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This could be our first look at an upcoming midrange OnePlus phone

OnePlus might be gearing up to return to the midrange phone market next year. A new report by 91Mobiles and prolific leaker OnLeaks offers the first look at a supposed OnePlus 8 Lite, a relatively affordable option in the company’s forthcoming OnePlus 8 line of phones.

The OnePlus 8 Lite renders reveal a familiar all-glass glossy exterior with a hole-punch cutout in the center of the display and a rectangular array — similar to the rumored Galaxy S11 phones — of two cameras on the rear.

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It’s worth noting that the design shown here is in stark contrast to what the higher-end OnePlus 8 Pro is expected to have. A recent leak said the OnePlus 8 Pro’s punch-hole camera will be situated at the top-left corner of the screen instead of the middle and the rear camera bump will be largely identical to the existing OnePlus 7 Pro.

The rest of the OnePlus 8 Lite’s build will be straightforward. It has a USB Type-C port on the bottom, no headphone jack, and OnePlus’ signature alert slider for switching audio profiles. The absence of a traditional fingerprint sensor also means it will house one inside the OLED screen. Speaking of which, the report says the display will be about 6.4-inches tall.

The leak doesn’t shed much light on where OnePlus will cut corners other than the camera. If the company plans to price the OnePlus 8 Lite below the $500 mark, it’s likely the phone will run on one of Qualcomm’s many midrange processors instead of the flagship chipsets. It’s also possible the OnePlus 8 Lite may simply end up as an effort to streamline OnePlus’ growing banquet of models, especially in countries like India where it currently has the 7T Pro, 7 Pro, and 7T on sale.

A few weeks ago, another leak spilled the beans on OnePlus’ next flagship, the OnePlus 8 Pro. The phone is rumored to go official sometime in May of next year with a hole-punch display, a total of at least five camera sensors, wireless charging, and a 120Ghz 6.5-inch screen.

The last time OnePlus launched a budget phone was way back in 2015. With a starting price of around $240 and budget hardware, the OnePlus X didn’t do well and struggled to stand its ground against phones from companies like Xiaomi. As the competition heats up in countries such as India, OnePlus may be looking to expand into more price segments (or regain the ones it lost while climbing up the price ladder) on the back of its unparalleled foothold in the so-called “affordable flagship” bracket.

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