Designing the “Never Settle” phone.

  1. Szymon K.
    Eclair Nov 27, 2017

    Szymon K. , Nov 27, 2017 :

    Design matters.

    Before we announced OnePlus, design was an afterthought in the world of smartphone manufacturing. There was a lot of focus on just putting the best hardware into a shell and shipping it to consumers. Android devices were angular rectangles, built without regard for the way the device felt when held, or looked. For a time, it felt like only Apple cared about the way they designed their phones. So despite our love for Android, it was no surprise we all used iPhones. With OnePlus, we wanted to challenge the notion that design was unimportant to creating a great smartphone. Since we began this journey in 2013, our designs have evolved, but our core philosophy has remained the same. Design matters. We iterate tirelessly on every square inch of our devices, to ensure a look and feel that matches our highest standards. This is what we mean when we say “Never Settle”.

    Iterate, iterate, iterate

    We owe no small part of our ability to deliver precisely designed devices to the city we’re based in. Shenzhen is building a name for itself as the tech capital of the world. We’re incredibly close to the factories that build our devices. Thanks to shorter supply lines, we can develop new prototypes at a much faster clip than most OEMs, allowing us to constantly iterate on our designs throughout the development of a product. At OnePlus, we’re sticklers for detail. The design of the OnePlus 5 was the product of over 100 individual iterations. Each prototype features its own set of design changes; the way the phone is arced, the curve of the glass, or the placement of the speaker grill. By being close to our suppliers and factories, we can quickly churn out a new prototype whenever we’re unsatisfied with a certain design choice. It grants us the flexibility and freedom required to perfect our devices.

    Materials of Design

    Like all parts of our philosophy, our approach to design is heavily influenced by our users. Their feedback on the builds of each of our devices, helped us select the right materials for our phones. While the OnePlus One was made of premium plastic, the texture and quality of the materials used lent it a sense of heft and a truly premium feel.

    Focusing on both grip and appearance, we released the OnePlus One with a rough sandstone back that quickly became synonymous with our brand. Even smartphone users from outside the OnePlus community expressed their fondness of the sandstone texture. When we started, our goal was to design an Android phone with care and sophistication. It’s immensely gratifying to see more and more smartphone users not just supporting what we’re trying to do, but actually making the switch to our devices.

    Design sketch 1.PNG

    The decision to move away from Sandstone with the OnePlus 3 wasn’t easy. But the move to a solid all-aluminum body was well worth it. The OnePlus 3 ended up being unlike any phone that we had ever produced. Build-wise, it featured a beautifully curved metal unibody. Our phone looked dramatically sleeker and stronger than our past flagships. We were confident in our design decisions, because we were supported by our community. Introducing an all-metal build was high on the list of fan requests, with users citing the strength and beauty as primary reasons. It’s a decision that continues to pay off as we move onto the OnePlus 5T, which is already earning plaudits with its elegant, yet robust design.

    Design Identity

    At a glance, you might think the OnePlus 5T looks nothing like the OnePlus One. While our designs have undergone a noticeable evolution, many aspects of our design have remained the same. These make up our design ID and are core to how we build devices at OnePlus. The first is a continuous hard edge, making each device comfortable to hold while evoking a sense of slimness and elegance. The exact placement of the edge has changed with each device, to ensure it supported the overall build of the device. The line helps create a sense of slimness by dividing light as it hits the device, casting one half in shadow and the other in light. Devices with rounded edges often look ‘chubby’, by comparison. We first named this line on the OnePlus 5, dubbing it the Horizon Line, which continues to feature proudly on the OnePlus 5T.

    The second recurring design element is a gently arced back. By arcing the back of the phone following the curve of your hand, we can ensure a more pleasant and secure grip. It also makes the design more ergonomic and ensures it doesn’t fall flat when viewed from different angles.

    On Slimness

    This curved back does not make our devices thicker however, which has always been a big point of pride of ours. A slim phone is always more comfortable to hold and more pleasant to look at. It’s something we are not willing to compromise on. The OnePlus 5T is only 7.3 mm thick, despite its improved Dual Camera and large 18:9 display.

    Design sketch 2.PNG

    How slim a phone is greatly affects the way it looks and feels to a user. Users often ask us why we don’t increase the thickness of a phone, in order to fit in a larger battery, or a bigger camera hub. In theory, a lot of people would take a bigger battery over a slimmer phone. But in practice, very few users would take a thicker phone over a slimmer phone. All of our design elements contribute to a singular vision of a phone designed with beauty and functionality as its pillars. It all comes back to our desire to design phones with care, precision, while paying attention to how all the details come together.

    When we started OnePlus, we wanted to create a phone we ourselves would want to use. But, we don’t just build our phones for ourselves, we build them because we know a whole community of users share our passion for precisely designed devices. Just like us, you examine every square inch of our devices whenever release a new phone. Our reputation for design would never have been possible without your support and feedback. Emboldened by your support, we will continue to pursue perfection in phone design. Thank you for reading.

    Never Settle.

  2. hmrks
    Jelly Bean Nov 27, 2017

    hmrks , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Great post!
    Especially the passage about the "thicker phones over slimmer phones" ;)

  3. youbi
    Head Moderator Head Moderator Nov 27, 2017

    youbi , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Love to see this sketches of the phones.

    Would love to see also some of the "failed" prototypes sketches. :p ;)

    This part is only half true to me. :p Yeah, the slim phone looks usually much better. But the more comfortable to hold part is not really like that to me. :sweatsmile:

    The truth is that the first time I hold my op5 in hands I was amazed on how thin and elegant it was, but at the same time I got really scared of dropping it because of that. :p I guess that the fact that the back is aluminum does help in that feeling, since the grip is really small, if it was a more grippier material it could be different. Maybe in the future you guys can find a material that looks as premium as aluminum and as grippier as sandstone. :hearteyes:

    But in the end, since I use a case with the phone (karbon bumper FTW), now I'm thankful for the phone being so thin. Because it makes it still slim with the case. Contrary to what happened for example with the op2, that without cases it was reasonable sized, but with a case it was just too big and heavy.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017

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  4. Plenkske
    Assistant Head Moderator Assistant Head Moderator Nov 27, 2017

    Plenkske , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Nice post !

    Who are the "our" and "we" in this matter ? :p

    I dont care much about design, but I do care about the practical side of products. Is it easy to use, hold etc. I think OnePlus does a good job with that. The OnePlus One and 2 both have that grippy sandstone back, I'd love to see that again (or something else that gives the same grip). A more grippy back by default, no case. The metal unibody is just too slippery IMO.

    The OnePlus devices look a lot like OPPO devices. So, I have to ask, how much do you work together ? How do you come up with these designs ? The complete process is done togheter ? Or does OPPO come up with something and you change it a little ?

    rva, EcoVB, M. Elmaleh and 20 others like this.
  5. meatandy
    Oreo Nov 27, 2017

    meatandy , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Thanks for the update!

    You can give Szymon his Christmas bonus now @Carl
    I agree , many people enjoy the slimmest of phones but I also see many people clamoring for a dash powerbank.

    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017

  6. GuitarBart
    Jelly Bean Nov 27, 2017

    GuitarBart , Nov 27, 2017 :
    As long as the battery life last me more than a day I agree with the slimness idea. Although I love the new aluminium design a sandstone option in the future would be very nice as well. Loved the grip and texture of the One. Very interesting posts with information behind the design choices of the phone

  7. Cosmos_NT
    KitKat Nov 27, 2017

    Cosmos_NT , Nov 27, 2017 :
    so you keep the same prospect for all device amazing ! hope next device may have 21:7 ratio

  8. luxuskamel
    Marshmallow Nov 27, 2017

    luxuskamel , Nov 27, 2017 :
    nice read, thanks for giving some insights.
    makes me remember the time before the OnePlus 3 when there were weekly questions from OnePlus to the community how we like our phone. The end product was the amazing OP3. I wish you will start again asking the community what they like best! Thanks!

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  9. Szymon K.
    Eclair Nov 27, 2017

    Szymon K. , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Most of the OnePlus employees back in early days, before OnePlus One. I think it's not secret that 4 years ago gap between iPhone and best Android phones was quite significant

    Design is not only about "looking good". It's primarily about how phone feels in hand. Good feedback about sandstone - that's why we have cases :p.

    As a OnePlus, we have our own R&D team, working on hardware design.

  10. InVincible
    Froyo Nov 27, 2017

    InVincible , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Nice Post. This goes some way to explain the effort involved in design and not simply cloning a competitor.
    What drew me to OnePlus was the promise of styleswap covers and while it hasn't been the main reason for purchasing I really do like the variety they brought to some great hardware. I still use my OP2 with 3 different backs on rotation, and my daughter has a OP1 with bamboo. I know you can get 3rd party accessories but I love the OnePlus ones.
    Sandstone still rocks (but tinier)!

    superplus and Szymon K. like this.
  11. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Nov 27, 2017

    dsmonteiro , Nov 27, 2017 :
    I kinda have some issues with this post, to be honest. As I posted in my Design review, it's easy to see the similarities between all the BBK brands:

    Oppo R11S and OnePlus 5T are almost a carbon copy of each other.

    I'm not saying there aren't any differences, but talking about design identity seems a bit too much.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017

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  12. Plenkske
    Assistant Head Moderator Assistant Head Moderator Nov 27, 2017

    Plenkske , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Personally I never liked the square bricky design of the old iphones. Also, I would never choose a phone that is a lot more expensive and has stupid software but has the best design.

    Yeah the feels matter !
    And yeah, the cases from OnePlus are great. Not 'hella bulky' (Mike) and nice feeling. Sandstone cases are nice, and really like the recent Bumper cases you guys made.
    But, if it could be done without a case the device is even better !

    Fair enough :) Thanks.

  13. luxuskamel
    Marshmallow Nov 27, 2017

    luxuskamel , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Thats nice and i think nobody would doubt it, but thats not a real answer about the shared work of the BBK phone companies. Can we get some information on this, or is it forbidden to say that? o_O ;)

    My idea is that they maybe share the production lines and therefore they have not to many differences. Also Oppo's phones are released short time before OnePlus, so they produce first, then OnePlus. Don't know about Vivo, haven't heard so much from them

    Abhi Dahiya, pa5t1s and WilfredParmar like this.
  14. luxuskamel
    Marshmallow Nov 27, 2017

    luxuskamel , Nov 27, 2017 :
    Or it's just cheaper to produce a big amount of phone bodys and buy a lot of the same screens/etc

  15. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Nov 27, 2017

    dsmonteiro , Nov 27, 2017 :
    I believe that to be true, makes total sense and I have no problem with it.

    Just don't expect me to believe when they tell me about design identity.

    M. Elmaleh, luxuskamel, EEZC and 13 others like this.
  16. v0 HaVoK 0v
    Ice Cream Sandwich Nov 27, 2017

    v0 HaVoK 0v , Nov 27, 2017 :
    I feel the same when they talk about this

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  17. GopalB.
    Nougat Nov 27, 2017

  18. shatadrusp
    Honeycomb Nov 27, 2017

    Jacky TF Cheung and brunox54 like this.
  19. X-Nemesis
    Froyo Nov 27, 2017

    X-Nemesis , Nov 27, 2017 :
    I think the issue that some have is that OnePlus gives off the impression that they "Johnny Ives'd" this phone with loving care from scratch, all under their own ingenuity and creative juices, but all the while having way to many design similarities between other BBK/Oppo/Vivo phones as the poster above shared with the pic.

    Nobody likes being deceived and I'd rather OP just come up and say they got told what design they could use (leftovers) by their parent company, then claim to be design firebranders.

    I'm happy to be disproven of course.

    M. Elmaleh, EEZC and Deactivated User like this.
  20. subaash
    Gingerbread Nov 27, 2017

    subaash , Nov 27, 2017 :
    design is basically useless when the software is not updated timely. project treble is a must.. Razer is a better phone than crappy one plus with lack luster software and updates.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2017

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