Monday, 21 May 2018

Latest OnePlus 6 review: the spiritual successor to the Nexus

Move over OnePlus 5T, the OnePlus 6 has arrived. The latest iteration of the OnePlus family brings us an all-new design on the outside, and more of what we already love on the inside.
Aside from the obvious cosmetic changes, the OnePlus 6 feels very familiar. Let’s find out if that’s a positive or a negative in our OnePlus 6 review. Keep reading for the written review from Andrew, and be sure to check out David’s video review above. 

Design


OnePlus 6 review

The OnePlus 6 is immediately distinguishable from its predecessor.

The phone swaps out a metal back for a glass one and rotates the camera, moving it to the center of the body. The rear fingerprint scanner is now oval, instead of the 5T’s circle.

The beveled edges on the OnePlus 6’s back panel are subtler than the 5T, making it feel slightly wider. The OnePlus 6 is also 15 grams heavier (at 177 grams) and .45mm thicker (7.75mm thick), due to its Gorilla Glass 5 exterior. This sounds like a minor difference, but it makes the OnePlus 6 feel a lot sturdier.

Despite these changes, the overall shape and footprint of the OnePlus 6 is very similar to the OnePlus 5 and 5T. This is rather impressive considering the display size increased by .27 inches.

OnePlus 6 review

The front panel is almost entirely screen, with a small chin on the bottom and very thin bezels on the sides of the display. The top of the front panel is almost entirely bezel-free thanks to the notch, which contains necessary components like the front-facing camera. Love it or leave it, the massive display simply wouldn’t be possible without it.

The buttons and ports are in mostly the same spots as the OnePlus 5T, with one notable difference. The SIM tray and OnePlus notification slider have swapped sides. Having the slider on the right side actually feels much better. However, longtime OnePlus users might find it takes a little getting used to. 

On the bottom you’ll find the headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and a single speaker.

OnePlus 6 review

OnePlus gave us the mirror black model for review, but the phone also comes in midnight black and silk white. Each model is unique due to a special film application over the glass. The silky white almost feels like it has a baby powder finish. Both the mirror black and midnight black options feel more like normal glass, but the mirror variant is shinier, more reflective, and more of a fingerprint magnet.

The switch to a heftier glass design feels fantastic

The OnePlus 6 still looks like a OnePlus handset, just with a more mainstream, premium shell. The switch to a Gorilla Glass 5 exterior has us a little worried about the long term durability, but there’s no denying it feels fantastic. For what it is worth, my OnePlus 6 is in great shape after nearly two weeks of daily use, though there are a few minor scratches on the back.

The OnePlus 6 isn’t waterproof, which is a letdown. OnePlus tested it to handle splashes, puddles, and rain internally, but there’s no formal IP certification. It’s unlikely the phone would fair well with full submersion. We haven’t tested these claims thoroughly, but the OnePlus 6 fared fine during use on a particularly rainy day. This anecdotal evidence is far from a full endorsement in OnePlus’ water resistance claims, but take it for what it’s worth.


Display


OnePlus 6 review

The OnePlus 5T gave us a 6.01-inch 1080p Optic AMOLED panel with an 18:9 display ratio, a very noticeable upgrade from the OnePlus 5. The 6.28-inch upgrade on the OnePlus 6 isn’t quite as dramatic.

The new display has smaller bezels thanks to the notch design, and it’s a bit bigger. Don’t expect it to feel massively different if you’re coming from the 5T. The underlying technology isn’t exactly new either, as it’s still a 1080p AMOLED, this time with a slightly higher resolution of 1,080 x 2,280.

Despite that, this is still an excellent display. All the benefits you’d expect from AMOLED are present, including vibrant colors, great viewing angles, inky dark blacks, and plenty of brightness for outdoor use. We’ll be performing some deeper display testing in the near future with specific measurements, so stay tuned.

OnePlus 6 review

If you aren’t quite satisfied with the out-of-the-box settings, OnePlus has several display features to further refine your experience. Its sRGB mode will improve color accuracy, and you can also use color temperature sliders to fine tune things to your liking. The ambient display mode is easy on the eyes and the reading mode makes the display black and white for a more ebook-like experience. If you’ve used a OnePlus handset before, you’ll likely be familiar with all these features.

We get it, it’s 2018 and a 2K display would have been nice. Regardless, unless you’re really particular about resolutions, you probably won’t notice any major difference. A lower resolution also tends to result in better battery life (more on that in a bit).


Performance


OnePlus 6 review

OnePlus is known for making small concessions to the keep price down, but this didn’t affect performance. The OnePlus 6 has some of the best specs you’ll find in the Android world.

The OnePlus 6 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, paired with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM.

As you’d expect, the performance here is flawless. Animations are fast and fluid, and touch response is highly accurate. Every game or app we threw at it launched quickly without any noticeable hiccups. More demanding games like PUBG Mobile didn’t skip a beat. Real world performance doesn’t get much better than this. The benchmarks further support this claim.

We ran the OnePlus 6 through Geekbench, AnTuTu, and 3D Mark, comparing it to the the Galaxy S9 Plus(courtesy of Chris Thomas).



GeekBench 4 gave the OnePlus 6 a single-core score of 2,454 and a multi-core score of 8,967. In comparison, the Galaxy S9 Plus had a single-core score of 2,144 and a multi-core score of 8,116.



AnTuTu ranked the OnePlus 6 with a 262,614 overall score. The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus actually came out a little ahead here, at 266,559.



Finally in 3D Mark the OnePlus 6 scored a 4,680 versus the Galaxy S9 Plus’ score of 4,672.

When it comes to real world differences, this all means very little. However, it illustrates that the OnePlus 6 has just as much muscle as a much more expensive flagship.

The OnePlus 6 has the same 3,300mAh battery size found in the OnePlus 5 and 5T. Despite the phone’s bigger display, battery life doesn’t suffer. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 is more power efficient than ever, and OnePlus’ commitment to a less demanding 1080p display doesn’t hurt either.

David and I both had average screen-on times of around 5.5 hours. This is a more than acceptable average, considering both of us are power users and were running plenty of intensive apps to test performance. On days where my usage was more in line with an average user, the screen on time easily made it closer to six to seven hours.



I also ran the OnePlus 6 through PCMark’s battery test at the highest brightness. PCMark put the phone through a variety of tests designed to simulate real life usage. The final reading was a screen-on time of five hours and three minutes. Considering most users won’t actually run the phone at full brightness, you can expect at least this level of performance.

The OnePlus 6 battery performance isn’t groundbreaking but it’s well above average. It’s also almost irrelevant thanks to OnePlus’ Dash charging.

Dash Charge can take a battery from empty to 60 percent charged in just 30 minutes, which is quicker than many other quick charging solutions on the market. Combined with already great battery life, you’ll rarely find yourself completely out of juice.


Hardware


OnePlus 6 review

The OnePlus 6 comes in storage configurations of 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB. The smallest of these is paired with 6GB of RAM, while the other two models rock 8GB. The OnePlus 6 doesn’t support microSD expansions, but the larger built-in storage sizes help make up for this.

OnePlus 6 owners will not only have access to Bluetooth 5 for listening to music wirelessly, there’s also the trusty 3.5mm headphone jack. At least for now, OnePlus continues to be dedicated to a port many other manufacturers have deemed unnecessary.

OnePlus doesn’t offer Dolby Atmos, instead opting for Dirac HD Sound. While there are technical differences, both essentially set out to do the same thing: provide a better optimized, more immersive listening experience.

OnePlus doesn’t include any headphones out of the box, but keeping the included accessories to a minimum is a way to keep costs down. Most bundled headphones aren’t particularly great, anyway. OnePlus does offer official Bluetooth headphones, which can be purchased separately for $69.99.


For those times when you’d rather use the internal speaker, you’ll find the OnePlus 6 delivers a pretty average experience. We did a totally unscientific listening test where I played the same few songs on the OnePlus 5, OnePlus 5T, and the OnePlus 6. The sound difference wasn’t very noticeable across the three models. All the tested OnePlus phones provided a reasonably loud experience, with the kind of distortion you’d expect when cranked to higher volume levels.

We mentioned earlier the OnePlus 6 fingerprint scanner has a new shape, but this is purely an aesthetic change. OnePlus told us the change was about returning to its roots, as every OnePlus phone before the 5T had a more oblong shape. The scanner is as fast as ever, unlocking the device nearly instantaneously. There’s not much more to say about the OnePlus 6’s scanner — it’s one of the best around. If you’re not into fingerprint tech, the 5T’s Face Unlock feature makes a return with the OP6.

The OnePlus 6 features everything you need in a phone, and nothing more

Face Unlock wasn’t perfect on the 5T, but it was fast and very usable most of the time. The OnePlus 6’s face unlocking isn’t any faster, but it is much more reliable. It never failed to recognize my face, even in relatively dark environments. Setting it up is very easy. Just line up your face with the camera and it will do a quick scan. After that opening up your phone is as simple as hitting the power button and letting the front camera see your face. This method isn’t as secure as a fingerprint reader, but it is arguably a bit more convenient.

The OnePlus 6 features 4×4 MIMO and Gigabit LTE. Gigabit LTE support is a first for OnePlus. Not all markets support these speeds yet, but it’s a nice extra bit of future proofing.

For those in the United States, the OnePlus 6 supports AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as all compatible MVNOs. U.S. Cellular, Verizon, and Sprint customers are out of luck. Considering the expected T-Mobile/Sprint merger, the latter is probably less of a problem.

The rest of the hardware features and specifications can be found here or in the table towards the article’s end.


Camera


OnePlus 6 review

OnePlus has always had pretty average camera experiences. The OnePlus 6’s new camera is a step forward in several ways, but not necessarily to the degree we would have hoped for. Phones like the Huawei P20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S9 do a lot more to improve their offerings.

The OnePlus 6 has a dual-camera configuration with 16 and 20MP cameras and an f/1.7 aperture. The 16MP camera now has a Sony IMX 519 sensor, which has 19 percent larger pixels than the 5T, to help with lowlight performance. The secondary 20MP has the same sensor as the one in the 5T.


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