Review: OnePlus 6
The OnePlus 6 is the company's latest attempt to convince you that ultra-pricey flagships are unnecessary; why spend $800 to $1000 on a phone when you can get one that's nearly as good for just over $500? The 6 is an attractive metal-and-glass device that has the latest design from OnePlus, the latest specs from Qualcomm and others, and the latest Android software from Google. If you're in the market for a bargain, the OnePlus 6 delivers. Here is Phone Scoop's review.
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Is It Your Type?
The OnePlus 6 sees the company turning up the heat on its competition more than ever. The phone adopts an ultra-premium design, packs top specs, and costs hundreds less than similarly-capable phones from HTC, LG, and Samsung. If you want top performance without breaking the bank, the OnePlus 6 is an affordable flagship with few compromises.
OnePlus has always made attractive hardware and yet somehow the OnePlus 6 is a big leap forward. Though I appreciated the metal build of older OnePlus phones, the OnePlus 6 adopts a metal-and-glass design that is downright sultry. A metal frame wraps all the way around the outer edges and it is sandwiched between two curved panes of glass. OnePlus paid attention to the details: the shape of the glass panels is pleasing to look at, particularly where the metal and glass meet.
The 6 is being offered in white with pearl powder, matte black, and glossy black, all with unique finishes on the curved Gorilla Glass 5 surfaces. Our glossy review unit is a piano-black phone that gleams with inky darkness and reflectivity all at the same time. There's no question this is the most visually striking phone OnePlus has designed.
The phone is a little above average in terms of size for a modern handset. It's a bit bigger than the iPhone X and LG G7, for example, and it's about the same size as a Galaxy S9+. My guess is that some people will struggle to use it one-handed. It may be a hair too much phone for some people. The weight is nice. The OnePlus 6 is very slim, so it fits in pockets with ease.
OnePlus did a fine job putting the phone together. There's no question the curved Gorilla Glass 5 is high quality, and the aluminum frame feels strong and sturdy. The pieces are fitted together perfectly. It's an elegant, exacting design that feels far more luxurious than the phone's price point would suggest.
OnePlus says the 6 can withstand splashes and similar exposure to water, but the phone stops short of being fully waterproof. Both pieces of glass may be Corning's Gorilla Glass 5, but you'll still need to take care not to drop the phone. Thankfully OnePlus offers a wide assortment of its own cases to protect the phone.
The 6 has a relatively plain face with no branding. The phone adopts the notch, which means the company did what it could to stuff as much display onto the face as possible. The forehead and chin above and below the screen are significantly reduced compared even to the 5T. OnePlus moved the fingerprint reader from below the screen to the rear. All of the controls are found on the display. I like that the phone has a blinking LED light in the notch to let you know about notifications.
OnePlus' awesome ringer switch is on the right side of the phone. The three-position switch lets you control the phone's sound (on, vibrate, silent). This sets OnePlus apart. The switch has a ribbed texture that makes it easy to find, and the action is practically perfect. The screen lock button is below the switch on the right side. It has a good profile and fine travel and feedback. The volume toggle is on the left edge by itself. It also has a good profile and fine travel and feedback. The SIM card tray is tucked above the volume toggle on the left. The metal tray supports up to two SIM cards, but it doesn't accommodate memory cards.
The USB-C port is flanked by a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right and the speakerphone on the left. This is a pretty standard arrangement.
The glass rear panel curves just as it reaches the side edges of the phone. It's simple almost to a fault. As mentioned, I really like the new fingerprint reader, which now looks like a bit of a squished circle. It's indented only a tiny bit. It could be slightly easier to find. The dual camera array is directly above the fingerprint reader. I'm glad the module has a raised edge, which helps set it apart by feel and means you're less apt to touch it with your fingers and get grease on the lens.
It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: There's no removing the rear panel of the phone and the battery is inaccessible.
The 6 is OnePlus' finest effort. The phone is slim, attractive, and easy to use. It stands up to the best from LG, Samsung, and HTC without blinking.
The OnePlus 6 has a fine display. It measures 6.3 inches from corner to corner and packs 2,280 by 1,080 pixels. The display is taller than the screen of last year's 5T to accommodate the notch. Some might wish for a quad HD+ screen, but the resolution of the 6 fares well with a pixel density of 402ppi. Everything on the screen is sharp and easy to see. It looks clean and bright. Blacks look black, and colors pop brightly.
The screen puts out plenty of light. I had no trouble at all using the phone outdoors under bright skies. Viewing angles are very good: there's no blue shift at all, and only minimal brightness loss when viewing at extreme angles. It includes all the modern conveniences, such as night mode, reading mode, and the ability to select from five different color profiles. You can also control the notch, making it visible or "invisible" to suit your tastes. OnePlus did a great job with this display.
OnePlus sells the 6 unlocked with excellent support for GSM/LTE networks in the U.S. It supports most of the major LTE bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile, including the newest bands 29/30 for AT&T and 66/71 for T-Mobile. Though the 6 technically includes CDMA, it lacks LTE band 13, so it won't work well with Verizon. It's not designed to work with Sprint, either. It also supports up to Cat. 16 LTE, which means you should get faster LTE compared to most unlocked phones.
I tested the phone on both AT&T and T-Mobile in and around New York City, and came away impressed. The phone latched onto AT&T and T-Mobile's 4G networks and maintained a strong connection even in questionable coverage areas. Data speeds were lightning fast and matched today's top phones from Samsung and LG. The OnePlus 6 was able to stream high-quality video via YouTube and music via Spotify over LTE with no trouble. I rarely experienced any buffering and didn't see any real dropouts or pauses. It's a fine data phone.
Need to make phone calls? The OnePlus 6 manages voice connections with ease. The phone patched calls through on the first dial each time, and they remained connected over miles of highway driving.
The 6 is a good voice phone. The majority of calls I made with the device came through the earpiece loud and clear. Voices had a pleasant tone and rarely were obstructed by noise or distortion. The earpiece puts out just enough volume for calls in public spaces. I wish it delivered a bit more punch, but it's fine for taking calls at home, the office, or in a car.
The speakerphone isn't as clear. Voices are more prone to distortion, and setting the volume all the way up creates a boomy effect that's sometimes annoying. Like the earpiece, the speaker produces just enough volume. I hoped for more bombast. Those I spoke to through the 6 said I sounded good.
Ringers and alerts generally got my attention when necessary. The vibrate alert could be a little stronger. You can select from a wide array of vibration patterns.
The OnePlus 6 has a 3,300mAh battery tucked into the chassis and it consistently delivers a full day of uptime. I never ran into any battery trouble while testing the OnePlus 6 over a week, and found it was a fine companion from breakfast to bedtime. It ended most days with about 20% left, however, so you may have to make some tweaks to keep it going all day, especially as the battery ages.
The phone doesn't support wireless charging, but it does include OnePlus' "Dash Charge" rapid charging. If you find yourself in trouble, plugging the phone into the included charger for 15 minutes boosts the battery by about 25%. Leave it plugged in for 30 minutes and you'll be set for the rest of the day.
Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi
The OnePlus 6 does everything well. The Bluetooth 5.0 radio performed flawlessly. It paired and connected with every accessory I tested. Music playback via headphones was excellent, thanks to support for aptX HD. Calls via my car's hands-free system were a bit scratchy.
The GPS radio helped me navigate around NYC with ease and it managed to help me avoid some traffic jams in real time. It pinpointed me within several seconds and was accurate to about 10 feet.
The 6 includes NFC and support for Google Pay. I had no trouble setting up and using Google's mobile payment service on the OnePlus 6. The NFC radio also helps when pairing properly equipped Bluetooth accessories.
The WiFi radio did a great job.
Hands On with the OnePlus 6
The OnePlus 6 is here to convince you that no one needs a $700, $800, $900, or $1,000 smartphone. Heck, you don't even need a $600 smartphone.
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Google today made Android P Beta 2 available to developers. Importantly, Google says this beta includes the final Android P APIs (level 28) and the official SDK, which means developers have what they need to customize their apps for the new features in Android P.
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