While Huawei’s US woes continue, one Chinese handset maker has already managed to do the impossible and gain a foothold in the market. OnePlus may not be as well-known as more prominent players such as Huawei and Xiaomi, but the company has secured a firm following overseas.

Amid reports that a new OnePlus flagship handset could land as soon as next month, TechNode looked at Wikipedia data to see how interested English-speaking markets really are in the Shenzhen-based company and how its popularity compares with the other players.

Wikipedia is often the first port of call for potential customers as they look to learn more about a brand or product. Hits on the online encyclopedia can act as a strong indicator of a brand’s level of exposure in different markets.

OnePlus has long pursued a “global-first” strategy, and Counterpoint ranks the company as the world’s fifth-largest premium smartphone brand, though it only makes up a 2% share. The company is not the only Chinese smartphone maker to pursue expansion into overseas markets, and it still trails players like Huawei and Oppo.

TechNode looked at Wikipedia product page view trends for the OnePlus 7 compared within equivalent flagships from Huawei and Xiaomi. Ever since the OnePlus 7 launched in May, it has drawn significantly more page views than the Huawei P30 or the Xiaomi Mi 9, two models that far outperform the OnePlus 7 in terms of shipments.

Cult following

Though the company was a relative latecomer to the smartphone market, it has built up a cult-like following among Android fans since its 2014 launch of the One model, a cut-price device featuring the popular open-source CyanogenMod operating system. The debut handset outperformed countless global competitors in terms of quality, performance and affordability. While CyanogenMod has since been discontinued, OnePlus’ reputation lives on—a key factor behind its click numbers.

OnePlus’ global presence expanded further in late 2018 with the launch of the 6T handset in the US market through partnerships with key carriers including T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. At a time when Huawei and ZTE products were subject to a sales ban in the country, the 6T launch stood out.

Within weeks of its May launch, the OnePlus 7 Wikipedia entry was receiving close to double the views of the Huawei P30 page. Despite an earlier release and significant shipments overseas, the Xiaomi Mi 9 did not have a dedicated entry until April; among the trio, it still has the lowest daily views.

The trend in clicks on the OnePlus 7 page includes two major peaks, both far in excess of 3,000 daily views. The first occurred at its launch while the second one followed a major update of the handset’s OxygenOS system.

In terms of daily page views for Huawei’s P30 line, they hit an all-time high of more than 2,500 in April when the Lite variant model was announced. Another spike in clicks occurred in the middle of the next month when the controversial company was added to the US Entity List, effectively ending Google support for future products.

Stable reputation

Even beyond Wikipedia page views, OnePlus does punch above its weight against the industry mainstays. The firm also receives more consistent reviews on key platforms, according to a sentiment analysis undertaken by TechNode.

TechNode calculated sentiment scores for the three handset lines based on review articles and comments on The Verge, Engadget, and TechRadar websites. We counted the number of positive and negative words from content using the Bing sentiment model, a lexicon that simply categorizes certain words as positive or negative. The higher the score, the more positive the sentiment.

Technode found that while the P30 and P30 Pro garnered a higher sentiment score according to reviews, their score from comments came out the lowest. Although reviews of the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro were less positive, their reader comments were considerably more positive.

Extra factors

Since the analysis only includes English-language websites, the presence of the three brands in other markets globally was not taken into consideration.

In recent years, Xiaomi has grown to lead the Indian smartphone market with a 28% market share in the second quarter. Huawei, on the other hand, has been successful in Europe, ranking second for shipments in the first quarter with a 26% market share, a mere five percentage points shy of the leader Samsung.

Xiaomi and Huawei’s global success is not reflected directly through the English-language Wikipedia pages. According to a Google Trends comparison, OnePlus 7 has been the most searched model in the US in recent months among the trio. However, the Huawei P30 proved a more popular search term on a global scale.

The firm’s decision to pursue a “one flagship per year” strategy has paid off based on the hype surrounding its products this year. OnePlus’ success in launching products in the US markets has also provided a leg up in efforts to compete with Huawei and Xiaomi abroad.

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