In 2018, OnePlus signed a deal to work with the McLaren Racing team. This partnership saw OnePlus produce McLaren branded smartphones that contained unique physical designs and “carefully crafted icons and animations” in the phone’s operating system.
The latest model, the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition utilised the vertical planes of the edge-to-edge display to create orange streaks that shot up the phone like a speeding race car.
Aside from a few aesthetic changes though and a higher price tag, the McLaren versions of OnePlus phones were the same as the standard 7T Pro model. The McLaren edition did contain slightly more RAM, although most users wouldn’t benefit from this.
The two companies also demoed an “invisible camera” at CES 2020. It was included in a concept handset that won’t be released but had an innovative camera design that removed the bulges created by lenses. Instead, a special coating hid the camera sensors underneath the back panel. This coating then turns transparent when the user wants to take a photo.
However, OnePlus quietly removed McLaren from the list of partners on its website. This update occurred sometime in May 2020, leading most to believe there won’t be any new McLaren branded phones from OnePlus.
Why Did They Team Up?
Luxury car brands and tech companies have been working together on branded products for decades. In the 2000s, Ferrari and Acer released a line of co-branded laptops. Running Windows XP with some custom Ferrari themes, the computers contained high-spec components to reflect the speed element of the Ferrari brand.
There are also several other car branded smartphones on the market. The Land Rover S1 offers a rugged device that can go anywhere, just like the car. More recently, Oppo and Lamborghini began working together to produce the Find X Lamborghini Edition, although the list of additional features was about as long as the McLaren Edition of the 7T Pro.
For the most part, these partnerships don’t seem to achieve a great deal, with few partnerships lasting longer than a few years.
OnePlus Launching Many Devices in 2020
The end of the partnership doesn’t mean OnePlus won’t be releasing as many devices this year though. Each year, OnePlus releases a model in the spring and the autumn, the latter usually being the “T” models which are an evolution of the spring-time models.
2020 is expected to be no exception, with the OnePlus 8T expected around September or October time.
Until the 8T hits the market, the latest OnePlus 8 handsets are the most powerful smartphones ever released by the company, but this power has come at a price. Although the OnePlus 8 has an incredibly competitive starting price of $649 in the US, it’s still much more expensive than the company’s first phone which launched in 2014 for just $299.
With some OnePlus fans lamenting about this steep rise, the company was rumoured to be launching a OnePlus 8 Lite to coincide with the 8 and 8 Pro. This didn’t happen, with some leaks pointing to a “OnePlus Z” that will be released before the 8T.
This Z model will likely be a slightly less powerful device, but with many of the features found on the OnePlus 8. It will still be capable of taking great quality photographs, and playing mobile games like PokerStars, Call of Duty: Mobile, and Clash Royale.
Will OnePlus Replace McLaren?
It’s not yet clear if or when OnePlus will replace McLaren as a partner. If it wants another car brand, it’s not clear who the company could turn to since Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini all already have partners.
It’s unlikely that it will stop OnePlus from releasing high-end models though; having standard and “Pro” models has become a common theme among most flagship smartphone manufacturers including Samsung and Apple.
Ultimately then, apart from consumers not being able to get their hands on papaya orange smartphones with leather cases, it’s unlikely the ceasing of this partnership will have much effect on OnePlus users.