Google and OnePlus are embracing the junior flagship trend

Editor's note: This article was originally published in preparation for the launch of the most recent Google and OnePlus devices, since the nature of their pre-launch leaks was so broad that we could analyze what each phone means in advance. The language has since been modified to reflect the official status of the new products of both companies.

Google's launch of Pixel 3A and 3A XL this month, accompanied by OnePlus division of its flagship product in a basic model and a Pro, marks a significant moment for the phone industry. From divergent positions, the two companies are ending up in the same destination, with a premium variant and a more distillate and simplified sub-flagship. And that is the place where virtually all smart phone manufacturers are today.

Google's pixel line started in the premium range and is now dragging the glories of the Pixel camera at a more affordable price, while OnePlus is taking over. The most difficult task of trying to scale your way to higher price levels after starting as a monster of budget level performance.

Once upon a time, just an iPhone. It was the iPhone even if Apple does not like the definite article. There used to be a single flagship Samsung Galaxy, but now you can have it in a medium or large, with or without 5G, or in an E version compatible with budget and pocket. Apple has the iPhone XS and XR, Huawei has its flagship Pro and no Pro, and the entire mobile industry seems to be moving towards a multi-level flagship strategy. With the latest releases of Google and OnePlus, the transition to the duality of senior and junior flagships is being completed.

The two leading companies with New phones this month are special cases in the Android ecosystem. Google is the author of Android, and still faces the responsibilities and competencies of a serious hardware manufacturer. OnePlus is a boutique suit under the umbrella of a giant conglomerate that also includes the Oppo and Vivo brands. He has survived as a small, lower-cost player all the time he has had it because he has had access to resources that go way beyond those of the typical budget device provider. But every commercial company must be able to sustain itself eventually, and both the hardware division of Google and OnePlus are reaching a level of maturity in which they can no longer be the niche alternative. They have to face Samsung's tastes directly, and that requires a bit of benign fragmentation.

For Google, the Pixel 3A is an admission that only selling premium-priced devices is not a long-term strategy. It is not a shame to recognize this fact when even Apple, the company that earns the most profits when designing and selling phones in history, makes a slightly less premium edition of its flagship product. Most people are not buying a super flagship every year, as illustrated by major US companies. UU And recently they said they had the lowest rate of smartphone updates in history. Then, to tempt people to buy another phone, Google has to improve the deal, and there is no better way to do it than to reduce the cost.

The $ 399 3A retains most of the Pixel camera's class-leading strengths, which, combined with its much lower price, could seriously tempt some people to buy it even as a second device. Would it be too wild to buy a Pixel 3A as essentially your Instagram device to use along with your normal phone? Not really. It is lenient but justifiable, especially for owners of older iPhones who want an update of the camera and are curious to know how the other half of the world lives.

For OnePlus, the OnePlus 7 professional makes sense because the company has always been considered and presented as a First-class smartphone manufacturer. you need first level prices if you're going to keep up with the striking features that define those super flagships. The CEO, Pete Lau, told me he is spending three times more on the OnePlus 7 Pro screen than in the basic version. Like Nokia with its five-camera system in the Nokia 9, Huawei and Oppo with its periscope-style telephoto lenses, or LG using the camera and the phone's screen to generate sound, OnePlus is looking for a unique hardware feature to highlight it . Those cost money. But OnePlus can not afford to abandon its traditional user base either, and that's why the Vanilla OnePlus 7 will play the leading role of the junior category.

It is a strange thing to observe the smart phone industry, for a long time one of the most fruitfully competitive markets in the world, repeatedly joining around certain trends. We have witnessed the exaggeration of the aluminum body, the mania of the notch, the massacre of the headphone jack and the escalation of war in which the company can install most of the cameras on the back of their phone. There is something magnetic that seems to keep all these competitors closely grouped.

With Google and OnePlus now that they have presented their latest portfolio additions, this is what smartphone companies offer with the best mindset:

  • Samsung: Galaxy S, Galaxy S with 5G or Galaxy S with a screen smallest and price
  • Apple: iPhone or iPhone cheaper with LCD and fewer cameras
  • Huawei: flagship of the P series or the cheaper version with screen and simpler cameras
  • Google: Pixel or Pixel cheaper with a processor, screen and more basic materials
  • OnePlus: Pro model or the cheapest original without the "advance" screen

The basic definition of the junior flagship is that it keeps the name and fundamental advantages of the top model , but it eliminates some of the subtleties and luxuries. It's different from simply having a flagship device, a midrange and an entry-level device. Phone shoppers have become too skilled, and perhaps even tired, to buy a phone that does not have the most iconic brand and charm. We demand the same name and basic qualities that companies advertise in their most dazzling and expensive marketing, but at a price that is humanly affordable. That's why everyone should now have a junior flagship in their lineup. Xiaomi, Honor, Motorola, Sony, Vivo, Oppo and most others are totally in line with this strategy.

The junior flagship is a natural and sensible reaction to the trend of telephone companies in recent years that drive their absolute top model towards ever more stratospheric prices. to ensure unique features of whiz-bang hardware. People's budgets have not grown as fast as super-iconic prices, so OnePlus is making the logical point of staying in the chase while still having a flagship-level device at a reasonable price. Google is finally admitting that it also needs one of those.

With OnePlus coming out of its value-for-money comfort zone and Google entering it, competition and choice across the Android phone market will improve for consumers. So, although everyone seems to be pursuing the same basic strategy, the result for phone buyers will be a greater variety of options and more pressure for all companies to offer the best possible device.

The most competitive market in the world of technology is Just growing even more.

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