OnePlus seems to have settled comfortably into a six-month refresh cycle for its flagship (and sole) smartphone offering. Rather than waiting around for a fixed time of the year, OnePlus acts when it feels like there’s something to be capitalised on. Last year’s OnePlus 5 (Review) was one of the first phones to ship with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, and the 5T (Review) replaced it as soon as 18:9 screens came into fashion. This time, with the OnePlus 6, we have a new look, a new processor, and a new type of screen all at the same time, and so this feels like a very different phone even though barely any time has passed since the previous model launched.
The changes don’t stop there – OnePlus has gone with glass on the rear for the first time. Unlike other manufacturers using glass in order to allow for wireless charging, OnePlus isn’t offering this feature. It’s all about the design, and in fact you have three different kinds of glass to choose from, though the company expects the Midnight Black option will be the most popular. It has a matte texture and feels almost like there’s a thin coating over it. Everyone who sees this will want to touch it. If you hold it up to the light, you’ll see a refracted pattern beneath the glass.
The second option is also black, but this time it’s called Mirror Black and is more conventional. It’s polished to a high sheen and will definitely grab eyeballs – if you dare to use it without a case. The conceptual similarity to Apple’s Black and Jet Black options for the iPhone 7 is immediately apparent. The third option is Silk White, and this one has a rose gold frame which really stands out in contrast to the white front and rear panels. The rear panel has its own unique texture, which feels almost soft to the touch. OnePlus says was created using actual pearl dust.
OnePlus has so far concentrated mainly on online sales, but we’d recommend a visit to a physical store to check out all three options in person before buying a OnePlus 6. While the two black options will be sold in India with either 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, the Silk White option will only be available with the latter configuration. All three use Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front as well as the rear.
Update: OnePlus has now confirmed that the Midnight Black finish will only be available with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, priced at Rs. 39,999, which means that Mirror Black will be the only variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage in India, priced at Rs. 34,999.
As for the front of the device, there is of course a notch right on the top, just as we’ve seen in leaks and teasers for ages now. This is no surprise, but it’s still not everyone’s cup of tea. On the positive side, it did allow OnePlus to increase the screen to 6.28 inches diagonally, and it does look slick with narrow borders. OnePlus is keen to point out that the notch includes a multi-colour status LED, because its users have been vocal about needing one.
The AMOLED screen is extremely bright and punchy. Our initial impressions are that the built-in apps and OnePlus’s bright swirly wallpapers look great, but you’ll have to wait for our detailed review to see how it fares with various types of content. While the OnePlus 6 is relatively slim and easy to hold, we weren’t able to use it one-handed and reach all corners of the screen with just a thumb.
One detail that might annoy long-term OnePlus users is the shifting of the alert slider to the right, from its usual place on the left. Thankfully there’s still a 3.5mm audio socket next to the USB Type-C port and mono speaker on the bottom. A dual Nano-SIM tray means that OnePlus still doesn’t support microSD cards for storage expansion.
The fingerprint sensor on the rear is now rectangular rather than round and was a bit too low for our liking, thanks to the new camera module. The two rear cameras are now stacked vertically in the centre of the rear. The module protrudes by about 1mm and unfortunately has a very rough rim for protection. This was a problem we had with the OnePlus 5, and it was rectified with the 5T, so we can’t understand why the company has regressed.
This is the first production phone in India with Qualcomm’s new top-end Snapdragon 845 processor, which gives it an edge – even more so thanks to prices that still undercut today’s flagships from Samsung, Huawei, and Apple. There’s also a fairly large 3300mAh battery, and you get a massive 5V 4A Dash charger in the box.
The big news on the camera front is the addition of optical image stabilisation for the primary camera. OnePlus is also claiming that it has a 19 percent larger sensor to help with details. Video recording goes up to 4K 60fps and there’s now a 720p 480fps slow-motion mode.
We’ll be testing the OnePlus 6 cameras for stills as well as video. We’re also eager to push the limits of the Snapdragon 845, and of course it’s too soon to say what the phone’s battery life is like yet. For all these details and much, much more, stay tuned for our full review of the OnePlus 6, coming up very soon on Gadgets 360.
Is OnePlus 6 an iPhone X killer at half the price? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.