OnePlus 6 review: top-end smartphone for half cost of iPhone X | Tech News
The new OnePlus 6 holds true to a winning formula: a premium smartphone with top-end specs that costs less than half the price of an iPhone X.
Seen next to last year’s OnePlus 5 and 5T, the OnePlus 6 looks like a logical extension of the design trend for ever larger screens fitted into the same size bodies.
All screen, all glass
There’s a relatively small “chin” at the bottom of the screen where it joins the body but the bezels are narrow around the sides and the top. OnePlus has embraced what appears to be the smartphone trend for 2018, the “notch” – where the top of the screen cuts into the display to make room for sensors, the earpiece speaker and a 16-megapixel selfie camera.
The 6.28in AMOLED screen is enormous, bright, colourful and crisp, with great viewing angles. Technically it isn’t as pin-sharp as some of Samsung’s top-end displays, which have a higher resolution, but you have to really try to see the difference.
Also new for the OnePlus 6 is a curved glass back, available in both mirror and matt finishes, and with smooth, polished metal sides, the phone feels really nice in the hand. In fact the whole device feels like a significant step up in quality, matching that of Apple’s iPhone X and Samsung’s Galaxy S9+.
There are downsides to a glass back. While it’s not slippery in the hand, it is on fabric surfaces, and the mirror finish picks up fingerprints like a magnet. Scratches are inevitable too, and it’ll be less robust if you drop it. Thankfully OnePlus is one of the few non-Apple manufacturers that makes really nice cases.
There’s no getting over that this is a big phone firmly in the phablet category, but it’s not unmanageably wide or unwieldy, comparing well to Samsung’s Galaxy S9+.
- Screen: 6.28in full HD AMOLED (402ppi)
- Processor: octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
- RAM: 6 or 8GB of RAM
- Storage: 64,128 or 256GB
- Operating system: OxygenOS based on Android 8.1
- Camera: 16MP + 20MP rear dual camera, 16MP front-facing camera
- Connectivity: LTE, dual sim, Wi-Fiac, NFC, Bluetooth 5 and GPS
- Dimensions: 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8mm
- Weight: 177g
The OnePlus 6 ticks every box for a top-of-the-range smartphone in 2018: Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor, at least 6GB of RAM and plenty of storage.
But it also feels like a top-end smartphone, absolutely flying along. When OnePlus claims there is “no lag of any kind” it isn’t kidding. The entire system is incredibly snappy all over, from switching apps to launching the camera. It’s delightful.
Battery life is good, but not quite class leading. The OnePlus 6 lasted 29 hours between charges, starting up at 7am on day one and lasting until midday on day two.
That was while using it as my primary device, with two sims in it, browsing and using apps for five hours while receiving hundreds of push emails and messages, 60 minutes of Amazon Video, around 30 photos and listening to around seven hours of music via Bluetooth headphones.
Charging is really fast too via the Dash Charger, hitting 30% from dead in 17 minutes, 70 in 38 minutes and a full charge in just under 90 minutes.
OnePlus puts a customised version of Android on its phones called OxygenOS, this time based on Android 8.1 Oreo, which is the latest available right now, with Android P due in the summer.
OxygenOS is a slightly refined version of so-called “stock” Android with small additions and tools, such as the ability to duplicate certain messaging apps including WhatsApp.
OxygenOS 5.1 on the OnePlus 6 is the smoothest and most refined yet, matching that on Google’s Pixel 2 for speed, which is a very good thing. It lacks the Google Feed pane, instead having what OnePlus calls the “shelf” containing widgets, which is a shame.
Customisation options include the ability to swap out the traditional Android navigation home, back and overview buttons for gestures similar to those used on the iPhone X and a choice whether or not to hide the notch by a permanently black status bar.
OnePlus has long struggled to keep up with the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung and now Huawei when it comes to the camera.
The OnePlus 6 has a 16+20-megapixel dual-camera system on the back. It uses both colour cameras to increase detail and low light performance, as well as provide a fairly good portrait mode.
The camera is much improved, producing some really nice, well detailed and well coloured images in good lighting. Low light performance is also markedly better than last year’s phone, and the app is simple and easy to use. But the OnePlus 6 isn’t quite on a par with the Huawei P20 Pro or the Google Pixel 2. It may not have any real whiz-bang features, and lacks optical zoom, but most will be very pleased with the images for the money.
The selfie camera is pretty good too, preserving a solid amount of detail, even in fairly poor fluorescent lighting. The optional beauty mode also manages to smooth skin without erasing beards, which is better than most.
The OnePlus 6 lacks the 960fps slow-motion that 2018’s competitors have, but will record very good 720p slow-mo at 480fps for as long as you want, rather than just in bursts.
- The phone comes fitted with a screen protector and with a soft plastic case in the box
- Dash Charge only works with the included cable and charger
- The OnePlus 6 is included in the Android P beta programme
- There’s only a single speaker, but it’s fairly loud
- OnePlus says the phone will survive accidental water spillages on it or rain, but it does not have an IP water resistance rating
- Face unlock is super fast, but you are trading some security for convenience – the fingerprint scanner on the back is equally snappy
- The OnePlus alert slider continues to be great, switching between ring, vibrate and silent
The OnePlus 6 is available in three colours and three storage variants. It starts at £469 with the mirror black finish, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage costs £519 in white, gloss or matt black, while an 8GB RAM, 256GB matt black version costs £569.
For comparison, the 6.1in Huawei P20 Pro costs £799 with 128GB of storage, the 6in Huawei Mate 10 Pro with 128GB costs £699, the 6.2in Samsung Galaxy S9+ costs £869 with 128GB of storage, the 6in Google Pixel 2 XL with 64GB costs £799, the 6in Honor 10 View with 128GB costs £450, and the 5.8in iPhone X with 64GB costs £999.
The OnePlus 6 is premium device that cuts the right corners in pursuit of a sub-£500 price. Starting at £469, it certainly isn’t a cheap smartphone but it is less than half the cost of Apple’s iPhone X and considerably cheaper than the top-end Android competition.
It is as smooth and well made on the outside as it is high performing on the inside, which makes it one of the best smartphone experiences available at any price point right now.
And while the camera is good, the screen is great, the battery life is good and it even has a headphone socket, there’s no real killer, stand-out feature to set the OnePlus 6 apart.
Instead the OnePlus 6 demonstrates that despite what marketers might say, you really don’t need to pay £700 to £1,000 for a really great phone.
Pros: good battery life, great screen, excellent performance, dual-sim, great camera, premium build and feel, Bluetooth 5
Cons: glass is more fragile than metal, no wireless charging, no IP water resistance rating, no expandable storage