Here's what we want to see from the rumored OnePlus gaming phone

OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro
(Image credit: Magnus Blix)

Could popular Android phone maker OnePlus be working on a gaming smartphone? That's what a new rumor suggests, and it comes from a pretty compelling source. 

Digital Chat Station is a popular Chinese leaker with a great track record, and they recently posted on social media platform Weibo to give some juicy OnePlus information. Apparently, the company is working on a new line of phones "focusing on performance and gaming experience".

This would sit alongside the company's main series of phones of which the next, the OnePlus 10, is expected soon, as well as the OnePlus Nord range of mid-range and budget devices.

According to Digital Chat Station, a "flagship processor" and "high-quality direct screen" are OnePlus' priorities for the smartphone, which is... not exactly surprising, given those are two of the most important aspects for gaming.

But we've seen plenty of mobiles aimed at the gaming niche in our time, and some are far better for a quick game of Call of Duty: Mobile, a Fortnite stint or a long binge of Rome: Total War than others. In that spirit, here are some top features and specs we'd like OnePlus to introduce to make its rumored gaming phone competitive.

1. Physical triggers

Physical triggers can make such a dramatic impact on the way you play a game, that we're always surprised when gaming mobiles come out without them.

If you're playing a competitive online shooter, the ability to easily tap a button on the edge of the screen, instead of having to reach onto the display to press in a certain area, makes a marked difference in how well you can play.

It very literally means the difference between life and death in fast-paced matches, and we always find we perform better when using a phone with physical edge buttons.

Nubia Red Magic 6

The Nubia Red Magic 6 (Image credit: Future)

A great example is the Nubia Red Magic 6 - though it wasn't the best in the world in the software or camera departments, it was incredible for gaming, simply because it had easy-to-use side triggers.

We need to see this kind of feature in a OnePlus gaming phone to ensure it stands a chance against other rival mobiles that have this feature. It's not an unrealistic hope either, because OnePlus actually has designed clip-on triggers for mobile gaming that went on sale in India, so it's clearly something the company has considered.

2. A huge battery

Great gaming phones have bright, high-res displays with fast refresh rates, as that improves the way you game. According to the initial rumor, this is something OnePlus is already working on, but there's something else we need to see. A big battery.

Big screens can drain charge quickly, especially with flashy features like a high resolution and fast refresh rates, and we've been in countless games where a low-battery alarm will go off in the midst of a frantic fight.

If the OnePlus gaming phone is to impress us, we'd like to see a chunky power pack to keep it running through long gaming binges. We're talking 5,000mAh at a minimum, but maybe 6,000mAh or even higher if possible.

Charging speed isn't as important for gaming, though we're big fans of fast-powering phones in general.

3. A pop-up camera

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Traditionally, gaming phones have housed their front-facing cameras in the bezel, so no notch or 'punch-hole' has to break up the screen, which can be annoying for gamers. 

That's not always been the case though - for example, the Xiaomi Black Shark 4 has a punch-hole, which makes it far from ideal for playing games.

Admittedly phones with big bezels often look a bit old-school, as current design trends in mobiles have pushed towards minimal bezels. So it would seem there's no perfect solution...

...except there is, and it's one Lenovo stumbled upon. Its Legion Gaming Phone Duel has a pop-up section to hide the selfie snapper in the body of the phone, ensuring it's out of the way when you don't need it.

That's not a feature exclusive to Lenovo, and quite a few companies have experimented with pop-ups. Even OnePlus has, in the case of the OnePlus 7 Pro family.

So we'd like the company to dust off its pop-up tech for its gaming phone, so we can have an unbroken screen and minimal bezel.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.