As goes the tradition, we have another T in the house and this one is all about you dear user. Or is it? The brand is big on feedback from its ‘fans’ or at least it was. But the decision of removing the beloved headphone jack, especially after making it such a big deal in its previous launches almost gives you a feeling of emptiness and sorrow. Okay, it isn’t as dramatic as I make it sound to be, but there are still hardcore fans of the jack and they won’t be happy. Neither are we. But times are changing and there’s a solution for everything, but more on this later. Inside, core favourites like Dash Charging and the mighty Snapdragon 845 CPU remain unchanged, but there’s a lot going on apart from that.
Minor tweaks to the UI, an absent fingerprint sensor, a smaller waterdrop notch and probably the toughest decision to drop the mighty loved headphone jack all point towards a significant change from the half-step update that the T variant has been synonymous with. It’s an interesting time for OnePlus and a lot of interesting little changes to look at.
Design: Glassy and classy
The 6T features that similar sexy glass back design of the 6 and this time there’s no fingerprint sensor at the back. What you get is a cleaner look and of course a unibody feel. It’s a slightly taller frame too and a little stouter than the OnePlus 6, but the difference in thickness is so miniscule, you’ll barely notice it.
The 6T has gone through 40 excruciating levels of development and the Midnight Black variant uses anti-glare coating and a thin, texturized multi-layer film that achieves that unique finish. The Mirror Black variant does not feature any shenanigans and is a clean slab of 3D glass. All that micron-level of craftsmanship and the smart arc-backing has paid off and the 6T feels great to hold in the palm.
For those who have a OnePlus 6, things don’t feel extraordinarily different although the 6T does feel slimmer to hold and manages to look slicker thanks to a slimmer chin. We have the Silk White OnePlus 6 and it is by far the best texture I’ve felt on a phone. Do I want a 6T with the same finish - hell yes. But for those still holding onto the 3T or the 5/5T, holding the 6T will feel, in a word - pleasurable.
Display - Pop up Blocked!
The smaller waterdop notch makes way for a slightly bigger 6.41in Optic AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 6, while keeping the PPi to a familiar count of 402 and a slightly larger 19.5:9 aspect ratio. That drop-sized notch retains the three-in-one ambient/distance/RGB sensor and front-facing camera, but does away with the notification LED. Were you expecting a pop-up front camera? Silly child.
When put side by side, the display on the 6T appears more or less the same but favours a slightly cooler tone and seems to have a better grip on colours. You get the standard sRGB, DCI-P3, Adaptive Mode and Custom Colour that allows you to manually change the tone to warmer or colder in steps.
Watching movies is great and the smaller notch isn’t intrusive and you barely notice it. There’s very little difference overall between the two and will love both equally. The slightly more screen makes the gamer in me smile too.
We pit the OP6, Huawei P20 Pro, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 against the OnePlus 6T and our top pick was the Huawei for its more true-to-life natural colour pallette. The 6T display looks better than that Note 9’s overdone pop and comes in a very close second to the Huawei P20 Pro’s. But don’t let this disappoint you if you already own a OnePlus 6, because they're hardly different and both the 6 and 6T serve up a delicious picture quality at this end of the price range.
Performance - The Dragon breathes
OnePlus has decided to do away with the 64GB variant and instead, the base variant now comes in with 128GB/6GB LPDDR4 RAM. This decision was long overdue, but we would have loved to see the option of a 64GB variant with a MicroSD card slot - something as affordable as the Huawei Honor 8X can pull off without issues. But this would slow things down and deviates from OnePlus’ obsession with being the fastest Android on the market - which by the way, the 6T is.
You are greeted with the familiar fast paced experience that OnePlus devices have been known for and that Snapdragon 845 just chomps out anything you throw at it. It feels at par with the OnePlus 6, sometimes faster too, thanks to the newer Oxygen OS. Like the OP6, the 6T is a powerhouse of performance and has this air of getting things done swiftly. The performance feels much better than say the Huawei P20 Pro and others.
We don’t usually take benchmark figures at heart, but the OnePlus 6T managed to pull off a Single-Core score of 2380 and Multi-Core score of 8982 in the Geekbench 4 benchmark. The Note 9 manages to score 3236 in Single-Core test and 9016 in the Multi-Core run. But in terms of actual usage and app load times, the OnePlus still wins the cake here. Just the simple test of opening YouTube and playing a video on both devices makes you root towards the OnePlus because not only does it load the app faster, it even starts playing the video before the Note 9 and the P20 Pro.
Camera - Feeling the AIgorithm
OnePlus does not want to associate itself with the AI bandwagon and completely ignores using the nomenclature because of all the negativity the term has been picking up recently. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t present, so instead of putting AI to the forefront like most manufacturers do, OnePlus has it working behind the scene.
The new algorithm that’s been developed with inputs from Irish conceptual artist and ace snapper Kevin Abosch recognizes faces and fine tunes lighting accordingly. The 16+20MP dual cam setup is the same one on the OnePlus 6 and hasn’t changed. The aim here is to optimize the software.
A new ‘Studio Effect’ is supposed to create an effect where the subject is getting photographed in a proper studio with studio lighting. But it just appears to make things a bit warmer and isn’t quite pronounced. Apart from this wizardry, the software also recognises text, food and most importantly night scenes.
A dedicated ‘Night’ mode is now part of the main camera app too and is designed to produce ‘true-to-life’ images in static low-light situations with a high dynamic range and 2 second exposure time with 10 multi-frame shots. Basically it stacks 10 shots to try and get you the best possible outcome. However, this we feel is a work in progress and doesn’t usually produce the outcome you expect.
Day time shots are not too far away from the 6’s either, albeit seem to have better dynamic range and colours are handled well too. It even manages to capture some details that the previous version struggles with. The front cam does a fair job of portrait selfies, and the beauty option is subtler than the rest, but still not advisable.
OIS and EIS helps straighten a lot of things out in the video department as shooting while walking does not appear too shaky provided you put in some effort with steady hands as well. 4K at 60fps is great so is that sick 1080p 240fps slow-motion madness which pretty much nails it and manages to impress always.
Battery and Jack - Et tu OnePlus Then fall Jack
Jack has finally hit the road to make way for a bigger 3700mAh battery and it does last a day and a half of regular usage (depends on whether you have a life), whereas the 6 needed the Dash treatment sooner. OnePlus includes a small ETL (easy to lose) USB Type C to 3.5mm connector, but has also a USB Type C variant of the OnePlus Bullets. Maybe it is time to make that switch to Bluetooth. But listen up OnePlus, the jack deserved a proper send off maybe with a farewell party, not a sudden execution. And all that for what? A sensor?
Fingerprint Sensor - A very important sensor
Gather common folk of OnePlus land. This so called in-display (FOB) sensor which is actually underneath the screen flashes a green light onto your finger and then unlocks the phone. There’s a swanky rotating green fireball animation that pops up everytime you put your finger on it and it gets annoying. We wish there was an option to turn it off completely, but the tech that can make that happen is still some time away.
The sensor however is not as fast as the physical unit on the OP6 and sometimes, very rarely, struggles to recognize the finger. If you’re switching from the OP6, you will sorely miss that fingerprint unit at the back as I found myself looking for it on the back of the 6T. Was the in-display fingerprint sensor necessary? No, but think of it as the next notch phenomenon. Almost all phones in the future may adapt it. However, the face unlock is lightning-quick and I ended up using that more than the fingerprint sensor.
OnePlus has added a Quick Launch option to go with the sensor that allows you to swipe up to a set of customized apps/settings of your choice and launch them immediately. This works surprisingly well and the sensor manages to gain some credit in our books. It does the job well, especially after the Oxygen 9.0.4 update.
Software - Are you burdened?
No? OnePlus thinks you are and hence the Android 9.0 based OxygenOS v9.0.3 has been refined for a smoother and ‘happier’ experience. Yes, happier because it now includes a few cool animations when certain things happen on the 6T. For instance, if you switch between Airplane mode, an animated airplane takes off and lands as and when you toggle the mode. Empty folders are also made ‘happy’ and include certain animated elements.
You can also set accent colours and customise to your liking. Apart from the fun bits, the OS is neat and clean and as snappy as ever. The OnePlus gestures are pretty straightforward and simple and now you can switch between apps with a single swipe too, almost like the iPhones. And if you want to, now you can also summon the Google Assistant by long pressing the power button and this works seamlessly.
OnePlus 6T: Verdict
The company has done it again - a classy phone at the same price, but not necessarily better. That is if you have the OnePlus 6. If you already have the OP6, the upgrades don’t justify ditching a phone that’s just 5 months old. Unless the in-display fingerprint sensor is a top priority for you, the rest of the changes are not something to write home about. Of course the bigger battery helps and compromising on the headphone jack is almost inevitable now, so enjoy it while it lasts.
For those using the OnePlus 3T or OP5, the 6T will be a worthy upgrade. For the rest of you guys who want a premium experience with the latest bits of tech 2018 has to offer, the 6T still offers quite a considerable bang for buck.