Before that, there was the #PMChallenge, asking the sizeable and dedicated OnePlus fan community for its ideas to improve OxygenOS, the company's Android fork.
Someone has now won that competition, and the amount of work they've put in is slightly mindblowing.
OnePlus has announced that Léandro Tijink, known as Its.Leandroo on the OnePlus forums, "showed clear passion and put a huge amount of effort into his entry, including creating mock-up designs and even a website."
Even that doesn't get across the scale of what this guy has done for -- well, not a whole lot of reward.
Tijink has written over 2600 words and created 42 mockup designs for his entry, which is so long that it has too many images for the OnePlus forums and had to overflow into its own freakin' website, which loads with a gorgeous take on the OnePlus boot animation and contains 87 meg of downloadable Adobe XD mockups.
Léandro's entry on the OnePlus forums has a detailed writeup of problems and potential solutions in OxygenOS, which is a tonne of research and design thinking on its own, never mind actually writing an essay about it and creating all the images.
For this, Tijink gets... a trip to the next OnePlus launch, and "some of his ideas" will be refined and implemented into a future version of OxygenOS.
Doesn't seem like much for all that work.
"Android and OxygenOS have come a long way, with Android being more mature, and OxygenOS having its own identity.
The past few years have been very exciting, with the introduction of many features, like full control over accent colours, gaming and reading mode, gestures and more.
I want to take things a step further. Finding the balance between features and design is one of the most important aspects of a phone, because we interact with it uncountable times a day.
I wanted to create a consistent, fluid and burdenless experience that makes the user feel in control, while being focused on the things that actually matter."
Admittedly, OnePlus didn't ask Tijink to put this much effort in, and he knew what the prize was when he entered. But OnePlus is now a major world player with deep pockets, and it must know the amount of pressure on young fans to put huge amounts of unpaid work into its competitions in the hope of catching the brand's eye.
Frankly, we think OnePlus should be giving at least a financial reward for the many, many hours this must have taken, and some OnePlus devices wouldn't hurt either. Yes, it might seem cool that Tijink gets his features put into OxygenOS, but realistically if they actually are an improvement, he's just done a bunch of work that materially benefits OnePlus for next to nothing.
And then of course there are all the other people who also entered the competition, all of whom could see the other entries on the message board, which just piles on the pressure. They get sweet FA for their efforts, because there was only one winner for this contest.
More recent OnePlus competitions have included financial rewards, OnePlus devices and multiple winners, and we'd like to see more of that. The brand knows it has an audience of thousands of starstruck, dedicated fans who will gladly pour their time into this kind of thing for nothing more than a chance at recognition, and the responsible thing to do would be to discourage excessive unpaid work.
There's no reason OnePlus can't motivate its audience with contests that have limited parameters -- so everyone is putting in the same, reasonable, amount of effort -- and appropriate rewards, so if the user is giving OnePlus something that will benefit the company, they are compensated in a way that isn't "well you gave it to us for nothing so here's a free trip to promote our next device."
Still, congratulations Léandro, we've no doubt you'll be running your own UX consultancy before long.
Main image: Léandro Tijink.