OnePlus 8 Pro colour filter camera to be disabled – a matter of privacy

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Update (May 19): OnePlus has confirmed that the camera will only be disabled for the Chinese users and not for global users.

In an unsurprising turn of events, OnePlus will be disabling the colour filter camera on the 8 Pro via an OTA update this week, addressing the privacy issues that were raised by the early users.

The OnePlus 8 Pro has a quad-camera setup, with three lenses at different focal lengths and a fourth colour filter photochrom sensor. This was the first time a sensor of this nature featured on a smartphone. It was meant to turn ordinary scenes into “surreal landscapes”. Unlike regular cameras and the human eye, this sensor can see infrared light to create images with a particular look. However, early users soon found an alternate characteristic of this camera.

In certain scenarios, the colour filter camera can see through black plastics if they are thin enough. It started off as a cool experiment where users could see the insides of some electronics, but was soon found to be also able to see through fabrics. We don’t need to explain why this concerned users.

Addressing the issue, OnePlus took to Weibo to announce how this will be solved. It apologised to the users and said that privacy is of utmost importance. “In order to eliminate the impact on user privacy under possible extreme circumstances and eliminate everyone ’s concerns, we decided to temporarily disable the filter function through software upgrades.” This update will be pushed to users within a week.

However, OnePlus also stated that users have also enjoyed photochrom photography and don’t want to pull the plug on it. It will adopt new “technical solutions” and find a way to re-launch this feature in the future. 

It’s unclear as of now as to how OnePlus will be able to change how the colour filter camera functions, as it may be a hardware characteristic which may not be fixable via software. We will wait for further developments on the topic. It needs to be noted that the announcement has been made only in China for Hydrogen OS users. Specifics for the global users are yet to be shared.


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