OnePlus tries to get better with every flagship they release, and they have been doing that pretty well, ever since the OnePlus 2 had got some flak from the critics, community, and the actual users. The OnePlus 3 was a hit, and then the 3T followed, and both the OnePlus 5 and 5T were very well received. Hoping for the same, the company that is known to make “flagship killer” phones had launched the OnePlus 6 but with a new take on the design, something they haven’t attempted in all the six previous models.
I’ve been using the OnePlus 6 for weeks now, which is the time I take to review any flagship, and this phone has impressed me, in every way. To start with, the price itself makes me wonder why other brands still have their phones priced sky-high when offering almost the same phone (with of course a few things that differentiates these devices). Let’s give a deep dive into the review to understand what’s so good and what’s not so good with the OnePlus 6.
Note: I’ve used all the three models, the 6GB RAM variant, i.e. the base one, the 8GB RAM variant that is priced at Rs. 39999, and the OnePlus 6 Avengers Edition (which you might not be able to buy now anyway).
In the segment of budget flagships, three brands that would come into my mind first – OnePlus, Honor, and Xiaomi. While Honor has perfected the art of making the best-looking flagships, OnePlus is not far behind and the OnePlus 6 is a prime example of that, having a glass back that looks brilliant. If that is not something that fascinates you, the Silk White with the smooth back is rather better looking.
Design and Display
To begin with, it is that design that attracts. The phone is no more a metal slab, as it gets the glossiness, the beauty, and the great build with a sandwich design having a glass slab on the back. Of course, these glass backs come with the fair share of fear of getting scratched, cracked, or filled with smudges, but you can trade that off for a beautiful looking body that you can flaunt.
One area where OnePlus didn’t really see a lot of criticism is with the design as the company stuck to having their own ideas mostly and the classiness and modern look of the OnePlus 6 adds to what we’ve been feeling about the focus on detailing given. The back shines and reflects light very well, and the “Designed by OnePlus” goes on to say that the phone has an amazing design.
There’s not much that you have to ponder about with the design as it is plain and simple. No gimmicks, no extra inclusions, or no exclusions that would have rung any bells. OnePlus has stuck to having the USB Type-C port, and thankfully has also retained the headphone jack, and the back of the phone curves down towards the sides, which makes it comfortable and easy to hold.
Given that it is a glass back, the company chose to give the Gorilla Glass 5 protection to it. and make sure it stays safe during the accidental falls. Wearing a case over the phone is pointless usually because all the aesthetic goodness of the phone is gone.
The controversial “notch” is here and it would have been a surprise if OnePlus chose to not include it here. It might be hated by some, but I don’t mind it when the areas on either side of the notch are for the notification icons, and time. Just like Honor, OnePlus has opted to give that option to choose whether to have the notch or hide it, but that makes the 19:9 display into an 18:9 one and doesn’t change anything much except for blackening the area on the line of the notch. The display quality otherwise is excellent and there is also enough brightness to keep it viewable and readable in bright sunlight conditions.
Software and the performance
A flagship, not from the Google Pixel series, yet having a near-stock experience is expected only from OnePlus. The OxygenOS is just stock Android with some custom additions that make the user experience better. It is based on Android 8.1 Oreo and one thing that we know about OnePlus is that the software updates, even the major ones, and the security updates are timely and they keep coming to make things better.
The phone has never given up on the performance, offering the best of the class smoothness and high-end gaming too without any problems. One of the things I am not a fan of is the gestures on the home screen, which though I wouldn’t mind if they are called as inspired ones from iOS 11, they don’t really solve any purpose except for adding some extra experience which one would have lived well without as well. I tried it for a couple of days and went back to the fixed navigation buttons, but if you are someone who likes exploring stuff, this could make it easier for you with usage.
Thankfully, for those who don’t like that notch on the top, that can be easily hidden with the option given in the Settings. The setting for the notch is present even for individual apps, so the company is offering good flexibility here, but I still wonder about the notch being present at all.
For someone who has already used a OnePlus phone, you would have liked the Alert slider on it. The position of the slider is changed, but the functionality is the same and the experience thus doesn’t change. The company has recently committed to offering major updates to Android OS for two years and that is actually good, as the next two major OS updates will be available for the OnePlus 6, though to be fair to the brand, they are doing quite a bit with the OxygenOS updates itself.
Gaming time – I’ve spent over an hour every day playing PUBG on this phone while using this as my primary device. Using the phone alongside the likes of Honor 10 and ASUS ZenFone 5z, the OnePlus 6 seemed the best of the lot and it wouldn’t matter if it was the 6GB RAM variant or the 8GB one because it is the same when there is so much of RAM available to use, and the performance depends on how well the CPU and GPU are able to take the load and deliver the graphics, especially in these live games, and in this case, the OnePlus 6 is able to do that very well.
To add to the gaming part, the new Gaming Mode given here that helps optimize the background resources, and with the mode turned on/off, you would notice the difference while playing a high-end game. Apart from that, you anyway have the option to turn off notifications with exceptions, which helps further in the better gaming experience.
The optic performance is where the phone gets really tested and while it deserves some appreciation, it also gets a fair amount of criticism as well. We are talking about flagships, irrespective of the price range, and that’s where the OnePlus 6 still cannot call itself the best in making the best camera phones. The OnePlus 6 has a good camera, which does well in every scenario, but it doesn’t top the charts with the likes of Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S9+, and the HTC U12+ in the competition. Having said that, the phone’s rear camera performance is still at par with some of the devices in its price range, including the Honor 10 and the ASUS ZenFone 5z, but in some areas, it did outperform them as well.
It is a Dual-lens camera setup on the back, with a 16MP + 20MP combination and both of them have a good F/1.7 aperture. There is a lot that can be done using these cameras, including the portrait shots, 4K video recording, 480fps slow-motion videos at 720p resolution, and this time, the slow-mo videos can be controlled to choose what to slow down after the video is taken.
Note: These are not full-resolution pictures.
The cameras are certainly better than the ones on OnePlus 5T, and the pictures taken in broad daylight have a great dynamic range, good color reproduction, and also they are sharp enough when you don’t use the 2x mode given in the app. While doing the zoom, there is also a little washing out of the colors but the details were well retained.
The pictures taken with portrait mode, with human faces in it, the camera does a great job in blurring the background, with almost perfect edge detection as well, but that is only when there is enough light around, as the dual camera struggles to do well and even focus it right when there is not much light present around. There were issues even when we tried the portrait mode on any other object, but that’s a given because this isn’t the depth mode (present on some other phones) that lets you set the object to be focused and the amount of blur for the background.
It is only the Pro mode that helps do better in low light when you know how to set things in getting the best shot in those conditions, but otherwise, if you are taking regular captures and not the portraits, there is not much to complain about in those cases. Overall, with both the picture and video performance, the OnePlus 6 has an appreciable quality and it can easily be called a good upgrade from its predecessor.
Turning to the selfies, there is not much of a change here and the captures are good in quality. While OnePlus has now given a portrait mode here as well, which is a software bokeh enabling done, the portraits don’t look so good because of the fact that the borders have an issue some of the times. Still, someone who wants to blur the background, thankfully you don’t have to get an external app to help do that.
Battery and connectivity
Next, onto the battery life. The OnePlus 6 doesn’t go up with the battery capacity when we compare with its predecessor but the new chipset that powers the phone here is said to be optimizing the battery life. There’s a 3300 mAh battery powering the device and one of the best fast charging solutions, the Dash Charge technology is what makes the worry go away. The phone is able to get a day’s usage but not more, but that always depends on how heavy the usage is.
For everything else including the connectivity options, there is the dual SIM slot that offers dual VoLTE support and it works well, though I could try it only with the two Jio SIM cards, and Airtel’s VoLTE is not available pan-India. There’s no MicroSD card slot, as has been the case with OnePlus phones, but they do come with good high internal storages and that is enough here.
Final Verdict – Does OnePlus still hold the “flagship killer” tag with the OnePlus 6?
It certainly does, the OnePlus 6 has a lot to offer and the company continues with its legacy of phones that are spec-heavy while also delivering a great experience to the users. The phone is a notch up with the design, with the display, and while offering the best of the performance and experience, it only lags a bit with the low-light camera performance.
When compared to the other flagships in its range, the OnePlus 6 ranks itself high in majority of the factors, though there are certain limitations that rank the phone down, but consider this against a phone that is priced over Rs. 50000 and you will easily find out that the OnePlus 6 is saving you a lot of money by offering almost the same experience, and that’s what OnePlus has always been known for.
If there was anything that OnePus could have done better, would be only that camera performance, which otherwise isn’t really bad, but could have challenged the likes of Samsung Galaxy, iPhone, and even the Pixel phones given what else is offered in the OnePlus 6.
Before we wrap it up – The Avengers Edition!
If the regular affair of Mirror black, the silk white, and the Midnight Black was not enough, OnePlus partnered with Marvel to come up with the Avengers Edition that was not just different with the back plate but also with the storage offered. A whooping 256GB storage is what is offered here but now, the thoughts about that particular variant don’t matter much because that was a limited edition device with stocks that are already done and dusted. To be frank, though, the Silk White is my favorite and if it was not for the 256GB storage, I’d choose any other color over the Avengers Edition one.