OnePlus 6: A contender for phone of the year?

Key Features

  • Review Price: £469
  • 6.2-inch FHD+ screen
  • Snapdragon 845
  • 6/8GB RAM
  • 64/128/256GB storage
  • 16MP + 20MP cameras w/ OIS
  • 16MP front camera
  • 3300 mAh battery, Dash Charge
  • Android 8.1
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OnePlus 6 first look: Stunning value, stunning looks

In a mere four years OnePlus has gone from an unknown Chinese startup to one of the best phone makers around, and that’s even more obvious with the OnePlus 6. Its pairing of high-end features and specs with a lower-than-average price initially caught the eye of the tech obsessed, but it’s no longer just for those who lurk on the seriously active OnePlus forums.

OnePlus 6 release date

The OnePlus 6 will be available online to order from May 22.

OnePlus 6 price

Pricing for the OnePlus 6 will start at £469 in the UK, €519 in Europe and $529 in the US. 

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OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6 is the most mainstream device from the company yet. It’s the first to get a proper launch in London – at the Olympic Park, no less – and also the first to really feel like a phone that should have Samsung with its Galaxy S9 and Apple with its iPhone X at least slightly worried.

This isn’t simply a rebadged Oppo device in the way of the OnePlus 5 and 5T, but a thoughtfully designed handset that should really be taken seriously.

OnePlus 6 design – A mighty step-forward

Much of what makes the OnePlus 6 feel extra special is the completely new build and design. It’s now made almost completely of glass, which curves around the rear and feels fantastic in the hand.

There’s a highly polished black version that’s gorgeous but quite the fingerprint magnet, a more conservative Midnight Black matte model and a stunning White and pinky gold variation that sadly won’t arrive until after launch. OnePlus told me the latter hue was made with powdered pearl dust, and while that sounds like the beginnings of a mythical witch’s brew, it does give the phone an jewel-like finish.

There’s been a switch-up in other classic OnePlus design aspects to. The alert slide is still present, but it sits on the opposite side; and the fingerprint sensor is now an oblong shape, perched beneath the centrally positioned dual cameras.

OnePlus 6

Despite being heavily rumoured in the run up to launch, the OnePlus 6 doesn’t hold an IP-rating for water-resistance. However, the company has said that while the device holds no official rating, much work has been done to improve its protection against water. These come by way of extra seals around the ports and between the screen.

I’m still slightly confused by this. Maybe the company is trying to save some cash by not officially garnering an IP rating; similar to the way it previously lacked the necessary codecs to play HD content from Netflix and Amazon. The bottom line is that despite the lack of IP rating, OnePlus appears confident that if you leave your phone in the bathroom while you’re having a shower or the device is caught out in the rain, then it will be fine.

The launch of the 5T in late 2017 appeared to be OnePlus’ quick response to the trend of the time of reducing the bezel and stretching out the display. With the OnePlus 6, the company jumps on another: notches.

The small cut-out at the top of the 6.1-inch display is fine, but I still can’t fathom the reason it’s here. There isn’t anything special going on inside the notch – just a regular 16-megapixel sensor, speaker and LED – and it simply feels like a device trying to imitate the iPhone X. It’s likely that most flagship phones in 2018 will sport a notch, but I still don’t really know why.

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OnePlus 6

Thankfully, the display itself is excellent, and if you really despise the notch then there’s a software update that will enable you to cover it up. The 2280 x 1080 (FHD+) OLED panel is bright, sharp and very colourful.

OnePlus 6 specs: All of the specs, all of the power

Screen 6.2-inch, 2280 x 1080, Optic AMOLED
CPU Snapdragon 845
RAM 6/8GB
Storage 64/128/256GB UFS 2.1
Rear camera Main 16-megapixel Sony sensor f/1.7; 20-megapixel secondary sensor. Portrait mode. 480fps 720p slo-mo for a minute. 19% bigger pixels in the main sensor over the 5T
Front camera 16-megapixel sensor with portrait mode
Battery 3300mAh, USB-C, Dash Charge – 30-minute for a day of use, no Qi charging
OS Android Oreo 8.1 with Oxygen OS skin
Features Dual-SIM, 1.2Gbps download speeds, headphone jack

 

OnePlus has always jammed top-end specs inside its phones, and as you can see from the table above, nothing changes here. A Snapdragon 845 powers the OnePlus 6, alongside 6GB or 8GB of RAM and the option of 256GB of storage. The option of 8GB of RAM feels odd, with its inclusion likely because OnePlus can put it there. It’s a status symbol, rather like the storage offering of 256GB.

Hopefully a more worthwhile update will be to the camera. While the main sensor remains 16 megapixels with an f/1.7 aperture, importantly it now features 19% bigger pixels over the 5T to let more light in, plus optical image stabilisation (OIS).

There’s a 20-megapixel secondary sensor, too, with portrait mode. Instead of adding in 960fps slow-motion video such as the Sony Xperia XZ2 and Samsung Galaxy S9, the OnePlus can shoot a full minute of 480fps slow-mo at 720p. I can’t yet vouch for the quality of the footage, but I can say that so far I’ve been disappointed with super slow-mo captured on other phones.

The 16-megapixel front-facing camera remains the same spec as before. There are some new software tweaks, however, and OnePlus said it has worked with Qualcomm to add in a portrait mode here. Again, you’ll have to wait for the full review – which is coming very soon – to see exactly how all aspects of the camera perform.

OnePlus 6

Like the prospect of an IP rating, there were many rumours before launch that the OnePlus 6 would be the first in the series to enable wireless charging. Considering there’s now a glass rear, and wireless charging is becoming more common, its addition felt obvious. Sadly, this isn’t the case. I was told the decision to leave it out came down to cost, and the fact that Dash Charge is quicker. Nevertheless, it’s a feature I’ve come to appreciate for quick top-ups at my desk, so I see its omission as a shame.

It’s a good thing that Dash Charge is pretty swift, mind. The charging method hasn’t changed much here and you’ll still get what OnePlus calls ‘a day of use’ from 30 minutes of charging.

OnePlus is one of the few manufacturers that doesn’t diminish Android with its own customisations. Oxygen OS retains the look of vanilla Android, adding only extras that I think improve on Google’s operating system. Customisation is available with icon packs, a system-wide dark mode, face unlock and plenty more little touches that make for a great experience. You can also ditch the on-screen navigation buttons and use a bunch of swipes to get yourself around – much like the iPhone X.

OnePlus 6

First impressions

So far, OnePlus handsets have impressed with every iteration, and the OnePlus 6 feels, comfortably, the nicest entry yet. It’s a step above previous models in terms of design, and I hope that it will prove to be a step above in other areas too. The camera, especially, has been a disappointment in the past, so it will be interesting to see if the addition of OIS really makes a difference here.

The price will also be a big factor in how well this device performs. Previous OnePlus phones have been heavy on the affordability factor, but I think it’s slightly different this time around. The OnePlus 6 is the most expensive in the series to date and that price increases further on bumping up the storage. The lack of Qi wireless charging and an official waterproof rating are a shame, and really the only two obvious omissions here. Still, that £469 is seriously cheaper than its rivals, or at least the phones OnePlus want to rival. You could buy two OnePlus 6’s for the price of one iPhone X, and it’s £400 cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Pixel 2 XL.