price points than its competition. In a recent article about the OnePlus 5, we found out, via unnamed sources, that the starting price for the phone could be as high as $650 when it launches (even if we doubt it would be that high).

While the prices of OnePlus’ phones have indeed gone up since the company’s first handset launched a few years ago, a $650 price point would put it at or near the prices of its more mainstream rivals. So the question is: can the OnePlus 5 become a sales success even if its price is close to that of its competitors?

See also:
OnePlus 5: everything we know so far

OnePlus 5: everything we know so far

June 20, 2017

The case for a higher price

First, let’s go over the rumored hardware specs for the OnePlus 5, keeping in mind that some of these features have not been officially confirmed. The phone is rumored to have a 5.5-inch screen, with either a Full HD or a QHD display. Inside, the phone will have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, as admitted by OnePlus themselves. That platform sits at the top of the performance hill in mobile phone chips. The device is rumored to come with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, but another report claims the OnePlus 5 may have a variant with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage.

Other rumors about the phone claim it will have a dual-rear camera setup, a fingerprint sensor in the front, a 3,600 mAh battery, a ceramic and metal build and possibly a curved screen. All of that would suggest that the OnePlus 5 will indeed have a higher price than the $399 cost that was placed for the launch of the OnePlus 3 a year ago, or for the $439 price for the OnePlus 3T launch in late 2016.

Our story’s sources have told us the company is looking into putting in “more costly components” for the OnePlus 5, so a price of $650 doesn’t sound like it’s an unreasonable amount. The price of the Galaxy S8 is around $750, with no dual camera and lower storage space, while the price of the HTC U11 is $649, again without a dual camera and smaller amounts of storage. The LG G6’s normal price is about the same as the HTC U11, although we have seen some carriers and retailers start selling it for as low as $500 just a few weeks after it launched.

The point is that it looks like the OnePlus 5 is going to have either the same specs, or higher, than its main competition while having either the same price as its rivals or even a bit cheaper. We think that even though the OnePlus 5 might have a significantly higher price than its predecessors, its specs would still make it competitive. Ultimately, the OnePlus 5 could be just as much of a sales success as its previous models, with some budget-conscious fans being replaced by an equal number of new customers with deeper pockets.

The case for a lower price

On the other hand, there are many buyers of the older OnePlus phones who were attracted to them primarily because they were affordable. They may not want or care about even more high-end specs or more premium components and materials like ceramic; they may just want to purchase a phone that works well for a reasonable unlocked price. If that’s the case, then a higher price for the OnePlus 5 may turn those buyers off: destroying the original OnePlus recipe might mean the OnePlus 5 loses its most enticing characteristic.

We have seen this type of thing happen before. Google’s older Nexus devices were much cheaper than the competition, but the launch of the Pixel and Pixel XL saw the company embrace a higher price for their smartphones. Many people who bought the Nexus phones were not happy that Google decided to increase their prices for the Pixel models, and that kind of backlash could also affect the launch of the OnePlus 5. However, several OEMs, Google included, have done perfectly well with more premium prices coupled with a higher marketing budget.

Related: HTC U11 hands on

The verdict

Ultimately, the team at OnePlus know that if its next phone is going to go up against the best from Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC and other companies for your hard-earned money, they also need to compete in terms of offering the best components. Unfortunately, these internals don’t come cheap, and there’s only so much OnePlus can do to keep the price down on the OnePlus 5.

While we definitely think there will be a few OnePlus fans who will not be pleased with a price hike, we still think the company would do well with a higher priced OnePlus 5, as long as its hardware specs are equal, or even beyond, the flagship phones offered from its rivals. As we’ve noted previously, even at $650 you’d be getting a lot more from OnePlus than you would from any other manufacturer. We look forward to seeing what OnePlus has up its sleeves and whether or not the original magic can be sustained at a higher price point. Thankfully, it looks like we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you on this topic. Do you think a higher price for the OnePlus 5 is justified if they have the right hardware specs and materials? On the other hand, do you think OnePlus should keep the price of this phone down to the levels of its older handsets? Let us know what you think in the comments!

John Callaham
John was a newspaper reporter before becoming a technology and video/PC gaming writer in 2000. He lives in Greer, SC with his wife and five cats.