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OnePlus 10 Ultra could be on the way with a big camera upgrade

An official render of the OnePlus 10 Pro in Volcanic Black
(Image credit: OnePlus)

Could there really be a OnePlus 10 Ultra? Not only does this new rumor suggest there might be a model above the OnePlus 10 Pro, but it gives us a potential insight into what OnePlus could add to make its first Ultra-class handset.

TechInsider (via PhoneArena) posted a tweet with the images you see here, taken from a patent filed by OnePlus in September. While at first glance it looks like the OnePlus 10 Pro we're already familiar with, there is an important difference.

Illustrations taken from a OnePlus patent which seem to show a OnePlus 10-like phone with a larger periscope camera

(Image credit: TechInsider)

That would be the cameras within the overflowing camera bump on the top left of the phone's back. On the 10 Pro, there are four circles, containing three cameras and a flash module. In these illustrations, the bottom two circles are removed to make way for a rectangular camera opening with a long bar extending to the right side of the camera bump. There's also a small rectangle in the top right corner of the camera block that's not present on the OnePlus 10 Pro, which we presume to be the relocated flash.

A camera taking up this much space and using a rectangular opening suggests this would be a periscope telephoto camera. While the OnePlus 10 Pro uses a decently powerful 3.3x telephoto camera, that's not as high as some phones. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra for example is rumored to have a 10x optical zoom telephoto camera. Therefore, if OnePlus wants to go toe-to-toe in the "Ultra" phone segment, it needs more zoom power.

OnePlus is already partnered with camera maker Hasselblad for help with photography, but for hardware improvements, it need only look to its fellow phone company Oppo. Oppo and OnePlus merged last year, and while operating somewhat independently, are sharing a large amount of technology, such as fast charging and software. There's no reason why that couldn't extend to camera gear like Oppo's recently announced MariSilicon NPU chip for better image processing. Previous Oppo phones like the Oppo Find X2 Pro have used periscope zoom cameras too, so there's experience for OnePlus to draw on there.

While you can buy the OnePlus 10 Pro in China, a release for the phone in Europe and the U.S. is still in the vague near-future. We have wondered in the past if OnePlus would have a basic OnePlus 10 on offer alongside the OnePlus 10 Pro, but there are now more rumors of an Ultra model than a vanilla one at the moment. Assuming it would be priced competitively against the Galaxy S22, Google Pixel 6 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro, an Ultra phone from OnePlus could offer an excellent alternative for users while still being one of the best phones, or even one of the best camera phones, around.

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.