As pop-up stores around the world put the latest OnePlus handset on sale today, and the rest of the world’s retail stores put it on sale tomorrow, what does the world’s press think of the OnePlus 6? The notch is on show, the dual lens camera is tested, and the all-glass construction help it stand out. is that enough? Let’s find out.
OnePlus is leaning heavily on “The Speed You Need” as the key marketing phrase, and the specifications bear that out. Much like many high-end handsets, the OnePlus 6 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, paired up with 6gB or 8GB of RAM, and internal storage options of 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB. The performance delves on expectations, as Mario Serrafero describes for XDA Developers:
I still think that getting the 8GB RAM model is unnecessary for most customers, and the Pixel 2 XL shows that there is still room for improvement when it comes to smoothness. But the Pixel 2 XL is the golden standard, and the truth is that the OnePlus 5T (at this point in time) and the OnePlus 6 are both reasonably close, to the point where a vast majority of users would be hard-pressed to spot differences.
For the first time OnePlus has a camera that is worth pushing heavily. Previously the camera quality was above average but a touch short compared to the major handsets. OnePlus has managed to get the OnePlus 6 closer to the high tide both in hardware and software.
Of note is the increased physical size of the sensor, as well as the inclusion of optical imaging stabilisation – which reduces the movement of the lens as a shot is taken, keeping everything stable and allowing less blurring to occur. MobileSytrup’s Igor Bonifacic takes a closer look at the camera:
Together, the result of all these improvements is not only the best camera system OnePlus has shipped to date, but a camera system that’s actually competitive with Android’s top-tier shooters. In my time with it, the OnePlus 6’s main camera produced incredibly detailed shots, even in less than ideal lighting conditions.
…Of course, the camera is not without its issues: its HDR functionality is not as robust the Pixel 2’s, with particularly challenging scenes causing it to blow out highlights, and it doesn’t include all the nifty features that come included with the P20 Pro. However, for the first time, it doesn’t feel like less than stellar camera quality is the trade-off you have to make when buying a new OnePlus smartphone.
Thanks to the six month refresh cycle that OnePlus employs, the OnePlus 6 draws an almost direct comparison to last year’s OnePlus 5T. Curiously the 5T is actually slightly smaller than the 6, but the 6 feels much larger because of the sheer amount of screen real estate on show at the front of the device. Daniel Bader covers the design elements for Android Central:
The OnePlus 6, despite sharing nearly identical dimensions with its all-metal predecessor, has gained a bit of thickness and a sizeable amount of weight, and that’s owing to its Gorilla Glass 5 housing, a first for the OnePlus series. It looks better than any OnePlus phone to date, for sure, but it also looks quite a lot like quite a few other phones on the market right now, including the LG G7, Huawei P20 Pro and, increasingly, others.
Such is the price of maturity, and the OnePlus 6 wears it well. Yes, there’s a notch on the 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED display, but the phone is no larger than the OnePlus 5T — OnePlus merely expanded the usable real estate.
And yes, there is a notch. Coupled with the option to use gesture swipes and turn of the Android navigation buttons, the OnePlus 6 UI can be incredibly clean and accommodating. It does take some getting used to, but in terms of a design goal of ‘all the screen if you want it’, this has been achieved. It’s clearly a compromise and will have a big impact on your purchase decision, as Ryan Whitwam explains on Android Police:
I don’t like the aesthetics of losing that chunk of screen, but the upshot is you can fit more display on the phone. Your status bar content shows up on either side of the notch (I’ll cover the specifics in the software section), so OP was able to push the ratio to 19:9. I might not love notches, but the taller screen is appreciated; you get more space without making the phone ungainly to hold. Consider, a 16:9 phone with a 6.3-inch display would be unpleasant to use because of the width. The notch makes room for the front-facing 16MP camera, earpiece, sensors, and notification LED. It takes up less than a third of the display’s width, so things could be worse if you’re generally opposed to notches.
And then there’s power. I’m personally disappointed that the OnePlus 6 hasn’t made the move to wireless charge. Instead the Shezhen-based company has continued its focus on rapid charing using its own proprietary cables and chargers. That offers a quoted “days power in half an hour” on the handset. The Verge’s Dan Seifert:
For stamina, the 3,300mAh battery in the OnePlus 6 keeps it going through a full day of use for me without issue. It doesn’t have wireless charging, even though it now has the glass back, but OnePlus’ Dash Charger is the fastest wired charging option you can get, which makes topping up the battery very easy, provided you’re using the cable and charger that come in the box.
Although the OnePlus 6 does not use the likes of AndroidOne, it’s variant of Android – OxygenOS – is an incredibly clean implementation of the mobile OS. Apart from ‘shelf’ of cards and widgets to the far left of the home screens, there is nothing on show that would scare a user. OnePlus engineers have also been testing the top apps in the play Store to ensure compatibility with UI elements such as the notch, as well as ensuring that there is no slack in the performance. Richard Lai for Engadget:
When it comes to software, you won’t find any AI gimmicks, bloatware or heavy skinning on the OnePlus 6; instead, you get a clean interface with a buttery-smooth response. I’ve been enjoying this Android 8.1–based OxygenOS a lot: I’ve yet to experience any lag or crash. Of course, Qualcomm’s top-tier Snapdragon 845 chipset plus the 8GB of RAM in my unit deserve some of that credit. OnePlus’s engineers have apparently labored over scrolling and transitions to make them as smooth as possible — and it shows.
Also part of the software is the face unlock. Introduced with the OnePlus 5T, this uses the forward facing camera (but no extra sensors such as those found in the iPhone X). It continues to be accurate and my other family members cannot fool it, but you’ll still need the more secure rear-mounted fingerprint sensor for financial transactions and signing in to certain services.
Although the price of the latest OnePlus handset has sneaked up a little on last year’s OnePlus 5T (and has been slowly inching up since the OnePlus 2), the OnePlus 6 remains competitively priced at $529. That baseline model has jumped over the $99 mark of the OnePlus 5T, but represented a significant saving on top line Samsung and Apple handsets.
But it’s not without compromise. Although the camera has improved it still misses out on that certain something to push it into challenging the top-line handsets. There is no IP rating for water or dust ingress and while it should survive a quick immersion I would have liked to have seen OnePlus reach the by-now defacto IP67 standard. And while the move to a glass backed device brings it into line with other fashionable phones, it also robs OnePlus of the signature metal back. But it still has a headphone jack, it retains Dual-SIM capability, and the OnePlus ‘three way’ slider for muting alerts or vibrations remains present.
This is a solid iteration on the OnePlus design. It moves with the times, although it doesn’t seem to have questions if the times are moving in the right direction. Yet the handset offers an experience that is almost at flagship levels, but for $300 less.