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A new kid on the block?

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ONEPLUS-BLOG-IMAGE-7It’s no secret that Apple has dominated the world of mobile phones for the past few years. Since its launch back in 2007 other brands have been racing to keep up with its sales, it was ground breaking, both in its design and the use of app development. It  was a

remarkable story of innovation and testament to the success that can be achieved when a company places the importance of design at the forefront of its business model.

However since the death of Steve jobs in 2011, rumours are abound that the sales of the iPhone are starting to slow down. I suppose this is to be expected as the market becomes saturated, but there are many voices coming from Silicon Valley that claim that Apple has lost its innovative edge.

There has been an aggressive challenge for Apples’ share of the lucrative mobile phone market, from Samsung, who have helped to pioneer the popular android operating system, to perhaps the newest kid on the block, OnePlus. Incidentally it’s not as if Apple has stagnated for the past five years, the iPad was and still is the most successful tablet of all time and they have launched the Apple Watch. The jury is still out on the Apple Watch, some critics have branded it “unoriginal” claiming it isn’t the breakthrough product Apple had hoped for. I suppose it’s like second album syndrome for a rock band, being judged against a debut album that went triple platinum. Apple will always face a challenge to follow their products; there is the very real danger that they could become a victim of their own success.

Although it’s unlikely that Apple will have a fall from grace, the brand is too established for that, but it’s not as if it hasn’t happened before. One has only to look at the story of Nokia. Once a market leader, in the start of early 2000, the company failed to join the dots on the way mobile technology was embracing the rise of social media, connectivity and email on the move. Instead they decided to take one eye off innovating and instead concentrate on maintaining their market share, focusing on battery life and the idea that phones were primarily used to make phone calls. It was, in hindsight, a catastrophic decision. I loved my old Nokia 3310, it was the first mobile phone I owned and whilst the game “Snake”, was highly addictive, (seriously you wouldn’t believe how much entertainment could be had from controlling a tiny line of pixels); they couldn’t compete with the world of the app.

That’s why we at FSW Design Ltd have been watching the rise of the OnePlus brand with keen interest. A couple of the members of the design team have parted with their hard earned cash and snubbed the big boys of the mobile phone world for this unsung but eager young pretender to the crown.

The pricing strategy is a huge selling point. The phone retails at £329 to buy outright and isn’t available on a contract. It’s a brave move and may cut down the potential to reach a wider audience, but it’s an interesting change to the purchasing decision of buying a phone. With many networks opting for SIM only deals now, it’s a trend which will only continue; consumers may see more financial sense in owning the phone at the start to give them the greatest flexibility with their network choice.  Effectively it cuts out the middleman and makes the choice more about the product rather than the deal. The product is now front and centre and it’s almost like buying a camera or a laptop computer, you care more about the item and as such take more interest in its design and features. With the closest rival the iPhone6 plus retailing at a staggering £859 to buy and own or two year contracts at £45 plus, it’s easy to see how tempting the OnePlus3 could be.

There are lots of reviews around of the handsets themselves, but in this blog we take a look at the product packaging and how that compares to its rivals.

Often in the past the packaging of products can seem like an afterthought. Hastily printed cardboard boxes, vacuum formed casings that can only be accessed through hacking at them with opened scissors; it’s never been particularly impressive.

This was until Apple brought a refreshing new injection of creativity into its packaging. Sleek, clean and streamlined, it added value to the product. Opening the packaging was an integral part of the user experience. In heavyweight gloss white card with embossed sharp graphics it immediately looked different. It’s more in the style of packaging for a fragrance bottle and this is reflected in that luxury feel.

OnePlus3 has taken this concept to the next level. The packaging is the first point of contact the customer has with the product and its certainly striking. They have decided not to follow Apples’ lead and have an image of the product on the front; instead they have kept the outer box deliberately vague, which makes the reveal of the product even more satisfying. The red and white colour combination has an immediate impact and the embossed textured lettering is a sleek an interesting touch. The presentation of the logo on the top edge as a textured red tab is a great way of bringing a touch of detail into the outer aesthetic. The matt finish red background around the white logo is punctuated by polished “+” markings which make the logo look modern and distinctive.

Inside the box the top section comprises of a red wallet containing the phone instructions and an injection moulded tray to support the phone. Again this isn’t an original decision as Apple has done something similar, but whereas the Apple version feels a bit flimsy and weak the OnePlus3 offering is strong and rigid. The way the tray is embedded into the wallet beneath it also looks modern; looking like it’s almost suspended within the package layer.

Underneath the top tier of the box things are more predictable with a vacuum formed tray to house the charger and the cables. I think the graphics on the interior leaflet warrant a mention though. They make excellent use of hard edged styling and clean fonts; the gradient “sprayed effect” spatter around the number three is an excellent example of how OnePlus is looking to do something a little bit wilder with their artwork.

In conclusion then, there is no doubt that Apple remains a big player in the phone market, there are a few worthy contenders jockeying for position in the background. They are approaching things from new angles, with new business strategies, which although may be bad news for apple, is certainly something to celebrate for the design conscious consumer.

Scott Bennett – Senior Designer – August 2016

 

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