I Really Hope This Isn't the Only Trick Up OnePlus's Sleeve

Illustration for article titled I Really Hope This Isn't the Only Trick Up OnePlus's Sleeve
Illustration: OnePlus

CES 2020 starts next week, so naturally, OnePlus is trying to get the hype started early by teasing its soon-to-be-announced concept phone. But so far, the only major thing OnePlus has revealed about the phone is that it has... some tintable glass?

I don’t mean to sound so dejected, electrochromic glass is pretty cool. For the Concept One, OnePlus teamed up with McLaren again, which uses tintable glass for the sunroofs in its expensive hypercars. Electrochromic glass is also the same stuff they use in fancy bathrooms and the like, allowing you to transform a glass window, wall, or door from transparent to opaque with the flip of the switch.

The material works by sending an electrical current through a piece of glass, which causes molecules inside the glass to align in different ways, and depending on that alignment, it determines how much or how little you can see through the glass. The problem for OnePlus is that electrochromic glass has been around for a while, with modern applications being used in windows and on planes for the last 20 years or so. So while cool, the tech isn’t all that new or impressive on its own.


On the Concept One, OnePlus is using electrochromic glass to create an “invisible camera” with a glass cover that turns opaque and hides the phone’s cameras when they’re not in use. And when you do want to snap a pic, the phone sends an electric charge through the glass cover again and magically, its cameras reappear.

For people concerned about the recent smartphone trend of having bigger and more obnoxious camera modules, OnePlus’ invisible camera could be a nice change of pace. Based on OnePlus’ brief teaser, the Concept One seems to have almost a completely flat back, which should make the phone much sleeker than something like the iPhone 11 Pro. It’s a pretty good look.


But my main concern isn’t really about the tech or how it’s used, but about the Concept One itself. My issue is that concepts are supposed to be wild, futuristic devices that push boundaries and strain people’s imaginations. I’m talking about stuff like the Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha concept with its wrap-around screen or the completely portless Meizu Zero. Stuff that looks and feels incredibly ambitious—devices that might even be frustrating or annoying that might not work in today’s world, but with a little refinement, could turn into something fantastic.

However, based on OnePlus’ single teaser so far, the Concept One seems a bit tame. I mean come on, the word “concept” is in its name, and if OnePlus really doesn’t have any intention of selling this thing anytime soon, there’s very little reason not to shoot for the stars.


But if a company is trying create excitement, I feel like we need a little more than tintable glass. Hopefully, this isn’t the only trick the Concept One is packing, because if not, we might all be in for a slightly more boring week than expected.

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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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My apologies, this is 100% off topic, it just happened to be the most recent story when I decided to peek into the Kinjaverse, for the first time in easily a month or more. My curiosity got the best of me. Not only are Deadspin comments still off, all the articles are credited simply to “Deadspin.”

If you can’t give credit to writers, or find writers who are willing to take credit for taking over the spots of the great writers you alienated, Deadspin, then just do what you probably should have the instant this whole shitstorm started: shut it down. You should be ashamed of yourselves and the fact that you keep Magary’s material up despite the fact that he told you where to stick it is pathetic and sad. And to the new writers who took the job: I realize you’re probably just happy to have the gig, but if you’re not willing to put your name beside it, then go fuck yourselves. You’re the replacement players of sportswriting. Spanfeller is a herb.