South African consumers are about to get their first taste of Chinese phone maker OnePlus’s line of smartphones. The company will launch its flagship OnePlus 5 device in South Africa next week, TechCentral can reveal.
Distribution for the brand in South Africa was recently awarded to Cernotech, a technology distributor responsible for brands such as CAT Phones, Deeper and Amaryllo. The OnePlus phones will be available first through First National Bank, and directly from Cernotech, through its website.
The OnePlus phones have attracted a growing audience of consumers drawn to the phones’ high-end specifications and midrange pricing.
OnePlus was founded in 2013 by Pete Lau, a former vice-president at Oppo, another big Chinese smartphone brand, and Carl Pei. It falls under BBK Electronics, which owns Oppo, Vivo and other smartphone and consumer electronics brands.
Known for its payoff line “Never Settle”, the company’s new flagship, the OnePlus 5, was launched internationally in June. The company is now planning a follow-up, the OnePlus 5T, which will be unveiled at an event in New York next week. It’s not immediately clear when the 5T model will be available in South Africa. The international price of the 5T will reportedly be the same as the 5.
The OnePlus 5 will be available in South Africa on 15 November at a recommended retail price of R11 999. Only the 128GB version will be made available locally. The OnePlus 5 will also be available through FNB Connect for R599/month as part of a 24-month contract.
The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, coupled with up to 8GB of RAM. A review unit delivered to TechCentral ahead of the launch came with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of flash storage; it was powered by Google’s Android 7.1.1.
The OnePlus 5 has dual rear cameras, one with a 16-megapixel sensor and other with a 20MP sensor with a telephoto lens to determine the distance between the sensor and objects in the environment.
In portrait mode, the two sensors work together to create a focal separation between faces and backgrounds, while a custom software algorithm makes your subject clear and well-lit, OnePlus said.
This results in a professional depth-of-field (bokeh) effect that keeps faces sharp in front of a blurred backdrop.
A “smart capture” feature combines optical zoom with multi-frame technology to let user’s zoom in with more clarity, while the dual-camera system is used to calculate depth so as to speed up autofocus.
There’s also a “pro mode” offering ISO, white balance, shutter-speed, focus and exposure modification, as well as an on-screen histogram and RAW image file support.
OnePlus claims half an hour of charge using its “dash charge” technology is enough to power the phone for a day. It has a 3 300mAh battery.
Craig Wilson, editor of South African consumer technology magazine Stuff, said he has “always been really impressed by OnePlus devices”.
“They’ve consistently offered flagship-matching or even -beating specs at considerably lower prices than bigger-name brands. The OnePlus 5, for example, includes a 20MP and 16MP dual-camera setup and 8GB of RAM, which best even Samsung’s recent Note8, which costs almost R7 000 more,” Wilson said.
“In its early days (2014-2015), OnePlus did a shrewd job of building a mystique around the brand by using an invite-only ordering system. That made its devices even more desirable and exclusive but also meant the company could effectively manage its supply chain and ensure it could match demand while avoiding building any handsets that wouldn’t be sold,” he added.
“It’s exciting that OnePlus products will at last be available to South African consumers through an official channel. If the local importer is able to offer reliable after-sales support, it could do well in the local market, especially as there are a growing number of consumers opting for Sim-only packages and a standalone handset purchase, instead of contracts with subsidised devices — that’s precisely the sort of consumer OnePlus targets. — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media