Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus partners with luxury carmaker McLaren to tap premium handset market

  • The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition comes with a retail price of US$668
PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2018, 4:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2018, 11:01pm

Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus has entered into an exclusive partnership with luxury carmaker McLaren to launch a premium handset that it expects will lift brand awareness and deliver higher profits from big-spending consumers.

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition comes with the signature McLaren Papaya Orange colour wrapping around the bottom edge of the device, an even faster-charging unit and 10G of RAM, pushing the retail price of the limited offering to 4,599 yuan (US$668) compared with a starting price of 3,599 yuan for the OnePlus 6T models launched last month.

OnePlus signed the partnership with the British luxury sports car maker as the Chinese company celebrates its 5th anniversary.

“We have been doing a pretty good job as we have been growing continuously over the past few years, which counters the overall declining trend of the entire industry,” OnePlus founder and CEO Pete Lau said during the product launch in Shenzhen on Friday. “About 50 per cent of smartphone brands have disappeared each year over the past five years. It is an exciting industry.”

The partnership comes at a time of further consolidation in the smartphone industry, with major brands increasing their dominance in the market while smaller players are falling by the wayside. Local Chinese brands are trying to figure out new strategies to boost brand image and stimulate sales, such as innovative designs and celebrity endorsements.

China’s OnePlus to launch first 5G smartphone in Europe

Aligning with luxury brands is a favoured tactic among Chinese smartphone brands, with the most successful case being Chinese market leader Huawei Technologies’ limited edition Porsche Design phones priced above 10,000 yuan.

OnePlus is among the top five suppliers of high-end Android smartphone models in the world and market share leader in the premium smartphone segment in India, according to Counterpoint Research. But in overall sales in China it lags far behind peers such as Huawei, Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi.

The Shenzhen-based company, which recently announced plans to launch the first 5G phone in Europe next year, is also the first Chinese smartphone brand to sell a premium model through a major US telecommunications carrier. In October OnePlus and T-Mobile jointly announced an exclusive deal to offer the flagship OnePlus 6T model across more than 5,600 stores of the third-largest mobile network operator in the US.

OnePlus, which derives more than 70 per cent of its sales outside mainland China, is expected to reap the rewards of a limited edition high priced phone as the handset, already available in Europe and North America, carries a starting price of 699 euros and US$699 respectively.

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