As the end of 2018 was beginning to coming into view, OnePlus made it clear that the year was still had some life left. They released the OnePlus 6T, their mid-year iterative update that takes the best of their most recent model and further refines it. The phone won immediate acclaim, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts.
Judie and I both had the first few versions of the OnePlus phones. They impressed us with the design, features and, most of all, price. And while the days of OnePlus phones having shocking low prices are long gone, they continue to offer premium phones at reasonable prices.
Judie flew to NYC for the release announcement and was impressed. The 6T isn’t a huge leap forward, but as we have come to expect from the “T” versions of OnePlus phones, it offered enough new features and refinements to make it worthy of the buzz it received.
The number of straight reviews of the OnePlus 6T is long. You can find in-depth reviews, comparison reviews and more than a few video reviews. And while I initially planned on offering my own long-form review, I realized that I really don’t have all that much new to offer considering the depth of Judie’s initial release coverage and the various reviews that are just a few keystrokes away. Instead, I decided to take a different approach.
I got to Israel some weeks ago with 32 members of my community. For the next ten days, we toured the country and learned about its rich history and complex modern reality. When I lived here in college the only phones in my dorm we a line of five in the bomb shelter. One or two were always out of order, and getting a call to my parents in the US to connect was often a hit or miss affair. Fast forward a few years, and cellphone became ubiquitous. In fact, on one tour I was on top of the ancient fortress of Masada next to the Dead Sea and called my parents. My sister answered the phone and refused to believe that just a few years after my making calls from a bomb shelter, I was now making cell phone calls from the middle of nowhere.
Today, cell phones are even more a part of daily life in Israel. Moreover, they are a “must” if you are leading a group. So I activated a Knowroaming SIM card and used the phone for the trip.
My friend and tour guide, Doron Harel, was using a OnePlus 3. It is a nice phone that, while a few years old, still serves him well. A quick comparison of the two devices makes it clear the two share common DNA. The OnePlus 3T has a large, beautiful screen but isn’t significantly larger than its older sibling. The OnePlus 3 has a 5.5” screen with a resolution of 1080 by 1920 while the OnePlus 6T has a 6.41” AMOLED display with resolution is 2340 by 1080 and a 19:5:9 aspect ratio. The 3 measures 6 by 2.94 by .29” and weighs 5.57 oz. The 6T is 6.2” by 2.92” by .32” and weighs 6.53 oz. Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and at least 8GB RAM.
In the top is a noise-canceling microphone. On the right, there is a toggle to silence the device and turn on the vibration notification as well as the sleep/wake/power button. I love the fact that they have maintained the textured surface of the ringer/vibrate toggle. It makes it easy to silence your phone without the need to remove it from your pocket.
The right side of the device has the volume up/down button.
The most noticeable change can be found on the bottom.
The 6T employs a USB-C charging port, has a speaker grille on one side and, what I suspect but have not been able to document, a second grill that covers the microphone. Missing is the 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes, OnePlus has followed the current trend and opted to drop this tradition mode of connecting headphones.
Instead, they include a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone dongle so you can use your legacy headphones; OnePlus sells wired headphones with a USB-C jack and, of course, wireless headphones. You can use OnePlus’ Bluetooth headphones, but any pair of Bluetooth-enabled headphones will work just fine.
One the back, the 6T has dual cameras set one on top of the other with a small flash sitting below the bottom camera. The rear cameras are 16MP and 20MP respectively. A 16MP front-facing selfie camera sits in the (gasp!) small notch at the top of the display.
The front-facing camera is great for selfies, but it is also central to the phones Face Unlock. I love this feature on my iPhone and it works just fine on the 6T.
Unlike the OnePlus 3, which has a metal back, the OnePlus 6T has glass on both the front and the back. Both the screen and the back are made from Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6. The glass is tough and multiple tests show that it is surprisingly resistant to scratches. According to Corning’s own documentation, the Gorilla Glass can survive a 1.6-meter drop onto a hard and rough surface 80% of the time. That translates to it being four times in “drop failure height” than competitive glass. That’s impressive… unless you are among the 20%. Still, With such large expanses of glass, you will most likely want to get a tempered screen protector and use a case.
Fortunately, OnePlus offers a number of different official cases in a variety of colors and textures.
One of the things that most stands out to me is the subtle curve of the 6T’s back. It is a design that makes the phone remarkably comfortable to told and use although, between the smooth glass and the curvature of the body, the phone can easily spill from your hands and go crashing to the ground. The company sent a few different cases with the review sample and, after tying all of them, I settled on the matt black, textured case.
It feels great in the hand and, thanks to the texture, is incredibly easy to hold.
After using the phone for our first day of touring, I realized that OnePlus hit a home run when designing this phone. Most of the time, I find phones with displays this large both unwieldy and uncomfortable. With the 6T, the screen to body ratio results in a phablet-sized phone that is actually easy to hold and use one-handed. That, combined with the curved back, means it fits nicely in the hand. That’s a big deal for me as someone who loved the screen size of the iPhone 6 Plus but found it too large to comfortably use for more than a few minutes at a time. I’m happy to report that is not the case with the 6T. It feels great, and it is no less comfortable to hold and use than my iPhone X.
As mentioned, the phone has 16MP and 20MP dual cameras at the rear.
But while the hardware is impressive, the software driving this pocket camera is equally so. The device offers “Multi-frame processing” a feature that speeds up the shooting process and helps reduce shutter lag. That’s key if you are trying to take great photos. Also, it has intelligent scene recognition. We’ve seen this before, but the fact that OnePlus included it in a phone that is priced so competitively is an excellent sign of things to come. As they explain,
Intelligent scene recognition detects what’s in the frame and adjusts the brightness, contrast, saturation, and more to help you create the perfect image.
In other words, this smartphone has a smart camera too. But that’s not the end of the “smarts” on board the 6T.
Studio lighting, a feature I love on the iPhone X, is also onboard. It uses advanced face recognition combined with edge detection to “dynamically tone shadows and highlights on the subject’s face.” The resulting photos are beyond anything you thought possible from a camera phone just a few years ago.
A key camera feature is Nightscape. Nightscape technology uses the camera’s computer power to clear up artifacts and highlight the exposed area. The result is, for example, detailed city shots even in low light.
The 6T also offers improvements when it comes to shooting video. You can take 4K video or, if you prefer, you can capture action in slow motion at 480 fps. Fast or slow, the choice is yours, and both are just a touchscreen away!
Moreover, when you have shot the video you want, the 6T makes it easy to edit and share your content. Their video editor lets you trim clips, add filters, add slow motion effects or, off you prefer, apply reverse and loop effects. OnePlus describes this as a “fully-featured video editor was tailor-made for videographers. And everyone else.” I’m not sure professional videographers would agree but for the rest of us, having a powerful video editor available on the same device that took the content is fantastic.
Shot with the OnePlus 6T
The OnePlus 6T uses the company’s latest version of OxygenOS. It delivers everything people love about the Android operating system upon which it is based as well as some features unique to OnePlus devices. As the company explains:
OxygenOS is our answer to stock Android, refining the parts that work and filling in the blanks. With Android Pie powering the OnePlus 6T out of the box, you get the latest from Android improved by OxygenOS.
There are too many different settings that can be adjusted in the Settings menu to describe fully so suffice it to say that anyone who loves being able to tweak their phone will have a great time setting the 6T up.
Some of the man (MANY!) settings that allow you to make your phone your own
The primary goal of OxygenOS is to deliver an interface that is more intuitive than stock Android. There are a series of gestures that can be used to navigate the phone. They let you get back to the Home screen quickly, let you jump back to a previous window, can show you recently used apps and, of course, makes switching between apps simple. While it takes some time to get used to them, once you are familiar with the design it quickly becomes second nature.
The OS also lets you control your screen and make it better suited for your current activity or environment. For example, There is a reading more that reduces distractions and alters colors to reduce eye strain. There is a sunlight display that avoids your phone becoming unusable in bright light and a Lighting mode for reading at night without damaging your eyes. And if you are willing to dig down into the settings, there is a page that lets you calibrate the screen, so you get a display that works best for your eyes and style.
As mentioned, OnePlus dropped the headphone jack when designing the 6T. They were thoughtful enough to include a 3.5mm to USB-C adapter in the box but, as I wrote in a recent review, it is worth spending the extra $20 to get the OnePlus USB-C Bullets. Wireless headphones are great, but there is something nice about having a pair of headphones that will always work, even without being charged.
I’ve been a fan of OnePlus since its first device. I could not believe that something that felt and functioned so much like a premium device could be more than half the price of an iPhone or Samsung GALAXY device. With the 6T, OnePlus has done it again. The phone is solid and beautifully built. The screen is excellent, and the device runs as smoothly as anything I have used. The large size of the screen moves this device into phablet territory, but it doesn’t feel like it. Sure, I wish it had wireless charging and was waterproof but, other than those two issues. I can’t find anything NOT to love about the 6T. That’s especially the case when you take into consideration the fact that you can get a brand new 6T starting at just $549 for a phone with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. If you want to spend $629 you can get a device with 256GB of storage and, if RAM matters to you, you can pick up the McLaren Edition. It is $699 and has 10GB RAM. Even that device is hundreds of dollars less than I spent on my iPhone X.
The OnePlus 6T is the logical but no less impressive evolution of the company’s flagship phone. It has a large, bright screen and is zippy as zippy can be. In fact, in all my use thus far I have not seen a bit of lag when moving from screen to screen. It is solid, gets great battery life and offers a huge range of options so you can dig into the settings and make the phone your own. Best of all, the OnePlus 6T has a starting price of just $549. That’s an amazing deal on a great phone that won’t feel like a compromise. That’s for one simple reason — the OnePlus 6T isn’t a compromise. Check it out here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the OnePlus 6T
What I Like: Fast; Plenty of RAM; Large, bright screen; Solid build; OxygenOS does a great job of letting you customize your phone; Include 3.5mm to USB-C adapter
What Needs Improvement: Nothing. This is a great phone at a great price