The coolest thing OnePlus is showing off at MWC 2023 isn't a phone

OnePlus 45W Liquid Cooler with phone handheld
(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

Early on February 27, we brought you our complete OnePlus Pad review and a close-up look at the OnePlus 11 Concept; after spending some time with both ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show, taking place in Barcelona.

Now that the doors on MWC have officially opened, however, we were also fortunate to come across another 'cool' OnePlus gadget that – like the OnePlus Pad – should be coming to market very soon.

While we've seen liquid cooling on desktop PCs and even the occasional laptop (like Asus' GX700, which was first introduced way back at IFA 2015), we've never seen a dedicated liquid cooling system for a smartphone like this before.

Although OnePlus' 11 Concept is the company's showcase of integrated liquid cooling, there's no time frame on when such technology will make it into a consumer-ready device. That said, on the OnePlus booth at Mobile World Congress, we were introduced to the OnePlus 45W Liquid Cooler – an external cooling unit with a specialized reservoir and phone grip that can attach to almost any smartphone and suck heat away from a hard-working chipset in an instant.

The unit itself is a TEC (a semiconductor-based Thermo Electric Cooler), a water-based system with a tube (in OnePlus' signature red, of course) leading to what it calls The Clip. This sprung phone grip weighs just 75 grams and measures 51mm wide, in order to remain unobtrusive when in use, while what's thought to be a ceramic pad on the inside of The Clip allows for rapid heat transfer.

As well as holding the reservoir and chilling the water, when pressed, a single button on top of the unit switches between four cooling levels, which also effects the system's loudness too.

Who wants liquid cooling on a smartphone?

OnePlus says that its OnePlus 45W Liquid Cooler is able to cool a device by up to an impressive 20°C / 36°F, which would make a huge difference when running intensive games, shooting high-resolution video for extended periods of time or taxing the phone's silicon in other ways.

A quick real-world test revealed that The Clip will just about handle a Google Pixel 7 Pro (without a case), when carefully slid in, top-down, so any phone that measures 76.6mm or narrower should be able to benefit from the the cooler's chilling properties, and that's perhaps the big hook here.

While some of the best gaming phones – such as Asus' ROG Phone 6D Ultimate - come with dedicated integrated and external cooling systems, OnePlus' solution is device agnostic. While there's no doubt the company would love you to use it with their latest flagship (check out our OnePlus 11 5G review, for more on that), the ability to apply this next level cooling to any smartphone that fits is perhaps its biggest strength.

Note: Not long after OnePlus showed off its cooler, sister company Oppo showed off the similarly-styled external Oppo 45w Liquid Cooler, which delivers the same experience but replaces The Clip with a magnetically detachable wireless charging cooling plate.

Alex Walker-Todd
Senior Phones Editor

Alex joined as TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor in June 2022, but brings over a decade's worth of experience to the role, with an expertise in smartphones, tablets and wearables. He's covered keynotes hosted by the biggest brands and attended the launches for some of the most influential mobile products of the last few years. His experience was amassed at some of the most reputable consumer technology publications out there, including GSMArena, TechAdvisor and Trusted Reviews.