Days ahead of its official January 7 reveal at CES, OnePlus has teased the OnePlus One Concept phone's "invisible camera" and "color-shifting glass" on Twitter. OnePlus CEO Pete Lau further hyped the phone saying "the future is hiding in plain sight." 🤔
An "invisible camera" what now? — With the OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus achieved a true full screen without any notch or hole punch by using a motorized selfie camera. That's one way to get a full display, but the motor can break and it prevents the phone from being water-resistant. For the OnePlus One Concept, the "invisible camera" might mean OnePlus has put the selfie camera under the screen just like the fingerprint sensor.
Leaker Ice Universe — a person who I'm envious gets to somehow see the future of phones before the rest of us — says 2020 is going to be the "mosaic era," referring to the blocky pattern that in-display selfie cameas have.
Shrinking the camera bump — Nobody likes camera bumps. We got used to them, but they're still an eyesore. The OnePlus One Concept seems to have reduced the bulge. The teaser shows a triple camera with a near-flush design.
Once again, Ice Universe has a better look at the concept phone's rear:
It looks hot to me and it'll be even better if OnePlus gives it a McLaren colorway as it has with the OnePlus 7T Pro and 6T. The sketch also suggests all the buttons — alert slider, power button, and volume rocker — will be on one side. The alert slider looks a little high up on the phone, which might be hard to reach, but we'll have to wait and see.
Oh so shiny — As for the "color-shifting glass technology." I have no idea what that means. A new phone colorway? OnePlus has already done some nice gradients on its phones. Perhaps, it could refer to technology for the front glass and not the back? Again, we'll find out more at CES.
CES is exciting again — The annual tech show doesn't usually have a lot of phone unveils — companies save their best for Mobile World Congress (late February this year) — but OnePlus is doing what it does best by not following trends, or rules, and dazzling with surprise.
Update: As quickly as the hype rose, it deflated all within a morning. Speaking exclusively to Wired, we now know the "invisible camera" isn't an in-display selfie camera. What a bummer. Instead, it's an "electrochromic glass" that basically tints the triple-lens camera system on the rear to disguise it as part of the back. Developed by McLaren, OnePlus says it's the same glass tinting system that's used in the auto company's supercars.
Wired also shared a few other details about the concept phone: it's a concept and OnePlus isn't mass producing it, it has the same triple cameras as the OnePlus 7T Pro, and the backside is leather (at least on the prototype shown).
While a selfie camera embedded in the screen would have been way more interesting, I'm still looking forward to seeing OnePlus' gimmick at CES.