The Galaxy S9 has competition.
The company is now firmly in the same camp as the big boys; but can it compete with the like of the Galaxy S9 and the iPhone X where it counts?
OnePlus 6: Design
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the OnePlus 6 is how big the thing is. Although its actual dimensions aren’t particularly greater than the OnePlus 5T, it feels chunkier and more substantial in the hand. We should point out that this isn’t a criticism – it doesn’t feel cumbersome or overweight – but it does feel ever-so-slightly more unwieldy than its predecessor.
The rear camera has changed position, moving from the top-left corner of the device to the centre. The fingerprint reader, previously circular, has also been condensed into a more oval shape, and the alert slider – which is used to flick the phone between ring, vibrate and do not disturb settings – has been moved from the left side to the right, making it easier to operate with one hand (assuming you’re right-handed).
The phone is available in three finishes: matte-effect Midnight Black, glossy Mirror Black, and a limited-edition Silk White. Our pick of the three is the Midnight Black version – matte finishes have a more attractive, timeless look, and they also pick up fingerprints much less readily than anything polished.
Surprisingly, we were also very taken with the Silk White variant. We’re not usually fans of white devices, but the OnePlus 6 was very attractive indeed. This is largely down to the phone’s pearlescent sheen, which the company tells us is thanks to a layer of actual crushed pearls beneath the glass.
For the first time in OnePlus history, the company has gone with a glass chassis, using Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 for both the front and rear of the device. Interestingly, this includes the matte finishes too. While a glass back admittedly makes for a more eye-catching device, it must be said that it’s less durable than the traditional aluminium shell, so we’d recommend investing in a case if you’re prone to dropping your device.
OnePlus 6: Display
One of the OnePlus 6’s most immediately striking – and likely most contentious – features is its 6.3in edge-to-edge display, complete with iPhone X-style notch to house the front-facing camera, speaker and sensors. If, like us, you think the notch is a hideous, distracting blight on the face of your phone, fear not: OnePlus has added an option to hide the notch from view by bringing the notification bar down. This was added just a few weeks before launch, the company tells us, because the OnePlus community overwhelming hated the notch.
Otherwise, the screen looks great – the 2,280 x 1,080p AMOLED display is bright and clear, with vivid, vibrant colours. It certainly looks the business, and content like movies and pictures really pop.
OnePlus 6: Specs and hardware
Under the hood, the OnePlus 6 is packing some seriously top-notch specs. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 845 – the same processor found in the US version of the Galaxy S9, as well as the Asus ZenFone 5Z and the Sony Xperia XZ2. That’s backed up with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, depending on whether or not you opt for the top-end configuration with 256GB of storage.
That’s some seriously meaty hardware, and we’re expecting it to deliver big things. In fact, we’d be fairly confident in predicting that it will effectively match the Galaxy S9. Power has never been an issue for the OnePlus series, so don’t be surprised when this device easily keeps pace with much more expensive rivals.
OnePlus 6: Battery
All that power is bound to be taxing on the battery, so it’s slightly worrying that the OnePlus 6 features the same 3,300mAh battery capacity as the OnePlus 5 and 5T. The company assured us that, thanks to increased power efficiency in the CPU and GPU, the OnePlus 6 will actually have a 10% longer battery life but we’ve got some serious doubts about that claim.
Unsurprisingly, the new device supports OnePlus’ proprietary Dash Charge fast-charging technology, which provides a substantial boost from a relatively short charge time. Dash Charge has historically delivered on its promises, so we’re not expecting this iteration to be any different.
Sadly, the glass back means wireless charging won’t be making an appearance. This is a shame, as we’re fans of the added flexibility that wireless charging offers, but we can see the company’s point when it argues that adding wireless charging would push up the price without adding much real benefit.
OnePlus 6: Camera
The OnePlus 5T boasted an excellent camera, so we’re predicting big things from its successor. The OnePlus 6 once again uses a dual-camera setup, with a 16MP and 20MP sensor and an f/1.7 aperture for low-light photography. It also features improves slow-motion video capabilities, including the ability to shoot 480fps footage at 720p and 240fps footage at 1080p.
We haven’t had a chance to properly test the camera yet, but we’re expecting some big improvements, especially to the Bokeh-style ‘portrait’ feature that’s rapidly becoming a fixture of smartphone cameras.
OnePlus 6: Features
OnePlus has shied away from stuffing the 6 with flashy, attention-grabbing but ultimately useless features (we’re looking at you, Animojis). Instead, it’s opted for a number of sensible features that add genuine value. For example, it’s got dual-SIM support, as well as support for Cat 16 Gigabit LTE networking. It supports a huge range of different region bands, and it’s carrier unlocked by default.
On the subject of unlocking, the OnePlus 6 also features both facial and fingerprint recognition, which the company claims take 0.4 and 0.2 seconds, respectively. We were very impressed with the 5T’s facial recognition, so we’re expecting this implementation to be just as convenient.
Sadly, the OnePlus 6 is not fully waterproofed. Although the company says it’s improved the water resistance, thanks to foam and silicon around the main ingress points, it does not have a proper IP67 or IP68 rating to guarantee it against submersion. According to the company, it should withstand being caught in the rain, and will probably survive a dunk in the toilet (assuming you get it out and leave it to dry immediately), but there are no promises.
OnePlus 6: Verdict
OnePlus has carved out a stellar reputation in the smartphone arena, and it’s one that’s well warranted. Its products have historically been an excellent combination of power and price, giving the big-name competitors a real run for their money. Judging by what we’ve seen, the OnePlus 6 will be no different.
Boasting a top-notch processor, a gorgeous display and a highly competitive price, the latest OnePlus once again looks like the mid-range smartphone to beat.