OnePlus is at CES this week showing off the OnePlus Concept One, their first in a supposed ongoing new series of phones where they showcase possible future technology for the phones they actually sell. I played with it for a bit, and well, it has two things going for it.
For those not yet familiar, the OnePlus Concept One is basically a OnePlus 7 Pro McLaren Edition with a new backside that includes glass that can un-tint itself. It also has a lot of really orange leather on the backside to at least make it look like something somewhat new. But the basics are that you have a trick camera thing happening on the back as the technology OnePlus is trying to showcase.
The first thing that this new technology helps create is going to be beneficial in the future as phonemakers continue to put 25 different cameras on the backs of their phones. Look at the things TCL just announced this week. Phones are going to get uglier because of camera count and OnePlus could fix that problem.
For this Concept One, OnePlus is potentially going to be able to hide all of those awful camera housings. The Concept One features a triple camera setup with flash that can barely be seen when the camera isn’t active. Once you open the camera, though, the glass covering those lenses clears up to reveal the setup and let you take photos through a clear path. I know this seems like a silly trick, but from a design perspective, it’s going to be amazing assuming they can deliver this in phones without an insane price hike and further darken the glass when the camera isn’t active.
This phone, while an acquired taste with all that leather and orange, looks incredibly slick in person because you aren’t constantly staring at cameras. Instead, you get to see OnePlus’ design chops in action.
The other item to point to would be OnePlus using that tinting action to create a better camera experience. For now, the Pro mode on this Concept One has an “ND8” option that acts as an ND (Neutral Density) filter for your photographs. When in a super bright, outdoor scenario, this could really make a difference on the quality of photos when enabled by helping control exposure.
Again, like the hiding of the cameras, if OnePlus can really dial this in, possibly find a way to add it to the auto camera setting, and optimize it further, it could give their cameras an edge in a category they sorely need one. Camera innovation is hard these days, and the playing field is as level as ever. It’s the minor tweaks like an ND filter that could help OnePlus be a serious part of the camera conversation.
Other than that, the Concept One from OnePlus isn’t showing anything else. You have to look at the camera situation as a cool trick that has a couple of benefits, but that’s about it. Maybe that’s enough.