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An examination of OnePlus and OPPO devices throughout the years

The design of OnePlus smartphones can be easily linked to OPPO's designs. But who's in the driver's seat now?

Published onAugust 13, 2018

The OnePlus logo.

Regardless of your opinions on the company and its devices, there’s no question that OnePlus has been a disruption to the smartphone industry. Its commitment to flagship-quality specs with mid-range pricing has forced industry titans to reexamine their business strategies.

Granted, OnePlus’ pricing is no longer what we would call “competitive.” The base model of the OnePlus 6 is $530, a far cry from the $299 launch price of the OnePlus One. Still, $530 is not much to ask when it comes to a phone with specs and design that rival something like the Samsung Galaxy S9 — which costs almost $200 more.

OnePlus 6 camera shootout results!

The OnePlus 6 is already the company’s most successful device in at least two metrics: becoming the top-selling premium smartphone in India and achieving one million sales faster than any OnePlus device before it. That success makes us wonder what the follow-up — the OnePlus 6T — will be like when it launches later this year.

To be fair, we don’t know for sure if OnePlus is going to even launch a OnePlus 6T. However, it’s a pretty good bet that it will do so, and it’s also a pretty good bet it will look exactly like the OPPO R17.

OnePlus and OPPO

If you’re just tuning in, OnePlus is not some upstart brand that started in a garage somewhere. The CEO of OnePlus is Pete Lau, who was a vice president at Oppo and worked there for over a decade. Using investment backing from OPPO, he spun off the OnePlus brand with a commitment to bring high-end smartphones to the market at an affordable price.

OPPO confirms plans to enter UK market, but will it launch the Find X there?

OPPO itself is the only investment property connected to OnePlus. Although Lau and co-founder Carl Pei continuously deny that OnePlus is actually a subsidiary of OPPO, it can’t be denied that the companies are inextricably linked.

Even if you didn’t look at the financial history of OnePlus to find its ties to OPPO, you’d only need to look at the design of the devices themselves to figure out how the company works. Let’s take a look at every device launched by OnePlus — and the corresponding OPPO device which is the blueprint of that design.

OnePlus One & Two vs OPPO Find 7A

When the OnePlus One launched in 2014, it was like a bomb dropped. The phone’s hardware, specs, and price were unheard of at the time. The invite system was a novel approach to keep costs down while simultaneously driving brand loyalty and awareness. The phone’s CyanogenMod-based ROM was a nod to all the Android fanboys out there who love to root, unlock, and flash their devices.

To top it all off, the phone’s design was simply incredible.

But it isn’t like OnePlus concocted everything about the OnePlus One out of thin air. Take a look at the OnePlus One as compared to the OPPO Find 7A, released during the same year.

The phones are not identical but share many elements. It’s almost like OnePlus took the hardware aspects of the OPPO Find 7A and created its own device from those parts.

OnePlus One vs OPPO Find 7a first look

That’s probably exactly what happened because the trend continues all down the line.

The OnePlus 2 is arguably the weakest phone the company has released. The perplexing decisions surrounding its build (no NFC chip, really?) left even hardcore fans scratching their heads. The phone’s design didn’t deviate all that much from that of the OnePlus One, which of course means that it didn’t deviate far from the OPPO Find 7A.

OnePlus X vs OPPO A30

While the design of the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 aren’t exactly like the OPPO Find 7A, it’s impossible to deny that the OnePlus X is virtually a clone of the OPPO A30.

The OnePlus X was OnePlus’ first (and so far only) attempt to release two types of devices: one that’s more high-end and focused on mid-range buyers, and one that’s more low-end for the budget-conscious. Unfortunately, the OnePlus X didn’t sell very well and OnePlus has yet to try again with the budget sector (to the dismay of many Android fans).

But just look at the two devices side-by-side: I can barely notice a difference (OPPO A30 on the left, OPX on the right).

OnePlus 3/3T vs OPPO R9 Plus

Even though the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T are almost two years old at this point, some would argue that they represent the peak of OnePlus’ efforts. The phone’s size, screen, and feature set rivaled anything released that year, and the OP3’s price of $399 (the OP3T launched at $439) kept it still firmly in the mid-range pricing category.

OnePlus 3T review

But the 3/3T wasn’t a genius move by OnePlus to design a phone from the ground up. Once again, the company just used parts and design from OPPO to create something new, this time lifting from the R-series of OPPO phones, specifically the OPPO R9 Plus.

This is the first time OP used the R series as a starting point, and it won’t be the last.

OnePlus 5 vs OPPO R11

Arguments could be made that OnePlus started cribbing from the iPhone design playbook much earlier than the OnePlus 5, but the OnePlus 5 handset was the first time it was irrefutable. The back of the OnePlus 5 looks virtually identical to the iPhone 7 Plus.

But, then again, the back of the OPPO R11 also looks identical to the back of the iPhone 7 Plus, creating a kind of trifecta of design elements. See for yourself below:

The front of the OnePlus 5 and the OPPO R11 are equally as similar (R11 on left, OnePlus 5 on right):

OnePlus 5T vs OPPO R11S

While it would be difficult to distinguish between the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T simply by looking at them, that’s hardly the case with the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T. The removal of the front fingerprint scanner and the drastic slimming of the bezels are a dead giveaway that the phones are much different.

But the OnePlus 5T is directly linked to the OPPO R11S, itself just an upgrade to the OPPO R11 that the OnePlus 5 was linked to. At this point, OPPO and OnePlus are linking their releases together by name and design — just not by countries of availability or software.

OnePlus 6 vs OPPO R15 Pro

The introduction of the display notch in the OnePlus 6 design certainly caused some controversy. However, we all should have known it was coming where we first saw design renders of the OPPO R15 Pro, which — once again — looks so similar to the OnePlus 6 that it’s uncanny.

Read Next: 5 reasons you should buy the OnePlus 6

The OPPO R15 pro even came in a red color that is remarkably similar to the OnePlus 6 Red that arrived a few weeks after the initial launch of the OP6.

See for yourself below (R15 Pro on left, OnePlus 6 on right):

OnePlus 6T vs OPPO R17

The OnePlus 6T hasn’t even been announced yet, nor have we seen any solid leaks about its design, specs, or price. However, judging from the history of OnePlus and its phone releases, we can easily predict what the OnePlus 6T will look like: it will look like the OPPO R17:

OPPO R17 flagship phone in pink and blue.

Unless OnePlus pulls the rug out from under us and either releases something wildly different — or doesn’t release a “T” version of the OnePlus 6 at all — the next device from OP will have a nearly-all-screen display with a teeny, tiny notch at the top akin to the Essential Phone. It will also likely have an in-display fingerprint scanner. OnePlus engineers are likely looking at the photos above for “inspiration” as we speak.

Who’s on first?

A lot of Android enthusiasts are probably reading this article thinking to themselves, “Duh, we all knew this already.” But there’s one thing we don’t know: who’s in charge now? While OPPO is certainly doing pretty well for itself (it is currently the fifth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world), is it still leading the way with design, or has it started cribbing instead from OnePlus?

OnePlus 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus - Can you get the same quality for a smaller price

In other words, it’s pretty clear that OnePlus started by taking OPPO’s designs and parts and making something new. But now that OnePlus is so successful as a global brand, is OPPO instead now going to the OnePlus team and asking them for design assistance? Are the teams working together on phones at the same time, working off each other’s notes for ideas? Or is it still the same old song and dance, with OPPO’s team designing a phone and OnePlus saying, “Thanks for the help, we’ll take it from here.”

We might not know now, or ever, but we can likely expect an OPPO R17 clone to launch in November as the OnePlus 6T.

NEXT: OnePlus 6T: Five things I want to see