Even with how much I’ve praised OnePlus phones ever since I started reviewing them years ago, I have never been short to point out how much I didn’t like their camera humps. When pricing products aggressively, corners have to be cut. Well, it’s CES 2020, the company has spent weeks teasing a concept phone to be shown off at CES, and it’s got a very elegant new trick.
OnePlus has been first in a few things, even before they brought the first Popup camera to the US. They were the first to bring a ceramic back to a phone. The first to bring matte glass to smartphones, and the first to bring QHD+ displays with 90hz refresh rate. Today, the company becomes the first to use Electrochromic Glass.
Meet the OnePlus Concept One a device we’re not sure if we’ll see reach the market any time soon, but definitely a gorgeous approach to smartphone design. This device is actually a first in more than just a few things, so bare with me.
…back to Electrochromic glass: if you’ve ever ridden on a McLaren 720s you’ll notice that the sunroof darkens when needed. Fine, I know they are rare to see, so another example is if you’ve ever flown on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner where the window changes color instead of having shades. Ok, that’s Electrochromic glass. OnePlus actually spent 18 months along with McLaren to achieve this thin glass at just .35mm, and this design that blends with the same premium leather that’s found in the McLaren 720s.
On the back of this concept phone you won’t see any camera hump. There’s just a blend of leather and dark glass. The branding at the bottom mentions OnePlus X McLaren, which we assume will get a number eventually, unless this is a hint. If you shift the camera area with the light you can see the placement of the camera sensors on certain angles, but it’s not easy to get this reflection. It’s not until you launch the primary camera that you notice the triple camera array along with the flash become visible. OnePlus dubs it their “invisible camera”.
The switch between dark and clear takes just .7 seconds, which is the same that the camera app takes to launch on the phone, and according to OnePlus, there are no concerns over having this color shift affect battery life.
This device also sports the first PVD coated aluminum frame, allowing for more premium blends with the aluminum to the current standards we see, and which goes at far as to being able to coat the frame with 24K gold.
Last but not least, being able to darken the lens allows the option for an ND 8 filter. If you launch the Pro camera and select it, the option becomes available in the top left. We use ND filters all the time to be able to play with bright aperture in brightly lit scenarios, so this also opens an interesting chapter that OnePlus can play with when it comes to the camera.
And for those of you wondering what’s at the front? Well, this is pretty much the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G Mclaren that I reviewed recently. Same curved screen, same specs, same pop up camera for selfies and specs.
But yes, this is the OnePlus Concept One. Honestly, I don’t know what’s cooler? Is this darkened glass approach, or the fact that the only other phone with a flush approach to the camera along with leather is the Porsche Design Huawei Mate 30 RS which costs around $2,000.
Sadly we have no dates for a possible launch but I will tell you this is probably one of the best examples of attention to detail.
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