OnePlus recently invited us for a first-hand experience of the company's most technologically-advanced smartphone- the OnePlus Concept One. We spent some time with the concept flagship handset at the company's Experience store in New Delhi. Notably, the OnePlus Concept One smartphone was first showcased at CES 2020 and has been developed in partnership with McLaren Design team.
It's essentially OnePlus 7T with a premium fit and finish and a disappearing camera module. Let's have a closer look and understand what goes behind making this futuristic concept smartphone.
What is OnePlus Concept One?
The OnePlus Concept One is the company's first-ever take on a concept phone. Developed in partnership with McLaren, it is the first handset to use Color-shifting Electrochromic Glass technology, which gives the phone its highlight feature- the "Invisible Camera Module." McLaren uses the same technology in its sports cars to make the glass opaque.
The Invisible Camera Module
The phone's rear camera lenses are hidden by the dynamic electrochromic glass giving it a seamless design with no lenses bulging out from the phone's body. OnePlus has implemented "Electronic CMF"- a new approach in industrial design, which is used by the race car manufacturer- McLaren to make their sports cars' sunroofs transparent.
The camera lenses instantly become visible when you fire up the camera application. As per the company, the process takes mere 0.7s for the glass to transition from solid black to fully clear. During our testing; we found the entire process to be seamless and snappy.
The electrochromic glass strip instantly disappears to make the camera lenses visible. Integrating the electrochromic glass on the phone's rear panel must be a challenging task as the miniaturizing process is quite complicated. For the OnePlus Concept One, OnePlus managed to achieve a glass thickness of mere 0.1mm each, for a combined total of only 0.35mm, which is as thin as a display glass protector film.
Does The Hiding Camera Have Any Practical Application?
The hidden camera setup surely manages to give the phone a unique design but does it offer any practical benefit? Actually, it does as the glass also doubles as a built-in polarizing filter.
The variable ND filter can come handy in taking well-exposed and detailed shots in harsh lighting, something DSLR users have been using from a long time. Sadly, we couldn't give you a detailed analysis of the ND filter's performance on the OnePlus Concept One as the phone wasn't allowed to be tested outdoors.
As far as the OnePlus devices are concerned, the camera performance has remained underwhelming so far. However, things might change with the next OnePlus flagship handset. The company has promised some big camera performance upgrades for the upcoming OnePlus 8.
Now it remains to be seen whether the next OnePlus flagship will use the same technology to improve on the camera performance. If the company manages to equip the OnePlus 8 with a working ND filter without increasing the cost, it can give OnePlus phones an edge over the competition.
OnePlus also mentioned that the company plans to explore additional possibilities in the future with the hidden camera setup. Two or three years down the line, we might see a fully-functional mainstream OnePlus flagship smartphone with more than 4 or 5-lens camera module.
Design- Look And Feel
Coming onto the design, The OnePlus Concept One is indeed a piece of art and is a phone for hard-core McLaren fans. It draws inspiration from similar design technology used in McLaren's 720S Spider luxury sports car. It is engineered by using both glass and leather in the iconic McLaren papaya orange shade.
The material used is soft-grained semi-aniline leather which has a fine texture to it. The OnePlus Concept One features a gold-colored metallic frame which adds to the premium look. The seamless design feels comfortable to hold. The glass of the OnePlus Concept One uses organic particles to create changes in transparency and can transform from opaque black to entirely clear in a jiffy.
OnePlus Concept One Specifications
The OnePlus Concept One is essentially a OnePlus 7T Pro in a more premium skin. The phone flaunts a 6.67-inch quad HD panel with curved edges. The 1440 x 3120 resolution makes everything crisp and vibrant. The screen offers a fluid 90Hz refresh rate.
The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor paired with 12GB RAM 256GB of internal storage. As far as the battery is concerned, the OnePlus Concept One is backed by a 4,085mAh battery unit which gets 30W fast-charging support. The transparent glass hides a triple-lens camera setup featuring a 48MP main sensor which is optically stabilized. It is accompanied by an 8MP telephoto lens with 3x zoom and a 16MP ultra-wide lens.
Verdict- It’s Not Available For Sale
The OnePlus Concept One is a gorgeous looking futuristic smartphone with top-of-the-line specifications. As expected, the smartphone is not available for sale. You cannot buy this handset and the company also refrained from revealing any price-details of the handset.
We also doubt the company will ever use the same electrochromic glass technology on a commercial OnePlus handset. It is very expensive and kills the whole purpose of launching feature-packed flagship smartphones at slightly affordable price-point.
Overall, the OnePlus Concept One remains a collectable's item that you cannot purchase in the Indian market. It will be interesting to see if the company manages to offer some of the OnePlus Concept One features and design elements in the upcoming OnePlus 8.