OnePlus 6 First Impressions

Posted on May 29, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 13 Comments

OnePlus 6 First Impressions

Announced recently in London, the OnePlus 6 delivers flagship-level specs and then some at very affordable prices, in keeping with the company’s strategy.

I’ve been fascinated by OnePlus since its inception and my experiences with previous handsets have been overwhelmingly positive. So I go into my coming review of the OnePlus 6 with big expectations.

So what’s new this time around?

First and most obviously, OnePlus has expanded its use of a modern, tall and thin display by stretching it even further to 6.28-inches—up from 6 inches in the OnePlus 5T—and a 19:9 aspect ratio, up from 18:9. For that to happen, of course, something had to give. And the OnePlus 6, perhaps not surprisingly, includes a notch at the top that houses the front-facing camera and some sensors.

OnePlus has defended its use of a notch, but I’ll hold off on the criticism—or the praise; we’ll see—until I’ve had more time to use the handset. But I know what to look for thanks to my previous experience with the notch-tastic iPhone X, and from testing Android P on the Google Pixel 2 XL with a software-based notch. It’s … there. And it’s the type of thing you get used to.

Beyond that distraction, the display is excellent. It’s described as a “full optic” 2280 x 1080 AMOLED display, and while that might seem somewhat low-res in this age of 3K and 4K displays, I find it to be rich and colorful. I watched part of Blade Runner 2049 and was briefly mesmerized by the picture quality. (I was less mesmerized by the single mono speaker, a curiously lackluster feature here in 2018. But at least the headphone jack remains.)

Unlike the Galaxy S9+, the OnePlus 6 display does not curve over the left and right edges of the phone. Instead, it sits within a very thin bezel that reminds me of that of the iPhone X, only much smaller. It’s like a more vibrant version of the Pixel 2 XL display, I guess.

The OnePlus 6 features an all-glass design, front and back, which is elegant but fingerprint prone. Fortunately, OnePlus provided five nice cases to test along with the phone, as it did with last year’s OnePlus 5T. I would never use an all-glass phone without a case.

Also, the device doesn’t support wireless charging, despite the glass. The bundled Dash fast-charger can provide hours of battery life in just 30 minutes, which is good. Just don’t drop the phone in water: It’s not waterproof, either.

Inside, the OnePlus 6 meets and exceeds the specifications of flagship handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S9+. It includes an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, as you’d expect in 2018, an astonishing 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of internal storage. (Some models include 6 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of storage.)

This the third OnePlus phone in a row to offer dual cameras, but the set-up has been a bit different each time. The OnePlus 5 included a wide-angle and a telephoto lens, the latter of which provided 2x optical zoom. For the 5T, OnePlus optimized the telephoto lens for low-light shots. And now the OnePlus 6 features dual 16 MP rear cameras with a f/1.7 aperture and larger sensors. Too, both cameras support optical image stabilization (OIS), plus smart capture, advanced HDR, and portrait mode capabilities.

The front-facing camera supports a Samsung-like Face Unlock feature that can be used alongside the more secure fingerprint sensor, which is again on the back and nicely separated from the vertically-oriented rear cameras. I did configure it, but I’d probably not use this feature normally.

The review unit is Mirror Black, which is described as ceramic-like but lighter. OnePlus also offers a matte Midnight Black color plus a cool Silk White too. But they tend to add other colors here and there over time as well.

From a software perspective, OnePlus continues its tradition of providing an even cleaner Android image than what Google provides with its own Pixel handsets. The icon style looks a bit old-fashioned to my eyes—maybe due to my recent experience with the Galaxy S9+—but I appreciate the lack of crap. And I am looking forward to testing some unique OnePlus features, like Gaming Mode and its navigation bar-replacing gestures, which can clear up even more on-screen real estate.

Like previous OnePlus handsets, the OnePlus 6 is a “global” phone, which means “everywhere but Verizon, Sprint, and other CDMA-based carriers.” It offers dual SIM slots, gigabit LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, and is carrier unlocked.

But the best news of all, of course, is the price.

As tested, the OnePlus 6 costs just $579. An iPhone X with just 64 GB of storage would set you back an astonishing $999, while a similarly-configured Galaxy S9+ costs $840. So you can see why OnePlus is so interesting.

More soon.


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