It's almost impossible to imagine another premium smartphone brand taking over the long-ruling Apple and Samsung in any market, but OnePlus broke the trend in India – the world's fastest growing and second largest market. What's more surprising is that the Chinese smartphone brand is only 5 years old – less than half of Apple's iPhone age – and it has already managed to displace the market leaders in the premium segment.
We've seen Chinese smartphone brands take the Indian market by storm in recent years. Take Xiaomi for instance, it predominantly overtook Samsung in several quarters in India by launching affordable smartphones that cater to the Indian audience. As market trends change, brands' strategies change too and Samsung is seen fighting hard to regain its top spot in the market.
But breaking the cult of premium smartphones hasn't been easy for Xiaomi as well. OnePlus, on the other hand, mastered the art and gave its rivals a tough run for the money. According to the latest Counterpoint Research report, OnePlus came at a close second after Samsung by acquiring 33 percent of India's overall premium smartphone market share and led by a huge margin from Apple, which only had 23 percent market share.
"OnePlus remains one of the fastest growing brands in the $400-$600 segment. The success of OnePlus in India drove the overall premium smartphone shipments in the country to a record number in a single year. The brand is likely to grow as it broadens its reach in the European and US markets," Counterpoint Research pointed out.
The staggering rise of OnePlus is certainly not by fluke. The young Chinese smartphone maker is definitely doing some things right that Apple is missing out on. We have narrowed down to 5 such things OnePlus is doing right to lead India's premium smartphone market.
Product speaks for itself
OnePlus has a robust approach to its product portfolio, which clearly sends the message to "never settle." The latest flagship, OnePlus 6T, was a top-seller during the holiday season (Diwali) in India, and for good reasons. We've been reviewing OnePlus phones for a while now, and each time the company surpasses its own benchmarks.
You can pick any OnePlus product and you'll find it to be the best phone with great value-for-money of its time. For instance, OnePlus 6T throws a stiff challenge in the flagship space with a price tag of less than Rs 50,000 when rivals are drawing close to a lakh per unit. If disruptive pricing is a key factor to OnePlus' success in India, the well-rounded configurations of the phones contribute equally.
2018 flagships, OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T, come with top-of-the-line features, such as Snapdragon 845 chipset, up to 10GB RAM (only in McLaren Edition), up to 256GB storage, beautiful craftsmanship, impressive camera, fast charging solution with lasting battery life and much more.
Even though OnePlus started off as word-of-mouth only promotions, it has now moved to mainstream advertisements in newspapers, online ads and TV commercials. But it's all in fairness to the success it has received in such a short time and the hunger to reach the masses.
The product portfolio, which started off with just phones, now extends to accessories such as earphones, backpacks, phone covers and cases and more. Soon, OnePlus is also going to come up with a OnePlus TV, which fans can clearly can't wait to see.
One of the best things I found with OnePlus phones is that the relationship building continues even after the phone is purchased. Consumers are in for regular and latest software updates. Need we remind you OnePlus was one of the first brands to be on board with Android Pie beta testing and its phones were among the first to receive the stable builds of the Pie-based OxygenOS as well.
OnePlus also makes sure its older customers with ageing handsets do not miss out on the action by rolling out the latest software updates to them as well. It's interesting to see how the company prioritises software updates to one of the cleanest ROMs we've ever tested when most companies delay it on the account of customisations.
After-sales - a new beginning
If we have to rank the efficiency of after-sales service from smartphone brands, Apple always stole the top spot. But OnePlus is closing in with great speed. OnePlus understands that it is not only the buying experience that has to be seamless but making sure the servicing goes seamlessly is crucial to customer satisfaction.
That said, OnePlus has gone above and beyond to impress its customers walking in for a repair. Last September, it started something called as premium coffee experience at its exclusive offline stores and service centres, where it offers a free cup of coffee for its customers while they wait for the phone to be repaired.
But it's not the free coffee that wins hearts here. OnePlus already guarantees a one-hour repair and in that time, customers can choose to read a book, listen to music, access high-speed internet or play a game in the Recreation room. Now that's the kind of commitment each brand must have towards making its customers happy.
OnePlus started off as an online-only brand, which means OnePlus phones can exclusively be bought online through popular e-commerce platform Amazon.in. As the company grew, sales of OnePlus phones shot through the roof, it was time to go big. OnePlus came up with its exclusive offline stores, allowing buyers to experience the phones before actually buying them online.
As of now, OnePlus phones are not only available through Amazon.in, but it can also be bought from offline retailers such as Croma and Reliance Digital stores. This has allowed OnePlus to be omnipresent in the ways consumers will find it easy to buy its phones without burdening itself with too much pressure.
In addition to that, OnePlus is also investing in opening its biggest R&D facility in Hyderabad and it has already begun the hiring process, creating jobs in India.
Finally, OnePlus has a strong community of users who help grow the company by improving itself. The company is known to listen to its users through online forum discussions, social media interactions and alike. OnePlus' engagement with the growing community of users in India has helped the brand evolve and bring fixes to major issues before they widely impact users. From time to time, the brand is also seen hosting several competitions and programs to strengthen its customer relationships.
"OnePlus has been vocal about its priority towards India. "India is our number one market globally and contributes to one-third of our global revenue. We have prioritised India as our top focus market for the next 3-4 years," Vikas Agarwal, OnePlus India general manager, had said.
More great things are sure to come OnePlus' way and these are exciting times for the brand, especially in India seeing its consistent growth trajectory.