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OnePlus 6 review

Pros

  • It's got all the best bits of the iPhone X but for less than half the price
  • Fantastic dual-lens camera that can shoot up to a minute of super-slow-mo video
  • Stylish all-glass design with a barely-there notch

Cons

  • We would have liked to see better waterproofing
  • There's no option to add expandable storage

First impressions and design

  • Attention-grabbing all-screen front with an iPhone X-style notch
  • Surprisingly sturdy all-glass design that looks and feels premium
  • Comes in three attractive colourways

OnePlus 6 back design

As soon as I take the shiny new OnePlus 6 out of its box, I’m struck by how different it looks to its predecessor, the OnePlus 5t.

Like Apple, Huawei and Sony, OnePlus has come up with a redesign that feels like a breath of fresh air in comparison to previous generations.

So what’s new? Well, first off, the most immediately obvious difference is the screen. In an effort to keep up with the game-changing iPhone X, OnePlus has joined the infinity display brigade. And it’s absolutely the right decision.

After all, if you can have a phone with a glossy all-screen front, why would you opt for a small display framed by chunky bezels? Even phone designs as recent as 2016 feel achingly old-fashioned in comparison to these new all-screen designs.

And OnePlus has definitely moved with the times to bring us a big, beautiful screen that takes up the entire front of the phone, save for a small black strip that houses the selfie camera, speaker and LED light.

Yes, that’s right. OnePlus has gone with an iPhone X-style notch at the top of the phone. But crucially, it’s much smaller and less obtrusive than the one on Apple’s £1,000 iPhone. In fact, after using it for a few minutes, I stopped noticing it altogether.

But, if it’s really bothering you, you can simply hide it in the settings.

Elsewhere, OnePlus has ditched its aluminium design to bring us a brand-new all-glass construction similar to the iPhone X.

Now, before you start worrying about it smashing it, it’s made of Gorilla Glass 5, which makes it a lot tougher than it looks. In the time I spent with it, I didn’t manage to get a single scratch on it, despite dropping it more than once and shoving it in and out of my bag.

As with a lot of all-screen phones, you’ll find the fingerprint scanner around the back. Which is probably the most sensible place you can put it.

If, like me, you have small hands, the phone might be a bit too big for you to be able to reach the fingerprint scanner comfortably. But there’s always face unlock, which I’ll get onto in a bit.

The OnePlus 6 is available in three stylish colourways. We’ve got the ultra-shiny Mirror Black version. And, as the name suggests, you can see your own face in it. Of course, this makes it a bit of a magnet for smudges. But you can just put a clear case on it or give it a wipe every so often to keep it looking pristine.

Alternatively, there’s the OnePlus 6 in Midnight Black, which is actually more different to the Mirror Black than you might suspect. With a softer, more matte finish, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s not as impressive as the glossy mirror finish. But, there’s a subtle S-shape etched into the body of the phone that’s only visible when the light catches it.

And last but not least, is the limited-edition Silk White colourway. Apparently OnePlus designers have used real pearl dust to give the phone a subtle shimmer. And it’s certainly the prettiest of all the OnePlus handsets.

Build Glass
Weight 177g
Dimensions 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm

Screen and sound

  • Bright, crisp infinity display
  • Decent single speaker
  • Great all-round device for films and games

OnePlus 6 screen Simpsons hero size

As I’ve already mentioned, the large infinity display is an attention-grabber before you even turn it on. But what’s it like when you fire it up?

Well, with an 84% screen-to-body ratio, you certainly get a lot of display for your money. And with a wider-than-average 19:9 aspect ratio, you’ve essentially got a widescreen in your pocket.

But of course, size isn’t everything. It’s got to perform well too.

You’ll be pleased to learn that the OnePlus 6 is just as bright as it is big. Its full HD+ AMOLED screen is beautifully crisp and sharp. And, while its pixel count isn’t quite as high as that on Samsung’s latest flagships, in reality you’re unlikely to notice a significant difference.

Unlike some other high-end phones, the OnePlus 6 is colourful without being oversaturated. So the hues look natural, rather than eye-wateringly bright.

Thankfully, the notch doesn’t get in the way while you’re streaming. Rather than attempting to wrap the video around the notch, OnePlus has opted to hide it with a subtle black bar instead, giving you a clean edge all the way around the screen.

If we were in the habit of nit-picking, we’d point out that the OnePlus 6 doesn’t play HDR content. So you can’t enjoy 4K HDR streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime. But, OnePlus clearly had to cut costs in order to bring us a high-end handset that costs less than half the price of an iPhone X. And this is an area where you can make significant savings without really hampering the user experience.

Presumably in a further effort to keep production costs down, OnePlus has chosen a single speaker that isn’t quite as loud as some of its pricier competitors with dual-speaker surround sound.

But does this make a significant difference? In most situations, not really. Although perhaps not quite as impressive as the sound on the Samsung S9 or Sony Xperia XZ2, the OnePlus 6 is still good for watching videos at your desk or blaring your music in the car.

Naturally, the single-speaker at the bottom of the device is liable to get a bit muffled, especially if you’re holding it in landscape. Still, this isn’t the end of the world.

If you do want to boost the sound, OnePlus has made it very easy for you. The Chinese tech giants have just released a pair of competitively-priced wireless Bullets earbuds. As you might expect given this news, the OnePlus 6 gives you the option to connect to wireless speakers and headphones with Bluetooth 5.0 support.

But, unlike a lot of smartphone makers, OnePlus has also kept the traditional headphone jack on the OnePlus 6. So, you can plug in a pair of speakers or your trusty old wired earphones to ramp up the volume.

But whether you’re using state-of-the-art wireless headphones or old-fashioned wired buds, you can be assured of great sound quality, thanks to Qualcomm’s AptX audio enhancement technology. This gives you clearer and more powerful audio with both wired and wireless connections.

Size 6.28 inches
Resolution 1080 x 2280 pixels
Technology AMOLED

Features

  • Super-fast fingerprint scanning and facial recognition security
  • New gestures make the phone feel even more intuitive
  • Revamped Gaming Mode lets you play in peace

OnePlus 6 face unlock

As with last year’s 5t, the OnePlus 6 fingerprint scanner is on the back of the device. Which isn’t necessarily the most practical place for it, especially if you struggle to use a 6.28-inch phone one-handed. But it’s the price you have to pay for having a glorious all-screen front.

The fingerprint scanner itself is said to unlock the OnePlus 6 in 0.2 seconds. And when we tested it out, this claim seemed pretty accurate. In fact, it works so quickly that it feels instant. It’s reliable too, consistently registering my fingerprint, even when I’m holding the phone at a weird angle.

But the super-fast fingerprint scanner isn’t your only option for biometric security. In an attempt to keep up with the likes of Apple and Samsung, OnePlus has once again included Face Unlock on its latest device. And this time, it’s faster than ever.

OnePlus claims that its Face Unlock can recognise your face and unlock the handset in 0.4 seconds. Again, we tested this and found that the estimate was pretty spot-on. It registers my face and unlocks with unrivalled speed. And you don’t have to swipe up to activate it either, which saves you precious milliseconds when you want to do something important.

It even recognises you without having to stare directly at the phone. Which is rather handy, particularly if you’re trying to discreetly open your device during a meeting. But it does leave you liable to unlocking the device by accident.

Even though you don’t have to look at the phone to unlock it, the OnePlus 6 will need to get a good look at your eyes before it’ll let you into the device. So it won’t work if you’re wearing shades or sat in complete darkness.

If you do want to use Face Unlock in the dark, you can add in assistive lighting in the settings. This will shine a light on your face when it’s dark so the phone can check it’s really you. Which can be useful, although be warned, it’s very bright. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect solution, particularly if you’re hoping to avoid waking your partner in the middle of the night or don’t want to draw attention to the fact you’re trying to check the football scores in the middle of a theatre production.

Still, in regular low-light settings, OnePlus’ Face Unlock works pretty well. As long as there’s a bit of light, your phone will find your face and let you in. So, if you’re in a dark corner of a pub or in an Uber on the way home late at night, you’ll still be able to unlock your phone just by looking at it.

Elsewhere, OnePlus has added a series of intuitive gestures to help you navigate the device. But rather than forcing them on you, as Apple has with its iPhone X, OnePlus lets you set up your own gestures to help you get fast access to the apps you use most.

One of the handiest gesture functions is the ability to assign a letter to a particular app. Once you’ve done this, all you need to do is draw that letter on your screen and the app will open. So, if you want instant access to your calendar or clock, for example, you could set it to open whenever you draw the ‘O’ on the display.

In addition to this, there are also a number of set gestures that you can switch on to help you do more on your phone without pressing any buttons.

You can switch on Flip to Mute, which does exactly what it says on the tin. If there’s an incoming call you’re not going to answer, simply flip the phone over and it’ll mute the call. It’s particularly useful if you’ve forgotten to put your phone on silent and it goes off in a meeting or at the cinema.

There’s also the Three-Finger Screenshot, which lets you take a screen grab just by swiping three fingers across the display. Which means no more faffing about with having to press multiple buttons at the same time to take a screenshot.

OnePlus 6 gaming mode hero size

Elsewhere, gamers will be pleased to see know that the OnePlus 6 comes with a highly intuitive Gaming Mode that lets you play on undisturbed.

As you might imagine, Gaming Mode lets you block notifications so you don’t get distracted while you’re trying to beat your ultimate high score. You can also choose to answer calls on speaker, so you can pick up without having to pause your game.

Perhaps most useful of all though is the Gaming Battery Saver, which will let you set limits on the screen resolution and brightness. So you can you game for longer without having to worry about your phone dying before your avatar does on Call of Duty.


Camera

  • Dual-lens camera with excellent portrait mode
  • Takes much better low-light shots than last year’s 5t
  • Films up to a minute of slow-motion video at a time

OnePlus 6 camera hero size

Having fun features and a snazzy screen is all well and good. But if you really want to take on Apple and Samsung, your phone needs to have a stand-out camera.

On the surface, the OnePlus 6 camera isn’t all that exciting. Its 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel dual-lens setup sounds identical to last year’s 5t. But, if you look closer, there are a few key differences that make it a real upgrade on previous OnePlus handsets.

For one thing, OnePlus has increased the pixel size and the main camera sensor to let in more light to give you much better results when taking photos in dark conditions.

OnePlus has also added OIS (optical image stabilisation) to the 6’s rear camera to help minimize blur, which is handy you’re taking photos on the move.

And the results speak for themselves. Even in a darkened tunnel or a poorly-lit shop, the photos are bright, crisp and full of detail.

Perhaps the best thing about the camera is that there’s none of the oversaturation you see on a lot of high-end smartphones. The colours are vibrant and sharp but completely realistic and true to the original image.

The sky is naturally blue without looking like it’s been coloured in with a highlighter. And while the grass is certainly greener on photos taken with the Samsung S9 or the Huawei P20, the OnePlus 6 gets you a lot closer to the real thing.

Whether photographing Tower Bridge on my walk to work or trying to take the perfect shot of my parents’ energetic kitten, the OnePlus camera gives consistently great results, no matter what the lighting conditions or movement in the picture.

Where OnePlus has made some savings though, is by not including endless camera modes, filters and gimmicky extras that you’ll find on a lot of premium devices.

So, there’s no equivalent of Apple’s animojis that let you animate a cartoon character with your face. There’s also not a makeup mode that superimposes eyeliner and lipstick onto your subject, as there is on the Samsung S9. And I hate to break it to you, but you won’t find a dedicated Panda Mode like there is on the Honor 10, which is designed to help you take more colourful shots of the endangered species.

Instead, you’ll just find the modes you really need to make the most of the camera. So there’s a great portrait mode, a panorama option and a time lapse mode. And that’s about it. But let’s face it, while we all get excited about fancy camera modes, do many of us really use them?

For those who do like to apply filters and cartoon faces on our photos, there are dedicated apps like Snapchat and Instagram that offer a much wider range of photo editing features to get your snaps trending on social media.

One of the main selling points of the OnePlus 6 camera is the inclusion of slow-motion video recording. This is becoming increasingly commonplace on high-end phones, so it’s not exactly a surprise that OnePlus has added the feature to this year’s handset.

But, rather than automatically changing a few seconds of your video to slow-motion, as on the Samsung S9, Sony XZ2 and Huawei P20 Pro, the OnePlus 6 lets you shoot up to a minute of continuous slow-mo. You can then use the really simple edit tool to slow clips down, speed them up or cut them however you like.

Of course, it’s not all about the rear camera. And the front-facing 16-megapixel shooter is brilliantly clear and fuss-free.

There’s a Beauty Mode if you want to use it and a handy feature that lets you take a photo just by smiling.

Camera Dual 16-megapixel camera
Optical image stabilisation Yes
Unique features f/1.7 aperture and minute-long slow-mo videos


Performance and battery life

  • Billed as the phone with the speed you need, its processor is a lot faster than its rivals
  • Decent battery life, comfortably surviving more than a day on a single charge
  • Dash Charge fast charging is as quick and reliable as ever

OnePlus 6 apps tray hero image

The OnePlus 6’s tagline is, ‘the speed you need’. To live up to this bold promise, the OnePlus 6 uses a Snapdragon 845 chipset, which keeps it running quickly and smoothly.

It’s claimed to be 30% faster than last year’s 5t. And it all but guarantees there’ll be no lag or loss of speed, regardless of what you’re doing.

So needless to say, given all the hype, our expectations were high. And we weren’t disappointed. Apps open instantly, and you can flit between them or even multitask using split-screen without any wait time at all.

But while it’s a significant upgrade on previous OnePlus phones, the 6 isn’t noticeably faster than the S9 or the iPhone X. Still, seeing as the processing speeds on the latest flagships from Apple and Samsung are lightning-fast, it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect the OnePlus 6 to be any quicker.

What the 6 does offer though, is longevity. OnePlus has promised its processor will work just as speedily after a year of use as it does the day you unbox it. Naturally, we’ve not been able to test this yet. But check back with us in 12 months’ time and we’ll let you know if we’ve still got a completely lagless experience.

The entry-level OnePlus 6 comes with a generous 6GB of RAM, while the pricier edition comes with an even more impressive 8GB. So, whichever model you pick, you can be sure it’ll be able to handle whatever tasks you throw at it.

You can also choose between 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of memory. Most users should find that even the smallest 64GB gives them plenty of space for photos, music and videos. But it’s important to note that there’s no way of adding expandable storage to the OnePlus 6. So to be on the safe side, it might be better to opt for the 128GB or even the 256GB version.

The OnePlus 6 runs on the latest version of Android Oreo 8.1. And for those who can’t wait to try out Android P, which is due out later in the summer, you can download a beta version of the operating software. Be warned though, this early version might well have a few teething problems. So it might be best to hold off until it’s ready for the official release.

To power the super-fast OnePlus 6, there’s a 3,300mAh battery. Although this doesn’t sound huge by today’s standards, it’s certainly comparable to the mainstream flagship phones and should be more than enough to keep you from needing to recharge during the day.

While testing it out, I found it could comfortably survive a day and a half of use without needing to be charged up.

And when you do need to boost the battery, you’ll be pleased to know that OnePlus’ Dash Charge fast charging is still present and correct. One of the best fast-charge experiences we’ve tested, we could boost the phone from 0-65% battery life in 30 minutes. So it really does live up to the hype by giving you a day’s power in half an hour.

RAM 6GB or 8GB
Battery capacity 3300mAh
OS and version Android 8.1 (Oreo)

Durability

  • Super strong Gorilla Glass 5 makes the all-glass phone surprisingly sturdy
  • The most water-resistant OnePlus device to date

OnePlus 6 water resistance

I know what you’re thinking. An all-glass phone sounds perilously fragile. But it’s actually sturdier than it sounds.

It’s fortified by Gorilla Glass 5, which means that it can survive 1.6-metre, shoulder-height drops onto hard, rough surfaces up to 80% of the time. Put another way, it’s about the sturdiest smartphone glass around, and features on the latest flagships from Samsung, Sony and Huawei.

We ran a series of drop tests with our OnePlus 6 and found it came out without a single scratch.

The all-glass design does make it a bit slippy, but the curved edges are easy enough to grip onto. If you’re particularly clumsy though, you might want to take advantage of the transparent rubber case included in the box.

The OnePlus 6 is billed as the company’s most water-resistant handset yet, with the manufacturer saying it’s provided real-world water protection for likely scenarios. This includes using it in the rain or leaving it in the bathroom while you take a shower.

But it doesn’t have an official IP rating, which likely means it won’t survive being fully submerged underwater. So you’ll have to make sure you don’t drop it in the bath or the toilet.

Waterproof rating Not specified
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 5

Value and verdict

  • Great fuss-free camera, perfect for taking life-like photos
  • Most water-resistant OnePlus yet
  • Dazzling full HD+ all-screen front
  • Sturdy Gorilla Glass 5 construction
  • Dash Charge is still the best fast charge we’ve tested
  • Great battery life
  • Rear fingerprint scanner sits beneath the camera lens
  • Android Oreo already on-board with the ability to test out Android P beta version
  • Super-fast Face Unlock
  • Offers all the best bits of the iPhone X at less than half the price

OnePlus 6 fingerprint scanner

The OnePlus 6 is undoubtedly one of my favourite phones of the year so far. It combines a lovely all-screen front with a fantastic camera, lovely design and long battery life to give you a high-end phone without the premium price tag.

OnePlus has once again made the decision to leave out unnecessary extras, like endless camera modes, dual-speakers and 4K capability to bring you a great phone that does everything you’d want it to, without it costing you an arm and a leg.

If you want a great all-round phone that looks like an iPhone X, performs like a top-of-the-range Android and costs a lot less than any of its competitors, this is the phone for you.

SIM-free, prices for the OnePlus 6 start at £469, with contract prices to be announced shortly.

Want to buy the phone outright? Here's where you can buy the OnePlus 6 SIM-free.

Category: Reviews
Tagged: oneplus, oneplus 6
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