The launch of the OnePlus 5 is scheduled for June 20, but we already know a fair bit about the handset. The latest news has confirmed the look of the device, and there’s a certain amount of controversy about the design. The main point being that the phone looks quite a lot like some other devices that are already on the market.
The comparison to Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus is certainly fair, but this isn’t the first time that we will have seen a company borrow design elements from a market leader. As OnePlus continues to position itself as a cut-throat brand right on the heels of the very premium tier players, upping its design game will certainly contribute to building that image. Of course, press renders don’t always represent the look and feel in the hand, so we should hold off on too many comparisons until we see the real thing.
However, the phone also bears an equally striking resemblance to one of Oppo’s latest releases – the Oppo R11. The R11 was announced only a few days ago and the design appears to be identical, bar the company logo on the back, with the dual and front camera placements, flash, and home button appearing exactly the same between the two. Even some of the rumored specifications are the same, including the inclusion of a 5.5-inch AMOLED display and a dual rear camera sensor. However, it does appear that the OnePlus 5 will be a higher-end option, with a more powerful processor and extra memory.
The design similarities, particularly when it comes to the aesthetics, aren’t so surprising though, given the relationship between Oppo and OnePlus. Both companies, along with Vivo, are owned by China’s BBK Electronics and Oneplus is actually a subsidiary of Oppo Electronics. This news caused some controversy in the past, but sharing R&D expenditure and even production line costs is a beneficial arrangement for companies operating in these price sensitive markets.
If the OnePlus 5 ups its price tag to anything close to $650, a copy and paste design job from an existing mid-range Oppo handset might be seen as a major corner cut.
It’s worth remembering that the original OnePlus One closely resembled Oppo’s Find 7a. However, this time the move might be viewed as more of a major corner cut, because the company is rumored to be planning a considerable price hike with the OnePlus 5, with a $650 figure making the rounds.
The question is, does use of an identical design distort and/or cheapen the message of the OnePlus brand? Can OnePlus really be considered a plucky upstart when it’s sharing the workload with a much larger Chinese company? And perhaps most importantly, will this revelation put you and other customers off the OnePlus 5?
On the one hand, the Oppo R11 isn’t likely to see a retail release outside of Asian markets, while the OnePlus 5 will hit markets in the US and across Europe. So in reality, the OnePlus 5 will be a high-end option that won’t cross paths with a similar looking Oppo model in many places.
Although an inevitable crossover in China and India may be a little awkward. However, even the knowledge of a copy and paste design may be enough to lose that premium aura, especially if the OnePlus 5 ends up seeing a major price hike. That being said, perhaps consumers will be happy to pay top dollar for a phone that offers a clearly premium look.
But I open the floor to you. Do you think that too similar of a design could turn into a problem for the OnePlus 5, and will the overly familiar look affect whether or not you’re going to pick up the handset?