I remember the original OnePlus One, all the way back in 2014. The one that ran CyanogenMod rather than a 'normal' version of Android. It was different, it was kinda out there, it was actually exciting.
Now I'll be the first to admit that OnePlus is past its heydey, but when the rumour dropped that OnePlus was going to exit European markets, with the UK explicitly earmarked, I was left thinking "pssht, I doubt it".
So I asked OnePlus' UK PR team and, lo and behold, the rumour simply isn't true: "OnePlus are committed to all the existing European markets and the UK. We had a great start in 2023 with the successful launches of several products in Europe and have a line-up of upcoming products for the rest of the year," is the official stance. The OnePlus 11 has just arrived, after all, and there's more to come based on that information.
So it couldn't be clearer, right? Well, maybe. But it has got me thinking. The original rumour was that both Oppo and OnePlus were to exit, according to leaker Max Jambor via Twitter.
Now, Oppo just quietly annouced its Find X6 Pro flagship, but didn't to my knowledge reach out to any UK-based Future publishing titles (I've been in discussion with TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor, Alex Walker-Todd, about this) becuse that handset isn't coming to the UK. And, well, maybe the rumour isn't entirely baseless: could Oppo be set for Asia-only releases and OnePlus set to continue as its rest of world sub-brand operation? It would make some sense.
The two phone brands are owned by the BBK Electronics umbrella and there has been increasing overlap in how the two function. It was only last year, in February 2022, that OnePlus' OxygenOS software effectively became an echo of Oppo's ColorOS setup. The times they were a-changin', the lines were blurring.
But irrelevant of those sometime similarities, to lose OnePlus is Europe would be a bad thing for Android diversity. As my Staff Writer colleage, Sam Cross, penned upon hearing about the rumour: it would be heartbreaking. And I'm inclined to agree.
If OnePlus was to leave the UK that'd be one more victory for Samsung; for the obvious go-to brands (even Apple, really, outside of the Androidsphere). But great as that company's phones are already – as said in my Galaxy S23 Ultra review – the thing I love about Android is that it's an open system. So you get all manner of brands putting their own spin on things and introducing their own hardware and chipsets and ideas to the mix.
It was just the other week I was revelling in Xiaomi's 13 Pro and the epic cameras it offers. If that never came to Europe then I'd be gutted at what potential buyers were missing out on. I was looking forward to the Oppo Find X6 to see what that had up its sleeve... but, alas, it seems that's not meant to be. That in itself is a loss to Android's diversity, so it's imperative that OnePlus stays in the market to show the competition a thing or two.
It's almost 10 long years since that first OnePlus handset arrived. Since then the company has surfed a wave taking it to superstar levels with a fanbase like no other. And even if that wave has crested and the company's reach is less exhillirating than in the recent past, I'm all about OnePlus staying strong for the next near-10-years and beyond. Because we all need it; Android needs it.