OnePlus is easily the world's most controversial smartphone company, and that's for good reason: they actively bring that controversy upon themselves. And they know they do.
Case in point: the OnePlus 2's so dumb I can't believe it but yes I can marketing slogan - "2016 Flagship Killer."
Now, if you ask OnePlus about this phrase, they'll probably claim you're not "getting" their meaning. Their "meaning" is that "specs don't matter." People are tired of specs (OnePlus cofounder Carl Pei literally told me this, by the way). Except the specs OnePlus dutifully teased over the course of weeks and months leading up to their phone's launch. Those specs matter. All the other specs are old and boring and people don't care about that stuff. Like NFC. Or wireless charging. Or quick charging. Or a 2K display. Or more base storage. Or, really, anything the OnePlus 2 doesn't have. Those things are irrelevant.
And this makes sense if you're a marketer, because marketers can make any completely unreasonable statement make sense if they bend, twist, intuit, and otherwise forcibly extract the meaning they seek from it, sort of like a crappy tarot card reader. Taking a statement for its plain English meaning is, of course, for those who don't get it. And most of the time it's OK to ignore these people because they are really, really annoying and not worth arguing with.
But at a certain point, those of us who really couldn't otherwise care about what superlatives, hype, and general bullshit a company slings to advance the market position of its product to impressionable consumers have to look up and say, "OK, now you're just lying." And OnePlus is lying. The OnePlus 2 is not a "2016 flagship killer." It's not even a 2015 flagship killer.
"But what if-" no. Stop. There is no "but." There is no "what if." Unless you're suggesting Samsung, Apple, Motorola, Xiaomi, and LG all are going to cease to exist as companies before releasing their 2016 flagship phones, there is no valid retort. A world in which the OnePlus 2 rises up to overthrow the incumbent players in the market by providing a "better user experience" or some other wishy-washy nonsense term that very conveniently cannot be reduced to any objectively meaningful conclusion is fantasy. It is a non-scenario in anything but a mathematical sense. The flying spaghetti monster exists in a more believable universe than one in which the OnePlus 2 ends up being the clearly superior device among 2016's new phones, let alone current 2015 devices, which I also think it truly does fall short against in multiple respects.
Why do they say it, then, even if it is boldly, willfully wrong? Because OnePlus is desperate. Hearsay is that the company has failed to live up to sales expectations in China. It seems likely to me that if it does not grow dramatically in the next year or two, those backing the venture will not have a continued interest in doing so. OnePlus is, by the way, almost certainly owned by persons or interests with strong stakes in Oppo and BBK Electronics (the parent company of Oppo). OnePlus will deny this connection up and down (edit: looks like they at least admit some investor overlap - thanks for that), but smartphone companies with products as developed as OnePlus' don't appear out of thin air with undisclosed funding sources, especially companies that are made up of substantial numbers of former Oppo employees. They can say it's a separate company with completely independent leadership till they're blue in the face - until they can show us who the stakeholders are, there is no reason not to believe OnePlus is deeply financially entangled with Oppo and BBK's interests.
And, if anything, that connection is probably now undermining OnePlus' #NeverSettle campaign, which has backfired substantially with the reveal of the 2. No quick charging, no wireless charging, no NFC, a 1080p rather than 2K display, a still paltry 16GB of base storage, no SD card slot - all component choices that reek of compromise when OnePlus' high-end competitors are offering more. And why is OnePlus settling? Because not settling costs more money, and despite whatever OnePlus says, their product has always been about the price. Even if OnePlus could match the Samsung Galaxy S6 spec for spec and still be profitable at an MSRP of $550 (a hilariously improbable scenario), it would likely sell even more poorly than the 2 will. At that level, you need marketing and huge international distribution to be competitive because you must convince buyers that $550 is worth spending (versus, say, $329) and do so in high quantities, and Apple and Samsung remain the only companies to have consistently cracked the profitability code when it comes to expensive smartphones.
That is a point I'd like to highlight, actually: OnePlus can only succeed at these lower price points where they aren't actually forced to directly compete with the likes of Apple, Samsung, or HTC's newest high-end phones. They can stay in the mid-range price tier with high-end-esque specifications like a big fish in a small pond, but they know full-well they'd be eaten alive in Lake Flagship. So, instead, they yell absurd and foolish things from the safety of their insulated price point, attempting to convince passersby that they're the real deal. And clearly, it works to some extent: consumers love nothing more than to be told that they're not only smart for saving money compared to "everybody else," but that they're actually better than other people for making that decision. It's like you're in a special club.
Because of this, it's unlikely OnePlus' attitude will ever change. If anything, I expect them to get more annoying. They're too far down the rabbit hole of absurdity to go back now, and you honestly have to wonder if they've started to believe their own nonsense, because it really does boggle the mind that anybody can take any of what they say seriously anymore. OnePlus: you've jumped the shark. And then you killed the shark, mounted its head on a wall, and Instagramed a picture of yourself humping the shark head to all of your followers. Even if OnePlus hasn't been all bad (and they haven't), they seem intent on making sure we don't run out of reasons to dislike them.