OnePlus 6: Hands-on mobile review
It’s time to get a deeper look at an underdog in the smartphone arena, the OnePlus 6.
Released in May, it packs quite a punch with some impressive tech in an attractive package, without the larger than life price tag you’ll find with other premium phones, such as the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9.
OnePlus phones haven’t quite had that much of an impact on the smartphone market in the UK, but priced at just £519 RRP for 128GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and a super snappy processor, it’s definitely worth your consideration.
Before I even opened the box, I had big expectations for the OnePlus 6. Its “Never Settle” mantra promised high performance, and after spending some time with the phone it’s safe to say it delivered.
Initially, the OnePlus 6’s size and shape looks like every other phone on the market. The screen is 6.28-inches corner to corner with a 2280 x 1080p AMOLED display. You’ll be impressed with the display as colours appear bright and vivid. In the settings you can alter the display to change the hue to your liking.
Love it or hate it, the iPhone X-style notch is the go-to of 2018, pretty much all of the new releases have one. The OnePlus 6 is bang on trend with trying to offer as much screen real estate as possible.
Initially, I was prepared to hate the notch but in all honesty, after you’ve played around with the phone for a few hours you barely notice it. If it’s still a bugbear for you then there's the option to hide it.
To maximise the amount of screen available, you can get rid of the navigation bar and use gestures to replace the home, back and recent apps function. Swipe up from the bottom for home, swipe and hold for recent apps and swipe up at the side to go back. The screen is very tactile so picks up your touch very quickly.
If you’re new to OnePlus phones, you may get confused by the alert slider on the side of the handset and mistake it for the power button. It allows you to switch profile modes without having to wake up the screen.
Most importantly of all, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack!
Release your inner magpie
There are four colour options with the OnePlus 6: Mirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk White and Red. For this review I had my hands on the Mirror Black version.
Three words to describe this phone: shiny, shiny and shiny. Although it looks like a standard smartphone the all-glass design gives it a very glossy finish.
It’s very sleek, and attractive. The back of the phone can even double as a mirror for the times that you need to check if there’s lippy or spinach on your teeth. As pretty as it is, there is a case included in the box, I’d recommend using it to avoid scratches.
As well as looking good, the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back has a function. It provides an easier pathway for connectivity so depending on your data or wi-fi connection, you’ll have faster download speeds on the phone. It’s a pretty strong phone, it doesn’t have the old-school Nokia 3310 durability but is still pretty sturdy.
Enough about how it looks, what’s going on under the hood? Without a shadow of doubt, if you choose to buy the OnePlus 6 you’re getting your money’s worth and then some.
It’s hiding some impressive tech in a relatively thin exterior. The model I reviewed was packing 128GB of storage with 8GB of RAM and running on the most updated available version of Android, Oreo 8.1.
There’s no micro SD card slot but you probably won’t need it, 128GB is quite hefty. I found it refreshing that there is no bloatware, just basic apps plus a few Google essentials so only 2GB is taken up by pre-installed software. This includes features such as Google Assistant and Google Lens.
The hench 8GB of RAM combined with Qualcomm’s leanest and meanset processor (845) - the same chipset that powers the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Sony Xperia XZ2 - means the OnePlus 6 definitely has what it takes to compete with the bad boys.
If you like to play games on your phone, you’ll like the OnePlus. It’s got plenty of memory and a nippy processor to handle extensive gaming. There is even a gaming mode that switches off all notification while you’re in play.
It has been described as the “fastest android experience to date” and I can wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I had no trouble switching between graphic-intensive games and managed to open up to 15 apps simultaneously without the performance starting to lag.
OnePlus phones are very developer-friendly, so when Google releases its newest software updates, you’ll be one of the first to receive it. Google has confirmed the rollout of its latest edition, Android Pie 9, so keep your eyes peeled.
In terms of security the face unlock works well, but I don’t like the fingerprint scanner. It’s at the back of the phone under the camera but it’s a bit small so my infamous chunky butterfingers struggled with it.
The 3300 mAh battery is not the most powerful on the market compared to Huawei’s offerings but is not to be scoffed at. It can withstand a gaming session on Tekken (I’m not a gamer but gave it a good go) and you’ll still have at least 40% left at the end of the day.
Even if you don’t, the Dash charger and fast charging capabilities mean you’ll go from flat to 100% in under an hour.
Value for money
OnePlus has really ramped up the software in its latest release. To keep it within a reasonable price bracket, the manufacturer had to make a few cutbacks. I personally didn’t miss any of the features that were missed out but some more tech-savvy minds might.
As briefly mentioned above, you can’t expand the storage. If you have the 128GB version this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem and there is also a 256GB model worth your consideration.
The all-glass design makes way for wireless charging capabilities but that’s not present in the OnePlus 6. I personally wasn’t bothered about it, and the Dash charger that accompanies the phone is pretty quick and efficient.
The manufacturer says the handset is water and dust resistant so should survive getting caught in the rain but there is no official IP 67 or 68 rating and that doesn't fill me with confidence that it would still function after a dunk in the bath.
This phone is big on entertainment – crisp clear screen, nippy processor and powerful battery means this phone is your best friend when playing games or watching videos. The speaker, however is a bit of a let down. It works, but could be better, it’s a bit weak and tinny when you crank up the volume.Beacon Park in Lichfield, taken on the OnePlus 6
The side view of Lichfield Cathedral taken on the OnePlus 6
While the high quality tech may lean more towards gaming, you can take great pictures on the OnePlus 6 too. It’s packing a dual 16MP and 20MP main camera at the back and 16MP upfront for selfies.
I am by no means a photographer but I liked using this phone to take photos. It’s simple and easy to get your head around. It has a great dynamic range with no over exposure.
The main camera has f/1.7 aperture so you can still take pictures even when the lighting isn’t that great. The OnePlus 6 recently received the Oxygen OS 5.1.9 update, which has given the camera software some extra clout.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 drew attention to it but all of the newer phones at present have slo-mo video capture capabilities. In this measure the OnePlus 6 wasn’t as impressive as the S9, but you can still take some cool slo-mo videos.
It looks good and acts great. Any hiccups and misgivings I have had about this phone are minor and will probably be corrected when it’s premium big brother the OnePlus 6T hits the shelves. For now, if you’re looking for a phone that does all you need it to without the hefty price tag, I solemnly swear that the OnePlus is for you.
Retailing at £519 SIM-free, it’s much cheaper than the Blackberry KEY2 that we just reviewed but you get way more bang for your buck.
Although I LOVE this phone, my main criticism is the lack of razzle dazzle and uniqueness. It’s very much the same as every other phone on the market with a bit more umph.
I’m predicting that with a few tweaks and a vamped up marketing campaign, OnePlus could soon give Huawei a run for its money.
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