OnePlus 6 Review

One thing you’re going to need to know about OnePlus is that they’re not your typical smartphone manufacturer. Owned by a large China based company, BBK Electronics (also owns Oppo and Vivo), OnePlus could be thought of as their little pet project to try to change the way we think about “typical”. What they are attempting to do is make high end or premium phones and sell them at lower prices than the “typical” companies. Depending on whether or not you’ve heard of this company already, will speak for whether or not they are successful at that attempt.

The OnePlus 6 is no exception to this rule. Released this past May, this budget friendly device manages to include many components found in rival flagships that cost a few hundred dollars more. So when the opportunity to test this device presented itself, I was more than happy to oblige.

In order to take advantage of all the features, I tested the OnePlus 6 on a T-Mobile line.

For the purpose of this review I’ve split each area into three categories that fans of Sergio Leone, or movies in general, should recognize with one minor change: The Good, The (Not-so) Bad, and The Ugly.

Let’s dive in.

The Good

Software and Features

The software on the OnePlus 6 alone is a great reason to get this phone. You get OxygenOS 5.1 out of the box, which is essentially Android 8.1 from Google plus a handful of improvements, giving the phone a unique look and feel.

The handful of improvements are a great addition and never seem to get in the way of the overall experience and stock Android feel. You’ll find features such as gaming mode which prevents you from getting notifications and such while playing your favorite mobile game. Tired of the notification bar at the top of the screen? Simply remove it and replace it with some gestures. Other features include reading modes, power cycle scheduling, calibrating display colors just to name a few. On top of all the features OnePlus does an excellent job upgrading its devices to the latest Android OS. As an added bonus you can opt into an OxygenOS beta program to test features early. Also the OnePlus 6 is a part of the Android P Beta program making it almost certain the phone will be receiving the newest Android OS in the near future.

Performance wise the phone never skips a beat. Opening, closing, and switching between apps is a breeze and performs as a premium device should. Performance and feature wise, I’d put this phone up there with the biggest names on the market.

Price

I’ll make this one short and to the point. OnePlus has always done a great job in providing top of the line specs for a reasonable price. Although the prices have gone up in recent years, the price you pay for these devices are still a fraction of what you’ll pay for other premium phones.

In the US, the OnePlus 6 starts at $530 for the 64GB model with 6GB of RAM and $580 for the 128GB model with 8GB of RAM and comes in Mirror Black, Silk White, Midnight Black, and Red. There is a 256GB version for $630 as well, but it only comes in Midnight Black.

Specs

As was the case with previous OnePlus phones, you’ll find specs comparable to other premium devices on the OnePlus 6. First thing you’ll notice is the OnePlus 6 included the latest Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm processer, a 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED 2280×1080 (19:9 aspect ratio) display, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of storage, 3300mAh battery just to name a few. Here is a list of the specs you’ll find on this phone.

Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo
OxygenOS
Display 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED, 2280×1080 (19:9 aspect ratio)
Gorilla Glass 5
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core
Adreno 630 GPU
Storage 64GB (Mirror Black)
128GB (Mirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk White)
256GB (Midnight Black)
RAM 6GB (Mirror Black)
8GB (Mirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk White)
LPDDR4X
Rear camera 1 16MP (IMX 519), 1.22-micron pixels, ƒ/1.7
OIS, EIS
Dual LED flash
Rear camera 2 20MP (IMX 376k), 1-micron pixels, ƒ/1.7
Rear video 4K @ 60 fps, 1080p @ 60FPS
720p @ 480FPS slo-mo (max values)
Front camera 16MP (IMX 371), 1-micron pixels, f/2.0
1080p 30FPS video
Battery 3300mAh
Non-removable
Charging USB-C
Dash Charge
Audio Headphone jack
Water resistance Splash resistance
No IP rating
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor
Face unlock
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HD
USB-C (2.0), NFC
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
Network 4xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 16, UL Cat 13
FDD-LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/32/66/71
TDD-LTE Band 34/38/39/40/41
TD-SCDMA Band 34/39
HSPA Band 1/2/4/5/8/9/19
CDMA Band BC0/BC1
Dimensions 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75 mm
Weight 177 grams
Colors Mirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk White, Red

The OnePlus 6 does not feature wireless charging but does, as usual, feature Dash Charging which will charge your device to near full capacity in an hour. OnePlus also did not give this device an official IP rating, but did give it a “Splash rating” meaning the phone might be ok in some situations, just not near the capacity as has become the norm in other devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+. The OnePlus 6 also does not have expandable storage which seems minor given the device’s price points. To me these are minor exclusions, but the phone has you covered almost everywhere else.

Display

The OnePlus 6 does not feature the highest resolution, but it’s 6.28″ AMOLED screen still looks very good. If you want to change anything about the display, OnePlus offers a number of calibrations options for you to play with. It does feature the controversial notch at the top of the screen, and while the notch may be a deal-breaker for some it never seems to get in the way as most content isn’t optimized for a 19:9 ratio meaning you’ll still be able to watch your favorite Netflix shows without being distracted by a small cut-out on the side of the screen.

I found the viewing angles on this device to be excellent and found the reading and night modes to be helpful when looking at my phone while in bed. Brightness was an issue even with auto brightness enabled. In really bright conditions I found it very difficult to see the screen without shading the phone in some way.

Overall the display, while not the most impressive, was still quite good and for the price you really can’t go wrong.

The (Not-so) Bad

Design

The OnePlus 6 has the looks and feel of a premium device. It’s slim bezel and edge-to-edge display are definitely an eye catcher, but the screen size comes in at a whopping 6.28″, making it one of the biggest screens around (more on that later). Again the phone does have a notch, but it never seemed to get in the way of what I was trying to accomplish at the time.

As mentioned earlier the OnePlus 6 features a 6.28″ screen. While some may argue that bigger is better, in the case of this phone that’s not always the case. I found myself having to use 2 hands to perform some basic features that I normally wouldn’t on say the S9 (insert small hand joke) and the phone overall felt heavier than most premium devices on the market now. OnePlus 6 does include those nifty gestures to accommodate some of these issues but being able to do most task with one hand would have been ideal.

OnePlus also decided to do away with the metal body like the one found on the OnePlus 5 and replaced it with a full glass back. Although you will find the glass back on other devices, I’m not a fan of fingerprints or worrying about scratching my phone. I found myself having to wipe the phone every time I was done using it with a cleaning cloth which seemed to be a bit tedious. I know, most would say “Just put a case on it” but if you’re someone who likes to show off the design of the phone, why ruin it by putting a case on it?

Overall the design of the phone isn’t bad though, these are just a few nit-picky scenarios I found myself in. As mentioned earlier, the design of the phone itself rivals even the most premium devices on the market today.

Camera

On the back of the phone you will find the dual 16MP and 20MP lenses in it’s new centrally-positioned location and now features OIS built in. The 16MP lens now boasts a wider f/1.7 aperture for better lighting in darker situations. I found the OnePlus 6 capable of taking good photos in most situations, just not as good as what you’ll find on the Pixel 2, Galaxy S9, or even iPhone X. OnePlus did release a new update that helps improve the camera, but I still found it to be a step below the competition. Below are a few examples I took on the OnePlus 6. While the finished product produced a “good” photo, it just never wowed me.

Although the bokeh effect (Portrait mode for those iPhone users) was a pleasant surprise for me.

Battery Life

The OnePlus 6 features the same 3,300mAh battery as last year’s OnePlus 5T. The battery on this device was enough to get through normal task like checking emails, social media, taking calls and text, plus OnePlus includes what I consider the best fast charging on the market today. While carrying around a cable and dash charging brick might not seem like the most ideal situation, charging your device before you leave for the day, even if for 10 minutes, should be enough to get you through. It might not have the best battery life, but it’s fine for what it is.

The Ugly

Availability

On Verizon or Sprint and want to try the OnePlus 6? You’re out of luck. Customers need options, and as is the case with past OnePlus variations, unless you subscribe to T-Mobile or AT&T the OnePlus 6 is not one of them. In order for OnePlus to hit the mainstream in the US it needs to be able to support CDMA networks, not just GSM. I did find it interesting though that popping in a Verizon Sim Card did give me a LTE signal, you just couldn’t use the phone for it’s main purpose, being an actual phone. Trying to make a call this way greeted me with the dreaded “Your device is not supported” message.

Should I Buy the OnePlus 6?

The OnePlus 6 offers great value for the price. The specs, features, and performance of this device are enough to get the average phone enthusiast excited. Should you get the OnePlus 6? As I’ve mentioned numerous times throughout the review the price makes it hard to argue against, especially if you have T-Mobile or AT&T. Unfortunately if you are on Verizon or Sprint, you’ll be forced to look elsewhere.