The OnePlus Z — the next smartphone reportedly in the works from OnePlus — could be a return to form for a phone maker that rose to prominence by building flagship-killing phones that delivered high-end capabilities without equally high price tags.
OnePlus Z cheat sheet: What you need to know
• Release date: Reportedly July 2020
• Price: Likely under $600
• Screen size: 6.4 inches
• Key features: 5G connectivity, Snapdragon 765G chipset, 90Hz display, multiple rear cameras
Recent releases, like the OnePlus 8 Pro, certainly deliver on great specs and performance, but it's on the pricey side at $899. Even the $699 OnePlus 8 is more expensive than many other OnePlus models.
So how does a company keep adding premium features without totally ignoring the segment of smartphone shoppers first drawn to OnePlus in the first place? If rumors are true, OnePlus will do so by holding the line on price, even if it means the upcoming OnePlus Z will drop a few of the fancier features it introduced in its OnePlus 8 releases.
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We're expecting to see the lower cost OnePlus Z arrive sometime this summer, after rumors about such a phone emerged late last year. What should you expect from the next phone from OnePlus? Here's what we've heard about the OnePlus Z, including rumors about its release date and potential specs.
OnePlus Z latest news (Updated June 2)
- Leaked OnePlus Z benchmarks show the phone powered by a Snapdragon 765G processor with 12GB of RAM.
- The OnePlus Z has been seemingly confirmed by OnePlus CEO Pete Lau. According to a new report, the company will return to making more affordable phones.
OnePlus Z name: The new OnePlus 8 Lite
When we first started hearing rumors about a budget option from OnePlus, most of the reports described the phone as the OnePlus 8 Lite. The name made sense at the time — the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro were still in the works, and it seemed possible that a Lite version would debut alongside those two models.
Well, the April 14 launch event for the OnePlus 8 lineup came and went, with no Lite phone. So that leaves us still anticipating the arrival of the OnePlus 8 Lite — though it sounds as if OnePlus is taking a different approach with the name.
In late March, phone leaker Max Weinbach tweeted that OnePlus would adopt a new name for its budget phone: the OnePlus Z. That's actually a callback to OnePlus' past. In 2015, the phone maker released a device called the OnePlus X that it sold as a lower cost version of the company's main flagship. The OnePlus Z name might signal a return to that approach.
OnePlus Z release date
Since the OnePlus Z was a no-show in April, when might OnePlus get around to rolling out a budget version of the newly released OnePlus 8 flagship? The phone maker typically goes 6 months between device launches with a "T" version of its spring flagship launching in the fall and delivering improvements on features like camera, battery life and more. (And we've also been monitoring OnePlus 8T and OnePlus 8T Pro rumors about those potential late-2020 releases).
But OnePlus' T devices are usually variations on its flagships, not budget versions like the OnePlus Z is rumored to be. So that phone could be on a different release schedule.
pic.twitter.com/wcD3wH4bVbApril 28, 2020
A tweet from Max J. — another one of those anonymous leakers who takes to Twitter to post details about upcoming phones — featured an image of what looks to be a OnePlus Z promotional graphic touting a July 2020 launch date. It's unclear if that graphic comes from OnePlus itself or from someone's fertile imagination, but a July release date is evenly spaced between this spring's OnePlus 8 rollout and the potential OnePlus 8T debut later in the year.
One thing to keep in mind is that coronavirus pandemic has disrupted phone makers' launch plans this spring. The low-cost Pixel 4a's release keeps getting pushed back — it may finally happen in July now, according to one rumor — and even the iPhone 12 might not launch until October. There's no word on whether OnePlus might face similar delays with future phone launches, but it's worth keeping in mind.
OnePlus Z price
All we've heard about the OnePlus Z's price comes from a leak back when the phone was still being touted as the OnePlus 8 Lite, and they're based on posts at an online store called GizTop that showed off specs and prices for OnePlus' upcoming phones. The OnePlus 8 Lite was listed at $499, but we wouldn't bank on that being the actual price. That same store posted prices of $549 and $799 for the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro and those figures turned out to be $100 to $150 off the actual prices.
That said, a price difference of $50 to $150 between the OnePlus Z and the $699 OnePlus 8 would mean the budget phone would cost anywhere from $549 to $649. That might not be a bad range to keep in mind until we hear more concrete leaks about the phone's price.
OnePlus Z design and display
We'd expect the OnePlus Z to look a lot like the OnePlus 8 lineup that just debuted, but design and display are two areas OnePlus might cut corners to keep costs down. Instead of the AMOLED panels and glass materials used in other OnePlus phones, the OnePlus Z could instead turn to an LCD screen — a typical move for phone makers producing budget phones.
That said, that old listing for the OnePlus 8 Lite suggested the phone would have an OLED screen along with the faster 90Hz refresh rate that's been a staple of recent OnePlus releases.
Regardless of what kind of display the OnePlus Z features and how fast it refreshes, it's likely to be smaller than what you see on the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. Rumors pointed to the OnePlus 8 Lite sporting a 6.4-inch panel. While that's smaller than the 6.55-inch screen on the OnePlus 8, the disparity isn't as big as the 4.7-inch display on the iPhone SE 2020 and the rest of Apple's iPhone lineup.
TrueTech has posted a photo that reportedly shows off the OnePlus Z, and if it's accurate, it gives us an ideal of how this budget phone might differ from the OnePlus 8 lineup. For starters, the screen is flat, not curved as it is on the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. The front camera cutout is now in the top center of the display instead of in the left corner, and the bezels seem a little bit more noticeable.
OnePlus Z processor, camera and other specs
Rumors are a little bit more definitive here, where the OnePlus Z is likely to feature a less powerful processor than the Snapdragon 865 chipset that powers the more expensive flagships in the OnePlus lineup.
The same sources who've been talking about the OnePlus 8 Lite specs suggest the OnePlus Z will have a MediaTek Dimensity 1000 system-on-chip. But a newer leak has said the OnePlus Z will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G system-on-a-chip. That's a mid-range chip sitting below the Snapdragon 865, but still promises solid performance for most smartphones tasks, as well as 5G connectivity. Qualcomm has since come out with the Snapdragon 768G, which features a faster clock speed for the chipset's main core, plus more graphics improvements.
None of these chipsets would be as powerful as a top-of-the-line Snapdragon processor, but they all include 5G modems. That would allow the OnePlus Z to join the ranks of 5G phones that cost less than $600, which is expected to grow as 2020 goes on.
If you want more evidence as to what processor the OnePlus Z will use, leaked benchmarks show the phone powered by the Snapdragon 765G and 12GB of RAM. As you'd expect, the multicore result of 1,995 for the rumored OnePlus Z can't keep up with Snapdragon 865-powered phones, but it outpaces other midrange Android devices.
Lingering OnePlus 8 Lite rumors had that phone getting multiple rear cameras, something we'd expect the OnePlus Z to carry over. Some rumor mongers have suggested the OnePlus Z might have a similar camera setup to the OnePlus 8, which blends a 48MP main camera with a 16MP ultra wide-angle shooter and 2MP macro lens.
OnePlus Z battery and charging
OnePlus has been increasing the size of the batteries powering its smartphones as of late, in part because of the extra power 5G connectivity requires. The OnePlus Z could see a 4,000 mAh battery, which wouldn't be as big as the 4,300 mAh power pack in the OnePlus 8, while still giving you enough charge to theoretically get through the day.
We would expect OnePlus' budget phone to still include the company's Warp Charge 30T technology for faster charging. However, we would not expect wireless charging, which for now is limited to the premium OnePlus 8 Pro.
OnePlus Z outlook
Given that we knew a lot about the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro prior to the release of those phones and that OnePlus can't resist confirming select details about its upcoming handsets, we'd expect the details surrounding the OnePlus Z to become a lot clearer as we get closer to that rumored summer launch date.
Whatever specs the company does settle on, we hope it puts the focus more on price with this particular phone. We know that OnePlus can pack a lot of features into a phone; we're hoping the OnePlus Z can remind us of the company's ability to do that without driving up the phone's cost.