OnePlus has revealed via its dedicated hype-building Instagram profile that its next phone, called the OnePlus Nord, will be available for pre-order at 9am BST on 1 July.
In a Stories post published today at 9am, it revealed that it’s only 24 hours until it’s “open for business – for at least a couple of seconds”, revealing that 100 units of the upcoming phone will be available to order.
Clearly then, its social handle account is doing what it does best: building hype. And we don’t blame them for doing that, not at all. Building excitement around a phone launch is something that’s difficult to do, and OnePlus – by becoming a big player with multiple carrier and retail partners – has lost a little bit of what made it exciting and fun at the beginning.
When it first launched its original phone – the OnePlus One – it built excitement by having a ticket-based purchasing system. You couldn’t buy the phone unless you had a ticket shared with you by another buyer. It was a bit like a limited sneaker raffle, except what was on offer wasn’t ludicrously over-priced.
It worked too. When you got hold of one of those tickets, you felt you were buying something unique and rare, that also just so happened to be an ultra-affordable and rare smartphone.
From OnePlus’ side, it was also quite a clever way of managing its inventory and manufacturing capability. It simply couldn’t build enough phones to send out a million devices within weeks of launch.
Is this really necessary?
With the OnePlus Nord, the company is in a different position entirely. It’s a much larger company, its phones are no longer affordable, and it has the manufacturing capability to do multi-national global retail launches.
We can’t help but feel this effort at building excitement is an attempt to recreate that feeling of buying something rare and limited, like the original phone, except this time we know the phone maker has the ability to launch more than just 100 phones.
In fact, it’s likely you’ll be able to get hold of these devices just like you can any other current OnePlus phones, and if you can’t, it’s a case of a manufacturer limiting supply for a phone that is likely going to be a mid-range phone. To build hype for a phone that – spec-wise – is essentially an Oppo Reno 4 or Realme X50 Pro with a different name.
On the flip side of the argument, unlike its sister companies Oppo and Realme, it doesn’t have dozens of different phones being launched every year. There’s a lot more riding on each of these phone launches, and so it needs to hype those.
It’s a way of building up excitement for its fanbase, in a way it hasn’t done for a while. Offering up a rare run of 100 devices before the launch will make whoever gets those phones feel special, especially if they have a numbered 1/100 unit. It’s that Willy Wonka golden ticket feel.
There’s a risk, however, that this is over-hyping a phone which isn’t as powerful or impressive as the OnePlus 8 series. And that may not go down so well if someone orders it, not knowing exactly what they’re buying and ending up with a mid-range phone.
Given the growth of the company of the past few years, it does feel a little silly offering a limited presale of a device. It’s a tactic that was easier to forgive when the company was young. Now it feels like hype-building for hype-building’s sake.