The OnePlus 6T was the company’s best phone yet, but a motorized pop-up selfie cam could pose potentially problems for the OnePlus 7.
Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

When whispers started swirling that OnePlus was going for a fully bezel-less design on its next major phone, the immediate question became: How would the company do it?

Will the OnePlus 7 get a punch-hole selfie cam like the Galaxy S10? Or would OnePlus go for a more low-tech solution like the manual slider found on Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3?

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Well based on new leaked photos showing OnePlus 7, it seems OnePlus decided to go with a potentially divisive solution for avoiding the notch: a motorized pop-up selfie cam. The new pic, which was purportedly found on Weibo by Slashleaks, seems to confirm recent renders for the OnePlus 7 posted by @OnLeaks, and shows a phone featuring a rectangular pop-up selfie cam going through what appears to be the device’s facial recognition setup process.

The big surprise here is that for a company that has largely stayed away from gimmicky or extraneous features on previous devices, the OnePlus 7's pop-up camera seems like an incredibly weird choice. Despite having a glass back that wouldn’t interfere with the tech, the OnePlus 6T didn’t come with wireless charging because OnePlus founder Pete Lau believes wireless charging is inferior to the company’s 20-watt wired Dash Charge tech.

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The idea of putting a pop-up selfie camera on a phone also isn’t particularly novel either, as Vivo demoed the feature on its Apex 2018 concept last year at MWC, before putting it into action on the Vivo Nex later in the year. And from the leaked image, it doesn’t seem like OnePlus has done anything out of the ordinary to address the big concern about pop-up cameras: durability.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good motorized camera like the one on the Oppo Find X. The faint mechanical whirring it makes when the camera rises up reminds of the good ‘ole days before Michael Bay ruined the Transformers franchise, and the ability to make the camera completely disappear feels like some low-key James Bond-style wizardry.

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But OnePlus’ phones have typically been all about simplicity, and a motorized pop-up camera is anything but. That motor is just one more thing that can go wrong, it makes the phone more susceptible to accidental damage, and if the motor breaks, say goodbye to taking selfies or unlocking the phone with your face.

The other worry about that pop-up cam is how it will affect the OnePlus 7's price. Since its start, OnePlus has largely thrived on its ability to deliver top-notch specs for hundreds less than competing flagships. But it’s hard to imagine that something as complicated as motorized pop-up camera can be less expensive to include on a phone than a simple notch.

But who knows, it’s still early, and there’s a chance these leaks and renders aren’t entirely accurate. But if they are, here’s hoping the OnePlus 7 doesn’t flop just because of one silly feature.

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