As it currently stands here in mid-June 2023, we have basically no competition in the foldable phone market here in the US. While other markets have quite a few players in this space, we here in the States have one and only one option for a folding phone/tablet hybrid if you want to buy one right now: the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold.
Granted, that changes in a substantial way in just a couple of weeks as the Pixel Fold officially enters the fray, but that still means we only have two options for folding phones that can double as small tablets. Whereas other markets have competition that can help to drive innovation and reduce prices, our unsaturated market means even Google shows up to the party with an extravagantly-priced handset at this point.
How OnePlus could really shake things up
OnePlus used to be known as the flagship killer. While that was certainly the case early on for the company and reason for many people to instantly become OnePlus fans, over the years the company slowly drifted away from that sort of thinking and simply became a flagship competitor.
Once they were fully acquired by Oppo (their parent company of sorts in the first place), the first few phones that resulted were not great. Build quality concerns and a general malaise crept into the OnePlus brand and as a result, interest waned pretty heavily here in the US. You can still buy their phones, but you’ll be going through OnePlus’ website directly at this point as even T-Mobile didn’t pick up the latest OnePlus 11.
But it looks like OnePlus might be shaking off the dust and going back to its roots a bit with the OnePlus 11 and their new tablet, prompting me to wonder what exactly they might try to pull off with this foldable release. For reference, the well-reviewed OnePlus 11 in it’s highest spec (Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage) is only $699 on their site right now, and the also-well-received OnePlus Tab is still sitting at $479 with the keyboard case included.
These sorts of prices sound a lot like the OnePlus of old to me, but it’s one thing to simply offer cheap hardware: it’s an entirely different thing to actually have that hardware get great reviews from people who’ve previously lost faith in the brand altogether.
And with that line of thinking, you’d have to at least assume OnePlus wants to go the same route with their upcoming foldable, apparently now tipped for an August launch. If they do (and I feel confident this could be the case), I could see OnePlus being the top dog in the folding phone market here in the US very quickly. Oppo is set to release their third folding phone iteration as well, and this pedigree will be precisely what the OnePlus V Fold will be based upon, coming to us with very solid specs via 91Mobiles:
- Internal Display: 8-inch QHD+ OLED primary display with a 120Hz refresh rate
- External Display: The exterior display will be a 6.5-inch FHD screen with a 120Hz refresh rate.
- CPU/GPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor
- RAM: up to16GB
- Storage: up to 512GB
- Cameras: Triple rear camera – 50MP OIS camera, a 48MP ultra-wide angle lens, and a 32MP periscope. 2x 32MP selfie cameras (internal and external)
- Battery: 4,800mAh with 80W fast charging
Now, imagine this device hits the market at the same, aggressive pricing we saw with the Oppo Find N2: ~$1100. Compared with Samsung’s and Google’s hard-to-swallow $1799, an $1100 foldable with three years of development under its belt would be a massive paradigm shift for folding phones here in the US. All of the sudden, you could get a solid folding phone in your pocket for nearly what you’d expect to pay for the top of the line flagships.
And that makes things very interesting indeed. So interesting, in fact, that this all has me thinking pretty hard about my Pixel Fold pre-order. If the OnePlus V Fold does arrive as early as August, it would be worth the wait to save upwards of $700 for a phone that – let’s face it – will be considerably more powerful than Google’s offering.
And if the reviews of the OnePlus software on the OnePlus Pad are anything to go by, OnePlus has already thoughtfully approached larger screens from an OS angle and I have no doubt that the OnePlus V Fold will have some nifty tricks up its sleeve when it does get released in the coming weeks. August isn’t that far down the road and $700 is a lot of money. I know if this all has me a little rattled, it probably will hit some of you the same way. I guess all I’m saying is it’s worth thinking about.