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OnePlus forgot to mention the notch in its ‘honest design’ story

OnePlus 6 Release Date

The OnePlus 6 is a few weeks away, which means we’ve reached peak OnePlus 6 teaser. But rather than having to wait, we already have an official design story for the OnePlus from the company’s CEO Pete Lau titled “Our approach to honest design.” Wait, what?

Just like Lau’s previous OnePlus phones announcements, the design story was posted on the company’s forums, where anybody can comment on. The comments section is straight where I went after reading it, wondering if anybody would call out the “honest” part. Turns out that’s what the first comment was about — and it was posted even before the user had read the Lau’s post:

Waiting for the jokes about the honesty part.

Seriously though, I’m quite curious about OP6’s design. The back leaks look quite appealing!

Having now read the article, sandstone > glass.

It’s mind-boggling that OnePlus would even use the word “honest” in a post about the OnePlus 6 design. Regardless how the company wants to explain the OnePlus 6’s design, the fact remains it’ll be one of the most obvious and popular iPhone X clones out there, and that’s because OnePlus is a lot more popular than some of the Chinese smartphone makers that already copied the iPhone X design. Pretending it’s not an iPhone X clone is anything but honest.

Image source: OnePlus

OnePlus is, however, in “pursuit of honesty,” according to Lau:

Keeping industrial design honest means respecting what a product should be, rather than tacking on additional elements just for the sake of hype. An honest design will perfectly serve the function of the product and even embody the product itself so that from the moment you hold it, the device “will speak for itself.” And I believe users will naturally gravitate towards more “honest” designs.

But the entire post, which you can read at this link, fails to address the most important design element of a phone these days: the screen and the notch. It’s as if that’s not a major design decision for the OnePlus 6. Instead, Lau’s piece focuses on the phone’s back panel, and how it’ll feel in hand.

Of course, the OnePlus 6 will have a glass back. That probably has nothing to do with the fact that Apple returned to glass-sandwich iPhone designs last year. It’s probably just a coincidence that OnePlus moved back to glass after Apple did. Samsung, for example, has been doing glass sandwich phones for a few years now. OnePlus only did it for the OnePlus X back in 2015, and then it promptly returned to other materials.

OnePlus 6’s glass design is centered around creating a “sense of value” and “premium hand-feel.” As I mentioned at the beginning, people relate deeply to the products they use. We gave a lot of thought to how users should feel when they use the OnePlus 6. The advantages of glass over metal are manifold: glass communicates a transparent, bright, and pure feeling. The way glass transforms under different lighting is a particularly important challenge—the OnePlus design team tested over 70 glass prototypes before selecting the best one.

Apple used glass on 2017 iPhones to enable wireless charging. Lau’s piece doesn’t mention the feature, but there’s no excuse to leave it out now that the phone is all glass, is there?

Lau’s article is clearly meant to build up hype for the OnePlus 6, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And the OnePlus 6 will surely be a great phone. But, honestly, peddling deceit like this isn’t good for the company’s discerning user base.

Over the past four years, core OnePlus users have consistently held the highest standards when it comes to the user experience and design of our devices. We know we’re creating devices for a discerning user base. Your passion has, in turn, fueled our pursuit of perfection. The result? Our hard work and perseverance has always been rewarded with a sense of burdenless joy.

Over the past four years, OnePlus has copied Apple and/or parent company Oppo at least twice while pretending that’s not the case. So any “honest design” story for the OnePlus 6 that fails to even address the notchy design elephant in the room feels disingenuous.

The proof that OnePlus failed to achieve some sort of iconic design of its own comes from the same post:

Appearance-wise, we’ve always maintained our signature horizon line and precise curve to the back of the device. From the OnePlus One to the OnePlus 5T, the horizon line and characteristic curve have remained as important elements of our design language.

That’s it? Then again, people have criticized Apple and even Samsung for sticking with the same familiar design lines for years. In that regard, OnePlus’s decision to try something new everything year should not go unnoticed. It’s just sad that OnePlus’s desire for change and improvement is overshadowed by its need to copy Apple.

Finally, I’ll also notice that “Designed by OnePlus” marking on the back of the phone, which also seems to be inspired by the habit of a certain company. That’s not something you’d see on previous OnePlus models; why is that? Given the lack of originality with the OnePlus 6, maybe OnePlus should wait a while before marking its design pride on the back of its devices.

UPDATE: OnePlus reached out to BGR to clarify that Oppo isn’t its parent company. OnePlus and Oppo have shared investors and access to the same supply chain for some components.

Also, OnePlus added that “Designed by OnePlus” is featured on the back of the phone that started it all, the OnePlus One.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.