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OnePlus 6 review: A big step closer to the perfect smartphone


I got the Mirror Black with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Unlike with the ceramic OnePlus X, from 2015, or the more recent Xiaomi Mi Mix series, OnePlus chose to mimic the special material using glass. The company managed to achieve the same elegant look, but without the brittleness, extra weight and higher production cost of actual ceramic. This obviously requires additional work: Once the glass is bent into shape, it goes through an additional five-layer coating treatment, and the result is a convincing ceramic finish that helps highlight OnePlus’ signature curviness.

What pleases me the most about the OnePlus 6’s design is how the company is once again embracing symmetry, particularly with the central, vertical placement of the camera module on the back. It just looks a lot more premium on that gently curved surface.

Perhaps it is a little ironic, then, that the OnePlus 6 is the latest smartphone to join the notch party. Over time, the notch has started to grow on me. It actually makes perfect sense, given OnePlus’ return to symmetry, design-wise: it’s either the notch or having to somehow blend the front camera into the chin. As someone who eventually got tired of more bizarre selfie-camera solutions, the notch approach is far more elegant and painless. But if you absolutely can’t stand the notch, you can still hide it with a black bar in settings.

With the additional screen space surrounding the notch, OnePlus’ stunning 1080p AMOLED screen now comes in at 6.28 inches wide, with a long 19:9 aspect ratio, covering a good 84 percent of the body. It’s an excellent screen — plus there’s power-saving advantages to this resolution — but if I must nitpick, it would have been nice if it were a little brighter. That’s not to say the OnePlus 6 is useless under the sun; the screen manages on most days, but I’ve found that it can be hard to read with the intense summer sunshine here in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, LG manages to tackle this problem by offering a 1,000-nit super bright mode on the G7 ThinQ’s LCD. It’s something that’s simply not possible with current OLED-based displays.

Software and Performance

When it comes to software, you won’t find any AI gimmicks, bloatware or heavy skinning on the OnePlus 6; instead, you get a clean interface with a buttery-smooth response. I’ve been enjoying this Android 8.1–based OxygenOS a lot: I’ve yet to experience any lag or crash. Of course, Qualcomm’s top-tier Snapdragon 845 chipset plus the 8GB of RAM in my unit deserve some of that credit. OnePlus’s engineers have apparently labored over scrolling and transitions to make them as smooth as possible — and it shows.

My favorite software feature is the new set of navigation gestures. With these, I get to fully appreciate the extra screen real estate: Gone is the navigation bar at the bottom, and instead I swipe up from the middle of the chin to go home, swipe up and hold to see recent apps, or swipe up from either the left or right side to go back. I was already used to the similarly intuitive gestures on the iPhone X, so soon after I enabled navigation gestures, I fell in love with my OnePlus 6 for the second time.

Given that the 3,300mAh battery here is pretty standard, I did wonder if it would be enough to sustain the OnePlus 6’s slick performance. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Over the past few days, I’ve seen my OnePlus 6 lasting for between 13 and 18 hours on a single charge, with the former including a smooth round of PUBG Mobile, several video streams over LTE and a fair bit of camera usage. It’s safe to say that on any normal day, this phone will have plenty of juice left by the time you get home. But if you do end up with a depleted battery, the bundled Dash Charger takes only about 30 minutes to pump it back up to 50 percent, then a further 80 minutes to reach full charge.

Camera

OnePlus is sticking to a similar dual-camera formula, consisting of a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 20-megapixel secondary sensor for bokeh effects. This time, it’s finally giving what the users have been asking for: optical image stabilization and larger pixels for the main camera, with 480fps super-slow-motion capture at 720p on the side. OnePlus says it will also be adding a new Portrait Mode to the 16-megapixel front camera later, which will rely on an AI algorithm to add stars, hearts and other decorations at a matching level of focus (or blur).



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