IF ANYONE SHOULD HAVE the likes of Apple and Samsung worried, it’s OnePlus. The four-and-a-half-year-old Chinese firm consistently delivers handsets with flagship-worthy specs and flagship-rivaling price-tags, and the OnePlus 6 is no different.
Although slightly more expensive than the OnePlus 5T before it (£469 starting price, versus £449), the OnePlus 6 is, on paper at least, largely on par with the Galaxy S9+. It’s packing a Snapdragon 845 CPU paired with 8GB RAM (more than the S9’s 6GB), a 6.28in AMOLED display and an upgraded dual-camera setup, complete with – yes, you guessed it – new features for capturing high-quality, slow-motion footage.
However, in order to keep its flagship priced competitively, the OnePlus 6 has some glaring emissions. Despite it’s new, all-glass design there’s no support for wireless charging, and despite it being a must-have feature for many, there’s no added IP67 water resistance.
So, how does it stack up against the competition? We’ve spent a week with the OnePlus 6 to find out.
The OnePlus 6, as if to mimic the ceramic design of the OnePlus X, boasts a design that’s almost 100 percent glass, save for its painted aluminum edges. At 7.8mm thick the handset isn’t as wafer-thin as its similarly-styled rivals, but thanks to the curved glass rear and sturdy build, the OnePlus 6 feels just as premium in hand.
This new glass design has its downsides, though. It’s far more slippery than the OnePlus 5T and its iPhone-Esque cold metal design, although the OnePlus 6 does come surrounded by Gorilla Glass 5, so it feels like it’d withstand a fair few knocks and tumbles. What’s more, the glossy Mirror Black model quickly becomes coated entirely in fingerprints, so if you like your phone smudge-free, the Midnight Black and Silk White versions should be more fingerprint-resistant.
Some might also be disappointed by the handset’s lack of IP67 or IP68 certification, although OnePlus told INQ that the smartphone is our handset offers “improved water-resistance” compared to its predecessors.
Thankfully, OnePlus has kept the headphone jack, allowing you to plug in your 3.5mm accessories without the need for an adapter.
As well as shifting from metal to glass, OnePlus has repositioned the Alert Slider, which now sits on the right-hand side of the phone. The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner has also been redesigned, as has the vertically-aligned camera sensor that sits above it.
Despite boasting the same footprint as its 5T predecessor, the OnePlus 6 squeezes in a larger 6.28in 2280×1080 19:9 Full Optic AMOLED display.
Of course, as 2018 is the year of the notch, there’s an iPhone X-style display cutout at the top of the screen, where you’ll find the 16MP front-facing camera and speaker. OnePlus will yet you hide it if you prefer but we’d advise not to – with the notch enabled, the OnePlus 6 offers an impressive 84 percent screen-to-body ratio.
And as you would expect from an AMOLED panel, colors are vibrant and punch, and while brightness levels lack the dynamism of the Galaxy S9’s Super AMOLED display, it’s undoubtedly the most impressive screen to feature on a OnePlus phone yet
Performance and battery life
Under the hood, the OnePlus 6 packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU coupled with 8GB RAM, or 6GB if you opt for the 64GB model.
In terms of real-world performance, the OnePlus 6 is incredibly nippy and undoubtedly on par with its more expensive, Snapdragon-wielding competitors; and it is when it comes to benchmarking, too, earning a single-core score of 2,406 and a multi-core score of 9,408. This is largely in part due to the OnePlus’ stripped-back OxygenOS software; there are no unnecessary bells and whistles, and the OS is clean-cut, simple, and lacking in animations in order to keep the device as fast as possible.
We’ve now spent a week with the OnePlus 6, and we’ve noticed no lag, no stuttering and apps appear to open in an instant. We also didn’t encounter the ‘jelly-lag’ scrolling effect that plagued some earlier OnePlus devices.
The battery life of the OnePlus 6 is also largely on-par with its rivals, but that doesn’t mean it’s great. Middling use will see the OnePlus 6 make it into a second day before it needs to refuel, but if you’re using the handset for playing PUBG Mobile and streaming on Netflix,
While OnePlus made the (baffling) decision not to include support for wireless charging on the OnePlus 6, the firm’s upgraded Dash Charge tech is on offer, which lives up to OnePlus’ claim that it’ll give you a day’s power in half an hour.’
There’s not a huge amount to say about the software on the OnePlus 6 – and that’s by no means a bad thing. The handset runs Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, which comes skinned in OnePlus unobtrusive, largely stock OxygenOS.
As we mentioned previously, OnePlus’ stripped back skin adds no bloatware or unwanted apps, nor any unnecessary animations that could hamper the speed of the device.
There are a few added tweaks, though. The iPhone X-style gestures that came to the OnePlus 5 and 5T are here, and they feel more refined and, er, iPhone-ish on the tall 19:9 display. Much like on Apple’s latest flagship, you can swipe up from the bottom of the OnePlus 6’s display to return to the home screen at any time, while pausing in the middle will load the multitasking menu.
You can also draw a letter – such as ‘O’ or ‘S’ – to quickly fire up an app of your choice, but we quickly became bored of the gimmick after a few hours with the device.
The OnePlus 6 also gives you the option to hide or even switch off the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. The latter means you’ll use gestures that are available already on the 5T via a software update.
Other new software features include the option to prioritize bandwidth for multiplayer games such as, er PUBG Mobile over other background apps, and a Gaming Battery Saver setting for games built with Unity’s gaming engine.
Perhaps the best thing about the OnePlus 6 software-wise, though, is that early adopters of the handset will be able to download Google’s newly-released Android P beta onto the handset.
While the OnePlus 6’s camera sounds similar to that found on the OnePlus 5T, it has seen a couple of upgrades. The dual camera’s main 16MP lens has been swapped out for one that has a 19 percent bigger surface area, and OnePlus has reintroduced optical image stabilization (OIS) for the first time since the OnePlus 3T.
The main, f/1.7 camera is joined by a secondary, depth-sensing 20MP lens and the two modules now sit in a central vertical arrangement on the handset’s rear. The slightly revamped setup offers a noticeable improvement over the 5T, with the re-addition of OIS reducing camera shake and the consequent blurring.
This makes for much more balanced, detailed shots in less than ideal lighting conditions, and, in bright natural light, the OnePlus 6 produced bright, sharp images, that looked gorgeous on the handset’s punchy AMOLED screen. With the OnePlus 6, the firm has closed the gap between the Pixel 2 and iPhone X in the camera stakes.
With its latest flagship, OnePlus has also introduced slow-motion video recording, with the phone able to capture footage up to 480fps. While that’s somewhat lacking compared to the slo-mo smarts of the Galaxy S9 and Xperia XZ, OnePlus offers the ability to capture a full minute of slow-motion footage. While this will result in around 6 minutes of footage, the OnePlus 6 boasts its own video editing tool for chopping down.
Around the front of the OnePlus 6 sits a 16MP sensor capable of shooting portrait mode pictures that’s easily on-par with most, flagship-worthy front-facing cameras. On the OnePlus, this sensor also enables Face Unlock, which is a convenient, if not a slightly insecure way to unlock the device. We found it slightly slower than the fingerprint scanner, though, which OnePlus claims can unlock the device in 0.2 seconds.