[First Cut] OnePlus 6: Knock, knock, knocking on the Premium Door
More glassy and classy than ever before
OnePlus continues its ascent up the premium phone ladder. The brand had arrived as the leader of the budget flagship armada in 2014 but has since been steadily moving up price-wise, so much so that the OnePlus 6’s price tag exceeds that of the OnePlus One by more than fifty percent. How times change, eh?
To be fair, though, the brand has not just been randomly increasing its price tag. There have been changes made to the device, ranging from new displays to better cameras, larger batteries and of course the design itself. And it is the design that hits you right away about the OnePlus 6. The most significant change, of course, is the fact that the brand is using glass backs in the variants it has released. We have got the Mirror Black variant, but would ask you to take a look at the Midnight Black as one, simply because while the Mirror Black variant flaunts its glassy identity with a shiny back, the Midnight Black looks almost metallic – we can see some people preferring it simply because it seems less likely to smudge or scratch.
Mind you, there will be takers for the Mirror Black edition too. OnePlus showed us that it could design sleek, glassy phones with the OnePlus X (at a time when not too many were looking at the class of glass), and in terms of style and compactness, the OnePlus 6 is a chip off that block, which is a good thing because for all its (perceived) faults, the OnePlus X was a looker. Ditto the OnePlus 6, which is designed to stand out rather than blend in. The device has the largest display we have seen on a OnePlus device – 6.28 inches – and yet actually is shorter than the 6.01 inch display toting OnePlus 5T (155.7 mm against 156.1 mm), is almost as wide (75.4 mm against 75 mm) and nearly matches it in terms of slimness (7.75 mm against 7.3 mm). It is slightly heavier than its metallic predecessor, at 177 grams as against 162 grams, but feels almost as solid. Yes, we said “almost” because like it or not, one does get a little of dropping glass phones and the Mirror Black does have a slippery feel to it. We are told that the device can survive a spell in the rain and mild splashes, but has no IP rating. All said and done, this is a very good looking phone, and sticks to the slightly more curve-y design ethic that was introduced in the OnePlus 5. It is not as gorgeous as the Honor 10 (there, we said it – and yes, a comparison is going to come next week), but it is not as familiar as the OnePlus 5 was!
In terms of design, the OnePlus 6 is a very significant departure from its predecessors. Up front, you can see the notch on the full HD+ display, giving it a 19:9 aspect ratio. Bezels have been brutally trimmed – even the “chin” seems slightly smaller. The notch contains the front-facing camera and earpiece. The sides also have changes – the alert slider moves to the right, above the power/display button, while the dual nano-SIM card tray moves to the left, above the volume rocker. Move to the back and you will see OnePlus taking a page out of some design books by opting for a vertical dual camera capsule arrangement – only it places it bang in the middle of the upper part of the back (shades of the OnePlus 3/3T). The fingerprint sensor is just below the camera unit (yes, there is face unlock too) but is more oval than round (and seems a tad smaller), while right below it is the OnePlus branding. The base of the phone, however, remains largely unchanged – it houses a USB Type C port, speaker grille and a 3.5 mm audio jack (cue massive cheering) – and the top remains plain as well.
What also has not changed is what is rapidly becoming the core of the OnePlus offering – flagship-level hardware. That display is an AMOLED one and comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection (on the rear as well). And powering the device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB/ 8GB of RAM and 64 GB/ 128 GB of storage. Connectivity wise, the device comes with support for 4G, Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi, GPS and NFC. Which brings us to those cameras. On the back is a 16-megapixel primary shooter with f/1.7 aperture and optical image stabilization, supported by a 20.0-megapixel snapper with f/1.7 aperture, both of which are helped by a dual LED flash. The front-facing camera is a 16.0-megapixel one with a f/2.0 aperture. There is support for 4K video and super slow motion – 1080p at 240 fps and 720p at 480 fps. Of course, all this is topped off by OnePlus’ Oxygen OS running on top of Android 8.1, which remains one of the most unobtrusive “skins” we have seen on an Android device – clean and uncluttered to the point that many people confuse it with stock Android, even though it has a few of its own tricks up its sleeve (gaming mode, gestures, reading mode, et al). And yes, the device is due to get Android P soon too.
All of this at a price that in keeping with tradition has been bumped up a little to $529. Some might wince at that, but the fact is that as in the past, the OnePlus 6 pretty much finds itself in a zone of relative loneliness, and is easily the most affordable Snapdragon 845 device around. Yes, the Honor 10 may lay siege to it, but actually the biggest challenge the OnePlus 6 faces is to give its current stock of Never Settlers reason to upgrade from what was already a very good OnePlus 5T. Stay tuned for our detailed review next week.