Slaying flagships has become the favourite past time of this brand. But for 2018, they’ve pulled all stops and hit a sixer!
Coming in after months of leaks and teasers, OnePlus has finally took its bun out of the oven and it’s out to draw blood. Can it hold its own? For a four year old brand, OnePlus has had a dream run and they aren’t waking up from it anytime this year. The 6 is their fifth all-new annual smartphone but like every other major brand’s flagship this year, this one is a bit special. The screen, like its peers, has been pushed all the way to the edges (well, almost) to make for an incredible 84% screen-to-body ratio. Sure, the Mi Mix might boast of higher numbers but this is a useable, flagship phone and not a concept forerunner.
Corning Gorilla Glass 5 is the material of choice on the 6 and it’s evident the moment you hold it for the first time. The three finishes are all luxurious and meticulously crafted, but the Silk White stands out for its ethereal feel. Each finish has its own method of layering the glass with unique elements to add depth and subtle refractions.
In fact, it’s a 40-step process, achieving each of the three unique finishes and it shows that the design team has spent countless hours on selecting the look and feel of these products. The silk white actually has crushed pearl powder to achieve its silken feel! If you can’t make up your mind with the three exotic finishes of the standard edition, perhaps the top-spec Avengers Edition might sway you with its 256GB of storage and a slick carbon-fibre finish and Easter Egg goodies in the box.
This is a phone that feels like a flagship regardless of what it is priced at. The only real giveaway are the glass back covers, which don’t really sit completely seamlessly with the body but that’s just me nitpicking. Aesthetically, the reduction of the chin to a bare minimum has done wonders for making the AMOLED HD screen look more immersive.
Although it doesn’t boast 4K resolution, you’d never feel the lack of a higher resolution. The 19:9 aspect ratio is housed well in the 6.2in canvas, with the small notch that can also be removed via software. Colours are most natural in the DCI-P3 setting and every other mode either dulls it too much or over-saturates, a la Samsung. One of the things that OnePlus needs to work on is the Adaptive Brightness feature that always calibrates wrongly, with too low a brightness setting usually. It could potentially be resolved with an update.
The screen has more usable area, thanks to the option to hide the virtual navigation keys and replace them with iPhone X-ish gestures like swipe-up from bottom left/right to go back and swipe up from bottom centre to go to home screen. Swiping down from anywhere on the screens brings down the notification panel and the whole experience is slicker than an oily eel.
The famed Alert slider remains, albeit in an even more simpler form that toggles between silent, vibrate and ring. The headphone jack too remains as does the DASH charging system that promises a whole day of battery life in 30 minutes of charge. Smartly, OnePlus has taken the stand to adopt new wireless charging as and when it can compete with the speeds of DASH, which isn’t likely anytime soon and no one’s complaining really.
Power is a real need and faster charging will always trump fancier charging. Besides, with DASH, you can also continue gaming on the phone without much adverse effect on charging times.
The Bolt-ish numbers hold true. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 simply flies on this device. Backed by the Adreno 630 GPU, gamers invested in games like PubG or Monument Valley will feel the love. A non-stop gaming session for 20 minutes couldn’t upset the thermal balance of the OnePlus 6 and even without a case, I was comfortably cruising through with the fastest game load times I have experienced.
Draggy, latency and stuttering are all terms that you won’t be using while at the screen of this device. It’s not just gaming, everyday tasks and menus open with lightning speed and fluidity that was hitherto lacking in all but the best versions of Android. Of course, OnePlus’ own Oxygen OS sits on the Android 8.1 Oreo and it’s more than just a skin.
In fact, its ethos is to make stock Android even better and hence it removes any bloatware and optimises most-often used apps for better data and resource management. For the 6, OnePlus looked at the top 100 apps on the Google Play store and worked on each of them individually to make them load and run at least 13% faster. That’s attention to detail and listening to fans, which have been the brand’s mainstays since its introduction four years ago.
Previous OP users might be familiar to this but on the 6, the Gaming mode also optimises data usage to give more horsepower to the game-in-hand. A 15 min session of PubG and it still ran cool. Impressed!
The 8GB of DDR4 RAM might seem excessive but once you have multiple apps open and are toggling at full throttle during a press conference, you really appreciate the speed at which you can get things done. I was in fact using the Avengers edition during the Mumbai launch of the device and shuttling between camera, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Pages was a breeze.
You may not be a fan of the notch on the 2018 batch but there’s no denying their fruitful existence. In the same dimensions of the 5T, you now get a bigger screen than the iPhone X. The top left corner remains out of reach and there is no iPhone-ish reachability feature to bring the whole screen down. Though, a host of new gestures help immensely. They all work flawlessly and the learning curve is a short one, but pays off to make for a cleaner and fuller looking screen, without the navigation buttons.
Even something as casual but indispensable as taking a screenshot has been improved by OnePlus. The OP6 has taken a new approach with Expanded Screenshot that automatically scrolls the screen until you tap to stop. Perfect for longer docs or web page sharing.
Battery life from the 3300mAh bank is good enough to last a day and after a little bit of gaming, movie watching, editing and constant social media use, I still had 18% at the end of the day. Add the DASH charge promise and you never have to worry about running dry.
Without making radical changes, the 19% larger sensor improves low-light resolution over the 5T. There is definitely more light captured in the images, making it brighter but there is still noise evident in the pictures while it bumps up the ISO, there is always a price to pay. Zooming in to a low-light picture reveals shortcomings like lack of detail and compression.
Take it outdoors and it fares much better with enough crispness and colour saturation to make images pop. The OIS on the primary 16MP cam helps, especially while shooting video, which is a lot smoother than the 5T. It manages to capture colours in the brighter portions of the frame quite well, thanks to HDR but in indoor lighting, the images are overtly bright, washing out deeper colour detail and definition.
This might seem a bit counterproductive but our reference phones were the Pixel 2XL and iPhone X, both considerably more expensive than the 6 but since it is supposed to be a flagship killer, it just manages to put things in perspective. Of course, compared to any other Rs. 35,000 smartphone, it holds up pretty well and will give It a run for its money.
The Pro mode gives you complete control over White Balance, Exposure, Focus, Shutter speed and ISO, and if you have enough time to compose a good shot, I would strongly recommend this for landscape, nature or any such photography. The inherent bump in ISO in Auto mode during low-light conditions is what causes most of the images to disintegrate upon zooming. Pro mode solves this almost completely.
Portrait mode is well done and there is even a selfie portrait mode coming with an OTA update soon after launch date. Like all others, it is a hit or miss, depending on the complexity of the subject’s hair, fringes, tentacles or what have you! It is amazingly quick at locking focus on the subject in the foreground though and is also a lot less forgiving than others when it comes to keeping a minimum distance for a bokeh effect. OnePlus has added their own twist by letting you add hearts, sparkles or stars in the background a shimmer.
Video gets 4K@60fps while optical image stabilization comes to the primary cam too. The slow-mo mode gets a bump as well with a 480fps mode at 720p or full HD at 240fps. The 480fps is really addictive and comes with a limit of one whole minute of recording at that frame rate and letting you choose which parts to keep in slow-mo during the edit. Pretty nifty. As OnePlus likes to point out though, a lot of new features will be rolled out soon enough and with such an active community, I’m sure they won’t be taking long.
With improvements across the board and mostly under the hood, the Oxygen OS proves that it is the best skin over stock Android. Things like the new gestures to make optimum use of the 6.2in screen, reading mode that uses grayscale mapping, App locker for sensitive apps via fingerprint sensor, Gaming mode and Expanded Screenshot to name a few, it is the Android version of choice for anyone used to iOS as well. And that's the crux, the OnePlus 6 makes such good use of the (almost) full screen that it makes the whole experience seamless and smooth, like what Android P is going to be like.
Incidentally, during the launch, OnePlus also hinted on getting Android P in the first phase of its launch so that might make it even better. Nothing really about the OnePlus is a glaring fault once you consider its smashing price. The Avengers edition tops out at a massive 8GB RAM and 256GB storage which is more than you’ll need or perhaps use but it propels the whole user experience of this device right up there with the flagship devices.
Yes, the camera still isn’t a patch on the Pixels or iPhones but it manages to scrape through with passable results and in every other department, it matches or even excels them in a few! Not a lot of phones can claim that and the OnePlus 6 rightly deserves to get straight to the top of the pile just for value. It’s going to take a lot of smartness to beat this phone.