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Review: OnePlus 6T

Hardware Software Wrap-Up Comments  

Nov 15, 2018, 9:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

Editor's Choice
OnePlus 6T

The 6T from OnePlus is among the first wave of phones to put the fingerprint reader under the display. With a svelte glass-and-metal design, huge screen, high-capacity battery, and reimagined cameras, the OnePlus 6T offers a lot of phone for far less than competing flagships. If you want a classy device that gets the job done while saving you hundreds of dollars, the 6T could be it. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth review.

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Is It Your Type?

OnePlus has a pretty simple pitch to smartphone shoppers, which is that they can get a flagship device for hundreds of dollars less than the competition. If you're seeking a classy device that offers modern appointments and swift performance, look no further than the OnePlus 6T.

Body

OnePlus releases two phones per year. The first, which arrives in May or June, is noticeably changed from the previous year's models. The second, landing in October, is a minor upgrade to its immediate predecessor. And so we find ourselves with the 6T, a spiffed-up version of the OnePlus 6.

Outwardly, the 6T is hardly changed from the 6. It's a slim slab of black glass and metal. The 6T has a sleek, modern appearance with smooth surfaces front and back. Like the majority of modern flagships, the glass panels sandwich the aluminum frame. Both glass panels are curved where they meet the frame.

OnePlus is currently selling three finishes. The most common are midnight black (matte) and mirror black (glossy). They're equally appealing to my eyes, though I prefer the matte feel of the midnight black. A "Thunder Purple" color variant is also for sale. It's a limited edition and costs more than the black versions.

6T  

The 6T is taller, thicker, and heavier than the 6, but only by a little. Somehow the 6T is narrower than the 6, but again, by a hair. At 6.2 inches tall, 2.94 inches wide, and 0.32 inches (8.2mm) thick, it's about the same size as the Pixel 3 XL from Google and iPhone XS Max from Apple. The weight is up by one-quarter of an ounce compared to the 6, likely due to the larger battery within. It feels big, but the slim profile makes it easy to carry around in your pants or coat pocket. The weight gives it authority.

The 6T looks and feels like a high-end device. The finish in the rear glass, for example, is expertly crafted and adds a certain luxury to the phone. Speaking of the glass, OnePlus opted for Gorilla Glass 6. Corning claims Gorilla Glass 6 is more resistant to breakage than Gorilla Glass 5, but that doesn't change the fact that it's glass. It's a good thing OnePlus makes its own range of attractive cases. Buy one.

Hand Fit  

The phone is splash resistant, which means it can handle sweat and light rain. It cannot deal with being submerged, a level of protection that most other flagship phones offer. Though I wish it were rated IP68, I have no reservations about the quality or craftsmanship of the 6T.

OnePlus is gunning hard for an all-screen face. It's close, with the display accounting for 86% of the front, a good ratio. The side bezels are decidedly slim. There's hardly a chin at all and the teardrop-shaped notch at the top gives the 6T a widow's peak forehead. The user-facing camera is fairly obvious to the eye, but the earpiece speaker emits sound through a hidden slit just above the glass. (This is the same approach as on the Essential Phone.) This can problematic, as some of OnePlus' own, custom-made cases for the 6T partially cover the slit, which impacts call quality.

Notch

Notch

OnePlus' killer ringer switch is on the right side of the phone. The three-position switch lets you control the phone's sound (on, vibrate, silent). Not enough phones offer this kind of simplicity in controlling the ringer. The switch has a ribbed texture that makes it easy to find, and the action is perfect.

Buttons

Buttons

The screen lock button is below the switch. It has a good profile and excellent travel and feedback. The volume toggle is on the left edge. It also has a good profile and acceptable travel and feedback.

The tray for SIM cards is tucked above the volume toggle on the left edge. The metal tray supports up to two SIM cards, but not memory cards.

There's a USB-C port, but unfortunately, OnePlus decided to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack, a feature its own customers asked the company to keep. The 6T includes a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter in the box, but that may not cut it for some people. The company also has new, affordable USB-C earbuds for sale.

OnePlus flattened out the rear panel glass of the 6T a bit when compared to the 6, particularly close to the side edges. It still has some degree of a curve, but the curve is more subtle. Only the dual-camera module bedecks the rear; the fingerprint reader is gone, relocated under the glass on front. The camera module is typical, which means it's raised above the surface of the glass just a bit.

Some may consider the 6T a sideways step. Sure, the under-the-display fingerprint reader is cool, but it comes at the expense of the headphone jack. Otherwise, the hardware is quite good.

Screen

The display measures 6.4 inches across the diagonal and has full HD+ resolution. The aspect ratio is slightly taller than 2:1, at 19.5:9, or 2,360 by 1,080 pixels. It's 60 pixels taller than the screen of the 6. I think the resolution is good enough. At 402ppi, text and images on the screen look sharp. Some competing phones at this size, such as the LG V40 ThinQ, have quad HD resolution. The 6T's full HD+ gets the job done. OnePlus' AMOLED panel does fine. The display delivers enough light for easy indoor and outdoor use. Blacks are black and colors stand out beautifully. Viewing angles are excellent.

Advanced controls include night mode, reading mode, color calibration, and the ability to "hide" the small notch with a black bar behind the status icons. These all function well.

Display  

Signal

The 6T carries over the excellent radio performance of the 6. It supports 42 LTE bands, including the majority of those used by U.S. carriers. It's particularly well suited for AT&T (with bands 29 and 30) and T-Mobile (with bands 66 and 71). T-Mobile actually sells the phone in its stores, a first for OnePlus.

The 6T includes basic support for Verizon (Bands 4, 13), but you'll need to call Verizon customer support to get the phone working properly. When I swapped in a Verizon SIM card without going through customer support, the 6T connected to the network at a base level, but it didn't perform well and generated errors.

I fully tested the phone on AT&T and it did splendidly. The phone connected each call on the first dial, and did not drop those calls in a moving car. Data speeds were outstanding. The phone easily delivered HD Netflix and high-quality Spotify to my eyes and ears. The OnePlus 6T is on par with top flagships when it comes to network performance.

Sound

I'm not as impressed with call quality. The earpiece is loud enough that you can hear calls in most spaces, but voices sound muffled and there's a fair amount of distortion. People I spoke to through the 6T said I sounded "just ok."

The bottom-firing speakerphone produces enough volume so it can be heard at home and in a moving car, but outdoors in the wind is a different story. Moreover, the speakerphone suffers from more muffling and distortion than the earpiece.

Ringers and alerts are very loud, and OnePlus' haptic vibration system is excellent.

The phone doesn't offer stereo music/video playback via speakers, something many of its competitors do.

Sound  

Battery

OnePlus increased the size of the battery by a healthy 12%, to 3,700 mAh. This makes a huge difference. Together with Android 9's battery optimization feature, the 6T delivered excellent battery life. I had absolutely no trouble pushing the phone through a full day. In fact, I had a hard time running the battery down completely. The 6T provides more than enough uptime.

In addition to Android 9's Adaptive Battery, the 6T includes the base-level Android power saver feature.

The phone does not support wireless charging, but will charge quite rapidly with the supplied charger and cable. The phone sticks to OnePlus' "a day's power in half an hour" mantra. Plugging the phone in for 30 minutes will give the phone about a 50% boost.

6T Battery  

Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi

The OnePlus 6T covers all the bases as far as secondary radios are concerned.

The Bluetooth 5.0 radio did a great job. It easily paired and connected with a half dozen accessories. Music playback via headphones and speakers was excellent, thanks to support for aptX HD. Calls via my car's hands-free system were mediocre.

The GPS radio pinpointed me within several seconds and was accurate to about 10 feet. It made a fine pair with Waze for some point-to-point driving.

NFC and support for Google Pay are on board. I didn't run into any problems setting this up and using it. The NFC radio can assist pairing with properly equipped Bluetooth accessories.

The WiFi radio performed perfectly.

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