OnePlus Nord Phones Blowing Up at Metro by T-Mobile-news

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The new low-cost line of phones from OnePlus is a big success at Metro by T-Mobile, boosting the manufacturer’s sales share there to nearly 15%, the highest share OnePlus has ever seen at a US carrier, according to Wave7 Research.

Metro sells 15-16 million devices per year, Wave7 says in a new report, which means that if OnePlus can keep this up, it could sell more than 2 million Nord phones this year at Metro alone.

“OnePlus is getting back to its fundamentals, offering good specs at an affordable price,” Wave7 Principal Jeff Moore tells us.

The OnePlus Nord N10 is becoming a sleeper hit.

Wave7 releases detailed monthly reports on US smartphone sales. While most Americans have postpaid contracts with one of the three big carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon), around 90% of the phones sold on those contracts tend to be from Apple and Samsung, meaning that most of the opportunity for other manufacturers is at the nation’s “prepaid” carriers. That includes wholly owned flanker brands like Cricket, Metro, and Visible, as well as virtual operators like Boost and Straight Talk.

Metro currently offers the OnePlus Nord N10 and N100 free for people switching from another carrier. Otherwise, the N10 5G costs $299.99 and the N100 costs $179.99.

OnePlus has also seen its market share rise at T-Mobile, Wave7 says, and the company now has display space for unlocked Nord N10 phones at Best Buy. (I took the photo above at the Best Buy near my home in Queens, NY.) That said, Best Buy may not totally have its act together here; just below its display for the OnePlus Nord was a sign saying it would be sold with Sprint activation. T-Mobile hasn’t activated phones on Sprint since last summer.

OnePlus phone sold with Sprint activation

Sprint activation? Really, Best Buy?

The company might be able to sell more phones if it had better distribution. According to Wave7, T-Mobile stores have only gotten “minor shipments” of OnePlus models, which “tend to sell out.”

OnePlus’ success appears to come at the cost of Motorola, whose share at Metro dropped from around 20% last fall to less than 10% now, largely as the 2020 Moto G Stylus rolled off shelves. Our reviews of this year’s Moto G Power was weaker than previous years, as we decided that the Moto G is no longer the slam-dunk affordable phone it used to be. The Samsung Galaxy A21 and LG Stylo 6 are also doing well at Metro, the report says.

OnePlus is currently winding up to launch the OnePlus 9, which journalist Max Weinbach says will be released on T-Mobile.


Was I Wrong?

The Nord’s success comes during a time when some public-facing staff have been leaving OnePlus. Communications manager Eric Zarshenas left in April. In October, co-founder Carl Pei left OnePlus to start a new firm, Nothing, which recently bought the brand assets from defunct smartphone company Essential. In November, communications manager Jane Nho departed as well. However, CMO Kyle Kiang and PR head Eliza Li remain on board.

Over Valentine’s Day, the company was widely criticized on Twitter for a now-deleted ad showing a case unrolling down a OnePlus phone as if it were a condom. To many people, that seemed like tone-deaf marketing from a company that gave up too much of its US marketing presence. It reminded me a little of the disastrous Galaxy S4 launch, where Samsung produced a “Broadway show” that just seemed sexist, awkward, and uncool.

But the Nord’s success may show that it’s OnePlus’s critics who are becoming uncool here. We’ll see more when the OnePlus 9 series rolls out, likely in March.


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