OnePlus is making affordable smart TVs: Who’s the competition and what it means for the market

By Sameer Mitha | Published on 08 Jun 2020
HIGHLIGHTS

With the sudden rush of 32-inch and 43-inch TVs in India, it is likely that OnePlus could launch a 32-inch and/or 43-inch TV in India.

The 43-inch TV space is one of the hottest segments in India.

We speculate that the upcoming OnePlus TV will cater to this hot 32-inch/43-inch segment.

OnePlus is making affordable smart TVs: Who’s the competition and what it means for the market

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According to the HTF Market Intelligence Consulting Pvt. Ltd, “In terms of display size, television sets between 32 inches and 43 inches account for the most notable percentage of sales since they are affordable to the masses. Further, as goods and services tax (GST) rates were reduced, prices of television sets went down.” Yes, my dear readers, this data is pertaining to India. The press release goes on to say, “The flat panel television (LED, LCD, HD, and UHD) market in India was valued at Rs 690.16 Bn in FY 2018 and is expected to reach Rs 1,238.33 Bn by FY 2024, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.25% during the FY 2019-FY 2024 period.” Have I caught your attention yet? Good. There is no doubt that people, during the lockdown are sitting at home and spending more time in front of the idiot box, which if I can say so, isn’t such a big idiot any more. TVs are getting smarter, letting you control your smart home appliances, chat with a virtual assistant, tell you the time, and much more.

With the growing demand for affordable TVs, one brand that has swooped in and charmed audiences is Xiaomi. Xiaomi may have launched a super slim 55-inch 4K HDR TV when it entered the TV market in India a few years ago, but it's no surprise that the company's strongest portfolio is smaller screen sizes. In the 43-inch size alone, the company offers a Full HD and a 4K variant for customers to choose from in the form of the Mi TV 4A Pro and the Mi TV 4X, respectively. With Xiaomi’s dominance in this price and screen size segment, we saw a lot of other brands fight for attention. From TV brands made in India like Daiwa, Shinco and Kodak to French brands like Thomson and even big names like Sony and Samsung, all wanted a piece of the pie. We even saw the likes of Realme and Nokia enter the TV market in India. Realme launched two TVs, a 32-inch and 43-inch while Nokia launched only a 43-inch TV. With the competition heating up in the 32 and 43-inch screen size segment, we think this is where OnePlus will place its next TV bet.

Why it makes sense for OnePlus to launch a 32/43-inch TV in India?

Let’s face it, the OnePlus TV was overpriced at Rs 99,900 for the top of the line variant. Sure, you had the Q1 but it doesn’t come with the fancy stand or the sliding out speakers, which are present in the Q1 Pro. And at a price tag of nearly 70k, the Q1 didn’t impress. One of the most expensive components in a TV is the panel. The larger the panel, the more expensive the TV. That’s why you will have a 55-inch TV priced at say Rs 1,00,000 and the same model in a 65-inch will be closer to the Rs 2 lakh mark. With a 32-inch FHD display and a 43-inch 4K panel, OnePlus could have a winning combination at its hands, especially if it brings with it some of the features from its larger siblings. Needless to say, the growing 32 and 43-inch market will mean consumers will have one more option to choose from. 

OnePlus, as a brand, also brings with it the brand value of performance for a price. So it can be expected that one will get better performance than budget brands, albite for a slightly more premium price. But not so expensive that one may consider an offering from premium brands like Sony or LG. 

What killer features could the smaller size OnePlus TV bring?

Today’s budget TVs are feature-rich. Kodak is giving consumers a 43-inch 4K TV with Dolby Vision and 500 nits of brightness, outperforming the Mi TV 4X (which is closer to the 350 nits mark) and the Nokia 43-inch TV (claiming 300 nits of brightness) on paper, as far as the panel is concerned. It is running on Android TV as well, bringing with it the bells and whistles of Android TV like Chromecast, Play Store, and more. But then again, so are the others. One place where OnePlus showed its TV charms was with its app and UI integration. Xiaomi may give consumers the option of PatchWall and Android TV but OnePlus, in its Q1 series, gave consumers an enhanced app experience. From being able to take screenshots and sharing it with friends to seamless app switching and content controls from the comfort of your smartphone, the hidden gem in the OnePlus TV was its app integration. Sure, it had its own UI overlaying Android TV and we expect the UI to evolve in this new TV. Maybe OnePlus can add cool new features to its app integration and UI to differentiate itself?

Also, bringing Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to the 43-inch screen space will stir things up. We’d definitely love the “affordable” OnePlus TV to have a QLED panel. If OnePlus brings its sliding soundbar or similar audio technology, then it would really stir up the budget 43-inch space. While we would like OnePlus to throw everything including the kitchen sink in the package, the devil, unfortunately, lies in the details. And in this case, the details need to be pixel perfect. If OnePlus can offer great picture quality and great sound while offering a compelling smart TV experience, it would certainly stir up the competition.  

Should the competition be worried about the OnePlus TV?

As of December 2019, Xiaomi has a 33 percent market share in the TV segment. It isn’t going to be easy to dethrone the current king in the budget TV space. But if OnePlus brings with it a compelling spec sheet, performance and design at an “affordable” price, it will not only stir up the competition but force other TV manufacturers to “up” their game in the budget 32 and 43-inch screen space, the hottest TV segment in India.

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Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.

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