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This could be the most dangerous Android phone of 2020 for Google

Published Jun 20th, 2020 2:36PM EDT
OnePlus 8 Price
Image: OnePlus

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  • OnePlus’s upcoming OnePlus Z price might be a lot cheaper than anything we could have envisioned, which could put further strain on competitors — especially Google’s unreleased Pixel 5 flagship.
  • The OnePlus Z and Pixel 5 are rumored to feature the same Snapdragon 765 processor, so they’ll feature roughly the same overall performance.
  • The new OnePlus phone might be a whopping $300 cheaper than the Pixel 5 if the latest rumor is true, a price that would make the phone a crushing blow to Google’s own smartphone efforts.

We’ve talked about the Pixel 5 hardware inadequacy at length over the past few weeks, as more and more reports made it clear that Google’s top of the line handset this year will be a bit of a disappointment. Pixel rumors usually turn out to be accurate and a variety of leaks said Google will not use the newest Snapdragon 865 flagship processor from Qualcomm for the Pixel 5 series. The mid-range Snapdragon 765 has been chosen to replace it, a processor that comes with a built-in modem and is more affordable. That means the Pixel 5 won’t match the performance of flagships like the Galaxy S20, OnePlus 8, or any other high-end Android phone released recently. That’s not a problem, some will say, as Google has never engaged in specs wars with its partners/rivals. That’s true to some extent, but the Pixel 5 will be judged against other Android flagships as well as the iPhone 12 series. We’ve already shown you that the Pixel 5 will not be a match for the iPhone 12, iPhone 11, or even the iPhone SE. It will barely match the Pixel 4’s lackluster performance, and that’s definitely not the “upgrade” fans expect.

Some will argue that the Snapdragon 765 is a necessary compromise for the Pixel series, and that it will let Google pass on the savings to consumers. The Pixel 5 could start as low as $699, according to a recent Google survey. But the same amount of money will get you a brand new iPhone 11, iPhone 12, or the OnePlus 8. Google will have to make the case that Pixel 5 is a better proposition than all these phones. And it’ll be so much harder if the newest OnePlus rumor comes true. The more affordable OnePlus Z could be significantly cheaper than the Pixel 5, and even the Pixel 4a, which is expected to start at $349.

The OnePlus Z, also known as OnePlus Nord 5G in some circles, will launch in July, several months before the now-delayed Pixel 4a and Pixel 5. The phone is also expected to rock the same Snapdragon 765 processor that will power the Pixel 5. While Google doesn’t do specs wars, OnePlus has always pushed the envelope in that regard. The OnePlus Z will probably offer a decent amount of RAM and storage. Add to that a better all-screen design than the Pixel 5 and 30W fast charging, which the OnePlus Z is expected to get, and you end up with a great proposition.

The best part about the OnePlus Z will be the price. The phone will definitely cost less than the $699 OnePlus 8, and a new rumor says the price could start as low as $299. If that’s accurate, that handset will be the best value on the market this year. Let’s not forget we’re currently living in the age of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Millions of buyers might not be able to afford phone upgrades this year. Those who do will pay closer attention than ever to the price.

A $299 OnePlus Z would be $50 cheaper than the unreleased Pixel 4a, and $100 less expensive than the iPhone SE.

OnePlus will not confirm the actual price for a few weeks, but Android Central believes the tweet above is a price teaser for the OnePlus Z.

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei posted an image with the OnePlus One handset the company launched several years ago. He captioned it with an enigmatic “it’s been a while…” remark. That may be a hint that OnePlus is about to launch a “flagship killer” again. That’s a device with killer specs and a killer price. As OnePlus invested in new technologies, its phones got more and more expensive each year. While they’re more affordable than some competitors, they haven’t been true flagship killers in the same sense.

The 16GB OnePlus One cost just $299 when it was released back in 2014, which was a fantastic deal at the time. Unlike the OnePlus Z, the OnePlus One actually rocked the flagship Qualcomm processor that year.

With all that in mind, Google might have a tough time selling a $699 Pixel 5 when pitted against a $299 OnePlus Z. Even if the OnePlus phone ends up costing $100 to $200 more than this guesstimate, it’ll still be a much better deal.

The Pixel 5 will have two major advantages over any OnePlus phones. One concerns the camera performance, which is always a key selling point for Pixel phones. The other is access to immediate Android upgrades. But let’s not forget that OnePlus 8 phones already support the recently released Android 11 beta, so we can expect OnePlus to release the final Android 11 versions for all its new phones soon after the Pixels get it.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.