Mobile Technology

OnePlus 6 review: The best flagship killer OnePlus has put out yet

OnePlus 6 review: The best fla...
The OnePlus 6 follows last year's OnePlus 5T
The OnePlus 6 follows last year's OnePlus 5T
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The OnePlus 6 follows last year's OnePlus 5T
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The OnePlus 6 follows last year's OnePlus 5T
As well as Silk White, the OnePlus 6 is available in matte and mirror black
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As well as Silk White, the OnePlus 6 is available in matte and mirror black
The OnePlus 6 runs OxygenOS
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The OnePlus 6 runs OxygenOS
The notch at the top of the OnePlus 6 display can be hidden in the software
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The notch at the top of the OnePlus 6 display can be hidden in the software
The OnePlus 6 features a dual-sensor 16 MP + 20 MP camera on the back
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The OnePlus 6 features a dual-sensor 16 MP + 20 MP camera on the back
With a Snapdragon 845 processor and up to 8 GB of RAM, the OnePlus 6 is one of the best specced phones of 2018
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With a Snapdragon 845 processor and up to 8 GB of RAM, the OnePlus 6 is one of the best specced phones of 2018
The AMOLED display on the OnePlus 6 measures 6.28 inches corner to corner
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The AMOLED display on the OnePlus 6 measures 6.28 inches corner to corner
The OnePlus 6 camera handles low light scenes admirably
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The OnePlus 6 camera handles low light scenes admirably
This shot of the same scene from the Pixel 2 show how Google's phone just has the edge in the details
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This shot of the same scene from the Pixel 2 show how Google's phone just has the edge in the details
You can get some fine shots from the OnePlus 6, with vibrant colors and sharp details
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You can get some fine shots from the OnePlus 6, with vibrant colors and sharp details
The OnePlus 6 handles macro shots well too, and gives you snaps that are worth showing off
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The OnePlus 6 handles macro shots well too, and gives you snaps that are worth showing off
The OnePlus 6 has one of the better cameras we've seen, it just doesn't quite hit the heights of a Samsung or Apple phone
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The OnePlus 6 has one of the better cameras we've seen, it just doesn't quite hit the heights of a Samsung or Apple phone

Four years and eight phones down the line, the OnePlus mission remains the same: to offer flagship-quality phones at the cheapest possible price. We've spent the last week testing out the latest phone to aim for that goal, the brand new OnePlus 6, and here are our thoughts.

We were given the limited edition Silk White model for our review – you can also pick up the phone in matte or glossy black – and there's no doubt this is one fantastic-looking device. Almost as thin as the iPhone X, it has curves and buttons and metallic accents in all the right places. This time around OnePlus has gone for a glass back, which isn't to everyone's tastes, but in our eyes really adds to the premium finish.

A couple of hardware choices we particularly like are physical button for muting the phone (carried over from other OnePlus handsets), and the refusal to do away with the 3.5-mm audio jack, which means even your oldest headphones will work with this.

The 6.28-inch, 19:9 aspect ratio, 2280 x 1080 pixel AMOLED screen is a real star: Vibrant and crisp, it shines no matter what you're doing with it. The display notch comes to the OnePlus line for the first time, but if you find it distracting, the software settings let you hide it, up to a point, by limiting how much screen space apps can use.

It's right up there with the best displays we've seen on a mobile phone, with colors popping out of the screen whether you're watching Netflix or just scrolling through your apps. As usual on OnePlus phones, it's possible to tweak the color temperature to something more natural if you prefer.

Under the hood, the combination of a Snapdragon 845 chipset and 6 GB or 8 GB of RAM means you're unlikely to find a better phone in terms of raw performance this year. It certainly sped very quickly through everything we threw at it, from games to videos.

And if you are serious about mobile gaming, the built-in Gaming Mode will help, blocking notifications and prioritizing network access for your games, so you're not suddenly run off the road or caught out by a sniper because of internet lag.

The OnePlus 6 features a dual-sensor 16 MP + 20 MP camera on the back
The OnePlus 6 features a dual-sensor 16 MP + 20 MP camera on the back

Special mention must go to OxygenOS as a whole, because OnePlus' custom-built version of Android (based on Android 8.1 Oreo) is largely a delight to use — it takes the Android framework and adds features that are mostly well thought out and elegantly designed. Compare the Messages app to the stock edition Google makes, for example, which actually improves it in both aesthetics and usability.

You get extra customization options, such as the ability to hide the navigation bar, and support for gestures – so you can mute the phone by turning it over, or draw on the screen to control music playback. You do have to put up with a few inferior OnePlus apps, like the rather basic Gallery, but overall OxygenOS is a big success.

As for the battery, we found ourselves with plenty of juice left over at the end of each day – even 30-40 percent on some occasions, though you have to factor in the factory-fresh effect. With heavy use, and as the battery degrades, that won't stay the case, but the OnePlus 6 should easily see you through a day of use for as long as you have it.

Watching an hour's worth of Netflix at maximum brightness, with the volume at a comfortable level, knocked the battery down by 10 percent. Battery life is good, without setting any records.

Last in the list of features you're likely to care most about is the camera, with OnePlus opting for a dual-sensor 16 MP + 20 MP setup on the rear of the device. Photography is an area OnePlus phones have lagged behind on in the past, but the OnePlus 6 produces perfectly fine results in most conditions.

If it does have faults, they seem to be in the image processing, with pictures sometimes coming out a little grainy or oversharpened when the lighting isn't ideal. It's by no means a bad camera, but it's one of the areas where OnePlus can't quite keep up with the best (and to be fair, Apple and Samsung are setting very high watermarks).

The OnePlus 6 runs OxygenOS
The OnePlus 6 runs OxygenOS

On the plus side, the process of capturing pictures is remarkably quick, optical image stabilization has been added, and the OnePlus camera does include a Pro Mode that lets you play around with ISO and exposure settings – again, not something you get with the stock version of Android. It's also a step up from the camera quality of the OnePlus 5T, especially in low light.

Check out the gallery for a side-by-side night picture comparison with the Pixel 2. The OnePlus 6 certainly holds its own in terms of detail and color, but when you get closer you can see the Pixel 2 just has the edge – and that's also the overall story for the camera. For most photos in most cases, you wouldn't be able to tell much difference.

There are other caveats here too: The screen resolution is stuck at 1080p, so it's not as sharp as some of its rivals, wireless charging isn't integrated, and the phone doesn't have an IP rating so probably won't survive a dunk in liquid. On top of that, the 6.28-inch screen may well be just too big for some users.

And if you're in the US, it doesn't have the necessary cellular support for Verizon and Sprint – something of a dealbreaker if you're on those networks.

If you can live with those faults, then the OnePlus 6 gives you a very good phone at a very good price: It starts at US$529 for the model with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. Does it reach the same heights as the very best phones of 2018? Close, but not quite. Is it better value? Almost definitely.

Product page: OnePlus 6

3 comments
Rusty Harris
Ever notice no one ever gives a report on how well they work as a PHONE? Some of us use 1500-2000 minutes or more on the phone.
kenkeyessr
Are you telling me that you can talk to someone on these things! What will they think of next.
StWils
Water resistance and sturdy drop & impact resistance are not optional features. Prettier pictures are optional.