OnePlus 7: has OnePlus really entombed its next 5G flagship phone in plastic like Han Solo at MWC?

OnePlus has allegedly brought its next-generation hardware to Barcelona ‘disguised’ in a rather basic plastic case

TODO alt text

OnePlus has unveiled its first 5G-enabled smartphone ... well, sort of.

The Shenzhen-based company has brought its latest prototype to the Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona – and locked it away from competitors' prying eyes.

Samsung employed a similar technique with its Samsung Galaxy Fold, which was briefly unveiled at the annual developer conference in a boxy protective case months before its announcement at Galaxy Unpacked last week.

OnePlus has done an annoyingly good job at disguising its new 5G-enabled smartphone, which could cost as much as £1,000 when it launches, so it's tough to work out much about the forthcoming flagship. 

However, the next-generation handset appears to have a much taller display than previous OnePlus devices. Admittedly, it doesn't look as tall as the new Sony Xperia line-up, which boasts a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio, but taller than the OnePlus 6T.

Squinting at the OnePlus prototype encased like Han Solo, we couldn't see a hint of a notch. That suggests the latest leaks, which claim the OnePlus 6T successor will drop the notch design entirely in favour of a sliding drawer mechanism to house the front-facing cameras and speakers, could be on the money.

The 5G-powered smartphone is fuelled by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 system-on-a-chip. To demonstrate the potential of 5G networks, OnePlus is using the device to stream a graphically-intensive mobile game to the handset in real-time. Based on our time at the stand at Mobile World Congress, there wasn't any noticeable lag or stuttering in the gameplay during the intensive aerial dogfights on the game.

5G could enable cloud-based video game libraries to thrive. Players only need a screen – or gamepad, since all the processing is handled off-site. This opens up the possibility of playing colossal console-quality games that would usually overwhelm a smartphone processor.

Whatever the next OnePlus phone is called, the company today confirmed it will utilise Qualcomm's Snapdragon elite gaming features and optimisations so that smartphone owners can "experience high definition and low latency cloud gaming like never before".

Another prototype device at the same MWC stand shows a live feed to display messages left by OnePlus community members on the OnePlus “Say Hello to 5G” community page. Attendees could input a URL into the web browser to visit the site and leave a message.

OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau said: "5G is a game changer. It can change everything from gaming to communication, to health and beyond. More than that, it can perform several, or all, of these at the same time.

"One great example of how 5G will change the world is gaming. 5G’s dramatic improvement in speed, latency, and network capacity can truly fulfil the promise of cloud gaming. Combined with powerful OnePlus devices, people can play advanced games anywhere they are, provided they are on a 5G connection."

Lau also confirmed that OnePlus 7 will not support wireless charging.