At the very beginning of 2020, OnePlus proudly showed off its Concept One device in collaboration with McLaren. The phone’s major highlight was the electrochromic glass that could hide the cameras under the glass when not in use. I witnessed this concept in person and I still think to this day that the technology has a lot of potential in the world of smartphones. Well, it turns out a few other Chinese OEMs are willing to try it for mass production.
Popular tipster Digital Chat Station from China recently shared in a social media post suggesting a bunch of companies are going ahead with the electrochromic glass technology in 2021. The names include Vivo, Xiaomi, Meiza, and Nubia. There’s no information on which devices will use the tech and when could we get to see it. The testing of the phones using this tech is already underway.
Electrochromic glass coming to a smartphone near you in 2021
The tip from the Digital Chat Station isn’t new, given that Vivo already showed a prototype device employing an entire rear panel full of electrochromic glass. In its teaser video, the phone was shown changing its gradient hues to make itself distinct at the touch of a button. Hence, we could see the other doing a similar implementation of the technology on their devices.
OnePlus used the electrochromic glass in a different fashion to what Vivo showed on its device. The Concept One flaunted a leather back and only had a strip of the glass covering the triple camera sensors. When not in use, the camera sensor stayed out of sight to complement the design of the phone. Once the camera was opened, the glass made way for the sensors to see everything clearly.
Moreover, OnePlus used the electrochromic glass as an ND filter in the Pro mode. When employed, the glass helped to control the exposure as well as color tones, thereby giving a DSLR-like experience to mobile photographers. At the time, OnePlus said the technology was expensive and could take time before it becomes feasible for them to use in mass-market devices.
Weirdly, the list of the companies shared by Digital Chat Station doesn’t include OnePlus and Oppo. Does this indicate that OnePlus ditched the technology development given the cost-cutting measures in view of the COVID-19 limitations for the market? OnePlus has already severed its ties with McLaren and hence, we won’t be seeing the Concept One becoming a reality anymore.