OnePlus Z could crush Google Pixel 4a with this huge camera upgrade

OnePlus Z could crush Google Pixel 4a with this huge camera upgrade
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The OnePlus Z is almost here, if recent rumors are to be believed. But when the lower cost phone from OnePlus arrives, could it be bringing more camera lenses than initially expected?

That seems to be the expectation after an online phone leaker posted a tweet hinting at four lenses slated for the upcoming OnePlus Z phone. That's one more than we had anticipated, since the high-priced OnePlus 8 Pro is the only OnePlus handset with a rear quad-camera array these days. And it could position OnePlus' midrange phone as a serious threat to Google's Pixel 4a.

The tweet itself, from leaker Max J., doesn't even mention the OnePlus Z by name. Rather, it just says "Soon," with four camera lenses where the Os should be.

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That's pretty thin backing for a phone rumor, until you consider that Max J. has been one of the more prominent sources for material on the OnePlus Z, the smartphone maker's rumored return to lower cost devices after this spring's OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro cost $699 and $899, respectively.

The OnePlus 8 Pro features a 48-megapixel main camera, augmented by 8MP telephoto, 48MP ultra wide and 5MP color filter lenses. There are just three cameras on the OnePlus 8 — a 48MP main sensor joined by a 16MP ultra wide angle lens and a 2MP macro camera. Considering the rumored price tag for the OnePlus Z — it's expected to cost anywhere from $499 to $649 — we would have thought the camera array would more closely resemble the triple-lens setup on the OnePlus 8.

It's possible that OnePlus figured out a way to add a fourth lens while still keeping the starting price on its budget phone low enough to appeal to users who thought the OnePlus 8 family cost too much. But until there are some actual specs to back up the quad lens rumor, we'd still expect the OnePlus Z to follow the OnePlus 8's lead on cameras. Previous OnePlus Z specs leaks had suggested the phone was set to feature a 64MP main lens, along with a 16MP ultra wide shooter and 2MP macro camera.

The OnePlus Z could mean serious trouble for the Google Pixel 4a, which is expected to pack only a single 12.2MP sensor based on Google's history as well as recent leaks. However, Google's renowned AI camera smarts could keep the latest low-cost Pixel competitive. 

The OnePlus Z is expected to debut in July, possibly launching as the OnePlus Nord. The phone's expected to use a Snapdragon 765G chipset, which would allow it to connect with 5G networks, while still keeping the price low — much like the new Samsung Galaxy A71 5G.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.