OnePlus teased an unexpected press conference a few days ago, saying that it will unveil a brand new product at CES 2020. At the time, I wondered whether the company would reveal one of the OnePlus 8 phones that has appeared in several rumors already, or perhaps a different product category altogether. After all, OnePlus is making TVs now, a move that suggests the Chinese smartphone vendor might explore other product categories in the future.
At the same time, we know that smartphones remain the company’s bread-and-butter. It turns out that OnePlus will indeed showcase a phone at CES 2020, and it will be a device unlike anything else in the industry. That’s because OnePlus will unveil its OnePlus Concept One phone at the trade show.
It’s not unexpected to see some smartphone makers, especially Chinese companies, unveil new mobile technology around CES and MWC every year. In early 2019, we did see two similar concept phones from two distinct companies: Meizu and Vivo. The Meizu Zero and Vivo Apex 2019 were both all-screen, button-less, port-less phones meant to highlight the kind of smartphone hardware we’ll use in the not too distant future. We told you at the time that several tech breakthroughs would be necessary to bring such a concept into reality.
With that in mind, it’s unclear what the OnePlus Concept One phone will look like. But from the sounds of it, this might be the first of a new generation of Concept phones that OnePlus could use to demo prototype technology.
OnePlus’s mantra has long been “Never Settle,” but the company often compromised on the kind of features it would offer buyers. The recent OnePlus 8 leak that revealed the specs for three 2020 phones — the OnePlus 8 Lite, OnePlus 8, and OnePlus 8 Pro — is proof of that. The phones still feature an IP53 rating for water resistance, compared to the IP67 and IP68 ratings of other flagships. Similarly, the three phones won’t support wireless charging or reverse wireless charging, features found on many other devices. With Concept phones, OnePlus could showcase the kind of high-tech, no-compromise devices it wants to make.
When it comes to phone design, the future of the smartphone is pretty clear. We want all-screen phones that have no bezels, and we want them to be made of durable glass. Add flexible screens to that, which could turn them into tablets, or more pocketable smartphones. We want fast connectivity, including Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, and we want longer-lasting batteries. We want more rapid wireless charging, of the long-distance variety if possible, and we want devices that won’t die when submerged in liquids. With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see what OnePlus has imagined for the future of the smartphone.