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OnePlus 8 Pro ‘X-ray vision’ is going away soon

Updated May 19th, 2020 10:57AM EDT
OnePlus 8 Pro
Image: OnePlus

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  • OnePlus announced that a future software update will remove the X-ray vision color filter option of the OnePlus 8 Pro.
  • The feature went viral online after a few OnePlus 8 Pro owners found that the filter can be used to see through thin plastics and clothes.
  • OnePlus said that it’s looking to alleviate privacy concerns by temporarily disabling the feature.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The OnePlus 8 Pro’s crazy secret camera feature went viral a few days ago when several users discovered that you can use a color filter to see through some materials, including plastic and textiles. Several OnePlus 8 Pro users tried the trick, posting the results on social media. This X-ray vision mode is unique to the new OnePlus phone and seems to be a harmless gimmick. You can’t actually see through anything that matters. But it’s easy to understand why the feature could be upsetting to some people, and the Chinese smartphone maker is taking a cautious approach to the unexpected problem. The color filter will be removed via a software update.

OnePlus took to Weibo to apologize for “creating privacy concerns and causing troubles for OnePlus users and other netizens.”

OnePlus explains in the same social media post that it decided to temporarily remove the feature via a future software upgrade that should arrive next week. That means the color filter should return at some point in the future in a variation that won’t allow the camera to see through any materials. The apology letter doesn’t say when that will happen.

OnePlus does seem to indicate there may be fake photos circulating in the wild that show an inaccurate depiction of the filter’s capabilities, saying that it will take appropriate legal measures against them. As we’ve already explained, the camera can capture infrared light, and that’s why it can “see” through some plastic and some textile materials. The plastic has to be thin for the camera trick to work, and the color filter will not let you see through clothes like you expect. But we’ve seen examples of infrared light being able to “see-through” black t-shirts, like the image below.

OnePlus 8 Pro ‘X-Ray’ color filter camera trick in action on clothes.

That’s about all it can do, according to demos from various people who have tried the color filter once it became viral. The feature has no practical use out in the wild, except for showing it off to friends. But it’s easy to see how one could abuse the X-ray vision functionality to make it look like the phone can see through various objects. You’d need some knowledge on special effects, but you could make the OnePlus 8 Pro look like a device that can see through doors or walls, for example. And that’s precisely the kind of privacy issue that OnePlus is probably looking to avoid.

UPDATE: OnePlus clarified in a blog post, that the feature will only be removed in China:

We decided to temporarily disable this filter on HydrogenOS out of an abundance of caution about some false and misleading information circulating on social media in China. However, we do not plan to disable this filter on OxygenOS, our global operating system, so we can focus on bringing the OTA to you as quickly as possible.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.