5 things we want to see from OnePlus in 2022

OnePlus Nord 2 with OnePlus Nord and OnePlus 9

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

2021 was a transformative year for OnePlus in more ways than one. The company expanded its reach well beyond its original ambition to become the de facto option for enthusiasts, introducing several entry-level and mid-range models for the mass market. And, from budget-friendly smartphones to OnePlus fitness bands and even a smartwatch, we were finally starting to see the beginnings of a larger ecosystem in the game.

Related: Eight Years of OnePlus – The Biggest Hits (and Misses) in Its Short History

Supporting this transition has been a long-awaited deep integration with Oppo that essentially turned the enthusiast’s choice into a sub-brand for the much more mainstream-focused Oppo. It was a controversial integration and the final nail in the coffin came with the company’s decision to merge the much-loved Oxygen OS with Oppo’s Color OS.

Suffice it to say that 2021 marked a new beginning for the brand. However, if you were hoping to see a clear focus for the future, you would be mistaken. Instead, we got a rather muddy mix of brands with identities that are just a little too similar. Numerous eulogies have been written about Oneplus “settling in”, but what is more telling is the outrage and exodus of longtime fans.

As OnePlus moves forward with its diversified portfolio and Oppo’s scale behind it, it begs the very real question: what does OnePlus’s future look like? While the company works to find out That question, here are five things we hope to see from OnePlus in 2022.


1. A Distinctive Brand Identity

OnePlus Nord 2 close-up on camera module

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

At the top of our 2021 wish list for OnePlus was our hope that the brand would be a trendsetter. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite happen and OnePlus continued its strategy of playing it safe with a proven formula of predictable hardware. However, with OnePlus playing in both the true flagship territory and the highly competitive entry-level segment, it is imperative that the brand stands out from the competition.

BBK-backed Oppo, Vivo and Realme already have solid foundations in one or more of those segments. Plus, all three players excel at the value proposition, and that’s before we consider the behemoth Xiaomi. Simply put, undercutting will not be enough for OnePlus to make a mark in the entry-level category.

Also see: OnePlus Phones – A history of every device launched so far

Since we’ve already seen OnePlus take over existing designs from Oppo, it becomes even more important to find a unique selling point. Otherwise, it runs the risk of being classified as yet another manufacturer of cheap phones, amid a myriad of options. While striking the right balance between performance, price and clean software is a table game, we hope the brand distills the ethos of the OnePlus experience. Yes, that includes bringing marquee features like the alert slider to lower price points instead of removing it, OnePlus!

Likewise, specs alone don’t cut it at the top anymore. Improving charging speeds is a step in the right direction, but we’d love to see bolder design choices, as well as hardware differentiation in 2022.


2. Top quality software

OnePlus Nord 2 High Performance Mode

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Software is the glue that binds the user experience together. It’s the heart of what makes a phone great. In the case of OnePlus, software was a recurring point of contention for us, and that’s an issue that can’t be solved by throwing faster hardware at it. Whether it’s bugs, general usability or lackluster camera optimization, it’s rare to see a OnePlus smartphone with no software issues at launch.

While we’ve seen some improvements in camera optimization this year, thanks to its partnership with Hasselblad, there are other areas where OnePlus continues to falter. Whether it’s longstanding bugs with the notification system, overly aggressive battery management, or the bug-ridden Android 12 rollout, it’s clear that OnePlus still has a long way to go before it achieves software excellence.

Next one: OnePlus Buyer’s Guide — Everything You Need to Know

With hardware becoming commonplace across the board, software is one of the few areas where a business can really make a mark and engage users. Plus, as value is no longer a USP for increasingly expensive OnePlus flagships, every single bug stands out when compared to the ultra-sophisticated software on Samsung or Apple phones. In 2022, OnePlus is expected to double its software quality assurance, the bare minimum we can hope for.


3. Enhanced Imaging

OnePlus Nord 2 vs. OnePlus 9 side by side

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Cameras are at the top of the list of factors buyers consider when buying a flagship phone. OnePlus traditionally does well with camera sensors. Between the primary 48MP sensor and the rather excellent 50MP ultra-wide camera, the OnePlus 9 Pro came with the right tools for the job.

However, the 8MP telephoto shooter is getting rather long in the tooth. It would be great if OnePlus took advantage of Oppo’s camera expertise and introduced periscope lenses. Plus, really distinctive features like the neutral-density filter built into the OnePlus Concept One, or perhaps a variable aperture, could help OnePlus get a leg up on the competition.


4. Push a cohesive ecosystem

OnePlus watch on wrist

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

OnePlus has gradually carved a niche in the connected ecosystem space. In India, the company sells a range of smart TVs. Meanwhile, the company’s fitness and audio products have also made their debut in the US and Europe. We rated the recently launched OnePlus U1S as a thoughtful big screen TV for everyone. However, the same cannot be said of the OnePlus Band or the OnePlus Watch.

Both the fitness tracker and the semi-smart watch were full of bugs and had no features. While the OnePlus Band suffered from poor battery life and limited accuracy, the OnePlus Watch was another disappointing fitness watch. To make the injury worse, the watch was essentially a rebranded Oppo Watch.

We hope that OnePlus can return to the drawing board in 2022 and release products that can go beyond derivative alternatives. For example, the wearable market is ripe for disruption. Aside from Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 and some fashionable watches, there aren’t many options for a well-designed Wear OS powered watch to be available worldwide. With Samsung’s exclusivity for Wear OS 3 coming to an end in 2022, OnePlus could drop in with a value proposition that combines quality specs with the upgraded OS.

In addition, it would not be a bad time to introduce a broader product portfolio à la Xiaomi. While a smart robot vacuum might be too far out of the company’s comfort zone, smart speakers and streaming sticks could complement the company’s expansion into the expanded IoT space.


5. Well-segmented product lines

OnePlus Nord N100 in hand with the triple camera

Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

From one phone a year to a complicated mess of a lineup that barely resembles its original ethos, OnePlus has come a long way. Look, I get it. From a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense to get into the budget category. However, it is a serious blunder to put bland budget phones in the same category as the rather excellent mid-range Nord series.

In fact, the argument could be extended to the entire lineup. The relatively insignificant price differences between the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9R, as well as the Nord 2 and the Nord CE, are confusing buyers.

With the top phones on the hunt for flagships, it may be time for the company to rebrand the Nord as the spiritual successor to the “old” OnePlus. This would also mean turning the entry-level phones into their own category. It certainly wouldn’t hurt OnePlus to come up with an equally ambitious brand name that better reflects its value-oriented positioning without alienating Nord series fans.


You tell us: What do you want to see from OnePlus in 2022?

What do you most want to see from OnePlus in 2022?

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Better strategic choices and general improvements to long-standing issues are the bare minimum we want from OnePlus in 2022. But what about you? Let us know where you think OnePlus should focus going into 2022. In fact, let us know in the comments if you have any thoughts on some of the biggest changes you’d like to see from OnePlus in 2022.

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