The OnePlus 6 is the all-glass design, most polished, premium smartphone the firm has made in its short existence. It is bringing it in line with big-name flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X, a large 6.28-inch display complete with the on-trend notch, dual rear-facing cameras, both fingerprint and face unlock, and up to 256GB of storage.
There are several core improvements over the OnePlus 5T (and OnePlus 5) that it replaces, and while it may not break any new ground in terms of features, the OnePlus 6 brings an attractive package that makes it relevant in 2018.
- Premium, all-glass design using Gorilla Glass 5
- The alert slider has switched sides
- Improved water resistance and headphone jack retained
The first thing you notice when you pick up the OnePlus 6 is that it feels different to previous flagships from the firm, as it boasts a glass front and back rather than the all-metal unibody that’s been in place since the OnePlus 3.
It’s Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, with the toughened protection hopefully meaning it won’t easily smash – but there’s no getting away from the fact that metal doesn’t smash. For those who are more accident-prone, the good news is that OnePlus provides a transparent silicon cover in the box if you feel the handset needs a little extra protection and grip.
This isn’t the first time OnePlus has utilized a glass body on a device, with the OnePlus X also having the premium finish, but this is the firm’s first ‘flagship’ handset to get the treatment.
OnePlus claims it’s improved the water resistance on the OnePlus 6 over its predecessors, but the phone doesn’t carry an IP rating to guarantee its survival when fully submerged in water.
Rather, OnePlus says it’s provided everyday, real-world protection for more likely scenarios, such as being caught in a rain shower or accidentally dropping your phone into water and quickly pulling it out. Submerge this phone at your own risk.
At 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75mm the OnePlus 6 is pretty much the same size as the 5T; it’s a touch thicker and wider, but not quite as tall, which is impressive considering the increase in screen size here. At 177g it’s also heavier than the 5T, which tipped the scales at 163g. Holding the two phones in either hand the OnePlus 6 does feel slightly weightier, but there’s not much in it.
The power/lock key sits in an easy-to-hit location on the right of the handset, and above it you’ll find OnePlus’ popular alert slider, allowing you to easily switch between silent, vibrate and loud modes.
This has traditionally been on the left of the handset, but OnePlus has decided to switch it with the dual SIM tray on the 6 after feedback from its community about the slider being difficult to access when using flip-style covers.
Rather than a circle, OnePlus has opted for a smaller, oval-shaped scanner here. We’re told there are a few reasons for this, but the one OnePlus was willing to tell us was that someone on the team remarked that having a circle below the camera bump created the appearance of an exclamation mark.
OnePlus maintains that its fingerprint scanner can unlock the 6 in 0.2 seconds, and it’s certainly rapid, but it’s not the only biometric tech in play here.
The OnePlus 6 also comes with face unlock, which OnePlus says can recognize and unlock your phone in 0.4 seconds. We can confirm that it is impressively fast, and doesn’t require you to look directly at the phone, which makes it a much more usable and useful feature.
Face unlock on the OnePlus 6 does need to see your eyes to work though, so if you’re wearing sunglasses it won’t work. Similarly, if you’re in a dark situation it’ll also struggle, although you can head into the settings and select assistive lighting, which lights the screen up to illuminate your face.
In low-light situations, such as a dingy bar or on a street at night, the OnePlus 6 can still identify your face and let you in.
There’s good news on the base of the handset too, as OnePlus has kept the headphone jack, allowing you to plug in your 3.5mm accessories without the need for an adapter.
There’s also a single down-firing speaker, which is a little disappointing as it can be easily covered by your hand when the phone is held in landscape orientation, and you don’t get the stereo benefit of a two-speaker setup.
Something else that’s new for the OnePlus 6 is the choice of colors, with three options available at launch – that’s a break from tradition, as in the past OnePlus has launched with just a single color and introduced additional hues later.
Two months after launch OnePlus introduced a fourth color as well, with Red being added to the lineup. However, which colors are on offer will depend on which RAM/storage configuration you go for.
The Mirror Black model, which is the color we’ve reviewed here, boasts a highly-polished, highly-reflective glass rear which is real fingerprint-magnet, and it’s the only color the entry-level 6GB RAM/64GB storage option is available in.
The Midnight Black OnePlus 6 has a more matte finish, thanks to the layer below the glass being perforated with thousands of holes to create a deep sheen. This is the only color option for the top-end 8GB/256GB configuration.
The 8GB/128GB version of the phone is available in both black finishes, and also in two further color options; Silk White and Red. The Silk White OnePlus 6 has a different finish again to the Gorilla Glass 5 on the rear, thanks to a layer of ‘powdered pearl’ beneath, giving it a more ceramic look and feel.
Meanwhile the limited edition OnePlus 6 Red is similar to the Mirror Black variant, only less reflective and less of a fingerprint magnet. It also features silver highlights around the fingerprint scanner and camera bulge on the rear. It’s our favorite red-colored smartphone to date.
- Flagship Snapdragon 845 chipset and either 6GB or 8GB of RAM
- Android 8.1 with Oxygen OS (and Android P Beta compatible)
The tagline for the OnePlus 6 is ‘The speed you need’, and to achieve such speed it uses a Snapdragon 845 chipset to keep everything running smoothly.
OnePlus says it’s worked hard to ensure there’s no slowdown or lag, optimizing the CPU and Adreno 630 GPU by up to 30%, while they draw up to 30% less power compared to the 5T.
Another way OnePlus is keeping the phone slick is by not including an expandable storage option. This is nothing new, as there’s never been a OnePlus handset with microSD support, with the firm maintaining that it would slow the phone down.
For most users, the 128GB middle storage option will be more than enough, while for power users there’s now a 256GB option if more space is needed.
However, there will always be some who’ll be disappointed that the OnePlus 6 doesn’t quite offer the freedom and flexibility they’d like – and it slightly flies in the face of the firm’s ‘Never Settle’ mantra.
One thing is for certain though: the OnePlus 6 is fast. With either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, there’s more than enough performance under the hood to keep you going.
We reviewed the 8GB/128GB variant, and everything ran smoothly, with fast load times and smooth graphical performance.
It’s still not clear why you’d really need 8GB of RAM in a smartphone – 6GB will likely suffice in most circumstances – but it means the OnePlus 6 should be nicely future-proofed.
Running Geekbench 4 on the OnePlus 6 returned an impressive average multi-core score of 9100, which is better than the Sony Xperia XZ2, Galaxy Note 8 and Google Pixel 2 XL; however, the iPhone X still trumps the lot with a score of over 10,000.
Still, considering that the OnePlus 6 is cheaper than all of those handsets it’s an excellent result, and it just shows how much raw grunt is housed inside the glass body.
On-screen you’ll find Android 8.1 – the latest software from Google – with OnePlus’ own Oxygen OS running over the top. On the surface, Oxygen is very similar to stock Android, offering a familiar experience.
However, head into the settings menu and you’ll find a range of additional customization options, allowing you to fine-tune the handset to your specific requirements.
The OnePlus 6 inherits the gesture-control navigation which debuted on the OnePlus 5 and 5T, removing the need for a visible navigation bar and instead relying on swiping gestures from the base of the screen to move around.
It’s similar to Apple’s gesture control on the iPhone X – the gestures are slightly different on the OnePlus 6 – and it allows even more screen space for apps. This feature isn’t enabled by default though, so you’ll need to turn it on in the settings.
One feature which is missing, however, is the ability to pull the notification shade down using the fingerprint scanner.
It’s a feature we used frequently on the 5T, so we were disappointed to find it wasn’t available on the OnePlus 6 – especially given its larger, taller screen, which makes stretching a thumb all the way to the top all that more difficult.
OnePlus has yet to provide us with a reason why it’s not an option on its new phone, but we suspect it could be down to the smaller footprint of the scanner, which may make performing a sliding motion more difficult.
There’s good news for those of you who want the latest software on their smartphone, as the OnePlus 6 is compatible with the Android P Beta, enabling you to trial the new software before it’s officially launched by Google later this year.
Be warned though: the Android P Beta is not final software, and will, therefore, contain a number of bugs which could seriously affect the performance of the OnePlus 6, so install it at your own risk.
- 3,300mAh battery lasts a day on a single charge
- Dash Charge gives you 60% in 30 minutes
The OnePlus 6 comes with a 3,300mAh battery, which is the same size as the power packs found in the 5 and 5T.
With a larger screen here there’s more to power, but OnePlus says it’s made the battery 10% more efficient than its predecessor, which means the OnePlus 6 delivers similar battery life to the phones it’s replacing.
In real-world usage, we found that to be a day of moderate use on a single charge, which included two to three hours of music streaming, an hour or so of gaming, a few snaps and a bunch of calls, messages, emails and social networking.
We generally crawled into bed at around 11 pm (having taken the OnePlus 6 off charge at 7 am) with at least 15% left in the tank.
If you do find yourself running low the OnePlus 6 comes with a relatively standard battery saver mode, which reduces background activity, lowers screen brightness and halts automatic syncing.
There’s nothing more extreme in terms of power saving, but it does help to keep that final 10% going for a little longer.
We ran our 90-minute, Full HD battery test video on the OnePlus 6, with the brightness at maximum and accounts syncing over WiFi in the background.
The OnePlus 6 lost 15% of juice over the 90 minutes of video playback, which is a reasonable result that puts it in the mix with its flagship peers and on a par with most high-end phones.
While the OnePlus 6 does have a glass body, it doesn’t support wireless charging – one of the advantages of glass bodies is that they enable wireless charging (too much metal interferes with electrical fields), and while it wasn’t even a possibility with the metal unibodies of previous OnePlus handsets it’s a shame not to see it implemented here.
As with the screen resolution, the absence of wireless charging tech is likely to be in the interests of keeping costs down. What you do get with the OnePlus 6 is Dash Charge, the firm’s own fast-charging technology.
You get a Dash Charge plug in the box, and it can replenish the OnePlus 6 from 0% to 60% in 30 minutes; OnePlus says it gives you ‘a day’s power in half an hour’, although we’ve found average daily usage generally needs closer to 80%. Still, it’s quick, and that’s useful.
- Dual rear cameras, the main camera has OIS for improved low-light shots
- A 16MP front camera will get portrait mode post-launch
- Slow-motion video recording at 480fps
At first glance, the OnePlus 6 rear cameras don’t look all that different to those found on the back of the OnePlus 5T, with the 16MP and 20MP shooters still Sony sensors with f/1.7 apertures, but it’s not all identical.
OnePlus has increased the size of the sensor on the main 16MP camera by 19%, and it now has a 1.22um pixel size (up from 1.12um), enabling it to pull in more light and thus perform better in low-light conditions.
That’s not all though, as the OnePlus 6 features OIS (optical image stabilization) and EIS (electronic image stabilization) on the rear 16MP snapper, further improving low-light shots by reducing camera shake and the consequent blurring.
Neither the OnePlus 5 nor the 5T featured OIS on their rear cameras, due to their location in the top corner of the phone not allowing enough space, but on the OnePlus 6 the cameras have been shifted to the middle – the thickest part of the handset – so there is room here.
The front-facing camera also gets a boost, with a 16MP sensor capable of shooting portrait mode pictures (although this will be enabled via a software update at a later date).
Rather than using depth-sensing technology, as is the case with the rear cameras, the front-facing portrait mode on the OnePlus 6 will work out what to blur with software; this means you’ll still get the best portrait shots from the rear setup, as the two cameras can gather more accurate depth data.
The camera app on the OnePlus 6 is simple to use. There’s quick access to portrait and video modes from the main screen, with a sideways swipe switching you between modes.
Swipe up and you’ll get more options including pro mode, timelapse and panorama, while the 2x zoom toggle is ever-present in the viewfinder, enabling you to get closer to your subject without having to physically move.
Zooming in will result in a picture with less clarity, but the OnePlus 6 is still capable of capturing good photos at this level.
The main advance with the OnePlus 6 is in its low-light capabilities, and there’s a stepped improvement from what we experienced on the 5T, although it is a step rather than a leap.
We were able to fire off quick shots in dimly lit bars, and playing with the brightness in low light settings results in crisp, clear pictures.
It’s an all-around capable camera that does a good job in a variety of scenarios, delivering everything from nicely blurred backgrounds in Portrait mode to detailed close-up macros and sweeping landscape vistas.
A feature new to OnePlus phones that have been introduced with the OnePlus 6 is slow-motion video recording, with the phone able to capture footage at up to 480fps.
That’s not quite the super slow-mo we’ve seen from the Samsung Galaxy S9 or Sony Xperia XZ2, but it’s a welcome addition to a handset that’s comfortably cheaper than either of those rivals.
Video recorded at 480fps is captured at 720p; you can swap to 240fps at 1080p for a higher-resolution result, although your slow-mo footage won’t be as slow. What’s unique to the OnePlus 6, though, is its ability to capture a full minute of slow-motion footage, which equals around six minutes of video when played back.
Once captured, you can easily select how much of your video is slowed down – it doesn’t need to be the full minute, enabling you to include full-speed video before and after the slowed-down section to really showcase the effect.
In good light, outdoors, the slow-motion capture can produce some eye-catching results, but step inside and under artificial light, or in low-light conditions, the quality drops quite significantly, with footage become rather noisy. In short, limit your slow-mo shooting to the great outdoors.
If you’re more into traditional video recording, the OnePlus 6 can also capture footage in 4K at 60fps.
- OnePlus’ biggest-ever display at 6.28 inches
- Full HD, Full Optic AMOLED panel with 19:9 aspect ratio
- 84% screen-to-body ratio thanks in part to notch
The OnePlus 6 display is one of the big new features on the phone. In fact, it’s the biggest display the firm has ever squeezed into a phone, with the 6.28-inch Full Optic AMOLED panel eclipsing the 6.1-inch offering found on the 5T.
OnePlus has continued to support the now-popular 19:9 aspect ratio too, giving you a taller display that offers up more on the screen when you’re scrolling lists such as your Twitter feed.
While the display may be bigger, the resolution stays the same at ‘just’ Full HD. That’s 2280 x 1080 to be exact, which ensures it keeps the 402 pixels-per-inch density of previous OnePlus flagships.
However, in a world where QHD is fast becoming the norm at the top end of the mobile market, the screen resolution on the OnePlus 6 is a key area where the firm has looked to cut a corner in an attempt to keep costs down.
On its own the screen appears bright and vibrant, providing a pleasing level of detail. Slide it alongside a Galaxy S9 and you’ll see the screen on the OnePlus 6 isn’t quite as good – there’s no HDR support here either – but when you consider the price tag of this phone it’s not really an issue.
With the reduction in the bezel above and below the screen the OnePlus 6 also boasts an 84% screen-to-body ratio that will likely please fans of outright display real estate. However, this has come at a price: the inclusion of a divisive ‘notch’ at the top of the screen.
OnePlus tells us the notch wasn’t simply added as a ‘me too’ feature though. A spokesperson for the firm told TechRadar: “[OnePlus] fully appreciates the trend for reducing bezels and increasing screen-to-body ratio. [We] thought long and hard over the decision [to include the notch].
“We want to deliver the technology that currently works the best and we have to be sure of the technology we put into our devices, as we only make one [device] at a time.
“[The notch] works the best at the moment. Ultimately it’s not about the notch, it’s about the screen.”
Whether you’re for or against the notch it serves a useful purpose on the OnePlus 6, housing the front-facing camera, earpiece, LED notification light and ambient light sensor.
For those who really don’t like the notch trend you can effectively ‘hide’ it on the OnePlus 6 by making the screen either side of it black to create one continuous bar.
The choice is yours then, but there is something rather satisfying about seeing your wallpaper wrap around either the side of the notch. Or maybe that’s just us.
Slide the OnePlus 6 out of its packaging and you’ll see that it comes with a factory-fitted screen protector, which is always nice, although it does detract slightly from the overall look of the phone, as well as being a bit of a dust- and fingerprint-magnet.
It’s easy enough to remove, and doing so instantly makes the OnePlus 6 look more premium – but you’re then exposing the display to potential scratches and scuffs, so don’t hastily whip it off as soon as you get it out the box.
Movies, music and gaming
With its larger, wider 19:9 aspect ratio screen the OnePlus 6 offers a great surface for watching video, especially movies.
Video doesn’t wrap round the notch, so none of the action is obscured, with the OnePlus 6 automatically ‘hiding’ it with a black bar for a clean look.
The only real criticism we have here is the screen resolution. It’s ‘only’ Full HD, and doesn’t support HDR content, so if you’re a fan of the 4K HDR movies and shows on the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Netflix you won’t be able to take full advantage of their quality.
It’s not an issue most of the time, though, and we were happily able to stream shows from Prime Video at a good quality.
As we’ve mentioned, the single speaker’s placement at the base of the OnePlus 6 isn’t ideal, and it’s easily muffled when held in landscape.
Audio quality from this speaker is good enough for the odd YouTube video or music track, but if you’re settling down to watch a movie you’ll want something better to listen on.
The good news is that the OnePlus 6 has a headphone jack, allowing you to plug in a set of headphones or external speaker setup. There’s also the option to use wireless headphones thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 support.
The OnePlus 6 also comes with Qualcomm’s AptX audio enhancement technology, giving you clearer, punchier audio over both wired and wireless connections.
OnePlus has revamped its Gaming Mode for the OnePlus 6 (previously called Gaming DnD), which stops notifications getting in the way of your gameplay and optimizes performance to reduce latency – perfect for uninterrupted PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) and Fortnite sessions.
Now you can also choose to lock the screen brightness and reduce the network activity of other apps to ensure optimal playing conditions at all times, while a dedicated battery-saver mode will keep you gaming for longer on titles that use the Unity Engine.
You can select the games you want Gaming Mode be enabled on, ensuring that you can still keep an eye on notifications during your daily Candy Crush blast.
OnePlus 6 prices and availability
- OnePlus 6 release date: May 22, 2018
- Launch price: from $529 (£469, Rs 34,999) for 6GB/64GB
The OnePlus 6 release date was May 22 for North America, Europe and India, but the handset is now available in a number of additional locations as well.
In the UK the OnePlus 6 is available exclusively on contract from O2, and SIM-free from OnePlus’ own website.
There’s still no word yet on when — or even if — it’ll ever be made officially available in Australia.
The OnePlus 6 price starts at $529 (£469, Rs 34,999) for the 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage configuration, which is more expensive than the OnePlus 5T, which cost $499 (£449) for the same RAM and storage.
Then you have the 8GB/128GB variant at $579 (£519, Rs 39,999), which again is a $20/£20 increase over the 5T.
The 128GB OnePlus 6 is the only variant available in the limited edition red finish, so if you like the look of it you may want to act fast.
Finally, there’s the new top-end 8GB/256GB model, which officially takes the title of the most expensive OnePlus smartphone ever. This OnePlus 6 price for this configuration is $629 (£569).
That’s still cheaper than the likes of the Galaxy S9, iPhone 8, LG G7 ThinQ and Sony Xperia XZ2, but if you’re looking for something more affordable you may want to check out the Honor 10.
If you’re in India or China, the 8GB/256GB configuration of the OnePlus 6 is actually a limited-edition Marvel Avengers device, available from May 29 for Rs 44,999.
The OnePlus 6 is the brand’s most well-rounded and grown-up phone to date, and placed alongside the likes of the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9, Sony Xperia XZ2 and LG G7 ThinQ it certainly doesn’t look or feel out of place.
It may not be quite as accomplished an all-round package as the Galaxy S9, or carry the same cool appeal as the iPhone X, but when you consider the OnePlus 6 price it’s difficult not to be impressed by what’s on offer.
Performance is fluid, the screen is bright and colorful, the design is appealing, and there’s a solid camera experience to be had.
If you can overlook the screen resolution and the lack of expandable storage, an official IP rating, microSD slot and stereo speakers, the OnePlus 6 is a fantastic Android flagship at an eye-catching price.
Who’s it for?
Anyone who’s looking for a flagship smartphone without making a huge outlay should definitely consider the OnePlus 6. It hits all the key points for a top-tier phone, and delivers them in a clean and clever way.
There are a few small compromises, but unless you’re determined to have the very latest cutting-edge tech in your pocket they’re easily overlooked.
Should You buy it?
You won’t be disappointed with what you get for the money here.
Sure, this is the most expensive OnePlus phone to date, and it’s a shame the price couldn’t be kept to the same level as its predecessor; but the increase is minimal, and the price difference between the 6 and the flagship handsets from the established players is still considerable.
The OnePlus 6 is pitted against the top flagships smartphones around, ensuring fierce competition, and we’ve rounded up some of its key competitors below.
Samsung Galaxy S9
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is currently our best phone in the world, and while it does offer more than the OnePlus 6 (such as a better display and rear camera) it’s also considerably more expensive.
If you’re looking for the ultimate smartphone experience, and your budget can stretch to it, we’d still recommend the Galaxy S9; but if your finances are a little tighter the OnePlus 6 is a decent alternative.
Notch? Check. Face unlock? Check. Dual rear cameras? Check. Glass body? Check. There are a lot of similarities between the iPhone X and the OnePlus 6, but there’s also one big difference: the price.
The iPhone X may have the looks, the cool appeal and the smarter Face ID tech, but it’s also double the price of the OnePlus 6.
It also runs iOS, the arch-enemy of Android, and for many people it’s either one OS or the other. Apple also offers the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus if the X is a little rich for your blood, but they’re both still more expensive than the OnePlus 6.
The OnePlus 6 isn’t the only affordable flagship around, and the Honor 10 presents some equally stiff competition, and an even lower price tag.
It has a smaller 5.8-inch display, making it a little easier to hold in one hand, plenty of power under the hood, and its own attractive glass design.
The OnePlus 6 looks and feels a little classier, and its cameras are a touch better than the Honor 10’s AI-enabled snappers, but when it comes to bang for your buck both handsets offer it by the bucket loads.