There's a new OnePlus phone coming. Yes, yet another OnePlus. Except, it's not actually coming. You'll never be able to buy it, but you might see some of its innovations and design features in a real product in the future. 

It's called the OnePlus Concept One and was unveiled at CES 2020, and is yet another example of the way partnering with McLaren has worked out well for OnePlus. 

OnePlus Concept One: Design

It's safe to say this concept is all about design, and less about hardware performance. That's because - being a concept - its very nature is to show what's possible from an aesthetic standpoint. It's not about being a practical consumer device. It's about making something that looks really cool.

It starts with the glass portion running down the middle of the phone's rear. As OnePlus already teased, this features a special kind of glass that reacts to different voltages. One second, it's translucent and hiding the cameras, the next, it's completely clear and the cameras can be seen (and used). 

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The technical name for this kind of glass is electrochromic: switching between tinted and transparent at the flick of a (virtual) switch. It might not serve a genuine practical need, or be a bonafide technological innovation, but it is cool. 

While it's existed in a way on cars and airplanes before, miniaturising it and producing the same effect in a glass that's far thinner than what you'd see on either of those was the challenge OnePlus was faced with.

It's made by sandwiching a thin piece of "colour-shifting material" in between two sheets of glass, and OnePlus has managed to make it just 0.35mm thin, and it takes only 0.7s to switch from clear to tinted. That's less time than it takes to launch the camera and have it ready to shoot.  

In addition to this electrochromic glass, OnePlus has covered the back in a soft, comfortable leather. Of course, it's in McLaren's own Papaya Orange, to pay tribute to the company it's currently in partnership with. Incidentally, this is the same colour you'll find on McLaren's 2019 F1 racer. 

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While this is OnePlus' first concept phone, the Concept One isn't an unusual product in itself. Manufacturers, particularly Chinese makers, release annual concept phones to show-off what can be achieved. Take Vivo, for example, whose Apex Concept 2019 more-or-less became the Vivo NEX 3 a short number of months later. With these testbed concept devices, companies can show proof of concept.

OnePlus Concept One: Specs

Because this is essentially the OnePlus 7T Pro in new skin, the specifications are the same. That means a Snapdragon 855+ processor, 12GB RAM and a 4,085mAh battery with 30W fast-charging. 

Just like it did with the OnePlus 7 Pro, 7T and 7T Pro, OnePlus has used a 90Hz refresh rate panel for the display, enabling smooth animation and gesture response. 

As you'd suspect, the screen is the same resolution and size as the 7T Pro. Specifically, that means a 6.67-inch panel with curved edges and quad HD resolution (1440 x 3120). 

Likewise, the triple camera on the back features the same specs as the 7T Pro. That means a 48-megapixel main sensor with OIS, plus the 3x Zoom 8-megapixel camera and a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera. 

While the glass is cool to look at, it also doubles as an ND filter for the camera, which is genuinely useful, particularly in harsh lighting conditions or when you'd like to have a different look to your shots. 

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