When the OnePlus One was launched back in 2014, who’d have thought a strangely-named brand would be able to make a mark in the hyper-competitive smartphone segment? But OnePlus managed to accomplish more than that. Be it its powerful specs, disruptive pricing, or the unique marketing strategy (which backfired on occasion), the brand now ranks alongside the likes of Samsung and Apple when it comes to the super-premium category. That’s no easy feat, and for its next act, the Chinese upstart is aiming even bigger. The latest flagship from the brand’s stables – the OnePlus 6 – is clearly targeting those who’re looking for flagship features at less than half the price (a segment which has been the brand’s stronghold till now), but also those who are ready to spend more for high-end offerings. Does the newest device succeed? Our review will try and evaluate that, but I can tell you that the new phone does look extremely promising based on our first impressions. If you’re wondering why I think so, then read on.
Like previous offerings from OnePlus, the OP6 comes packed in a minimalistic white rectangular box. As soon as you open the lid, you’re greeted with the smartphone itself. Underneath the tray holding it, you’ll the documentation and a sim-ejection tool. There’s a transparent case, which is quite good and as far as the accessories are concerned, you’ll find the Dash charger and a USB-Type C cable for charging and data transfers.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the brand is taking the same route chosen by most flagship phones these days… glass at the front and back, held together with a metal frame. As can be expected, this construction lends the smartphone an exquisite look and will turn heads as soon as you take it out of pocket. On the flipside however, just like other phones with glass-sandwich designs, the OnePlus 6 picks up smudges rather easily. The phone will be available in Midnight Black, Mirror Black and Silk White hues, and if they don’t draw your attention, then you can also go for the Marvel Avengers Limited Edition.
Love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it – if there’s a parallel to this in the smartphone world, it has to be the display notch in recent times. OnePlus’ Carl Pei had already confirmed that the OnePlus 6 will have a cut-out on top of the screen, so it’s not really a surprise to see the same above the phone’s 6.28-inch AMOLED screen. That said, the notch on the OnePlus 6 seems to be smaller than the ones on other phones, and you can disable it if you want too. In terms of the display, the phonemaker continues with full HD resolution, now with 19:9 aspect ratio, which is sharp and reproduces vibrant colours.
While the positioning of controls and ports is slightly tweaked, it’s good to see OnePlus continuing to offer the 3.5mm audio interface. Instead of the horizontal dual-camera array at the back, the shooters on the OnePlus 6 are now aligned vertically in the top middle, with an oblong-shaped fingerprint sensor below. The alert slider has changes sides and moved to the right of the phone, while the volume keys are now shifted to the left spine. Of course, along with the fingerprint reader, the face unlock feature is there on the handset as well.
Sadly though, while rumours were suggesting that the OnePlus 6 will be impervious to dust and water, and will support wireless charging, the phone misses out on both these features. It does however, come with a splash-resistant design, letting you use the phone in rains or without worry from accidental spills. The phone is durable as comes with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back.
As can be expected from any OnePlus smartphone, the handset packs top-of-the-line internals. The OnePlus 6 draws power from Qualcomm’s latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is paired with up to 8GB LPDDR4X RAM. And if this powerful combination wasn’t enough, the top-end Avengers Edition of the device comes with 256GB storage. The regular variant is available with storage options of 64GB and 128GB, along with 6GB to 8GB RAM.
Specs-wise, the OnePlus 6 might not seem much different from its predecessor in the camera department. The smartphone flaunts a newer and larger 16-megapixel Sony IMX519 sensor, which is coupled with a 20MP lens. Both shooters have a wide aperture opening of f/1.7, and offer portrait mode. In terms of the software however, there are some interesting features. There’s Smart Capture mode, which enhances the shot based on the ambient conditions, while Advanced HDR promises to add more dynamic range to your pictures. The primary camera is optically-stabilised and the phone can now shoot slow-mo video at 480fps and 4K videos at 60fps too. The front camera is rated at 16MP, just like the 5T, and will get the ability to offer a software-based portrait mode via an OTA. The feature will also let you add effects like circles, hearts and more to customise your selfies.
Fuelling the OnePlus 6 is a 3,300mAh battery, which is same as the previous iteration. As usual, you can charge the phone quickly, thanks to the support for proprietary Dash Charge technology.
The OnePlus 6 is already among the few smartphones that can run Google’s upcoming Android P beta right now, but out of the box, the phone ships with Oxygen OS based on Android 8.0 Oreo. Oxygen OS has made a name for itself with its minimal-yet-useful additions on top of stock Android, and the same remains the case with the latest smartphone from the brand. Some features worth highlighting are support for navigation gestures, which let you make use of the entire screen real estate, and a new gaming mode as well.
When the OnePlus One was launched, the brand stood out from the competition with its offering’s unique design, powerful specs and attractive pricing. While the brand has continued to outdo itself with each of its smartphones in terms of the hardware, the pricing has also continued to increase. So it’s no surprise to see that the fully-loaded OnePlus 6 is priced higher than its predecessor. Even though the Indian pricing will be announced tomorrow, it’s not hard to fathom that the handset will be priced just slightly lower than other premium flagships, instead of being priced around half. And even though the pricing presents a challenge for brand, it seems that the Shenzhen-based company is keen to enter the big boys club with sheer class.
The OnePlus 6 is the first smartphone in India to come with the Snapdragon 845, and can easily put the rivals to shame with its specs sheet. Should you buy it? If you’re already using a OnePlus 5T (review), then this might not seem like a big upgrade, but for everyone else, we’re putting the smartphone through its paces to answer exactly that in our in-depth review, so stay tuned.
Disclosure: this writer attended the launch event in London on OnePlus India’s invitation.
Photos by Raj Rout