[Update: China Only] The OnePlus 8 Pro’s color filter camera will be temporarily disabled in a future update
The OnePlus 8 Pro is OnePlus’ latest flagship and inarguably the best smartphone yet from the company. Users have been pushing for better camera performance on OnePlus flagships, and the OEM seems to have finally delivered with the OnePlus 8 Pro. Instead of using a 108MP Samsung ISOCELL sensor or a 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor, the OnePlus 8 Pro packs in a 48MP Sony IMX689 primary sensor, the consensus on which is that it is pretty good. Alongside this, the device also has a 48MP ultra-wide sensor, an 8MP telephoto camera, and a new 5MP Color Filter camera. The last sensor was written off as a gimmick until users found that they could see through some plastic objects, and shockingly, also through some thin clothing. Now, OnePlus has announced that it will disable the color filter camera temporarily in a future update.
The Color Filter camera was marketed as being able to apply certain false-color camera filters on the shot, extending it beyond what could be achieved through software filters. Using the new Photochrome mode on the OnePlus 8 Pro, the sensor could be used for infrared photography. The same use case was then found to be useful for seeing through some thin plastics, some fluids like red wine and coke, and through very thin clothing. The last bit is where it gets problematic, as it could possibly enable perverse and depraved behavior that violates the privacy of individuals. Needless to say, there was some action needed on this end.
In a Weibo post, OnePlus has apologized for this and announced that it would temporarily disable the color filter camera. The update to disable this camera will be delivered within a week in the Chinese region, and we presume the same will be rolled out to other regions as well. OnePlus hopes that this will be a temporary measure, and they will work on ensuring that the privacy concerns are addressed before re-enabling the color filter camera.
We do appreciate the company addressing these concerns. But, in the same conversation, this also entirely disables the functionality of the color filter camera, which is a hardware component that users are paying for, downgrading the OnePlus 8 Pro from a “quad-camera phone” to a “triple-camera phone” while still burdening it with dead weight in terms of component and cost. OnePlus should have been careful with the features it chooses to integrate into its phones, especially if it requires additional specialized hardware.
Update: China Only
OnePlus will only be disabling the OnePlus 8 Pro’s color filter camera in China, but it’s only temporarily. HydrogenOS, OnePlus’ Android skin for devices in China, will be updated within a week to remove the color filter mode. OxygenOS, the company’s skin for the rest of the world, will not have it removed. OnePlus is working on an OTA to fix the Photochrom filter so it won’t present any more privacy issues (seeing through very thin clothing being the top concern). That update, however, will apply to both HydrogenOS and OxygenOS. There’s no timeline for when to expect the update.