The OnePlus 6 is a fabulous phone once you look past the notch.
The OnePlus 6 is the most anticipated phone of 2018 in India, and for good reason. OnePlus' aggressive strategy paid dividends for the brand in recent quarters, and the company has a firm foothold in the mid-range segment.
One reason for OnePlus' popularity in India is because of the fact that the brand maintains price parity with its U.S. counterpart. The 64GB version of the OnePlus 6 retails for ₹34,999, which comes out to $515, or $15 less than what the phone is available for in the U.S. That was the case last year as well, wherein OnePlus launched the 5T at the same ₹32,999 ($485) price point as the OnePlus 5.
To put things into context, the Galaxy S9+ launched in India for ₹64,900 ($1,015), or $175 more than what it costs in the U.S. Similarly, the Pixel 2 XL made its debut in the country at ₹73,900 ($1,120), a full $270 more than what it retails for in the U.S.
Compare that to what the OnePlus 6 costs and you begin to understand why the brand has such a fervent following in India. The country is now the largest global market for OnePlus, and accounts for over a third of all sales.
For the OnePlus 6, the company is introducing a couple of improvements that distinguish it from last year's models. Key among them is a glass design at the back, a retooled camera setup with a brand-new imaging sensor, upgraded internals, and water resistance. There's also an unwelcome addition in the form of a notch, but overall the OnePlus 6 is once again the phone to beat in this category.
About this review
I (Harish Jonnalagadda) am writing this review after using the OnePlus 6 for ten days in Hyderabad and Delhi. I used the phone on Airtel and Jio's 4G networks, and hooked it up to a variety of Bluetooth accessories. The phone came with OxygenOS 5.1.2, and I picked up the 5.1.3 update a few days into the testing period. OnePlus India provided the device for review.
OnePlus 6: Design
If there's one word to describe the design of the OnePlus 6, it would be refinement. The switch to a glass back gives the phone a more upmarket look, and the fit and finish are in line with what you'd expect from the best that Samsung has to offer.
The one downside of the new design is that it makes the OnePlus 6 look similar to the endless wave of glass-backed Android phones. However, OnePlus is differentiating its phone by offering variants that have unique patterns underneath the glass back.
The camera sensor is now arrayed vertically, and has a more central position at the back. The new location for the imaging module means the fingerprint sensor is slightly lower than where it was on the 5T, and the sensor itself is now rectangular.
The positioning means the sensor isn't as easy to locate anymore, but it's just as accurate as before. The back also features the OnePlus logo, and it looks like the company is proud of its new design language, as it furnished the bottom of the device with a "Designed by OnePlus" moniker.
The front is dominated by a 6.28-inch display, which is notable for the cutout at the top. The other significant design alteration at the front is the Alert Slider, which is now located on the right side of the phone. The slider now sits above the power button, and its functionality has also been altered — you'll easily be able to put the phone in ring, vibrate, or silent mode by toggling between the three options.
The OnePlus 6 has a sleek new design and color options with unique patterns.
Down below is where you'll find the solitary speaker, which sits next to the USB-C (2.0) connector and the increasingly rare 3.5mm jack. To its credit, OnePlus says the jack will be a mainstay on its devices for the foreseeable future. You also get aptX HD for high-fidelity streaming over Bluetooth.
The OnePlus 6 is also water resistant for "everyday occasions," but the phone doesn't have an IP rating. OnePlus didn't clarify what those everyday occasions were, but the lack of certification means that while the OnePlus 6 will withstand the splash of water, you're better off not taking it to the pool.
The OnePlus 6 is available in three variants — Mirror Black, Midnight Black, and Silk White — and all three models have something unique to offer. The Mirror Black version has a glossy back with a piano black finish, and the Midnight Black model has a textured film underneath the glass that shows off an "S" under certain lighting conditions.
The Silk White edition, meanwhile, has pearl powder that creates a shimmering effect. Both the Midnight Black and Silk White variants have a matte finish. The Silk White is the most exciting option of the three, but it is also the model that's hardest to get a hold of. OnePlus mentions that the variant will be sold in limited quantities, and it's likely it will sell out altogether in a matter of days following its availability on June 5.
I'm reviewing the glossy-backed variant of the OnePlus 6, which is quick to pick up smudges. The variants with the matte finish fare slightly better in this regard, but you'll want to use this phone with a case. Thankfully, OnePlus makes a range of excellent first-party cases.
That's not all for the Indian market, however, as OnePlus is launching the OnePlus 6 Marvel Avengers Edition later this month in the country. The Avengers edition features a kevlar pattern underneath the glass back that's reminiscent of OnePlus' Karbon Black cases, and there's also the Avengers logo at the back.
For all intents, the OnePlus 6 Avengers edition is a custom variant of the Mirror Black model with a kevlar textured film underneath the glass. Other design flourishes include a gold-accented Alert Slider, and exclusive Avengers backgrounds. The Avengers edition is the only model in the country that offers 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, and you'll be able to pick it up starting May 29 for ₹44,999.
OnePlus 6: Display
The OnePlus 6 now has a 6.28-inch display — thanks to the notch — but the overall height at 155.7mm is slightly less than the 5T's 156.1mm.
Like last year, you'll be able to adjust the screen calibration to either sRGB, DCI-P3, or a custom color profile. The panel is still FHD+, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as you're not going to notice a whole lot of difference between QHD and FHD+ on a 6.28-inch screen anyway. And by continuing to offer a Full HD screen, OnePlus is able to deliver better battery life.
The OLED panel offers vibrant colors with excellent contrast levels, and while the overall brightness isn't quite as high as what you'll find on Samsung's latest flagship, it is perfectly serviceable. Like the 5T, the OnePlus 6 offers one of the best panels in this category.
There's an ambient lift up display mode that wakes the screen when you lift it up off a surface, and you also have the option to wake the screen for incoming notifications. The phone also has a night mode that you can automatically schedule to kick in from sunset to sunrise or at a predetermined time.
The OnePlus 6 has one of the best displays in this category.
If you're looking to read longform content on the phone at night, the reading mode is a better alternative. The mode turns the display monochrome, making it much more conducive to read text at night. It's a feature I particularly like on OnePlus phones, and one that other manufacturers should copy.
The phone works with "Okay Google" hotword detection, so you'll be able to launch the Google Assistant — even when the display is off — by invoking either the"Okay Google" or "Hey Google" hotwords.
OnePlus mainstays are present on its latest flagship: there's an LED notification light, and you can customize the colors for various actions, like battery low or set a different color for an individual app. You can also choose from a light or dark theme, adjust the display scaling and font size options, and mirror your phone's screen to a Cast-enabled device.
Unlike last year's kerfuffle with the 5T, Netflix HD streaming is enabled out of the box on the OnePlus 6, but it is limited to 720p. YouTube streaming at 1080p works just fine, but I wasn't able to get Netflix to stream in Full HD.
Last year's face unlock feature is intact on the OnePlus 6, and continues to be one of the fastest implementations on a phone today. OnePlus is upfront about the fact that Face Unlock isn't as secure as the fingerprint sensor, but it works incredibly well both in daylight as well as low-light scenarios.
The addition of the notch will be a polarizing feature, but thankfully you can at least hide it from the settings. Doing so will result in black bars on either side of the notch, effectively hiding it in daily usage scenarios.
In my usage, I found that the notch doesn't really add much in terms of value. Yes, I was able to see more text on-screen, but the added two lines don't make up for the fact that there's an unseemly cutout at the top of the display.
The notch is OnePlus 6's main annoyance, but you can hide it.
I wouldn't mind the notch had OnePlus eliminated the bottom bar on the OnePlus 6, but that isn't the case. The bottom bar isn't as substantial as the one on the 5T, but it's still present, calling into question the reasoning for the notch in the first place. More than anything else on the device, the notch feels like a feature that serves no useful purpose.
Sure, OnePlus did a better job minimizing the bottom bar when seen against the likes of ASUS and Huawei, but to call its notch implementation the best on Android would be like saying that a car with three wheels is better than one with two.
OnePlus 6: Performance
|Camera 1||16MP rear, ƒ/1.7, OIS|
|Camera 2||20MP rear, ƒ/1.7|
|Connectivity||Gigabit LTE, 27 LTE bands|
|Security||Fingerprint, face unlock|
|Dimensions||155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75mm|
|Colors||Mirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk White|
|Price||₹34,999, ₹39,999, ₹44,999|
OnePlus differentiated itself from the onset by offering phones with class-leading performance, and the OnePlus 6 is no different. The phone is the first in the country to feature Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 845 chipset, and you also get 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage.
The raw numbers combined with the optimized OxygenOS make the OnePlus 6 one of the fastest — if not the fastest — Android phones in the market today. The device is just as fluid as the Pixel 2 when it comes to handling everyday tasks, and I never noticed a slowdown or lag in the ten days I've used the device.
Like previous devices, OnePlus lets you customize the vibration pattern for incoming calls, and the haptics in general are satisfactory. The Wi-Fi performance was also stellar thanks to 2x2 MIMO, and I routinely saw speeds in the vicinity of 470Mbps.
Cellular data was flaky, but that's more to do with the state of Airtel and Jio's 4G networks than a reflection on the device. For its part, OnePlus has mentioned that it has tuned the device specifically for Indian carriers.
The mono speaker at the bottom gets sufficiently loud, but it is nowhere near as detailed as stereo speakers. Call quality was similarly adequate, and I had no issues with hearing the recipient or connectivity issues when making calls.
For all of its advances, the OnePlus 6 is missing a few features, notably wireless charging. Given the manufacturer's six-month release cycle, it's likely we'll see the feature make its way into the OnePlus 6T later this year.
The OnePlus 6 has the same 3300mAh battery as the 5T, and the battery life is near-identical as well. You won't have any issues getting a day's worth of usage for the most part, but there are scenarios where you'll need to top up before bedtime — mainly if you're using cellular data throughout the day.
Dash Charge is thankfully unchanged, and you get the same lightning-quick charging speeds as years past. The downside is that you'll have to pick up OnePlus' proprietary charging tech to make full use of Dash Charge, and it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon. Still, the ability to get p to five hours' worth of usage from a 15-minute charge is a definite bonus.
OnePlus 6: Software
I can't find many faults with OxygenOS, and that should speak volumes to the improvements OnePlus has undertaken in this area over the last two years.
OxygenOS 5.1.3 has the same vanilla user interface that we've come to like, and you get subtle tweaks that make the overall experience that much better. The latest addition to the user interface is a gesture-driven navigation system, which made its debut at the start of the year on the OnePlus 5T.
The OnePlus 6 uses the same system, and the gestures let you maximize the real estate on the screen while offering a more intuitive way of navigating the interface. You swipe up from the bottom center of the screen to go home, and swiping up from either edge will take you back inside an app. A swipe up and pause gesture reveals the multitasking pane.
OxygenOS is one of the best manufacturer skins available today.
Oddly enough, the ability to swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification shade is missing on the OnePlus 6, and although you can search for the feature in the settings, there's no way to enable it. It's likely the feature will go live in a forthcoming update.
You can still toggle real-time network speed, but the truncated nature of the status bar means you'll have to pull down to view the icon. That's true for battery percentage as well — there's no way to see it directly in the status bar, and you can't enable System UI Tuner to manually tweak that particular option.
And while you can manage preferences for Do Not Disturb, there's no way to automatically schedule the feature like most other phones. OnePlus alluded to the feature at its launch event, so there's a possibility we'll see it added at a later date.
The OnePlus 6 also supports Treble, and is in fact included in the first wave of devices eligible for the Android P beta program. The beta build is now available for the device, and while it doesn't have any OxygenOS customizations, OnePlus says those will be added in forthcoming builds. OnePlus devices are also mod-friendly, so it's a straightforward affair to unlock the bootloader and install a custom ROM.
The only question around OxygenOS revolves around updates, but OnePlus has been making positive strides in this area and we should see faster updates going forward.
OnePlus 6: Camera
The camera is another area that has been overhauled in the OnePlus 6. The dual 16MP + 20MP setup is the same as last year's 5T, but the primary camera gets a brand-new imaging sensor (Sony IMX 519), the secondary camera is now used solely for adding bokeh to portrait mode shots, and optical image stabilization is back.
The interface itself is largely unchanged from last year, and is just as easy to use. You'll be able to easily toggle between video, photo, and portrait modes, and enable HDR, set timers, toggle flash, and set the intensity of the beautify mode from the interface. 2x zoom is still intact, but it no longer offers optical zoom as the secondary sensor is limited to adding depth of field effect to images.
The OnePlus 6 camera takes stunning photos in daylight conditions, but the bulk of the improvements are centered around low-light photography. Simply put, this is the first OnePlus device that doesn't suck at taking photos in less-than-stellar lighting.
While the OnePlus 6 is much better at low-light photos, it still isn't anywhere as good as the Pixel 2 or the Huawei P20 Pro in this area. That said, it does lead the field in its price category, and that could turn out to be the differentiator this year.
The OnePlus 6 also offers slow-motion videos: 720p at 480fps and 1080p at 240fps. In addition, you get the ability to shoot 4K videos at 60fps, and the inclusion of OIS makes a huge difference when shooting videos handheld. The front 16MP camera is unchanged from last year, and takes passable selfies — they're decent enough for sharing on social media platforms.
Should you buy it? Absolutely!
With the OnePlus 6, you're getting the same hardware as phones that cost twice as much, along with a software experience that's one of the best available on Android today. Aside from the notch, there isn't an area where the OnePlus 6 doesn't excel.
The display is one of the best you'll find in this category, and it's safe to say that the OnePlus 6 is the fastest phone available in the market today. The camera has picked up much-needed improvements and is now usable in low-light conditions, and all-day battery life combined with the efficacy of Dash Charge make the OnePlus 6 one of the best devices of the year.
OnePlus leads the market when it comes to value, and that's unlikely to change for the rest of 2018.
There are plenty of options if you're looking to buy the OnePlus 6 in India. The phone is available in three color variants — Mirror Black, Midnight Black, and Silk White — and customers in India will also be able to pick up the limited edition Marvel Avengers model.
The Mirror Black edition is available in both 6GB/64GB (₹34,999) and 8GB/128GB variants (₹39,999), but the Midnight Black and Silk White are only limited to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The Midnight Black edition is now up for sale, but the Silk White model will be available from the first week of June.
If you're interested in the model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, you'll have to go with the Avengers edition as that's the only variant offering the increasing storage option in India. The Avengers variant will go up for sale on May 29 for ₹44,999.
If last year's 5T Star Wars edition was any indication, the Avengers edition will sell out in a matter of days, so be sure to get your order in as soon as the phone is up for sale. The same goes for the Silk White variant as well — OnePlus says that the model will be available in limited quantities, so you'll need to act fast to get your hands on the device.
- Great new design
- Class-leading internals
- Much-improved camera
- Uncluttered UI
- Unmatched value
- No wireless charging
Regardless of whatever variant of the OnePlus 6 you end up with, you're getting a phone that offers plenty of value for its asking price. There are few phones that offer quite as much in this category, and the fact that it costs just over half the price of the Galaxy S9+ makes it the bargain of the year.