When the OnePlus 2 was launched in Singapore at a media event late last month, we spotted a young man looking quite out of place in the usual crowd of tech journalists. Dressed in a OnePlus Never Settle tee, he could easily be part of the OnePlus crew, except that he's a little younger-looking than even OnePlus' already green team.
Curious about who he could possibly be, we sidled up to his side and started making conversation. We soon realised he’s the one who’s responsible for creating OnePlus' Singapore Facebook page, back when OnePlus did not even have a local presence yet, and also a moderator on their forums.
We don’t meet many 16-year-olds who are interested in tech, let alone one so passionate about a brand. Despite having to sit for his GSCE O Levels this year, the 16-year-old Bendemeer Secondary School student is still actively sharing his love for OnePlus. Here's his story that he so earnestly shared with us.
What sparked your love for OnePlus?
My first smartphone was an iPhone 4. As it was the first touchscreen gadget I had, it made me start to think about the technology inside this smartphone (e.g. the specifications). It was then that I started reading up and exploring the other smartphones in the market to have a glance of what the industry is like. I chanced upon OnePlus when I was browsing the tech sites for news and there happened to be a few articles on OnePlus and Cyanogen partnering together.
Pete Lau (CEO of OnePlus) promised that the price of the One would be below US$400 (it eventually became US$349). It was not typical of tech companies like OnePlus to have a high-end smartphone with a price that is considered very low in the industry. Being a student with not much of a budget for buying smartphones, it was a great opportunity to try out a new brand that promises quality at an affordable price. The company's prioritisng of fan feedback was something very important to me as well.
I’m currently using the OnePlus One and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra as my daily drivers. I also have a Lumia 1020 for photography purposes and an LG G Watch R.
How did you end up moderating the forums?
I only found out about the OnePlus forums in February 2014. The forums' users were increasing at a very high rate when the invite system was rolled out. There were a ton of people asking for invites and also quite a number of duplicate or redundant threads that were not closed as quickly as the moderators were short-handed. I decided to help out as I didn’t like things to be cluttered and messy, and started out by tagging the mods in the threads that needed to be closed.
During the school holidays, I put in an application to be a moderator. It was only granted after I met Carl Pei and another ex-staff in a casual meet-up during their short time in Singapore. What are my duties? Basically, I close redundant threads and merge duplicate ones into the original thread. Another thing I do is to remove inappropriate content around the forums and take action against the user who posted it. I usually spend a few hours on the forum during school holidays and monitor it on alternate days when school starts.
What was meeting Carl like?
One of OnePlus’ former employees messaged me in the forums about Carl and himself coming to Singapore, and asked if I wanted to meet them. I was a little hesitant at first, because I'm not used to meeting with 'strangers. But I eventually went to meet them with my mother who is pretty into tech herself. I was nervous about meeting a top executive from a well-known tech company, like when I met Xiaomi's Hugo Barra at last year's Mi Pop Singapore.
But I soon realised that there was nothing to be nervous about. Carl’s young, very approachable, and open to discussing anything about technology. Thanks to him, I’ve gained a deeper insight into OnePlus.
Why was there a need to set up the OnePlus Singapore Facebook page?
I started the page around Christmas time last year, which was also just after OnePlus’ 1st birthday. There was an increasing number of Singapore fans coming to the forums and I thought that I would set up a Facebook page to share any tips on giveaways or on how to mail forward the OnePlus One to Singapore. Plus, most Singapore fans are Facebook users to begin with and the heavily used social media platform would be a good way of drawing new fans.
At first we had a small group on Facebook, but it wasn't ideal as people had to join the group instead of just liking it and being able to receive content on a frequent basis. It was also an opportunity to enable OnePlus to notice our fans in Singapore.
How big is the OnePlus community in Singapore exactly?
It is currently estimated to be around one to two thousand people in the OnePlus community in Singapore (although the Facebook page does not have that much). Though small, it is a fast growing user base. I hope that the numbers will increase after the OnePlus 2 officially launches here.