The OnePlus Z, or OnePlus 8 Lite, or OnePlus Nord (as we've variously heard it referred to as) is one of the big smartphone mysteries of the year - up until now, we didn't know if OnePlus was really working on a new affordable phone, or if this was just a hopeful rumor.
Well, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has just confirmed the big news - the company has a new affordable smartphone coming soon. In a forum post (opens in new tab) on the topic, Lau stated "we are bringing the premium, flagship experience... to a new, more affordable smartphone product line." The OnePlus Z is coming - sort of.
Lau didn't go into details on the phone, so we don't know its name (although there are some strong suggestions, which we'll get into later), specs, or when it'll come out - though Lau did say it'll come to Europe and India first, while also saying they are "looking to bring more affordable smartphones to North America in the near future."
It's worth noting Lau also states, in a longer message sent to media, "to be clear, this is not a reactionary attempt to 'go back to our roots,' as some people have speculated.
"Our goal has always been to build leading products that provide the best user experience at a comparatively affordable price point. And since our 'roots' are actually in creating the best flagship smartphones, I see this part of our strategy as an important extension of the OnePlus value proposition."
This suggests the new OnePlus handset won't be a cheap phone with a super-low price tag, but simply a handset that costs less than the OnePlus 8. Potentially more of a mid-ranger, like older OnePlus handsets.
It's possible there will be multiple new phones coming, as Lau does use the term 'product line' and one interpretation of this could be that there will be a 'Pro' version of the device, but this could simply mean there will be newer versions in subsequent years.
OnePlus Z or something else?
As stated, we've heard multiple names for the upcoming affordable OnePlus phone, but we're ready to rule out the most recent - it's likely not the OnePlus Nord.
We say this because at the same time OnePlus published the forum post from Pete Lau, it also launched a new Instagram account called 'OnePlusLiteZThing (opens in new tab)'.
OnePlus Lite Z Thing 👀👀 https://t.co/K2jjBs2sjPJune 23, 2020
That's a mash-up of some of the names we'd heard (with 'Thing' thrown in for no obvious reason), but Nord is missing, so it could be this wasn't ever in contention.
It's possible that Nord was omitted since that actually is the name of the upcoming phone, with OnePlus using some reverse psychology trick, but that seems unlikely.
Maybe this Instagram name tells us the phone will be called the 'OnePlus Lite Z', with a 'OnePlus Lite X' or 'Lite Y' coming at some point too, maybe, instead of a 'OnePlus Z' or 'OnePlus Pro Z', but this is all speculation.
It's hard to draw conclusions from the existence of this Instagram account, especially because, at time of writing, it hasn't posted anything related to smartphones, but that could change and give us more definitive evidence one way or another.
Either way, given the new forum post, we'd expect an announcement for this new affordable OnePlus phone to come very soon.