OnePlus Concept One, first impressions: an ingenious solution to hide the rise of multiple cameras

OnePlus is known for its high-end Android phones, with excellent features, great performance and an enviable quality-price that is usually placed among the most recommended flagships of the year. They are not just newcomers, this 2020 is seven years old, but it is striking how small its catalog of devices has always been. Learn more about new devices at 

During CES, the company has decided to diversify a bit more and has presented us with its first conceptual telephone, the OnePlus Concept One. Taking advantage of our visit to Las Vegas, we were able to have a touchdown and test how your hidden camera works when it is not active. These are our first impressions of the OnePlus Concept One and what we think of its new commitment to electrochromic glass.

The striking thing is the orange leather; the improvements are in the housing

For this OnePlus Concept One, they have allied with the car manufacturer McLaren, with whom they had previously collaborated on other versions of their models. And beyond the small logos, the aesthetic is clearly inspired by its 720S sports car. At first, glance, what is most striking is that orange papaya leather so “squeaky”, with small embroideries around the back center strip.

Personally, I’m not a fan of mobiles with such extravagant colors, but the feeling it conveys is very good. The leather offers a good feeling in the hand, does not slip and is careful in detail. OnePlus explains that he wants to convey the “craftsmanship” that characterizes McLaren and our opinion is that they do get more than usual in the glass or aluminum backs. The result of electrochromic glass is very convincing. The mobile seems to have no rear cameras. What together with no bulge, is in a very minimalist design.

Precisely aluminum, together with electrochromic glass, is one of the most relevant materials of this OnePlus Concept One. The housing is made of a PVD aluminum alloy, which uses a chemical vapor deposition technique that provides new reflections and a greater hardness

In size and maneuverability, the result of this Concept One is very similar to what the OnePlus 7T Pro offers. That is, it is not a small mobile due to its 6.67-inch Fluid AMOLED screen, but having the camera in shape Popup makes the size relatively manageable. What together with the roughness of the leather, helps to have a good design.

In the rest of the features, we must think that we are facing a OnePlus 7T Pro 5G (HD1925) with a new design. Reviewing the features provided by the settings menu, we confirm that inside is a Snapdragon 855+, 12GB, 256GB of ROM, 90Hz screen, Android 10 and triple camera 48 + 16 + 8MP. And in the camera is where we find the true meaning of this terminal.

In addition to fulfilling an aesthetic function, electrochromic glass allows filters to be added

The electrochromic glass is the protagonist of the OnePlus Concept One and on which all the innovation of the device revolves. It is not a new material, as it has been implemented in the windows of certain aircraft, but OnePlus explains that it is the first time it is applied to mobile devices. With the addition that his achievement is to miniaturize this glass enough to adapt it to mobiles.

What we have is a very thin glass, composed of three layers with a total thickness of 0.35mm. The two layers are the crystal and in the center, we have a material with dynamic properties where when an electric current is applied it can change color. In this case, the glass of the OnePlus Concept One is applied in the rear area where the triple camera and flash are located, so they can hide and show the sensors.

When we do not use the camera, the rear cameras are completely hidden. While if we want to show them, we only have to double-tap on a lateral physical button.

Now, are they really hidden? The answer is that for what interests us yes, but if we aim with a light bulb or observe closely if the cameras can be observed slightly. OnePlus explains that with the rise of double and triple cameras certain users generated anxiety, in addition to shaving the rear design. Therefore, with this material, a much more minimalist design can be achieved. And after trying it we can confirm that it is so.

It is a bet that makes a lot of sense. In the same way that with the sliding front camera the ‘notch’ and any “distraction” are eliminated, with this electrochromic glass the addition of the rear cameras is eliminated. The result is very minimalist. Here it should be noted that we also have no bulges and the cameras are fully integrated into the body. Something acceptable on mobile with this thickness (8.8mm on the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G), but more difficult to achieve on thinner mobiles.

The experience is like using the camera of any other mobile.

Another point where OnePlus has worked the most is speed. According to the manufacturer, this is the fastest electrochromic glass that changes state, from transparent to translucent in 0.7 seconds. In our tests, it is double-click and the camera is immediately shown, with the flash as a “hole” easier to see. While closing it, it returns to its initial state completely hidden. The experience is very fluid and does not make us think that we are facing a different camera.

When we met the project we thought; Does it have any utility beyond aesthetics? The truth is that it is mainly an addition to improve the design, something that seems interesting enough and the result is very good. But it also has a utility to improve photography.

And it is that having a glass on top of the camera, what results is in a polarizing filter. A filter to try to get “sharper images and more detail in scenes of more intense light”. During our contact, we have been able to test the function of the filter available in Pro mode, although the light conditions that were in the room do not allow us to reach any clear conclusion, beyond the fact that the intense light of the Spotlights For this filter there is an option in the corner of the camera, with the name of ‘ND8’. One more addition to the camera, although this time instead of being software or AI filter, is a physical improvement.

No news of when it will arrive, but we would like other manufacturers to take note

The worst part of the OnePlus Concept One is that it is precisely that; a prototype If we were facing a commercial mobile, our first impression is that it is a quality product. After all, it is based on the OnePlus 7T Pro. But the company has not confirmed whether it will go on sale.

The CES is a fair that often serves to show what the brand works on. Perhaps for fear that other manufacturers will come forward with a similar proposal, OnePlus wanted to put this electrochromic glass on the table, a material that has some durability problems but is an interesting solution to the incessant boom in the number of cameras.