Now, talking about the design of the OnePlus 6, Pete Lau wrote a long blog explaining OnePlus’ approach to adopting new industrial designs. In the post, the CEO explained the rationale for the company’s move from a sandstone design in the OnePlus 1 to an aluminium design in the OnePlus 3, and now the glass design for the upcoming OnePlus 6. Lau also shared that the new glass build would contain five printed layers of Nanotech coating, which would give the device a stronger impression of depth.
Here is the complete blog post shared by Pete Lau on OnePlus forums:
Before I start to talk about the industrial design of the OnePlus 6, I would like to share with you some facets of our overall design philosophy.
In my last deep-dive, I mentioned that good user experience should be burdenless. Products are deeply tied to the people who use them. Excellent industrial design should give people a sense of ease, which is best embodied by a burdenless feeling.
But to truly achieve such a feeling requires a serious approach and thought-out rationale, and the pursuit of this achievement can sometimes be painful. A company needs to be honest about the design of the product. It also needs to work on a daily basis to refine the subtle details, even if those details may seem minor.
In Pursuit of Honesty
Keeping industrial design honest means respecting what a product should be, rather than tacking on additional elements just for the sake of hype. An honest design will perfectly serve the function of the product and even embody the product itself, so that from the moment you hold it, the device “will speak for itself." And I believe users will naturally gravitate towards more "honest" designs.
In August 2015, after a speech in Hong Kong, I met a OnePlus user who liked the sandstone finish and thought it was a design that “most clearly differentiated” OnePlus from other smartphone manufacturers. He asked me whether we could apply the sandstone finish on our future devices.
At the time, I happened to be carrying the OnePlus 3 with me, which was still in the early stages of design. When I showed what I was carrying, the user exclaimed wide-eyed that the device looked beautiful. I asked him whether he would purchase a OnePlus 3 if it came in metal rather than sandstone black. “Of course,” he said. He could plainly see the superior consistency of the metal frame and how it made the phone more thin and exquisite.
However, I didn't tell him that we had already tried sandstone black on the OnePlus 3, and saw results that were less than ideal. We found that the sandstone finish couldn’t compare to the overall smoothness and comfort of metal. As a manufacturer, we’d been exploring various materials in order to achieve more possibilities. Although sandstone black is different, we must look at the overall effect of the product and take an honest, impartial stance in order to improve the overall result.
Design is in the (Seemingly) Insignificant Details
However, there are still some people who still have misunderstandings about industrial design. They think that good industrial design should produce something that looks very different. However, good design—truly good design, does not deliberately pursue the exaggeration of the external form. In fact, it may even extend to a prioritization of the internal form: the material, the craftsmanship, and the tiny details.
From the original OnePlus One to the OnePlus 6, we’ve always insisted on honing the fine details, even if the differences only amount to 0.01 millimeters. These seemingly insignificant details accumulate, and will ultimately contribute to an overall design that is greatly changed. Every decision we make is based on countless rejections, resulting in a quick, continually iterative process. As the CEO and product manager, my greatest responsibility for the product lies in making tough but ultimately necessary decisions. Of course, if my decisions are well-founded with principled reasoning, the end result will stand up on its own.
One habit of mine is that no matter where I am—whether it's a business trip or just a day at the office, I'll always be sure to carry several prototype devices with me. I like to take them out, feel the details and get a sense for how the device feels in my hand. Sometimes, I’ll just place them on the table and view them at the magic 45-degree angle. Rejections and suggestions for improvements often come organically, at random hours. If a prototype still feels fresh and exciting after several months, then it’s very likely that the design is just right.
The OnePlus 6 also went through a similar process of continual iteration before reaching its current state.
Appearance-wise, we’ve always maintained our signature horizon line and precise curve to the back of the device. From the OnePlus One to the OnePlus 5T, the horizon line and characteristic curve have remained as important elements of our design language.
In addition to retaining the horizon design, we’ve also tried to incorporate glass materials on OnePlus 6. Although OnePlus is not the first manufacturer to use glass, we are confident that we are providing users with our interpretation of a familiar material.
OnePlus 6's glass design is centered around creating a "sense of value" and "premium hand-feel." As I mentioned at the beginning, people relate deeply to the products they use. We gave a lot of thought to how users should feel when they use the OnePlus 6. The advantages of glass over metal are manifold: glass communicates a transparent, bright, and pure feeling. The way glass transforms under different lighting is a particularly important challenge—the OnePlus design team tested over 70 glass prototypes before selecting the best one.
At the same time, we always want to create devices that feel premium to the touch. We care about the user's experience from the moment they touch the device. We also want our devices to feel burdenless in the hand, even after an extended period of use. OnePlus users have exacting standards for great industrial design. These standards often push and challenge us to meet our users’ expectations, to commit an extra layer of detail and polish in everything we do. As an example, the OnePlus 6's glass back contains five printed layers of Nanotech Coating, a first in the smartphone industry. We applied 5 layers of Nanotech Coating instead of 3, even though the degree of separation between each layer is extremely subtle and tough to discern. However, the additional layers give the back of the device a stronger impression of depth that our most demanding users will surely appreciate. Closely examine the OnePlus 6 and you’ll indeed see this subtle nuance embedded in each device.
Over the past four years, core OnePlus users have consistently held the highest standards when it comes to the user experience and design of our devices. We know we’re creating devices for a discerning userbase. Your passion has in turn fueled our pursuit of perfection. The result? Our hard work and perseverance has always been rewarded with a sense of burdenless joy.