Tech

The OnePlus Concept One's "invisible camera" is more than just a gimmick

And the McLaren leather smells fab.

So OnePlus showed up at CES this year with a concept phone called the OnePlus Concept One (a mouthful, I know). It's a functional concept device, which means the product is aspirational, but won't be available for production anytime soon.

"Invisible camera"

The marquee feature on the OnePlus Concept One is its "invisible camera." Working with McLaren, OnePlus co-developed a new kind of "electrochromic glass" that essentially tints the lenses to make them blend into the body. A cure to trypophobia, sure, but it sounds gimmicky, right?

0.7

The number of seconds it takes for the electrochromic glass to turn on and off. OnePlus says it untints in the same amount of time it takes to launch the camera, so it's ready to go without any delay. I can confirm it's fast.

At certain angles the camera lenses are still visible when the camera is off so it's not exactly "invisible."

ND filter

The electrochromic glass isn't just for aesthetic. The tinting works as an ND (neutral density) filter, which is a piece of glass that you traditionally place over a camera lens to "stop" it down and bring out better exposure when scenes are overly bright. Here you can see how the colors become more accurate and there's less overexposure around the lights when the ND8 setting is turned on.

Smells expensive

Cheap leather makes me sick. I get car sick whenever I'm in Ubers with cheap leather. Real leather, however, smells great and doesn't give me a headache. OnePlus says the "papaya orange" leather on the OnePlus Concept One is the same leather used in the McLaren 720s car seat. I can confirm it smells fab. Really high-quality cow skin.

OnePlus 7T Pro guts

OnePlus phones are known for their flagship specs. The OnePlus Concept One has the same specs as the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition: 6.7-inch 90Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 855+ chip, 12GB of RAM, 4,085mAh battery, and 256GB of storage. Android 10 is just as fast and smooth on the OnePlus Concept One.

The screen curves into the metal frame and there's a USB-C port with OnePlus's ultra-fast Warp Charging. Still no wireless charging, though. Womp womp.

Selfie camera goes up and down

Just like the OnePlus 7T Pro, the screen has no notch. The 16-megapixel camera pops up using a motor. I kind of love this even though there's a limit to the number of times it can pop up and retract.

I was bracing myself for disappointment when I heard the "invisible camera" might have been purely decorative. But the ND filter feature gives the OnePlus Concept One a little legitimacy. Photographers and videographers know how important an ND filter is for capturing good footage. Now, OnePlus just needs to improve the software side of its cameras — the image processing — and then it'll truly be on par with the Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, and iPhone.

The OnePlus Concept One might never be produced...

...but the technology could still find its way into future OnePlus phones. It's the OnePlus way: never settle.

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