OnePlus smartphones have been described as “like an iPhone but cheaper”. The two-year-old Chinese company keeps costs low by selling stock direct to consumers online, rather than using retail intermediaries.
It created a buzz around the brand by using an invite-only marketing strategy to appeal to tech enthusiasts. They in turn drummed up interest in the brand and helped 26-year-old founder Carl Pei (right) to expand the business, which sold 1.5 million handsets in its first year.
He continues to keep marketing costs low and favours stunts such as one this January in London, working with another brand on this list, delivery company Henchman, which saw customers receive a free phone if theirs did not arrive within 60 minutes of purchase.
OnePlus now ships to 34 countries and aims to sell 10 million handsets this year, continuing to focus on the direct sales model that Pei has adopted. It rivals Apple by selling comparable products inexpensively: a 64GB OnePlus 2 handset sells for £249 compared to £539 for an iPhone 6.