Saturday, 19 May 2018

OnePlus 6 hands-on: Glass on glass

OnePlus 6 hands-on: Glass on glass

Another six months, another OnePlus phone. The company is known for pumping out devices faster than you can buy them, but we’re always surprised what it can whip up in such a short period of time.

We’ll find out if the OnePlus 6 is just as much a “flagship killer” as its predecessors in our full OnePlus 6 review later on. For now here’s a sneak peak.

Probably the most obvious design change this year is in the display. From a topological view, you might not be able to tell it apart from nearly every other flagship Android phone released this year. The infamous notch fills a small portion of the screen at the very top, but this is necessary for the screen’s enormous 19:9, 6.28-inch footprint. The body is about the same size as OnePlus 5T, but the added screen real estate is a very welcome addition.

This screen is still 1080p resolution at 1,080 x 2,280 and it’s just as great a panel as we’ve come to expect from OnePlus. Colors are nice and vibrant. I’ve often said that screen resolution past 1080p doesn’t matter much on phones as long as you have a quality panel, and that remains true here.

This new design is quite striking - a clear departure from the metallic chassis of the last generation.

The phone starts to distinguish itself from other flagships on the back. The OnePlus 6 sports an all-glass Gorilla Glass 5 design, which looks quite striking, but leaves me worried about durability. Other unibody glass phones like the iPhone X crack very easily when dropped, since Gorilla Glass is designed to protect against scratches and not so much cracks and breaks.

Unfortunately, the all glass design doesn’t bring wireless to the OnePlus 6. OnePlus told me Dash Charge is so far ahead of wireless charging and it wants to maintain a positive experience with consumers. I really would have preferred it was included. Wireless charging is much slower than wired charging, but a lot of customers like the convenience of grabbing their phone off the charging pad and walking out the door. While I don’t personally use wireless charging, I would have liked OnePlus to take advantage of the materials and include it.

This phone has not been officially IP certified for water resistance, but OnePlus tested it to ensure it could survive a drop in a puddle or a walk in the rain. I’m quite curious to see how this actually holds up in real-life usage, because use in the rain damaged my Pixel 2 XL’s speakers, and that phone is rated IP67. Since the speakers are bottom firing in this device though, I’m sure it will hold up just fine.

The fingerprint reader remains in the same place as the 5T, this time with a more oblong shape reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S9. I asked OnePlus why the change was made, and I was directed to the company’s first three phones, which had fingerprint readers in that shape on the face of the device. I don’t think this shape particularly helps the sensor be more accurate in any way, but OnePlus wants to return to its roots, making sure each design seems more like an evolution than a complete redesign.

OnePlus assures me this fingerprint reader is still the fastest available on the market today, with the ability to unlock the device in under .2 seconds. I didn’t get a lot of time to test the device during our hands on, but I’ll be sure to verify this in our full review. Face unlock is an option here as well, and we’ll have to test how much better it’s gotten since the last iteration.

The cameras have been rotated to appear more fashionable.
Just above the fingerprint reader you’ll find a set of dual cameras, now rotated and centered to fit a more balanced aesthetic. These are 16 and 20MP cameras with an f/1.7 aperture, and the pixel size has been increased by 19 percent to 1.22μm for better performance in low light. Portrait mode is returning on this camera as well, and we’re hoping it’s just as good if not better than the 5T. So far the camera seems quite good, though the environment we had to work with had great lighting. We’ll be sure give this a real spin later on.

The main camera is outfitted with optical image stabilization (OIS), so it should record smooth video and take more stable photos. OnePlus even included a slow-motion video mode, enabling 720p video at 480fps and 1080p video at 240fps. The phone now also supports 4K video at up to 60fps, a feature usually reserved for the highest end phones. There is even a built-in video editor, so you can shoot, edit, and upload directly to social media.

The front-facing camera is 16MP, and so far it seems very good. This is the same sensor that’s found in the 5T. The selfie portrait mode will come to the phone in a software update soon after launch. The Pixel 2 and LG G7 are some of the only cameras with selfie portrait capabilities as it stands, and we’re hopeful OnePlus’ implementation will be competitive with the rest of the pack.

Also read: OnePlus Bullets Wireless have fast charging and magnetic controls

Around the right side you’ll find the power button and the signature physical notification switch, while the volume rockers reside on the left. There is a USB Type-C port nestled in the bottom, surrounded by a speaker and — drumroll — a headphone jack! OnePlus is sticking with this “legacy” port for at least a little while longer. When I asked how long the company would commit to keeping the port, I was told until the industry is ready to let it go.

These are probably the best specs in an Android phone to date.

Inside, you’ll find specs rivaling the highest end phones on the market. The OnePlus 6 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 6-8GB of RAM, and 64, 128, or 256GB of storage, depending on the model you get. Actually, the top-end variant has just about the best specs you can possibly find in an Android device today. Pair that with the fact that it is running OxygenOS-based on Android Oreo (with the option of joining the Android P beta) and you’ve got a phone that should fly through nearly every use case you throw at it.

The battery is 3,300mAh, which is curiously the same capacity as the OnePlus 5T. OnePlus says the Snapdragon 845 should help reduce battery drain by up to 10 percent, but that seems a bit like wishful thinking. With a screen this much larger, we’ll have to see if the new phone can hold up to a day’s use.

This phone is OnePlus’ first Gigabit LTE device.  OnePlus is aware how many people have sub-optimal connections, and is rolling out a new feature to gaming mode that should help your game keep a stable connection. When gaming mode is turned on, the phone will reduce the allocated bandwidth to background applications. This ensures you don’t drop frames at critical moments, and you can even limit the graphics performance if you want to make sure you have the best frame rate.

I know what you’re all wondering. Yes, the OnePlus 6 is more expensive than the 5T.

Despite this, the company continues to provide more value than just about any other manufacturer on the market.

The OnePlus 6 will cost $529, $579, and $629, depending on your configuration, making it about $30 more expensive than the OnePlus 5T. It will be available in Midnight Black, Mirror Black, and a limited edition Silk White. This is OnePlus we’re talking about though, so we’re sure more color options will pop up as we as the OnePlus 6T gets closer. 


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