Color-changing glass could reach more smartphones in 2021

OnePlus Concept One with the back side up 1

  • Chinese brand Nubia Red Magic has unveiled a color-changing smartphone.
  • The device apparently makes use of electrochromic glass to change its back plate from opaque to transparent.
  • Similar technology is expected to appear on more smartphones in 2021.

We’ve seen color-changing electrochromic glass appear on the OnePlus Concept One earlier this year, but it was unclear if it would be the next big design gimmick used in smartphones. Now, it looks like the technology could become a bit more common on devices in 2021.

In a video posted on Weibo (h / t: MySmartPrice), Chinese brand Nubia presents a Red Magic phone that apparently employs this technology. The phone in question has two strips of transparent panel on its back that highlight the innards of the device. At the touch of a button, the panels darken and hide the interior. Tapping the button again reverses the trick, showing the internals again.

It is unclear whether this device is a production example of an upcoming Nubian smartphone or just a concept or dummy test. However, the triple rear camera matrix resembles that of the Nubia Red Magic 5S.

Whatever the purpose of the device, there is no indication that the phone can switch to more exotic color combinations at will. The two options in the video are opaque or transparent, with nothing in between. However, Chinese rival Vivo showcased its color-changing glass technology in September, allowing that particular device to transform between silver and blue.

Of course, the use of technology from both Nubia and Vivo is purely aesthetic, but there are practical reasons for using electrochromic glass in phones. OnePlus’ use of the technology in the Concept One was doubled as a filter for its rear cameras, allowing for greater exposure control in bright scenes.

We’re likely to see more firms joining Nubia, Vivo, and OnePlus in the color-changing glass arena. According to insider Digital Chat Station, several other companies, including Oppo, are currently exploring the technology and plan to mass-produce devices with color-changing properties next year.

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