As the latest OnePlus smartphone was hiding inside a box during last week’s Mobile World Congress, the company was busy talking up its 5G endeavours on key panels, allowing partners to use OnePlus handsets as demonstration platforms, and presumably the usual behind closed doors meetings. It also shot down the hopes of many fans by confirming that one of the rapidly adopted key features in modern smartphone design will not be making an appearance on OnePlus hardware during 2019.
If, like many, you are holding out for wireless charging in this year’s OnePlus smartphones, think again. OnePlus’ Pete Lau has reinforced the message that quicker wired charging is the company’s focus. Unlike some notable competitors (…Apple) OnePlus does ship a fast charger in the retail box with its handsets, plus the emphasis on ‘quick charging’ is a different but understandable choice in comparison to other manufacturers.
OnePlus 6T (image: Ewan Spence)Ewan Spence
I will be the first to acknowledge that I do have a bias towards devices with wireless charging capabilities. Having used it since late 2012, using a smartphone enabled for wireless charging is something that I will actively look for in a personal phone. It has taken time, but the last year has seen a significant rise in smartphones using the Qi standard for wireless charging, no doubt driven by Apple’s adoption of the same standard and its inclusion in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X handsets.
If you would you rather have the ability to top up a smartphone during the day without constantly plugging cables in and out (in other words, if you have an almost solidly office/desk based routine) then a wireless charger is, by its nature, one of the best charging options. To go to the other extreme, if you are always out and about, with frequent travelling and only brief moments to carry out your smartphone’s ABC rule (Always Be Charging), then pushing as much power into a handset in as short a time as possible is the way to go.
The comments made by Pete Lau to CNet’s Roger Chen suggest that, philosophically, the OnePlus team are champions of the latter, rather than the former:
Lau expressed his skepticism about wireless charging as a consumer benefit, noting that it takes a long time to charge a device with a wireless pad. With the physical quick charge plug, OnePlus says, you can get your battery 50 percent charged in 20 minutes and fully charged in less than an hour.
OnePlus 6T Launch Page (oneplus.com)OnePlus.com
Now, there’s nothing physical to stop a smartphone being able to do both, but it does increase the cost of materials in the retail package, and of course having a wireless charging enabled product means you need to design a wireless charging pad as either an additional sale or in the box (which drives the initial price up even more).
Take OnePlus’ focus on delivering a premium smartphone experience at a competitive price, add in a dash of corporate philosophy, and top it up with the continued marketing impact of a fast charging smartphone (such as the ‘WarpCharge 30’ added to the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition); and it’s clear why the team has prioritized wired over wireless.
But with more smartphone owners using wireless charging every day, as more people become aware of its flexibility, and as more people consider it a ‘standard’ feature for premium smartphones, OnePlus’ approach will begin to look out of sync with its talk of listening to its user base and fostering strong community feedback.
Now read more about the three key features that could make the OnePlus 7 exciting…