A worthy competitor? : OnePlus 6 Review
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A worthy competitor? : OnePlus 6 Review

Review OnePlus 6, he new "flagship killer" OnePlus 6 offers power, style, and up-to-date features

OnePlus 6: Perfect porridge? One has to make a smartphone that’s juuuust right

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Smartphones brands have always been under pressure to offer users ‘best-in-class’ devices. The race to become the industry leader has resulted in companies launching smartphones with FaceID, dual-rear cameras, bezel less displays and other such technologies. However, most of these smartphones – at least the initial variants- have been launched at eye-watering prices. Here OnePlus has largely maintained its image of launching what it calls ‘flagship killer’ at relatively affordable prices. The five-year-old company recently raised the curtains over its latest flagship smartphone – oneplus 6 review

There’s no doubt that OnePlus 6 has been enjoying the headlines since past few months, something that helped make it one of the most anticipated smartphones of the year. It had the hype, it had celebrities promoting it and now it’s out in the open, challenging some of the big names in the market.

For starters, OnePlus 6 was unveiled on May 16 in London and May 17 in Mumbai, India. This time, the smartphone comes in three colour variants – Midnight Black, Mirror Black and Silk White. There’s also a Marvel Avengers Limited Edition variant. All of them also differ when it comes to RAM and storage capacities. The 6GB RAM + 64GB version costs Rs 34,999, while the 8GB + 128GB variant will make hole in your pocket worth Rs 39,999. The Avengers special edition comes with 8GB RAM but is also the only one to sport 256GB inbuilt storage.

We have been using the OnePlus 6 Mirror Black 8GB/128GB variant since a week and here’s what this Rs 39,999 handset offers.

Design

Although sporting a ‘new’design, OnePlus 6 didn’t really get us all excited initially. At first glance, it looks like the OnePlus 5T except for the dual rear cameras that are now placed at the centre instead of the top left corner. If you were expecting a major overhaul something similar to what we saw between the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 5, you’re in for a slight disappointment.

It feels the same as OnePlus 5T in hand but for those moving to the OnePlus 6 from a different-branded device, this could be a rather good change.

OnePlus stresses on the fact that the smartphone, unlike any other OnePlus handsets before, uses a glass-coated back panel. We did find the glass design better in the Midnight Black and Silk White variant than the glossy look used in Mirror Black and the special edition Marvel Avengers edition because of the amount of fingerprints the latter models attract. If you’re someone who wants to keep his/her smartphone clean and spotless all the time, the latter two may not be good options.- oneplus 6 review

Thankfully the size of the phone remains the same so no stress there. And OnePlus is not yet ready to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack, because according to the company ‘community’ and ‘fans’ wanted it. Now, this is may be good news for some buyers, and not-so-good for others. Good news because customers can use a 3.5mm headphone, which is still widely used and bad news because the industry is slowly moving towards everything ‘wireless’ and smartphones are adopting USB Type-C port for both audio output and charging but OnePlus 6 seems left behind being a flagship. Of course, all of this is subjective.

Nonetheless, some changes you will see in the OnePlus 6 is that the Alert Slider has moved to the right side (thankfully), volume controllers are on the left and the ever so controversial ‘notch’ is finally here. We’re glad that Oneplus has finally moved the Alert Slider to the right, making it more accessible than before. This layout basically makes all of them (alert slider, volume controllers and the power button) easier to reach single-handedly.

The Mirror Black variant that we received could also prove to be a terribly slippery device at times but then we got as many as six cases in the box, including the classic Sandstone cover (which we are using right now). Also what might be a let down is the absence of any kind of IPxx water resistance or dust resistance rating. OnePlus however, says that it is still usable in rain. So dunking it in water is likely to spoil the device.

Display ‘notch’ is another head turner this time. More on it below.

Display

OnePlus 6 uses the Optic Amoled screen panel that is good to look at. The colours are not as vibrant as the one seen in Samsung Galaxy flagships (but those too don’t appear natural many a times). The videos and images do pop up and the blacks are deep enough to blend with the black screen bezels or even hide the notch. Yes, you have the option to hide the notch in the OnePlus 6, in case you were wondering. It is also possible to select which apps can use the fullscreen mode or not.

If you ask us, we’re not a big fan of the notch design as most of the apps are not optimised for them and don’t really use it in a better manner. But as Pei described weeks ahead from the launch of OnePlus 6, this was the best option to give users an expanded screen while keeping the front-facing camera and the speaker intact. The notch also includes an LED notification indicator that one can notice when receiving a notification or while charging the device.

The 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED display with sRGB supports DCI-P3 colour space that is there in OnePlus 3 and all the later models. With an expanded screen you get a 19:9 aspect ratio, that is usually helpful in viewing videos and clicking well-spanned images. Also, there is a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection so we’re hoping it may survive a couple of drops. –  oneplus 6 review

There’s no path-breaking or flagship-killing display feature in OnePlus 6 though. It has the same Adaptive Mode, Reading Mode, Night Mode and Lift Up Display. Reading mode is also there that desaturates the entire screen turning it into monochrome.

Performance

Performance is a section where OnePlus smartphones have been kind of nailing it for quite some time. The OnePlus 6 is no exception. It makes use of one of the most powerful mobile chip available in the industry – Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 so as expected, there are no lags or any kind of slow down while opening apps or moving between them. Instead, the UI animations and app launches, as OnePlus claims, are snappier. For an end user it’s difficult to say as you won’t be able to make out a difference. However, those coming from Samsung Experience, MIUI or any other interfaces may able to spot the change. What boosts complex, heavy tasks is 8GB LPDDR4X RAM, which in our case is still an overkill. 6GB RAM would also do the same task at the same speed. In addition to a powerful octa-core processor and ample RAM you get Adreno 630 GPU handling some of the graphic-intensive apps and games such as Mortal Kombat, Modern Combat and more.

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What makes OnePlus 6 a delight to use is the OxygenOS. The handset has Android 8.1 Oreo-based 5.1.3, which is as new as it gets and has all the features one would expect from the latest flagship. The new OxygenOS arrived while we were reviewing the device so in all probability you will get this out of the box. It brings Android security patch to May, adds configuration for showing or hiding the notch, support for super slow motion at 480fps and other camera-based features.

For those coming from different UIs, the OxygenOS might be a pleasant surprise as it is fast, customisable to some extent and near stock Android by design. In case you missed it, you can even run Android P beta version on OnePlus 6.

Two other key features Oneplus is touting are the new Gaming Mode and new navigation gestures. The Gaming mode, which until OnePlus 5T was known as the Gaming DND Mode, has been improved as it automatically lowers the amount of data for other apps and throttles the data assigned for the game being played. As for gestures, the OnePlus 6 now gives you an option to replace the stereotypical navigation bar and instead use swipe up gestures for the same. This feature can be activated from the Settings app and is comparatively easy to learn. Swiping up from sides will take you a step back while swiping up from centre will minimize whatever app is opened at that time. Swiping up from the centre without lifting your finger will open the multi-window screen.

For the sake of numbers, OnePlus 6 as expected got an impressive 261397 score on Antutu, which is one of the best scores in the list, along with 2401 and 8974 for single and multi-core scores.

 

Camera

A major chunk of performance lies with how the camera of the smartphone works and OnePlus 6 does a decent job in it. In theory, the smartphone is just a slight upgrade over the OnePlus 5T. It has the same 16MP+20MP dual rear cameras except for a better Sony sensor. The primary 16MP Sony IMX519 has f/1.7 aperture and the secondary 20MP Sony IMX376K sensor too has the same aperture. The pixel size has also been increased in the primary sensor by 0.10um, which hardly makes any difference to your resulting shots. Nonetheless, the camera is quick to capture moving subjects with good amount of sharpness and clarity.

Some credit of this also goes to the company’s Smart Capture technology that digitally sharpens the image. The software feature suggests the best mode to click a sharp image based on the environment in which it is being clicked.

Although we didn’t really see a drastic difference in daylight shots in general, some of the night shots actually came out good. The low aperture and the slightly larger pixel size work in tandem to deliver some of the best low-light shots according to us. The resulting images, unlike seen in some of the smartphones in the given price segment, are sharp and not smooth in order to hide the noise. But if you do want the best camera performance, this might not be the preferred one as smartphones like Galaxy S9+, Google Pixel 2 and even the Huawei P20 Pro do a better job. However, the price tag makes OnePlus 6 a good proposition.

One of the major additions in the camera this time is the Optical Image Stabilisation or OIS. The tech, which can be found in most of the flagship smartphones these days, was missing until now. The previous model came with EIS. Now, with OIS, you can expect stable videos and sharper shots of a moving subject. Also, the secondary rear camera has PDAF for better tracking of the subject in videos.

Talking about videos, the smartphone has definitely improved and stays at par with some high-grade smartphones out there. The video stabilisation, like we mentioned above, is taken care by OIS, giving a good output. Low light videos are not as bad as we expected but is also not one of the best ones we’ve seen. It does the job though so users won’t be disappointed. The overall video recording performance is fluid and they do look good on large screen as well.

What’s new and improved this time is that the device can now record 4K resolution videos at 60fps, which is something that we saw in the Samsung Galaxy S9+ earlier this year. Also, while the OnePlus 5T came with 120fps slow motion video recording support, the OnePlus 6 now comes with 240fps at fullHD resolution and 480fps at HD resolution. Unfortunately, the 960fps support is not there.

While the rear cameras have seen a slight upgrade, the front-facing camera stays almost the same as that in the OnePlus 5T. It has the same 16MP Sony IMX371 sensor with f/2.0 aperture. The only change here is that the sensor now includes EIS for digitally stabilising videos. On the software front there is a new Portrait effect feature that lets you add some new effects in the blurred background. For selfie lovers this should come as a welcome change.

The overall UI is easy to use and not a major takeoff from that of the stock Android. We felt the number of tweaks was not as much but for a general user it should fulfil nearly all the basic demands.

Battery

OnePlus 6 battery performance is not bad given it has the same 3300mAh capacity onboard as in OnePlus 5T. The smartphone, on a single charge, can run for over 12 hours easily on an average use. End users won’t get much to complain here as the battery delivers over 6 hours of on-screen time. This is because of the less power consuming FullHD+ resolution screen and an efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor.

In addition, you get a bunch of battery-saving features as well. These include from your regular battery optimisation for each app to the Battery Saver mode wherein the OnePlus 6 switches off vibration, location services and other background tasks. You can also set it up to activate automatically when the handset hits 5% battery or 15%. Some visual battery icon customisations are also there, something we have already seen in the OnePlus 5 and 5T.

While everything is positive on the battery side, one of the features we think OnePlus could’ve included was wireless charging. The company executive, at the time of the launch did explain that the firm didn’t bring it as the charging rate is nowhere close to the standards set by OnePlus Dash Charge. However, being a flagship smartphone and considering every other flagship from different companies have it, the company could’ve at least introduced the feature and maybe improved upon it in the later version (maybe in OnePlus 7, who knows).

As for Dash Charging, the technology is one of the major plus points of the smartphone. It even works while the smartphone is in Gaming Mode as all the heating up takes place in the adapter instead of the phone.

Verdict

OnePlus 6 definitely nearly has all that it takes to compete with other flagships in the market. The keyword here being ‘nearly’. As one can still see the Chinese smartphone brand cutting corners in the form of misses like water-resistance build, no wireless charging, same front-facing camera and battery. But on the brighter side you get some of the crucial features such as OIS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, slow-motion video recording and even the gigabit LTE connectivity support.
In addition to this, some nifty features include an improved Gaming Mode, easy navigation gestures and more that act as a cherry on the cake. All these are likely to generate a positive ripple in the market. Fans also may not find it a massive upgrade over the OnePlus 5T but then for someone moving from a Samsung, Xiaomi or any other non-stock Android smartphone, this may be a good deal.

It’s difficult to consider it as one of the perfect smartphones in the market but the price tag at which it comes is surely attractive.

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