How does OnePlus keep coming up with a desirable smartphone that people will still want to buy, every six months or less? There are companies out there that struggle to do it on an annual basis, after all. OnePlus has a release schedule that would terrify big-name brands bogged down by focus groups, middle managers, and multiple checklists. Its latest phone — the OnePlus 6 — arrives only a few months after the OnePlus 5T, which also came a few months after the OnePlus 5.
It’s a lot of pressure. Can OnePlus continue its winning streak with another swiftly-launched smartphone?
Glassy and classy
The OnePlus 6 showcases how OnePlus is able to attract new buyers and upgraders even with such a rapid update schedule — it taps into the latest trends, integrates them quickly into a new phone, and gets it out the door before any fads pass. That means the OnePlus 6 has a glass body, which is the definition of premium this year, a notch at the top of the screen, and a vertically-mounted, dual-lens camera.
OnePlus has outdone itself with the all-glass body — a first for the company — on the 6. It looks and feels superb: It’s soft and smooth, with a cool touch. It’s very reflective too, mostly on the mirror black model you see here, and we’d say it’s closer to the water-like finish on the Porsche Design Mate 10 RS than phones like the Honor 10 and the Moto G6. Even the Galaxy S9 looks a bit muddy next to the OnePlus 6. To commemorate its 4th anniversary, the OnePlus 6 brings back the “Designed by OnePlus” branding on the back panel, which is the only other mark aside from the OnePlus logo. It’s minimal, like we have come to expect, and it looks great on the mirror black model.
OnePlus has outdone itself with the all-glass body.
We didn’t feel like the glass body made the phone overly slippery, and it’s easy to hold with one hand. Using it is a harder task due to the size of the screen. It’s a stretch to get to the opposite corner with your thumb.
The notch (the cutout at the top of the screen housing the front camera and earpiece) is the subject of much (now rather boring) controversy. OnePlus told Digital Trends that its inclusion is the most effective way of getting a far larger screen on the phone than usual, while maintaining a similar size to previous OnePlus phones. If you hate it, you will be able to hide it away through a software update in the future.
The screen’s big alright, measuring 6.3-inches with a 2,280 x 1,080 pixel resolution, another first for the OnePlus family. There aren’t too many phones with this exact screen size other than the Galaxy Note 8. Surprisingly, the phone is very compact, with minimal side bezels and chin. We like the shape of the screen corners too, which have a flowing curve before running down the sides.
The fingerprint sensor is on the back, and we’re pleased to see it has been given a stadium shape and a chamfered edge: A big improvement over the OnePlus 5T. Little things like this, along with the curved screen edges, make the OnePlus 6 look and feel fantastic.
If you hate the notch, you will be able to hide it away through a software update in the future.
Another ergonomic improvement is the iconic OnePlus Alert slider — which controls device notifications and silent mode — has been shifted to the top right edge. While lefties won’t like the change, right-handed folks will find it more comfortable. It’s a bit stiff, and requires a firm grip on the phone to slide, even with the textured edge on the slider itself.
Along the bottom edge of the phone is a USB Type-C port for fast charging, using OnePlus’ Dash Charge system, along with a 3.5mm headphone socket for those still attached to wires. Sadly, there’s no support for wireless charging.
New camera effects, super slow-motion video
On the back is a dual-lens rear camera, this time centrally- and vertically-mounted inside a slight camera bump. The main f/1.7 aperture, 16-megapixel lens is joined by a second 20-megapixel camera, complete with a portrait mode. New bokeh effects will be added to the portrait mode, promising stars, hearts, and bubbles (yes, really), but they weren’t available at our time of testing. It’s controlled by OnePlus’ own camera app, which is simple and easy to use. OnePlus has added a slow-mo video mode, which has a maximum of 480 frames per second (fps) at 720p, meaning it can’t slow the world down as effectively as the Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 Pro, or Sony Xperia XZ2. A 1080p resolution mode is available at 240fps.
We haven’t had the chance to try this out yet, but have shot a few photos with the camera. The shutter is fast, and the images we took outside on a sunny day were natural, without the over-the-top HDR-style glow which has become more common.
The OnePlus 6 is powered by the Snapdragon 845 processor with a whopping 8GB of RAM. The phone has been lightning fast in our brief time using it. It all feels very refined. OnePlus uses the tagline, “The speed you need,” for the 6, and we cannot imagine anyone thinking the phone may not have the guts to cope with a task.
The OnePlus 6 has been lightning fast in our brief time using it.
It runs Android 8.1 Oreo with version 5.1.2 of OnePlus’ OxygenOS over the top. The software is smooth and fuss-free, with only a handful of pre-installed apps, and the slide-in Shelf — which contains recently used apps, contacts, and other information — makes it look different to standard Android found on a Pixel 2. There are also a ton of customization options in the software that let you set up the phone exactly how you want.
The fact that OnePlus puts out such a polished product so often is exciting to see. This lightning production speed doesn’t affect the phone’s quality, or commitment to delivering a satisfying, desirable smartphone either.
OnePlus 6 Compared To
But has the OnePlus 6 been subject to a price rise that takes it out of the realms of affordability? The price has gone up, but not so drastically you’ll have to think twice. The 8GB RAM with 128GB storage model you see here, in mirror black, is $580, or 520 British pounds. The mirror black model with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage is $530 or 470 pounds.
Price and availability
The OnePlus 6 comes out on May 22, so should you buy it? We’ll tell you more in our forthcoming full review; but we’ll tell you this: There is a limited edition in “silk white” coming — paying homage to the original OnePlus One’s color scheme. We’ve had a sneak peek, and it’s utterly beautiful. If the mirror black model isn’t making your heart beat faster, the silk white OnePlus 6 might, and it will arrive on June 5.
OnePlus is also releasing a pair of Bluetooth-connected wireless earbuds called Bullets Wireless. They cost $70, and will be available in June. We’ll be testing have our review out before then, so check back before making your final decision.