scorecardThe launch of OnePlus 7 Pro will kick off the ‘Game of Phones’
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The launch of OnePlus 7 Pro will kick off the ‘Game of Phones’

The launch of OnePlus 7 Pro will kick off the ‘Game of Phones’
Tech3 min read

  • The launch of OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro today is the first time that the Chinese smartphone maker is introducing two variants of its flagship device at the same time.
  • OnePlus is not alone in its endeavor with Apple and Samsung introducing multiple versions of their flagship devices as well.
  • The only difference is that as Apple and Samsung get cheaper, OnePlus is getting more expensive.
  • The three brands have been battling it out in the premium smartphone segment and the new strategy of multiple flagships may determine who rules over the throne.
The so-called ‘premium smartphone’ segment in India is becoming more affordable as companies like OnePlus launch smartphones with high-end features under ₹40,000. It even earned itself the name of being the smartphone 'killer'.

Although, that might not hold true anymore as the Chinese smartphone maker is launching two flagship variants for the very first time, the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro — the latter is expected to be more expensive and breach the ₹50,000 mark.

And, even though the premium segment includes any phone above ₹30,000, the ‘exclusivity’ of the devices doesn’t come cheap. Phones like the iPhone XS that retail for ₹109,900, the Samsung S10 for ₹72,900 or even the Google Pixel 3 was launched at ₹56,999.

But honing in on the opportunity that OnePlus created, other brands are jumping onto the bandwagon by creating another level of flagship phones — thus initiating the ‘Game of Phones’ in the Indian market.

Bargain flagships

Google, for instance, launched the Pixel 3A and 3A XL calling them ‘affordable’ flagship variants. They Pixel 3A even fits the profile with a price tag of ₹39,999.

On Google’s part, it’s a disclosure that exclusively selling premium devices is not a part of its long-term strategy.

Samsung, the South Korean smartphone manufacturer, launched the Samsung S10e at ₹55,900 — a more compact version of the flagship Samsung S10.

Even Apple tried to scale its prices with the iPhone XR, though it might have missed its mark introducing the phone at a whopping ₹70,500. It was only with a heavy discount that Apple temporarily rolled in April that the price dipped to ₹59,000.

While the phone may still be expensive, it’s a surprising u-turn by the company’s CEO. Tim Cook, who stated that Apple will never reduce its prices — even for India — as recently as January.

As these brands try to use OnePlus’ own strategy against it — by introducing high-end by relatively cheaper phones — the Chinese company is moving in the opposite direction.

OnePlus 7 and One Plus 7 Pro divert from OnePlus’ strategy of launching ‘T’ variants approximately six months after the original variant. And, this time around, the One Plus 7 Pro is reportedly going to be the more high-end device with a price tag of ₹57,000.

So as Apple and Samsung try to capture some of OnePlus’ territory, OnePlus is trying to wiggle its way into theirs without having the abandon its original set of users.

The Game of Phones

It’s not only that the average prices are getting cheaper in the premium smartphone segment, but the segment itself is expanding and getting more competitive.

Most of the Chinese smartphone manufacturers in the market, like Honor, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi, are focusing their efforts on expanding in the budget smartphone segment. As a result, the premium segment is turning into a concentrated fight between Apple, Samsung and OnePlus.

And, they’re increasing the number of devices they’re introducing into the premium smartphone segment.

They’re even doing it at different price levels to appeal to different slabs of users.

During the last quarter, Samsung held 44% of the market share for high-end phones, OnePlus captured around 26% while Apple trudged behind with only 19%.

Tables were turned in the preceding quarter when OnePlus dominated over 35% of the market; Apple was at around 30% and Samsung lagged behind with 26%.

As these companies wander into uncertain territory for each of them — two going the way of bargain flagships and one getting more expensive — it will be seen which one of them will rule over the coveted ‘premium throne’.