Update, June 5, 2020 (05:00 PM ET): The OnePlus Z will likely land in one country before any other, and it also might have a better CPU than we originally thought. Read on for all the latest!
Original article, April 17, 2020 (09:25 AM ET): The OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro are now official, marking the firm’s first phones of 2020. But we’ve also been hearing about a mid-range OnePlus phone for months now, tentatively known as the OnePlus Z.
The company’s last mid-range phone was the OnePlus X back in 2015, so this is clearly a big deal for the budget-conscious fans of the brand. It’s an even bigger deal when we look at the OnePlus 8 series’ pricing.
So is the OnePlus Z shaping up to be a worthy successor to the OnePlus X? Here’s everything we know (or think we know) about it so far.
Name and release date
When leaks first showed us a mid-range OnePlus phone, we didn’t have a name to go with the renders. Instead, people took to calling it the OnePlus 8 Lite.
XDA Developer‘s Max Weinbach broke the news of a proper name at the end of March when he claimed that the upcoming phone is actually called the OnePlus Z. This claim was corroborated by fellow leaker Ishan Agarwal.
The source referred to it as “OnePlus Z” and said the hardware matched the previous OnePlus 8 Lite render. https://t.co/zB5PN9nQjW
— Max Weinbach (@MaxWinebach) March 28, 2020
We expected to see the OnePlus Z launch alongside the OnePlus 8 series on April 14, but that didn’t happen. OnePlus then teased a product announcement at its Chinese launch on April 16, but the phone didn’t appear here either.
According to my sources, that model was initially planned to be unveiled along with the #OnePlus8 series during yesterday’s event but has been postponed (at least to upcoming summer) due to #CoronaVirus situation…
— Steve H.McFly (@OnLeaks) April 16, 2020
Serial leaker Steve ‘OnLeaks’ Hemmerstoffer then claimed that the OnePlus Z has been delayed to a summer launch window at the very least. Hemmerstoffer said this was due to the coronavirus pandemic, citing his own sources.
However, fellow tipster Ishan Agarwal previously claimed that the device would launch in most regions by July. So it’s entirely possible OnePlus always planned to launch it after the OnePlus 8 series. A July launch was also touted by frequent leaker Max J on Twitter.
OnePlus Z design
The upcoming OnePlus phone first leaked in December 2019 courtesy of OnLeaks on Twitter in partnership with 91mobiles. These renders (seen above and below) show a phone with a centered punch-hole display, a possible glass back, and what could be an alert slider like other OnePlus phones.
Unfortunately, these renders don’t seem to show a headphone port, which is a big disappointment. We’ve seen flagships ditch the port in recent years, but mid-range devices have largely kept it.
There are a couple of differences between these renders and the OnePlus 8 series designs though. For one, the punch-hole cutout is in the center here rather than off to the left. It also looks like we have a dual-camera setup rather than a triple or quad camera as seen on the OnePlus 8 series. And this camera housing is off to the side rather than center-mounted like its flagship stablemates.
We also saw an image emerge earlier this year (seen below), with some claiming that this is a OnePlus Z in the wild. The picture shows three rear cameras instead of two as seen in the OnLeaks renders.
The source for the above image is actually OnePlus itself, as the firm held a livestream with executives and seemed to show off dummy models (see the 29-minute mark). We doubt OnePlus would show off dummy models if the designs were representative of future products in the first place.
True-Tech also posted a real-world image apparently showing the OnePlus Z, and it’s pretty much in line with previous renders. Check it out below.
The image shows a center-mounted display cutout as well as a flat screen, but it also seems to suggest that an in-display fingerprint sensor will be aboard. That technology is only compatible with OLED screens for now.
Specs and features
The OnePlus 8 series packs some impressive specifications, such as a Snapdragon 865 processor, plenty of RAM, and even wireless charging and an IP68 rating for the Pro model. We can’t expect these features in the OnePlus Z, given the apparent lower price tag.
Leaker Ishan Agarwal and 91mobiles gave us a potential look at the OnePlus Z specs, claiming that it will offer a MediaTek processor and a 90Hz display refresh rate. Previous rumors pointed to a MediaTek Dimensity 800 or Dimensity 1000 chipset, which means this phone could have 5G as well.
The Dimensity 1000 is a flagship-level processor in many ways, offering the latest Arm CPUs and machine learning silicon, but a slightly weaker Mali-G77 MP9 GPU when compared to the Exynos 990. Meanwhile, the Dimensity 800 is more in line with the Snapdragon 765 series, packing a competitive octa-core CPU (four Cortex-A76 and four Cortex-A55) and Mali-G77 MP4 graphics.
However, sometime later, a new rumor popped up suggesting that the OnePlus Z could instead be powered by a Snapdragon 765. It’s not clear if OnePlus possibly planned on using MediaTek and then switched, if it always planned to stick with Qualcomm, or if the rumors aren’t true and MediaTek is still the plan.
Other apparent specs include an in-display fingerprint sensor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 256GB of storage, a 4,000mAh battery, and 30W charging. The duo also report that the new phone will pack a 48MP+16MP+12MP rear camera trio, but the OnLeaks renders only seem to show a dual camera setup.
OnePlus Z price and availability
Once again, our main source for OnePlus Z pricing and availability leaks comes from Agarwal, and he claimed that the phone would be available in most markets by July. This July launch window was echoed by Twitter leaker Max J — check out his tweet below.
— Max J. (@MaxJmb) April 28, 2020
Agarwal further alleged that the phone would retail for around £400 (~$498) in the UK. For what it’s worth, the cheapest OnePlus 8 model in the UK starts at £599 (~$745). The UK pricing likely isn’t in line with other regions, but it does suggest that we should expect a difference of ~$200 at the very least.
Nevertheless, it seems like those hoping for a $250 phone like the OnePlus X are likely out of luck. Although there are indeed plenty of quality phones hovering around this price point in 2020.
As for release areas, an interview with OnePlus CEO Pete Lau gave us a bit of a hint. During that interview, Lau suggests that a cheaper OnePlus phone will land in India first before making its way to the rest of the world. While Lau doesn’t specifically say which phone he’s talking about, it’s highly likely it’s the OnePlus Z.
That’s about it for our OnePlus Z rumor hub! Spotted any other leaks? Then let us know in the comments!