Like thousands of people who are OnePlus fans, I too sat with the OnePlus Loop VR headset on Tuesday, waiting for the VR launch on a virtual space station. For a brand that has to stand out in an increasingly crowded market, offering fans this kind of unique experience is a powerful idea that would help the OnePlus 3 to stand out. Unfortunately, the idea was better than the execution, and it left us feeling nostalgic about the live 360-degree VR launch of the OnePlus 2.
OnePlus is an interesting phonemaker whose devices have been steadily improving, as you can see in our review of the OnePlus 3. However, it appears that while the phones are getting better, the launch experiences are getting worse.
Because, as thousands of people waited patiently for the OnePlus launch, the app received a last minute update - of over 600MB. Even if you have a fast connection, a 600MB update will take some time to download. For most people in India, it's a multi-hour download.
So at this point, people were probably wishing for a VR stream of the event, like last year. Sure, there were some problems with that approach too - it wasn't really practical if you were trying to report on the event because you were locked into the VR screen, but even if you were just a fan of the brand, you wouldn't be able to tweet or express your support online until after the official launch was done. But having things happen live meant that you weren't stuck waiting for a huge download, right?
The downloaded data was probably video content to allow you to explore the Loop "space station" without a lot of buffering, but although there was no buffering, there were plenty of problems anyway. For one, the video was pretty blurry - something that we weren't expecting after a forced download. Then, the details shared in the app were pretty limited as well. If you actually wanted to know about the phone, you were better off reading one of the many leaks that took place earlier in the day.
Instead, the app was just good for collecting badges to order the phone a little early, but many people on the OnePlus forums said that when they did collect the badges, they didn't get the email to buy the phone. On the same thread, others talked about not being able to download the app, and many said that the app was crashing for them on multiple devices. Worse, the big "advantage" of using the app and exploring VR was that you'd be able to buy the phone before everyone else - except that at least in India, the phone was already on sale on Amazon well in advance of the launch, negating any benefits.
And that's a problem. The people who lined up to use this app were the OnePlus superfans - the people who care most about the brand and are most likely to evangelise it to their friends and family. When these are the users who have a terrible experience with OnePlus, it really hurts the brand. It's really surprising that even as the phones get better, the launch events have been getting worse.