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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Comments (13)

13 responses to “OnePlus 6 First Impressions”

  1. dcdevito

    I just don't see the benefit, it isn't enough for me to want a phone that has a notch. Give me a small bezel around the entire display and I'm happy. I really dislike Android P's notification tray without a notch as it only displays a few icons now.

  2. goodbar

    Why do they make glass phones... for once I'd like a phone that I don't need a case for..

    • skborders

      In reply to goodbar:

      My guess is for wireless charging their choices would be plastic or glass as a metal back would not allow it.

      Plastic is, well plastic, glass is more upscale in line with the price.

  3. obarthelemy

    Don't you have a spare $150 to test out a Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, and then give your opinion on whether OnePlus and such are worth the extra $400-$800 (that's 4x to 7x more) ? To me the answer has been a resounding NO ! for the past couple of years, except for special cases (mostly, low-light pics, but maybe also size or fashion and certainly security if you're worth targeting individually).

    I'm not against paying more money, but it has to empower me to do more stuff, or to do it better. I find high-end phones are not only overserving, but charging for their brand image. They even have stuff missing (SD, jack, IR, FM...) !!!

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to obarthelemy:

      Xiaomi doesn't sell phones in America. Also, most Xiaomi (and all Redmi) phones don't support LTE bands used by American carriers. Also, MIUI is a mess compared to "stock" Android, even though it clearly packs in a lot more features. Until those things change, you can't expect reviewers in America to mention Redmi phones.

      There is no configuration of the OnePlus 6 that costs $800, let alone $800 more than the Redmi Note 5.

      • obarthelemy

        In reply to MikeCerm:

        You can mail order them, it's like Amazon only it's Gearbest and it takes a bit longer. I've been doing that for 3 yrs and 5 phones now, with no problem (and 1 yr of warranty, which I did use once and was satisfied).

        Indeed there's an issue with US bands, only about half of them are here on the Redmi. My point is not so much about that specific phone for the US; it's about low/mid-range phones in général (and my pricing was about flagships in general too not just the OP, so $600 to $1k); and that specific phone for normal markets (so... everywhere but the US, bands-wise), a good part of Mr. Thurrott's readership isn't in the US; plenty if US sites and reviewers review Redmis. Xiaomi is now the 4th smartphone brand.

        I don't like MIUI either, I just substitute Nova Launcher which sets the home screen right. Pity it doesn't fix the crapware and the Settings.

        If not the Redmi Note 5, then a Moto Z3 Play on the same SoC is due soon.

        • CaedenV

          In reply to obarthelemy:

          Is the lack of bands really that big of a deal? It still makes calls and texts, outside of that, in the US you have WiFi everywhere. Its not like Asia and Europe where you hop on WiFi and get instantly hacked everywhere you go.

          I tend to agree, the OnePlus 6 is a pretty device, but not great. If they stuck with a plastic back it could be lighter, smaller, and more durable. And as you still need a case, it would look exactly like a glass back with a case... and it could be cheaper or have more profit.

          The notch is annoying and/or useless and just makes for a more complicated and expensive device where they could have used a more traditional design and gotten just as many sales with a bit more profit, or lowered the price.

          The lack of a headphone jack is also annoying. These phones are HUGE compared to phones of old. You cant tell me they couldn't figure out a way to fit a headphone jack in there.

          The lack of waterproof or water resistance is also a bit annoying. I use my phone in the tub on a fairly regular basis (reading, listening to podcasts, or playing games while I unwind), and need at least some resistance to water.

          I like OnePlus a lot (using an old 1+3 at the moment), but for being the low-cost option Xaomi is looking more and more like the better option for my next device. There are certainly still compromises to be made, but overall they seem to be better design choices.

          • MikeCerm

            In reply to CaedenV:

            The OnePlus 6 has a headphone jack. Also, check out JerryRigEverything's teardown on YouTube -- it is about as water resistant as any other flagship. It is not IP-rated, probably because they just don't want to deal with certification and repairs. (Fun fact: other manufacturers that claim IP certification still don't cover water damage in their warranty, so you shouldn't really treat them as waterproof.) The OnePlus 6 will absolutely survive a walk in the rain or a drop in the tub.

            I hated on notches as much as anyone, but I have found that OnePlus handled it well enough that you really don't notice it most of the time. It's a lot smaller than the one on the iPhone X, so all of the notification icons and signal indicators have no trouble fitting to either side. The screen absolutely does feel noticeably larger than a Samsung phone without a notch.

        • MikeCerm

          In reply to obarthelemy:

          I actually imported a Mi5 (not from Gearbest, but from a similar site). It took a month to arrive, and it was buggy enough that I never really could settle into using it as a daily driver. Would have been a lot better off with a Moto G5 Plus or something, but I was glad to have had the experience, so I can tell people in America not to bother. There are decent, cheap phones that you can buy in America, with US LTE bands, and without MIUI. Buy a Nokia 6.1 instead, or an Honor 7x if you don't care about stock Android.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to obarthelemy:

      I'll see what I can do here.

  4. bfarkas

    If this had wireless charging I’d be switching in a minute. Oh well.

  5. mikeharris123

    I have owned all the OnePlus major phones and I really like the pure plus Android experience. Always fast and regularly updated makes a huge difference. The value is also excellent while the features keep getting improved. The lack of wireless charging is not missed once you have used Dash charging and are back to 100% in 20 to 30 minutes