The OnePlus 6 was the company’s first flagship over the $500 mark, and the OnePlus 6T and 6T McLaren Edition took the OnePlus range into higher and more expensive territory. How the phone compare to previous generations?

The price hike to $529 for the 64GB OnePlus 6 sparked debate around OnePlus’ tagline “affordable” flagships. The company didn’t mention the word affordable at all during the launch of the OnePlus 6, which focused on performance and speed. The same went for the later 6T edition. With prices jumping from $299 to $549 over four years, it’s clear the objective for OnePlus has changed.

The OnePlus One was so good that it's always been hard for OnePlus to move beyond what it did to Android

The problem for OnePlus is that bursting onto the scene as a disruptor is a tough act to follow. With the backing and know-how of BBK and sister-brand Oppo, it hit the ground running. The OnePlus One offered similar performance to the Samsung Galaxy S5 at about half the price. It wasn’t perfect, and it made careful sacrifices, but it was a premium device at a cost no one could believe. It’s still the favorite device of many Android enthusiasts.

While there’s now no question whether the OnePlus 6T is a true flagship, OnePlus is moving on from being a disruptor to joining the higher-end brands at a smaller discount to the players like Samsung, Huawei, Google, LG, and Honor, among others.

Honor in particular is trying to create devices to disrupt OnePlus — the Honor 10 launched just one day before the OnePlus 6, coincidentally (or not) also in London, for 399 euros — 120 euros (~$141) cheaper than the OnePlus 6. It promptly sold out in Europe, according to Huawei.

OnePlus 6 vs Honor 10

So, here we are. A $50 increase for the OnePlus 6 justified, a further $20 for the OnePlus 6T at the base price, and then a more premium offering with the 6T McLaren Edition. Let’s take a look at a quick history of OnePlus prices and see what it tells us.

OnePlus launch pricing over time

OnePlus One – $299

OnePlus One

With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, the specs blew people away. With no expandable storage or without a replaceable battery, the 16 or 64GB non-expandable storage options were big trade-offs. Reviews highlighted limited availability, software bugs, and low sound.

OnePlus Two – $329 ($30 increase)

The OnePlus 2 launched just over a year later with the new 64-bit Snapdragon 810, 3 or 4GB of RAM, a fingerprint sensor, USB-C, an alert slider, bigger battery, and OIS on the rear camera. While the specs of the display were the same, fidelity also increased. It lacked NFC and camera performance lagged behind the leaders.

OnePlus 3 – $399 ($70 increase)

The OnePlus 3 upgraded the processor to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and came with 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (only), an AMOLED display, and debuted Dash Charge as a highly touted new feature. It brought back NFC and upgraded the camera. The battery was dropped to 3,000mAh.

OnePlus 3T – $439 ($40 increase)

The OnePlus 3T was an iterative upgrade, the first short-cycle update to a previous device. It was an internal upgrade, including the newer Snapdragon 821 chipset and a 16MP front camera, along with a bigger 3,400mAh battery and a new 128GB option.

OnePlus 5 – $479 ($40 increase)

Avoiding unlucky number 4, the OnePlus 5 was the first device in the family to feature dual rear cameras. It lifted the range to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, with 6 or 8GB of RAM and 64 or 128GB of storage. Styled closely to the iPhone 7, it added with 16 and 20MP sensors and retained the all-metal design, but removed OIS.

The OnePlus 5 received stinging criticism for not having enough significant upgrades to justify a price 50 percent higher than the OnePlus 3. The company also caught heat for slow software updates, a “jelly stutter” effect when scrolling, and inflating benchmark scores.

OnePlus 5T – $479 (no increase)

The 5T didn’t offer significant internal upgrades, sticking with the Snapdragon 835 and 6 or 8GB of RAM, but it upgraded the display to 6-inch model, with a 2160 x 1080 AMOLED and an 18:9 screen ratio, and pushed the fingerprint sensor to the back. The company also added face unlock.

OnePlus 6 – $529 ($50 increase)

The OnePlus 6 brings a new all-glass body and a bigger AMOLED display with a slightly higher resolution, as well as a Snapdragon 845, better dual camera with OIS on the main shooter and new Sony sensor, gigabit LTE for the first time, better water resistance, and new software tweaks. The OnePlus 6 can also currently take part in the Android P beta program.

OnePlus 6T – $549 ($20 increase for base model, higher spec editions unchanged)

OnePlus 6T Thunder Purple 13

The OnePlus 6T came just six months later, with the company removing the headphone jack, adding an in-display fingerprint sensor, reducing the notch size and shape, and debuting with Android 9 Pie. It offered the same specs and almost the identical build to the OnePlus 6, with the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack a controversial choice.

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition debuted in December, working with supercar and Formula 1 team McLaren to offer a further specs boost with 10GB of RAM, faster charging, and some McLaren special design touches. That phone went for a pricey $699, an extra $70 over the best spec’d 6T before it.

OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 5G model

2019 will be intriguing. We expect both a OnePlus 7 along with a special OnePlus phone with 5G capabilities. The OnePlus 7 should offer the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, and may experiment with offering either a tiny notch or a punch-hole display, or even something funkier such as a slider or pop-up camera.

We already know from OnePlus that its 5G model will be a standalone edition, separate to the existing series. To support 5G it will go for $200-$300 more at least, according to OnePlus CEO Pete Lau. But, it’s not trying to make money on the device in 2019, more just set up a successful 2020 release. As always, the second edition of a new technology is the one that has the bugs ironed out!

What does it all mean?

Over the years, OnePlus hasn’t been shy about adding to the price as the platform adds more features. The biggest individual jump was from the OnePlus 2 to the OnePlus 3, which added new internals and a better and brighter OLED display, along with the Dash Charge debut. That all resulted in a $70 price hike. The next biggest was $40 between the 3T and the 5, when dual cameras were added.

What do you get exactly for the extra $50?

The $50 increase between the 5T and the 6 represented the second biggest jump for the company over time, while the 6T launch was only a modest $20 increase over the base model, with the high spec versions offered pleasingly at the same price, making those attractive options. The more high-end McLaren 6T went further again but at least this has been pushed as a super-premium OnePlus device.

OnePlus 7 pricing?

Leaving the coming 5G OnePlus model aside, the OnePlus 7 will no doubt feature another round of improvements and another price jump. Given that it will feature the Snapdragon 855, we should also see a next-generation in-display fingerprint sensor, a display that is higher than 1080p, and finally an IP rating. The return of a headphone jack might be well received, but unlikely.

We said with the release of the OnePlus 6 that OnePlus once offered the affordable flagship, but no longer. It’s still reasonably priced compared to the RRPs of the other flagships, but since then Xiaomi and the Pocophone F1 have shown exactly how many corners can be cut to offer a value flagship. It’s even possible OnePlus will bring back the OnePlus X series to really make valid claims to affordability again.

How far can OnePlus keep pushing, and are you interested in a higher-priced 5G model? Let us know what you think in the comments.