There’s no question about it, the Galaxy S10 is the star of mobile rumors right now. Due next month, Samsung’s next flagship will be available in a bunch of varieties, complete with several new technologies as well as a great refreshed design. But we expect at least one new OnePlus phone to drop in the first half of the year as well, and the first leaks area already here. Before you get too excited though, you should know it’s not all good news.

OnePlus is widely expected to launch a OnePlus 5G phone, as well as the OnePlus 7 we all expect from the Chinese smartphone maker this year. But so far, we only saw a strange leak for one of these devices. A photo from an internal OnePlus meeting was shared online before Christmas, possibly revealing a few little details about an upcoming phone.

Meanwhile, a user on Slashleaks shared the following image, which was initially posted on Chinese site CoolAPK before being removed.

Image Source: SlashLeaks

In the image, we either have two unreleased OnePlus devices, or a new OnePlus handset (on the left) compared to the OnePlus 6T (on the right side). Both phones have time widgets that suggest the photo was taken before Christmas, as well as the expected “Never Settle” message.

What’s interesting about both devices is that they’re “wearing” bulky protective cases that are meant to hide the final design of a device. That seems to be an indication that the device on the right is new as well, as opposed to just being a OnePlus 6T.

The phone on the left side is the more exciting one, as we’re looking at a purported OnePlus handset without a notch. Yes, there’s what appears to be an inverted notch at the top that houses the top speaker. But it’s also incredibly small.
The screen extends from edge to edge, featuring minimal top and side bezels. The chin, which is what we call the bottom bezels, isn’t shown. Bottom bezels were a lot bigger on last year’s series of iPhone X clones than on the iPhone X.

Like I said before, it’s not all good news. That ugly protective case features cutouts at the top for the phone’s camera and other sensors, only there’s no camera present. It’s as if the protective case doesn’t fit the phone. Not to mention there’s no selfie camera to begin with. And here lies the potential problem with this possible OnePlus 7 prototype. What we’re looking at is a slider phone, the kind of device we saw from plenty of Chinese smartphone makers release last year, including OnePlus-sibling Oppo.

After the initial wave of iPhone X copycats launched in late 2017 and early 2018, we saw companies attempt to distance themselves from notch designs and create all-screen phone designs of their own. One of the design compromises they made was the slider. These phones look as if they have no front-facing camera, and that’s because the back half of the device slides up when the camera is needed.

I’m not a fan of this design and I hope OnePlus doesn’t go down that road. Yes, you get a sleek all-screen phone and the notch is gone. But there are a few reasons to avoid sliders. First of all, there’s the fact that slider mechanisms can break. Also, by going for slider phones, smartphone vendors will have a tough time ensuring the device is water-resistant, which is a great feature to have. Of course, we already know that OnePlus phones don’t have water and dust resistance, at least not officially, because that would make the phones slightly more expensive for consumers.

But the most important reason to avoid sliders is shown in the image above. That protective case is incredibly ugly, and that’s because it has to account for the slider. Commercial cases would not look anything like that, but they’ll still have to make various design compromises. Given that all flagship phones are made mostly of glass, you have a great reason to invest in protective cases in the first place. And that’s especially true if the following rumor is accurate.

As TechTastic just observed, Oppo has joined the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which means future Oppo phones may come with support for wireless charging. If that happens, then future OnePlus handsets may also get the feature. The two Chinese smartphone makers aren’t strangers, with OnePlus being on the receiving end of Oppo technology since they’re owned by the same company.

If you love wireless charging in phones, that’s excellent news. Sure, OnePlus has always defended its decision to stick with fast wired charging instead of supporting wireless charging, but that can always change.

Glass designs make features like wireless charging possible, of course. But that means both the front and rear glass panels of a phone can break during accidental falls, making repairs quite costly. To get back to the previous OnePlus leak, a glass-made slider OnePlus phone with wireless charging support could certainly use a protective case. And, again, protective cases on slider phones look different from regular cases. Here’s a video for an Oppo Find X case:

As always with early leaks, take everything with a grain of salt. We’ve got a long way to go until the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 5G phones launch, which means we’ll see plenty of leaks in the coming months.

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