OnePlus Concept One hands-on: disappearing camera

(gentle music) – Now you see the camera, now you don’t Now you see the camera, now you don’t. Yeah, OnePlus is doing
something new this year. (gentle music) OnePlus is unveiling a phone here at CES, but you’re not gonna be
able to go and buy it. It’s just a concept phone. In fact, that’s what it’s called. The OnePlus Concept One. And the idea behind this phone,
with its black glass strip and its orange papaya
stitched leather body is that they can hide the
cameras with this glass that can electronically switch between opaque and transparent. The idea is that it just
makes the phone look nicer, because instead of seeing
a bunch of camera lenses, you see a black pane of glass. (gentle music) OnePlus says that they
can switch between opaque and transparent in .7 seconds, which is about the time it takes to open the camera app in the first place. So that’s cool, I guess. Actually, actually it is pretty cool. But this new technology
has a practical use too because you can set it to
be a neutral density filter. So when you’re outside taking a shot of something really bright, it makes the glass a little bit darker so that all your photos or videos aren’t completely blown out. To use a neutral density filter, you have to go into Pro
Mode on the camera app. When you do, you’ll see a
little button that says ND8. You tap that, and it toggles
the density filter on and off. You can’t adjust how, you
know, strong or opaque it is, but it does seem to work. The room we were in wasn’t super bright, but you could see a little
bit of a difference. Obviously, we’re gonna need
to fully test this thing in order to say for sure, but of course, we can’t
fully test this thing because it’s just a concept phone. One more thing. It’s opaque, but it’s
not like opaque opaque. If you tilt the phone around
in the light a little bit, even when the thing is supposed
to cover the camera lenses, you can still kinda see the
camera lenses from time to time. That’s fine. Again, this is just a concept. OnePlus says that they have
to do a lot more testing before they can put it on
a real production phone. There’s a lot of extra
work that they have to do, and you know what, this is silly, right? They’ve been developing
this thing for 18 months just so that they can cover up
the camera lenses on a phone. And that might be necessary
later on in the future when we get to four,
five, six camera lenses in the back of the phone. That could look really horrifying, and so you might actually want this, but right now, it’s silly. But this is what CES is for. I mean, we saw a TV that
rotates into portrait mode, so yeah, they’re allowed to make something weird on a phone too. So let’s talk about how
this actually works. It is electrochromic glass, which is two panes of regular old glass, and then inside is an electrochromic layer that can switch from transparent to opaque when electricity is applied to it. It’s the same technology that gets used on a lot of sunroofs, in fact, it’s the same technology that gets used in McLaren sunroofs, and OnePlus says they work with McLaren to develop this technology
and shrink it down to phones. And shrinking it down is
actually what took a lot of work. They had to get the panes of glass that sandwich it really, really thin, and they had to get the
electrochromic layer really, really thin, and they had
to make it all work faster than it usually does when
it’s just on a sunroof. So again, they say it
can happen in .7 seconds, and they manage to make this
glass .35 millimeters thick, which is, they claim, the thinnest electrochromic panel ever, and the fastest electrochromic panel ever. Electrochromic is really hard to say like four times in a sentence. So why does this concept need to exist? Is it really that important to be able to cover up your camera lenses or get a software-defined ND filter. Well a software-defined ND filter actually sounds pretty dope on a camera, but what this is really for is to convince you that
OnePlus does innovation and that OnePlus is super cool. That’s why they partner with McLaren. That’s why they use like the McLaren papaya
orange stitched leather. It’s their whole vibe, their
whole ethos is to be cool, and they think this looks cool, and who am I to say they’re wrong? Hey everybody, thanks
so much for watching. We have a ton more videos from CES. We’ve got that rotating TV, we’ve got a extremely red
Chromebook from Samsung, and plenty more, so keep
it locked to The Verge.