OnePlus 6 (Smartphone) Review

David takes another swing at Goliath(s)

OnePlus 6 (Smartphone) Review 3
OnePlus 6 (Smartphone) Review 2

OnePlus 6

Brutalist Review Style (Version 2)

We are currently experiencing an interesting time in the evolution of the smartphone. While flagship devices are ever increasing in power and resolution, they’re also increasing in price. While Apple and Samsung still dominate their respective halves of the market, less expensive alternatives are rising on the fringes. Less expensive, but not less powerful or capable.

In fact, some of the best phones on the market are now coming from brands and countries whose populace isn’t necessarily after the $1,200 brand new iPhone, but are still seeking top quality hardware. OnePlus was among the first of these rising stars, and their devices seem to continually grow in quality. Unfortunately, this also comes with a rise in cost, but the OnePlus 6 is still much less expensive than their top branded competitors and while still offering excellent hardware in a stylish package.

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OnePlus 6 – Photo Provided by OnePlus

The OnePlus six comes in a variety of colours, but nothing outrageous. Midnight Black, Mirror Black, Silk White, Amber Red are the current choices. Although, from a personal standpoint, I don’t really see the big deal when it comes to phone colours because 99 percent of people will put it in a case. Either way, the Midnight Black model we reviewed looked slick with a nice matte black finish that did not show fingerprints to the extent other phones do. The dual rear cameras are stacked vertically and placed in the centre of the phone near the top, with a fingerprint scanner underneath. The phone is 6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches with a screen size of 6.28 inches.

It’s big, but not overwhelmingly so and fits comfortably in the palm of my average sized adult male hand. For you notch haters out there, there is indeed a small notch at the top of the screen for the selfie camera. The relevant information like battery life, WiFi, Bluetooth etc. can be seen on either side of the notch so it really doesn’t affect the viewing experience. The screen itself is an Optic AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, with 16 million colours to dazzle the eye. Resolution clocks in at 1080 x 2280 pixels with a 402 ppi density that ensures videos and photographs pop with lush colours and ultra-crisp lines.

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OnePlus 6 – Photo Provided by OnePlus

Under the hood cranks a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset with an 8-core GPU with 4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385. Keeping all this in check and making your apps snappy and responsive is 6 or 8 GB of RAM depending on your model. As far as internal storage goes, you have the choice of 64, 128, or 256 GB versions. The 64 GB version will only have 6 GB of RAM, but trust me, that’s more than enough for any game or application you will be running on your device. The 8 GB seems like overkill but I can’t complain because I never had any real slowdown or chugging even with multiple applications running concurrently.

The battery isn’t huge, coming in at 3300 mAh, but it will almost certainly last a full day’s use of browsing, light gaming, and social media. Even if it does run out of juice, the dash-charging is back and better than ever and will take your phone from zero to full in around 45 minutes. The device comes equipped with Oxygen 5.1 (Android 8.1). All this hardware, especially the RAM, makes the OnePlus 6 a pleasure to use. Flicking between apps was fluid, movies and games ran without hiccups, and I only had a few applications freeze on me in the two weeks I’ve used the phone.

One particular area of the Smart Phone’s vast array of abilities that has really risen to prominence over the years is the camera. The OnePlus 6 is no slouch in this department, and while not the best on the market, features an incredibly capable set of cameras that look like they could have been taken by a DSLR. I use my phone as a camera and video recorder a lot, so this is a very important category for me when purchasing a new phone and I’m more than pleased with the results. The dual cameras on the back of the phone are 16 MP, f/1.7, 25mm, 1/2.6″, 1.22µm, OIS, PDAF
and 20 MP (16 MP effective), f/1.7, 25mm, 1/2.8″, 1.0µm, PDAF that can shoot HDR, panorama, and 4K video (for up to five minutes).

The concrete options for shooting video are 2160p@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@480fps, Auto HDR. As for the 4K footage, while only being able to run five minutes a clip isn’t the best, for most people (including myself) it’s more than enough to catch that amazing clip. I use my phone to shoot a lot of skiing and snowboarding, and I am incredibly keen to push this phone to the limits and start stacking some professional looking footage. I really can’t say enough with how pleased I’ve been shooting with the OnePlus. It’s a smooth and easy experience and the photographs look amazing, even before editing. We’re finally at a point where you don’t really require a DSLR camera to get quality, detailed, crisp, and vibrant photographs and video.

The portrait mode allows for depth of field and focus choice, which makes up-close shots look just fabulous, and the HDR really grabs those deeper colours. Low light shooting isn’t great, but you’d be hard pressed to find a phone camera that really excels in that department. It’s fine for what it is and the Pro setting allows plenty of tinkering with things like ISO, white balance, f/stop and more.

Security options for the OnePlus 6 include a fingerprint scanner on the back underneath the cameras, which in my opinion is a huge step down in convenience from having it on the home button. Having said that, the face unlock security option works so well I haven’t really had a big need for the fingerprint scanner. Even in the dark of my bedroom when reading for my phone on the nightstand, the light from the screen is usually enough to allow the camera to catch my face and unlock the phone. This doesn’t always work of course, and then the fingerprint or PIN or pattern secondary system can be used to unlock the screen.

This is the first OnePlus I’ve tried out since my OnePlus 3 kicked it this summer after I dropped off a ladder onto a concrete pad. That thing ran perfectly and without issue from the day I turned on to the day I smashed it to bits. I even dropped it off a cliff into over a metre of snow, where it remained overnight, and upon finding it the next day (an incredible accomplishment on its own), I waited until it dried out and warmed up, plugged it in and it worked just fine.

I can’t foresee whether or not the OnePlus 6 will last me that long, and I’m certainly not willing to run that snow test again, but the quality of the phone as it stands is excellent, even before considering the price when compared to its contemporaries. Starting at $699 for the 64GB model, there are very few phones on the market that are this good for that price range. OnePlus continues to impress and I highly recommend the OnePlus 6—unless you want to wait for the 6T this Fall.

Final Thoughts

Brendan Quinn
Brendan Quinn

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