With the OnePlus 7 Pro finally becoming available starting today from T-Mobile, YouTuber Zack Nelson has wasted no time tearing down his Nebula Blue test unit to peel away that color in pursuit of a DIY "Clear" color variant.
While clear handsets offer a unique aesthetic and a look inside how things work, the process proves not to be recommendable for a number of reasons, despite how easy it appears to be. Not only does it require the removal of at least one feature. There are also pitfalls in place that could effectively ruin certain components if one isn't careful.
OnePlus could have made this easier
Peeling away the glass on the back panel and ensuring that the camera mechanism is visible is a tedious process, despite the small number of steps involved. After turning the device off and using a heat gun to soften the panels adhesive, a razor blade is used to cut away at the material because of the tight fit before twisting the panel away laterally.
That immediately brings to light the first problem with the process since the rear camera lenses are separated from the rest of the components. The outer pieces attached to the internal processing units via ribbon cable -- which summarily proved too easy to rip away from its connectors while peeling off the panel itself.
Underneath the glass, the battery is set on an easy-to-remove red pull tab and a single black separating layer that's removed via simple screws. The NFC antenna and other antennas are stored in that and the layer also blocks the view of the camera, so it has to be removed -- taking away one of this phone's features.
The color itself is not painted onto or infused into the frosted glass back panel, meaning that it can be peeled away fairly cleanly after applying some heat. The OnePlus Logo and OnePlus 7 Pro branding are etched directly into the glass. As Mr. Nelson notes, that means this handset could easily have been released by the company in a Clear color configuration by the company.
A clear adhesive -- in this case, double-sided tape -- is needed to snap everything back into place. That reduces the minimal protection against water and dust damage that might already have been built in but OnePlus hasn't provided any details about that aspect of its flagship.
About that camera
The primary purpose of the teardown and color removal was to show off the internals and the pop-up selfie camera OnePlus has included in the flagship. That's a one-third-inch Sony IMX471 sensor with 1µm pixels rated at 16-megapixels. More specifically, its fixed focus 25mm lens equivalent with an f/2 aperture and which happens to have managed a respectable third-place score of 86 on DxOMark's benchmark.
OnePlus appears to have been placed that camera on a simple brushless stepper motor system, meaning that a motor spins a threaded shaft in a stepping pattern to raise up a metal arm that's attached to the camera housing. The housing itself, as shown in a previous video from the YouTuber, is durable and comprised of metal. It requires a substantial amount of force to push back in.
A flexible ribbon cable rolls smoothly as the camera slips up and down. The whole mechanism should last around 300,000 operations -- approximately 5 years at 150 times per day -- but that hasn't stopped OnePlus from warning users not to operate it too frequently. To prevent heat building up from repeated use in a small time frame, using the camera that way causes a warning to crop up.