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OnePlus unveiling concept phone at CES 2020, and it may be a foldable

(Image credit: OnePlus/Weibo)

The CES trade show usually isn't a big event for smartphone reveals — that happens a month or so later at the annual Mobile World Congress. But at least one phone maker will be in Las Vegas next month to show off a new concept design.

OnePlus, the upstart phone maker that launched six years ago and now finds itself going toe to toe with the top Android phone makers, says it will show off a concept phone at CES. The device, the OnePlus Concept One, will be the first concept phone the company has ever designed.

In addition to announcing its concept phone plans, OnePlus posted a short and not terribly illuminating teaser video for the Concept One on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo.

There's very few details hinting at what to expect from the Concept One, though speculation will naturally turn to a foldable phone. Both Samsung and Huawei have already released their own foldables in 2019, and Motorola's foldable Razr handset begins presales on Dec. 26. A foldable concept phone from OnePlus would indicate that the phone maker is ready to jump on what figures to be an ongoing trend for devices in 2020.

OnePlus' own teaser video may fuel that foldable phone speculation, at least if Google Translate is accurate. The translation service says that the captions in OnePlus' video read "Variable design, variable future."

For its part, OnePlus says in its Concept One announcement that this is just the "first in a series to come," and that its concept device will bring users "an even smoother, faster, and more 'burdenless' experience."

In just the past year, OnePlus has released the OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7T, both of which feature screens with faster 90 Hz refresh rates. (A 60 Hz refresh rate is typical for most smartphone displays.) OnePlus has also rolled out 5G-capable phones, and it's poured a lot of effort into developing fast-charging technology that helps its phones top off their batteries faster than rival handsets.

It's unclear how much of a concept phone the Concept One will be — that is, whether this is a device that finds its way onto retail shelves or if its features simply show off what OnePlus might do with future phones. The device could offer hints as to what OnePlus has planned for the rumored OnePlus 8, its next flagship phone that's likely to arrive later in the spring of 2020.

So far, rumors suggest that the OnePlus 8 could add more cameras, like a time-of-flight sensor the back of the phone or a second front-facing lens. We'd also expect the OnePlus 8 to run on the newly unveiled Snapdragon 865 chipset from Qualcomm.

CES 2020 runs from Jan. 7 to Jan. 10, so we'll expect to hear more about the OnePlus Concept One then.