How OnePlus is Winning Smartphone Game with Exceptional Design

Design has been something of a differentiator and an important factor in OnePlus devices from the very beginning – design has also been the solid foundation for OnePlus to win hearts and minds of its user communities – well spread across the world. With OnePlus 8 series – the brand is set to further cement its focus on delivering an innovative yet simplistic design. 

OnePlus Founder and CEO, Pete Lau touches upon the evolution of design in OnePlus devices, emphasizing colour, material and finish leading up to our most mature design till date – that of the OnePlus 8 Series.

Sharing sketches of the form factor, he speaks about the smooth texture of the back of the phone, all the work that went into making the phone light with its ‘signature horizon line’ curving the glass just enough to make sure the device provides a comfortable grip, all in all, making for most ‘burdenless’ design ever.

“This is probably my favorite topic to talk about our devices—the design. In the Android field, design has always been more of an afterthought than a focus. But it’s been different for OnePlus since the beginning.

We believe that design, and more specifically CMF (color, material, finishing), is not just about looks and first impressions, but determines how a device feels in your hand, how you respond to it, and interact with it. Good design is just as important as robust hardware or fast and smooth software. It shapes every moment of your experience with a device, and is the difference between something awkward or uncomfortable to hold and something that feels smooth, light, and liberating in your hand.”

Two years ago, metal – and the frosted texture it delivered – prevailed across the mobile phone industry. But those metal forms actually impacted signal transmission and forced engineers to adapt antenna designs as a result. Manufacturers adopted all sorts of “strip designs” to account for the antenna, effectively destroying the uniformity of the back cover.

“Ordinary plastic did not work well enough as an alternative, either. Even though the material itself has little effect on the antenna and signal transmission, it’s difficult to produce a delicate texture using plastic – with the exception of some of OnePlus’ earlier designs, of course.

Glass, on the under hand, has little effect on the antenna and signal transmission. It provides a more uniform back cover design, and has a higher transparency and more pleasing texture. So, the mobile phone industry gradually moved towards an era of glass design.

But as manufacturers started showing off their crystal-clear designs, we were starting to explore elsewhere: In 2018, we were the first in the industry to release a smartphone with a curved, matte-frosted glass back. It was the perfect amalgamation of the natural advantages of glass and metal. The material preserved the luster and texture of metal, refracted light from different angles, and all while delivering a soft, almost warm touch.

Our Best CMF to Date: Fifth-Generation Matte-Frosted Glass
In the OnePlus 8 series, we’ve managed to achieve the fifth generation of matte-frosted glass using a new crafting process. To me, this is OnePlus’ best CMF to date. It is sure to astonish and impress anyone who touches it, just as it did for me.”

Haze Degree:​
First Generation: 20%-30%
Second & Third Generation: 30%-40%
Fourth Generation: 40%-60%
Fifth Generation: 64%-82%
The Return of Silk White Silkiness

“Thanks to the higher degree of haze achieved, we were able to produce an unprecedented smooth and fine texture on the fifth-generation frosted glass. It feels just as warm and comfortable as our first-generation Silk White back cover on the OnePlus One.

We flattened the center of the 3D curved glass to yield a cleaner look as light reflects off it. On both sides of the phone where our signature “Horizon Line” rests, we curved the glass just enough to ensure that the device provides a comfortable grip.” he added.

The OnePlus 8 series will also feature a thinner profile and a lighter weight, so that the phone can sit ergonomically and comfortably in the palm of your hand, bringing you a truly “burdenless” experience.

A Tango of Light and Shadow

“The new degree of haze we’ve achieved allows this new matte-frosted glass to better reflect changes in light intensity while also maintaining a relatively balanced transparency. The glass produces a gradual gradient effect from opaque to transparent, or vice versa, imbuing a sense of depth to the surface.

But increasing the degree of hazing doesn’t come without challenges. Although it can bring out a more delicate texture, the color of the back cover might suffer and appear dull if the haze isn’t controlled carefully. Not just that, the overall texture, color tones, and transparency might all be affected.

To tackle the challenge, our industrial design team experimented with more than 300 color and texture combinations before finally landing on the colors that best suit this particular degree of haze. The individual colors radiate through the misty material, giving off a dynamic and spirited appearance. The glass back we’re presenting to you this time strikes a perfect balance between fine texture and visual comfort.

And we believe this hard work has paid off. So I’d like to share with you all today a color variant that really struck me the moment I first saw it – Glacial Green. With this color, we aim to invoke fresh, environmentally friendly, natural, and youthful feelings. We tested more than 100 combinations of color, texture and haze, and when I first saw this color, it really struck me, and I knew we were onto something. I hope you’ll enjoy it as well.” he explained.