OnePlus 6T Check-In: In-Display Fingerprint Reader

Posted on November 8, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 8 Comments

Going into this, I was told to expect that the in-display fingerprint reader was a bit slow, and so I adjusted my expectations accordingly. Well, here’s a pleasant surprise. It works just fine.

In fact, the only real issue I have with the fingerprint reader is that I’ve developed years of muscle memory: To me, the fingerprint reader should be in the back. Is in the back. So when I pick up the handset, my index finger naturally slides into position … and, in this case, covers the flash, which is right below the camera system. Which is exactly where I don’t want my finger.

Granted, this is a temporary problem: Anyone switching to the OnePlus 6T would simply get used to how this phone works and would develop new muscle memory. For me, however, this one is tough as I move between phones a lot. And the fingerprint reader is always on the back. Except on this one phone.

Evaluating the speed at which it works is a bit difficult. I suppose I could enroll a finger on my left hand so that I could perform side-by-side tests. But I’m not sure it’s necessary. It just seems to work quickly. Due to some combination of factors, it’s probably a hair slower than the OnePlus 6 or Pixel 2 XL fingerprint reader, if you’ll excuse the use of such a highly-scientific term. But it’s not really all that noticeable.

Or, perhaps I should say that it really is noticeable, because the speed at which this works is a happy surprise. And is something I’ve noticed. Something I have remarked on repeatedly.

This is a big deal for me, as it addresses two of my big worries going into this review. In the wake of the OnePlus 6T announcement, I had fretted a bit about some of the company’s design decisions. The key concerns compared to the device’s predecessor were the speed and efficiency of the in-display fingerprint reader and the removal of the headphone jack.

Whether the new in-display fingerprint reader is more or less efficient than the excellent rear-facing unit on the OnePlus 6 is sort of beside the point. Both actually work quite well, and one of the nice things about having it on the front is that I can enroll two fingers so that I can easily sign-in when I pick the phone (thumb) or when it’s laying on a table (index finger). This wasn’t possible with the OnePlus 6, as it needed to be picked up to access the reader. (Plus, most OnePlus 6 owners aren’t going to buy a new phone 6 months later anyway. So they will wait for the OnePlus 7 or later.)

What the OnePlus 6T fingerprint reader is demonstrably more efficient than is FaceID on the newer iPhones,. That system is slower than the OnePlus 6T fingerprint reader. But it also requires an extra step of user interaction. After ensuring that FaceID did recognize you, you must swipe up on the display to actually use the phone. So it’s slow and inefficient, and it can also be unreliable. So far, I’ve not experienced any issues like that with the OnePlus 6T.

As for the headphone jack, I still think its removal was a mistake. And I feel like OnePlus not providing even a cheap pair of USB-C earbuds to make up for it says a lot. That said, I have been happily surprised by one change that OnePlus did make to the phone, silently, that does make this change a bit less painful. For me, at least.

I use Google’s Pixel USB-C Earbuds when I walk, and you may recall that when I first got them, I couldn’t get them to work with the OnePlus 6. As some readers told me, however, the trick was to enable an OTG storage option in Settings. Once you do this, the earbuds did work.

Well, sort of. The problem is that you must enable this option every time you want to use the earbuds because the phone disables OTG storage when it’s not in use.

Given this, I tested the Pixel USB-C Earbuds on the OnePlus 6T, fully expecting the same experience. Which would be a bummer, since I really like these buds and use them every day. But that’s where the happy surprise comes in: The OnePlus 6T, unlike the OnePlus 6, just works with the earbuds. That OTG storage is still disabled. But as with other Android handsets, it just works.

So that’s nice. And now I just need to train my finger to stop smudging the flash on this thing.


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