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OnePlus’ Concept One smartphone has a ‘disappearing’ camera

OnePlus’ Concept One smartphone has a ‘disappearing’ camera


Variable tinted glass hides the cameras on OnePlus’ concept device

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OnePlus has announced new details of its Concept One smartphone, a prototype device that the company will be unveiling in full at CES 2020 next week.

The Chinese phonemaker has been teasing the Concept One since December, with some speculating that it could be the firm’s first foldable. But the actual unveil is a bit less exciting, with OnePlus tweeting that the main features of the Concept One will include an “invisible camera” array on the rear of the device and “color-shifting glass technology.”

There may be more to the Concept One than this, but we’ll have to wait until CES to find out.

A design sketch of the Concept One.
A design sketch of the Concept One.
Image: OnePlus

The “invisible camera” effect is created by an electrochromic sheet of glass covering the phone’s rear-facing cameras. The glass can switch between tinted and opaque with an electrical signal, letting OnePlus hide the phone’s lenses without using mechanical covers. According to a report from Wired, whose reporter saw an early version of the Concept One, seeing the effect in person is “a little anticlimactic.”

“When you think ‘disappearing camera,’ you might envision some sort of magic act, or a more pronounced physical transition,” writes Wired’s Lauren Goode. “This is just a camera you can barely see. On the upside: There are no bumps.”

OnePlus has been working with car company McLaren to integrate the technology into the Concept One. McLaren offers electrochromic glass as an option in some of its high-end supercars, and OnePlus has previously worked with the luxury British firm on earlier devices. According to Wired, the design of the Concept One is similarly high-end, with a “papaya orange” stitched leather back, and camera specs borrowed from the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition: a 48-megapixel primary lens and 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens.

That’s all we know about the Concept One in terms of hardware, though. There are no details yet on processor, RAM, display, etc. (Though if the phone is using the same cameras as the 7T McLaren Edition, we’re not expecting too many surprises.)

OnePlus’ cofounder and CEO Pete Lau told Wired that the Concept One was a “bold exploration for OnePlus, and is also a representation of overcoming a lot of [engineering] challenges.” And while the device is a prototype that may never be available to consumers, Lau added that the company will be looking for “feedback” from its unveiling and will examine “the possibility of making a device that’s available for users more widely.”

In other words: you might see more of OnePlus’ “invisible camera” in future. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing more of the device ourselves at CES on January 7.