Rate my Bias
I have had a soft spot for OnePlus ever since the OnePlus One. The philosophy for specifications vs. price, the way they seem to handle community feedback and very much the software experience keeps me wanting to go back every time.
The OnePlus 6 was announced back in May when I was still reviewing the 5T, and now it is time to go back to the Chinese brand once again. Prior to this unboxing I have been excited to see how the build quality have improved since the previous model, for which my feelings were mixed.
I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that you have seen one of these before. The odds are against me to do something different here, but non the less:
Now being completely honest I will always prefer the unboxing design of the OnePlus One or Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. That is not to say that the experience is bad on the 6, it just does not feel as premium. On the other hand it is obvious that the device it self is the focus here, and once you pop the top off that is all you see. OnePlus also decided against filling the front with stickers and crap, which is a nice move. In the box you get the sim-card ejector toll, warranty information, the Dash-Charger (soon to be named; Warp Charge?) as well as a see through soft silicone case. Seeing as the case that came with the 5T scratched my phone, I will not be using this one.
Picking up the phone it is unavoidable to appreciate the in-hand feel. The back curves nicely, allowing for a natural placement. OnePlus have nailed the weight this time as well. The phone is heavier without being uncomfortable, most likely due to the glass construction, and this helps it feel less fragile and cheap. If you recall I did not appreciate that with the 5T.
The notch. It is impossible not to see at first, but I did not mind it. I have not owned a phone with a notch prior to now, but I have to admit that I never opposed to the design too much. The notch on the 6 is pretty narrow, and while I understand that it might take up space for precious notification icons I do not tend to have that many at the same time.
There is also the matter of the chin, and I thought this might somewhat bother me, but it does not. It is plenty thin, and curves nicely giving it the illusion of being even smaller.
OnePlus does pre-install a screen protector, but I am waiting for a new one to arrive. Giving the move towards full-screen gestures I find it strange to not include a curved screen protector as well. When using the gestures I find my finger scratches against the protectors edge all too often.
OnePlus moved the Alert-Slider to the right side of the display this time around, and I must say that I like the switch. It is also easier to change between the modes this time around, and instead of using Androids normal, priority and do not disturb modes the slider simply moves between normal, vibrate and silent now. A most welcome adjustment.
The Boot animation is still worth a mention, and is a joy coming from the Mi Mix 2S.
When looking at OnePlus's phones the promise is as always a lesser price than what Samsung and/or Apple charges for similar, or equal, specifications. With that being said The OnePlus 6 offers top of the line specifications for 2018, foregoing only wireless charging.
|Storage||64, 128 or 256GB|
|RAM||6GB(64BG) or 8GB(128&256GB)|
|Display||6.28" 1080p+ AMOLED|
|Glass Protection||Corning Gorilla Glas 5|
|Rear Camera||Dual 16MP OIS f/1.7 and 20MP f/1.7|
|Front Camera||16MP, f/2.0|
|Ports||USB: 2.0, Type-C. Audio: 3,5 mm|
|Extra||Splash-proof (water resistance)|
Having previously used the OnePlus 5T not long ago I move to the 6 knowing what to expect software-wise. Oxygen OS is as pleasant as always with buttery smooth animations, stock-like design and thoughtful features. OnePlus keeps fighting the good fight with one stable release and one up for the Public Beta Program.
Setting up the phone for the first time you get to add all your normal information and accounts as well as enabling Face Unlock and/or Fingerprint recognition. Both setups are swift to get on with and Face Unlock is still a magical thing. If you are storing government secrets on your device, it might not be the best fit for you, otherwise it is a nice convenience.
After the first setup I was greeted with a system update to Oxygen OS 5.1.9
The Launcher, or home-screen, still is nice enough that I don't feel like changing it and Shelf is extra helpful thanks to it being able to utilize Android app-shortcuts. I also like the App-drawers Hidden Space letting me hide stuff like SwiftKey and bank-apps alike.
The simple things is what you usually miss the most. Using the Mi Mix 2S I found myself trying to swipe down to close folders on the launcher every other day. On Oxygen OS it is such a simple yet user-friendly function.
I was impressed of how few quick settings were view-able at first, of course I enabled a few more shortly, but I like OnePlus' dedication to minimalism. The settings menu is also straight forward and easy to navigate.
Then there is the Ambient Display. I still do not miss the Always on Display feature, but I appreciate this lift to wake functionality, as well as its ability to visualize when I switch the Alert-Slider.
Following up on software I thought I would mention a few things. Firstly, battery life kind of scares me. Coming from the Xioami Mi Mix 2s where I had 4-5+ hours of screen-on-time after a full day, the OnePlus 6 delivers about 3-4 hours. This is after the first few days though, so it might improve. Software can also help out, but I believe this gives points to my thoughts on OLED-Displays and battery-life improvements.
Speaking of the display it is really nice to look at, and screen brightness amounts to a pleasant surprise.
I have missed the Dash Charger these past months. That does in no way make up for the mediocre battery life I have been having so far, but it is still a nice plus.
Last year OnePlus went from a dual camera setup on the 5 with a 2x Telephoto Lens, to one with two similar lenses with the same Focal length on the 5T. This setup claimed to be able to help with low-light photography, but to my recognition did not amount to a lot in the end.
This year OnePlus uses a similar dual camera setup as with the 5T, but instead of using it for low-light OnePlus announced that the second lens is there to aid the primary camera with depth sensing for Portrait mode. I have also read that it is used for quality assistance and digital zoom, but I have had a hard time confirming this. The second camera lens is actually a matter of complaint for a lot of users. If you recall my last review I am not a fan of Telephoto lenses since I barely ever use the zoom feature and it forces Portrait mode to crop. Looking at the spec sheet the camera setup on the OnePlus 6 should be right up my alley. According to DxOMark the camera is supposed to be a strong contender, even when compared to full-priced flagships, placing it at 96 points. That is 1 point beneath the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s that i Recently reviewed.
The OnePlus 6's camera leaves a fine first impression. Details are good, colors pop, and whether shooting for Instagram or personal use I believe it will be satisfactory. I will of course test it more during my review period.
Portrait Mode: (Click for full image)
The OnePlus 6 uses the second camera for depth-sensing, enabling Portrait Mode. Much to my liking the second camera is not a telephoto lens so Portrait shots are not cropped. Shout-out to OnePlus for giving me the option to save both the Bokeh picture and a picture without it, in-case the edge detection is not satisfactory.
Couple Portrait Picture:
Edge detection seems pretty good most of the time. Of course it does not blur out the foreground, nor the wall beside you in this case. Still, it makes for some really nice portraits.
Dog Portrait Picture:
This image shows us more of the same. It does a really nice job in determining where to apply the effect after the subject, but the foreground is very much focused and you can see where the edge goes. It still makes for a nice picture of her though. If you look closely you can see that it missed part of her tongue though.
Click the image to view it in full. The OnePlus 6 gives me a mixed badge of low-light photography. Sometimes it looks pretty good, other times there is an un-natural orange hue to the pictures. I am pretty sure my dog is not yellow for example. I will examine the images further, and in my full review I will comment on the low-light capabilities further.
Shortly after the release of the 6 OnePlus also updated the selfie-camera with the ability to do portrait mode shots. I feel like the software does a really good job at edge detection and applying the depth effect. It does however leave the sky a bit over-exposed, as opposed to the normal selfie.
Additional camera features
The OnePlus 6, of course, also comes with the expected Pro-Mode and the ability to shoot videos in up to 4K at 60 fps. There is also a Super Slow-motion mode with 1080p at 240 fps or 720p at 480 fps. There is also a Time Lapse mode that seems to work well and the Panorama mode that I have not tested.
First Impressions and Review Goals:
Coming back to a more familiar Android experience feels good. The OnePlus 6 is nicely designed, although I sometimes wish I would have gone for either the Mirror Black or Red version for a more stylish look. Looking past that it fits nicely in my hand, and the software is as quick as it can be. The Midnight Black color does not feel like glass, but tilting it you can see the glass reflection above the colored layer, which looks really nice.
The camera makes a good first impression and leaves me wanting to try it more. I might add an HDR-mode section to my review as I have noticed a significant difference, especially in low light. It is also Auto HDR enabled so you won't have to think about it too much. Low light images seems prone to the adition of the color orange though, which I hope to be fixed in a software update.
I might try the Android P beta to get a Part 3 in my Developer preview series, seeing as OnePlus actually was ambitious enough to not just keep updating it but actually adapting it towards the Oxygen OS version of Android P at the same time. With Android P being released today, I am also excited to see if this will result in a faster OS update this fall.
The OnePlus 6 will be my daily driver for at least a month before I will publish a review, and if I know myself well enough it might take me longer than that to scribble all my thoughts down.
Let me know if there is anything you would wish to see in the full review!
Until next time, Thanks for reading.
This is a referral link to OnePlus. Using it will give you a 200 SEK | $20 off on accessories when purchasing a OnePlus phone and me a small bonus point on their site.