Don’t expect OnePlus to act like all the other phone companies, because it won’t

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We’re all used to smartphone manufacturers bringing out an updated version of their top device every year. The Galaxy S8 will surely be replaced by the Galaxy S9, and the LG G6 will almost certainly pave the way for the LG G7. OnePlus ignored the unwritten rule last year with the OnePlus 3T, a slightly updated version of the OnePlus 3, which arrived six months into the OnePlus 3’s life.

Does that mean we’ll now see a new OnePlus phone every six months? The answer is no, and it’s actually a good thing.

“We know the upgrade to the OnePlus 3T was not a conventional move, but we’re not a conventional company,” OnePlus’s head of European Marketing, David Sanmartin, told Digital Trends. “We wanted to bring some key hardware upgrades to our users faster than the typical product lifecycle would have allowed, and it’s been a well-received decision overall. But we can’t say whether we will take this same approach in the future.”

Timing

The reason why is an interesting look at how OnePlus is able to react to the changing smartphone market in a different way to its competitors. Describing the company as, “small and nimble,” Sanmartin said it launched the OnePlus 3T because the new hardware became available to use, and it was deemed important enough to integrate into the phone rather than waiting until a OnePlus 4 (or OnePlus 5, as rumor has it). By that time, the Snapdragon 821 chip used in the 3T would be old news anyway.

The OnePlus 3T gave us the chance to enjoy more power, a better camera, and a little larger battery, straight away. Timing played a big part in this, and will likely do so in the future. If better components come along, OnePlus has shown it’s in the position to quickly bring them to us in a revised version of its current phone.

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While other companies, perhaps most notably Apple, release software updates throughout the lifetime of a phone to introduce new features; OnePlus doesn’t think this is enough. The 3T was its idea of what a feature-packed update should be.

“We implemented these hardware updates to create a much better user experience, that software updates cannot do alone,” the company told us.

Hardware and software updates

OnePlus is pleased with the response to the 3T, but the company isn’t sticking to a single strategy — don’t expect a six monthly update plan from the company just because it did it in the past. However, we should expect a new OnePlus phone — maybe the rumored OnePlus 5 — soon, surely?

“We are always thinking about our next products, but at this point we are still focused on the OnePlus 3T,” Sanmartin continued, adding, “We can’t share any information about future products at this time.”

Whatever happens with the next phone, OnePlus says it will take inspiration from its community during the development process. Sanmartin explained, “That is how we developed the OnePlus 3T, and it seems to have paid off.” It’s not just hardware the community behind OnePlus influences. Changes in the software team mean faster software updates in the future too — a pain-point for OnePlus owners since the beginning. The OnePlus 3T has just received an update to Android 7.1.1, and the March 2017 Android security patch, for example.

It’s fairly straightforward to place an accurate bet on when the next Galaxy, next iPhone, or most other major manufacturer’s new device will arrive. OnePlus is unorthodox, and considerably more unpredictable.

“OnePlus has always been a product company first and aims to create the best product for our community of users,” Sanmartin concluded.

We’ll just have to wait and see if this means we get one phone a year, two phones, or possibly even more than that; regardless of whether any fit in with a preset, annual launch schedule or not.