As flagship smartphones continue to rise in price and four-figure sums become normal, the mid-range market has been getting increasingly exciting. This week, one major manufacturer made its exit from this segment of the market, whilst another is making a welcome return. Here are our winners and losers of the week just gone.
As always, we'll start with an honorable mention. On Wednesday it became clear that Tesla has overtaken Toyota as the most valuable carmaker on in the world. Shares rose by more than four percent this week to more than $1,100 each. Tesla is now valued at more than $209bn. Toyota is valued at about $205bn. It's also worth remembering that Tesla has never actually turned a profit. Welcome to the 2020 economy.
Winner of the week: OnePus is making mid-range headlines again
Something is cooking over at OnePlus. After the launch of the OnePlus 8 Pro earlier this year, the brand's loyal community caused a stir at the rising prices of the company's flagship phones that were seemingly abandoned their flagship-killer roots and being pitched at similar prices to the biggest players on the market.
OnePlus has reacted, and with the new OnePlus Nord, has vowed to return to the mid-range with a new smartphone that Pete Lau has confirmed will cost less than $500. The media storm has been brewing, and this week OnePlus announced that the first phase of pre-orders had sold out in Europe. No numbers were mentioned, but the fact that customers are willing to part with their hard-earned cash for a phone they know virtually nothing about speaks volumes for the amount of hype around this device.
It's for that reason, that we are awarding OnePlus and the Nord pre-launch marketing campaign our winner of the week just gone in the technosphere.
Loser of the week: Google scraps the Pixel 3a
It was not all good news for customers looking to buy a new mid-range smartphone this week, however. At the beginning of the week, news emerged that Google was discontinuing its Pixel 3a and 3a XL smartphone. The $400 device, which was Mountain View's first venture in the mid-range market, was well received. I personally used it for months and was a big fan of the compact size, the software features, and the fact that it had the same camera as the regular and much more expensive Pixel 3.
It does appear, however, that Google has decided this experiment is over. Let's not forget, the long-rumored Pixel 4a is nowhere to be seen, so what is happening here is that Google is ditching its $400 phone without having a replacement on the market. Google said in a statement that it has simply "sold through its inventory and completed sales of Pixel 3a". You may still be able to find one at a third-party retailer, but they won't be around for long.
Google is now placed precariously in the smartphone hardware business. Sales of the Pixel 4 were reportedly not great, and the Pixel 5 is rumored to be using an upper-mid-range SoC rather than the latest Snapdragon from Qualcomm. The loss of the Pixel 3a and the lack of Pixel 4a/Pixel 5 leads us to revisit the old theory that Google could be getting out of the mobile hardware business altogether before too long. That would be a shame.
Who were your winners and losers of the week just gone? Share your opinions below the line.