A few weeks after the OnePlus 8 Pro smartphone went on sale, reports started popping up that it came with a bonus feature — an X-ray camera. Sort of.
The phone has a 48MP primary camera, an 8MP telephoto camera, and a 5MP color filter camera — and that least one can allow you to see through some materials including certain plastics, liquids, and even thin clothing.
Unsurprisingly that last part… caused a bit of concern. So OnePlus has announced plans to temporarily disable the color filter camera through an upcoming software update.
Update: A OnePlus representative explains in a forum post that the company will push out a software update “in the coming weeks to offer the Photocrom filter while limiting other functionality that may be of concern.” The color camera filter is being disabled altogether in HydrogenOS until the update is available. But that’s the version of Android that ships with the company’s phones in China. OnePlus phones sold outside of China ship with a different version of Android called OxgyenOS, and the color filter camera will remain fully functional until the x-ray limiting update is available.
The original article continues below.
The color filter camera is supposed to let users apply color effects to photographs. But since it can capture infrared light, it turns out it’s able to see through certain items — a number of examples have popped up on social media, YouTube, and blogs in recent days.
For the most part, what you can see are outlines of the internal components of gadgets encased in black plastic. But the privacy implications of a phone that can snap photos showing what’s underneath some clothing could cause a bit of a public relations nightmare for OnePlus, so it’s unsurprising that the company is working to remove the feature.
What’s a little more surprising is that it’s not something OnePlus noticed before releasing the phone. This isn’t a feature that’s unique to the OnePlus 8 Pro — there have been reports for years about the ability of some cameras to use IR to see through clothes. But putting the feature into as innocuous-looking a device as a smartphone camera still seems problematic.
That said, it’s not like this is the only smartphone with a camera that can shoot use infrared to see through materials — it turns out you can use the Pixel 4’s face unlock camera to do the same thing.
As for OnePlus, the company says it plans to re-enable the color filter camera in the future after an update is available that can allow you to use it to add color effects to photos without the ability to use the pseudo X-ray vision feature.