OnePlus 6 full review
The OnePlus 6 arrived at a point where notches were all the rage and the flagship market as competitive as ever. It might not have everything a phone can have, but the OnePlus 6 is an amazing deal - and now it has Android 9 Pie.
With the Chinese firm sticking to a six-month cycle, the new model is another case of taking an existing phone and making it better. This is not some radical new upgrade from the previous phone, despite moving from a 'T' to a full new number.
The main things to note off the bat is that the OnePlus 6 moves to an even taller 19:9 aspect ratio to include a notch, and the glass rear cover which comes in different finishes. Largely though, this is the OnePlus phone you've likely come to know and love.
Price and availability
The OnePlus 6 is no longer sold by OnePlus itself following the release of the 6T, and since then the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro. However, you can still pick it up from other retailers, including Amazon or on contract from O2 in the UK, and it's often fairly steeply discounted now.
There was only a small price increase over the £449 OnePlus 5T, with the OnePlus 6 starting from £469/$529/€519, but prices have changed since, so you can now buy higher spec models for less, though it's actually tricky to find that cheapest entry model.
Although OnePlus phones are a fair bit more expensive than they used to be years ago, it's still a sizeable amount cheaper when you compare it to rivals like the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Huawei P20.
Let's face it, this is an absolute bargain and you could buy two top-end models and still have £11 change compared to the 256GB iPhone X.
Design and build
If you're familiar with the OnePlus 5T or even, to some extent the 5, then the OnePlus 6 isn't a huge departure in terms of design and build. The new model is largely the 5T with a collection of tweaks and improvements.
The headline news is that the OnePlus 6 is made from glass (not the first as the X did), so like a lot of flagships has a metal border with glass on the front and back. It's Gorilla Glass 5 and OnePlus says there are over 40 steps involved to create the final product.
There are three different finishes available here and each is very different. Midnight Black has the classic OnePlus look from recent devices and doesn't actually look like glass. Mirror Black (shown here) is heavily polished so has that quintessential glass look and feel.
Lastly are Silk White and Red, both of which launched as limited edition models.
Despite rumours of wireless charging – which requires glass to work – this is not a feature of the OnePlus 6. The glass is there for a premium look and feel only and there's a silicone case in the box to protect it or you can choose one from our OnePlus 6 cases round-up.
It does looks and feel premium (and the antennas are more hidden now) but there are downsides which are namely the phone being more slippery and, particularly with the Mirror Black model, the way the glass shows up fingerprints quite badly.
There were also rumours of waterproofing which would be a welcome first for a OnePlus phone but this is also merely conjecture. What the 6 does have is improved water resistance, so no IP rating but it will cope better in the rain or an accidental drop into a shallow amount of water like a puddle.
Some smaller things to note before we move on include the fact there's still a headphone jack (yay) and that the camera array, which still sticks out, has moved to the middle of the phone above the fingerprint scanner – which is a slightly different shape.
Last, but not least, is that the popular Alert Slider has moved to the right-side of the phone above the power button so you can use it with your thumb – sorry left handers.
The OnePlus 6 is the same size at the 5T but it is a little thicker and heavier – 7.75mm and 177g aren't bad though.
Specs and features
The OnePlus 6 might be more expensive than before, but the phone comes with various improvements when it comes to the hardware and features to make it worthwhile. Let's take a look.
Despite having the same footprint as the 5T, the OnePlus 6 offers a larger screen. This is thanks to much smaller bezels, essentially stretching the display to every edge of the device.
It's now 6.28- rather than 6.01in and with the same Optic AMOLED technology, so the main difference is the notch at the top. 2018 is the year of the notch in phone so you've probably already seen a number of devices with this feature following the iPhone X.
The resolution is slightly higher at 1080x2280 and this is to account for that extra bit of screen and the new 19:9 aspect ratio. That might be a fair bit lower than the Quad HD resolutions on more expensive phones, but for most people this is plenty good enough.
Opinions on phones with notches are split but we've found that you do get used to it and OnePlus gives the option to hide it if you prefer. This makes the background black, while still displaying icons that are dimmed, so it provides a different style.
The main goal here is to offer as much screen as possible and an 84 percent screen-to-body ratio is a decent effort. It just means that such a large screen can be tricky to use one handed seeing as our hands aren't getting bigger to match the trend.
Luckily you can do things like pull the notification pane down by swiping down in the middle of the display rather than having to reach right to the top.
Processor, memory and storage
As confirmed before the phone was even announced, the OnePlus 6 comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 flagship processor. It's no surprise.
OnePlus is known for packing in a serious amount of memory and this handset is no different as you get at least 6GB and 8GB is available too. That's more than a lot of laptops.
There's no microSD card slot as per usual - with aim to keep performance as slick as possible - but you get at least 64GB of storage as standard. There's also 128GB available and, for the first time, 256GB. As mentioned earlier, which colour you want has an impact on which memory and storage combinations are available.
The tag line for the OnePlus 6 is 'The Speed You Need', which we don't fully since phones have been quick for a long time now, but there's no denying how fast the phone is. It's noticeably quicker in operation than many other phones and benchmark results are up there with (in some cases better) phones way more expensive.
Connectivity, audio and biometrics
If you're a 5T user then you can skip over this section because everything is pretty much the same.
The OnePlus 6 comes with dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD, GPS and NFC. It's still a dual-SIM phone and the only change is that it's now 4G Cat 16 which means it's the first OnePlus to get Gigabit speeds – you won't see that in real life though.
Once again there's a USB-C port, a headphone jack and a single down-facing speaker.
The rear mounted fingerprint scanner has a slightly different shape but it's basically the same and works quickly. You'll probably end up using Face Unlock which is extremely quick, sometimes seemingly like you're unlocking without any security, and works pretty well in low light.
The cameras might have moved position on the back of the phone, but they're not hugely different to the ones on the 5T.
So the OnePlus 6 still has dual cameras, one at 16Mp and one at 20Mp. They're both Sony sensors and have a pretty impressive aperture of f/1.7. The main addition this year is that the main 16Mp sensor now has optical image stabilisation (OIS) and the sensor is slightly larger to take in more light.
There's a telephoto option in the camera app for 2x zoom but this isn't switching to the higher resolution sensor, it's just cropping. Instead, that one is mainly used for the depth effect of portrait mode. You can take photos in 4:3, 1:1 or even 19:9 to fill the screen but that aspect ratio will look odd elsewhere.
At the front, the camera is still 16Mp with an f/2.0 aperture and the ability to record video at up to 1080p/30fps.
We like how simple and easy the app is to use, including changing modes and settings.
As you can see in our gallery of samples below, the OnePlus 6 performs very well. The camera offers excellent detail, colour, exposure and white balance - in a range of conditions, even low light. It's certainly not the best phone camera but at the price, you're getting much better quality than you would normally expect.
In terms of video, you can shoot at up to 4K/60fps and results are impressive with the OIS doing a pretty decent job of smoothing things out. We'd recommend shooting in 1080p/60fps for the best combination of quality and file size, though.
Slow motion is all the rage right now and although the OnePlus 6 offers 720p at 480fps or 1080p at 240fps, which is half the framerate of rivals like the Galaxy S9 and Xperia XZ2, you can shoot for up to a minute in one go making it easier to capture the moment you're after.
Here's a sample shot at full 4K resolution and 60p:
You shouldn't expect battery life to be any different to the OnePlus 5T. There's still a 3300mAh battery here that's slightly above average in size.
Dash Charge has always been great since its introduction and it's not going anywhere. It's no different here so you'll get 'a day's power in half an hour', according to OnePlus' catchy rhyme.
We found that you can get a whopping 55 percent from a 30 minute charge starting with the phone dead. That's seriously impressive and for some users that could be a whole day of usage as promised, if you're not a heavy user that is.
Although the 6 managed a middling (yet appropriate for the name) result of six hours and 43 minutes in the Geekbench 4 test, we've found the phone lasting beyond a day in our testing so this is a strong point.
Software and apps
There's not a massive amount to say about software. The OnePlus 6, as you might be able to guess, comes with the firm's own OxygenOS which might sound a bit scary but it's a fairly stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo (but Android 10 is coming).
OnePlus doesn't muck around with the interface at all and importantly you don't get loads of bloatware and such. And from 16 October, OnePlus is rolling out Android 9 Pie to all OnePlus 6 units, continuing its great track record of supporting devices after launch.
This means you can use Google's new Android gestures or OnePlus' own which are actually pretty good and perhaps even preferable.
There are lots of little tweaks and additions that have been around for a while, namely the Shelf which is a swipe away from the homescreen. This provides quick access to recent contacts and apps, as well as providing useful information such as data usage and available storage.
Customisation is good so you can really use the phone how you like. That includes hiding the notch, theme and the font.
The OnePlus 6 also gives you the option to hide or even switch off the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. The latter means you'll use gestures that are available already on the 5T via a software update.
They're similar to the iPhone X and the ones coming in Android P so you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to go home, swipe and hold to open recent apps and swipe from the right-side to go back.
The OnePlus 6 may have been superseded by the 6T, 7, and 7 Pro, but this is still a great phone if you can find it on offer - though at full price you're better off buying the 6T or 7.
There are more expensive phones on the market with additional features like waterproofing and wireless charging, but those are luxury items which a lot of people won't actually use very often.
What OnePlus has done is nailed all the most important stuff and made a phone that offers excellent design, specs and performance at a great price.
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OnePlus 6: Specs
- Android 8.1 Oreo with OxygenOS
- 6.28in Full HD+ (1080x2280) AMOLED display, 19:9, 402ppi
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor
- Adreno 630 graphics
- 6/8GB RAM
- 64/128/256GB storage
- 16Mp and 20Mp rear cameras, f/1.7, support for 4K video at 60fps
- 16Mp front camera, f/2.0
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 4G LTE (Cat 16)
- Dual nano-SIM
- Headphone jack
- Fingerprint sensor (rear)
- 3,300mAh non-removable battery with Dash Charge