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OnePlus launched their much-awaited 7 and 7 Pro devices last week in simultaneous events across the globe. Both devices come packed with flagship level specifications but it’s the 7 Pro which pushes the boundaries for the company.

“We are ready to no longer just challenge the industry but challenge ourselves to be the best version of ourselves we can be and share a truly breakthrough product with the world. The OnePlus 7 Pro is a milestone in the history of OnePlus,” Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus said while launching the phones in Bengaluru.

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Currently, there’s no confirmation about the precise availability or price of the devices in the UAE but they are coming. OnePlus has been present in the UAE but has had a silent existence for a few years. With brands like Apple and Samsung, who have solid roots in the market, and new entries like Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi blazing a trail behind them, OnePlus hasn’t yet brought its full concentration to the UAE or even to the region.

“The premium market is expected to grow by 10-12 per cent in the UAE this year,” says Tarun Pathak, associate director for Mobile Devices and Ecosystems at Counterpoint, a technology market research company based in the India.

He said that the UAE is a more mature market and that consumers in the UAE are always open to new technologies, adding that the UAE’s ‘premium device consumption’ is at almost half a million units per quarter in the UAE, which is almost the same as (and sometimes even higher) than the consumption in India.

Considering the clear potential that the UAE provides in the premium segment, we sat down with Carl Pei, to discuss the new phones as well as OnePlus’s plans in the UAE.

“So, when we started, we launched in a lot of countries worldwide because we saw an opportunity with e-commerce. E-commerce allows you to ship stuff all over the world. Initially, we first launched in China, India, USA and EU markets,” said Pei.

OnePlus 7 Pro
OnePlus 7 Pro Image Credit: Supplied

The brand has towered over the premium smartphone segment in India for the past few years.

“In the US, we just launched with T-Mobile and the US is a market where most people, they don’t buy their phones online, they don’t do much research. They just go to their carrier store; they’re locked to a 24-month contract. Similar story in EU, where we’re opening offices in each individual country,” he said.

When asked about the MEA region, Pei said, “If you look at the US, it’s a market with 90 million flagship phones per year. It’s probably our biggest opportunity and is where we’re going to be spending a lot of our effort.”

Pei said the company’s recent tie-up with Amazon, which is offering pre-booking of the new device in select countries, will allow the company to satisfy some of that demand without needing to invest too much time and energy for now.

“I can promise once we are successful in the US, we will be coming everywhere,” he said.

While OnePlus has made certain decisions to keep their costs relatively low, other Chinese brands are also on the same path. Brands like Xiaomi, Huawei, Honor and Oppo are also trying to provide value-for-money flagship devices. Pei claims that OnePlus’ approach to competition is “almost stoic.”

“Basically, you’ve got to accept things as they are. So, what can we do? Can we really change what competitors think or what competitors do? We can’t, right? So, we got to focus all our energy on improving ourselves. The more we improve ourselves, the more we become stronger. Then, the harder it is for any of our competitors to get close to us. So, we’re not an externally facing company”.

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The OnePlus 7 Pro is the world’s first smartphone with a 90Hz display. Smartphone displays (and more importantly OLEDs) have refreshed at 60Hz (basically 60 times a second). The OnePlus 7 Pro will refresh at a rate of 90 times a second. To simply put it the graphics, animations and general usage of the phone will be better and smoother. The device is truly beautiful to look at and is the company’s first ever Quad HD+ offering. Standing tall at 6.67” and with a 93.22 per cent screen to body ratio, the display on the Pro model is quite beautiful but then why didn’t the company jump straight to a 120Hz display?

Vaguely explaining the decision Pei responded “When we saw the 90Hz screen, it just looked really good. And so much better than the 60Hz and, but it is really hard to explain. We don’t have access to any good 120Hz at the moment, but I think for the AMOLED 90Hz, we should be first in the world to launch something like this.”

He also explained that OnePlus engineers also suggested that a 90Hz AMOLED performs much better than a 90Hz LCD.

Apart from the display, the OnePlus 7 Pro comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip set which is the fastest smartphone chip set on Android devices right now, a 48MP triple camera set-up on the back to keep up with the competition, a 16MP pop-up selfie camera, a 4000 mAh battery which should give the average user a whole day’s charge, OnePlus’ Warp 30 charging which will charge your device from 0-40 per cent in 20 mins and Oxygen OS which is known to be one of the fastest and cleanest Android OS’ on the market right now.

Two features missing from the device are wireless charging and water and dust resistance, due to the pop-up camera. Defending the loss of the IP rating, Pei said “why would we do this causing us to increase our price by $30 more when in reality, the functionality is the same.”

The company could reverse its position on wireless charging.

“In the future, it might become more useful when we see a wider adoption of [wireless charging]. For example, when we have it, you know, built into our furniture or when the coffee shops you go to have it then it becomes much more convenient. Today, the Warp 30 that we have on our phones is much faster and better than any wireless experience”.

While his point on charging experiences does factor in, the lack of wireless charging will definitely pinch a few users. It will be those users who — thanks to their current devices — have and are already invested in the wireless charging infrastructure.

He brought up iFixit tear downs of their devices and said “They’ve disassembled our phones and found the same rubber-like water protection [as on other IP rated devices]. We also do a lot of our own tests. So, for the consumer, there’s no real difference in the experience. In addition to that, the companies who certify their phones still do not provide warranty in case something happens”.