OnePlus 6 Review Roundup: Budget Brilliance, with Some Catches

Staff Writer
Updated

The first reviews of the OnePlus 6 — the company's latest budget smartphone that looks and feels like a flagship device — are in, and the news is mostly good. Not only does this phone give you an OLED display (a rarity at this price) and blazing-fast speed, but its luxe all-glass design is wowing the critics.

But there is some bad news, as the OnePlus 6's cameras can't quite match those in pricier smartphones and its battery life is a bit worse than its predecessor.

Tom's Guide

In Adam Ismail's review here at Tom's Guide, he praises the Oneplus 6 for being the company's latest success story, offering speedy performance and a brilliant screen for less.

And while the company's value-for-money trick might not be as surprising or special the fifth time around, cash-strapped buyers can't argue with the results. This is another bargain, even if it's a familiar one. — Adam Ismail, Tom's Guide

The Good

"OnePlus says it has lavished the same attention on these glass backs as it had with the metal on any previous OnePlus device, and the effort shows. The company specially treated each glass on each colorway independently, to emulate different materials. For example, our Mirror Black model evokes the depth and reflectivity of polished ceramic."

"Of all the qualities that makes the OnePlus 6 remarkable for its price, its 6.28-inch AMOLED display might be the most compelling. This is a gorgeous panel eclipsed only by those in Samsung's latest flagships."

"How can the OnePlus 6 be so much faster with almost identical hardware? It might have something to do with clever under-the-hood tweaks .. that may explain why the OnePlus 6 not only tests, but feels a hair quicker than nearly every phone out there."

The Bad

"Despite no longer employing metal, OnePlus hasn't used that opportunity to enable wireless charging, a feature that has cropped up on a growing number of flagship phones over the past year. True water resistance also remains absent from OnePlus' devices."

"[The Oneplus 6] delivered 10 hours and 33 minutes [on our battery test], streaming websites from full to empty on T-Mobile's LTE network. ... That's still pretty good in the grand scheme of things — the average smartphone lasts 9:50 on our test — but it is yet another step back after the OnePlus 5 managed 13:06 nearly a year ago.

Wired

In his review for Wired, Jeffrey Van Camp notes that while the OnePlus 6 gets it right on performance and ports, its all-glass design wasn't great for handling the device.   

"It’s more slippery than some Android phones, which has led to a few slip-ups where I had to catch the phone before it hit the ground. It also attracts fingerprints and converts them into a gross, gunky patina at an alarming rate." — Jeffrey Van Camp, Wired

The Good

"The built-in audio jack is also a godsend if you love music. You get the versatility of USB-C and a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can jam out while you charge the device."

"The OnePlus 6 is particularly snappy. Apps and menus seem to open even faster than the LG G7, another 2018 phone with a Snapdragon 845 chip."

The Bad

"The slick glass back may give you trouble, though. It’s more slippery than some Android phones, which has led to a few slip-ups where I had to catch the phone before it hit the ground. It also attracts fingerprints and converts them into a gross, gunky patina at an alarming rate."

"The fingerprint sensor sits a bit lower on the back of the phone, but I noticed that it seemed less capable than before. It’s still speedy at unlocking, but one of my favorite features on the 5T was the ability to swipe the fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification tray. The 6 cannot do that."

Engadget

Contrastingly, Richard Lai at Engadget had no problems with the OnePlus 6's design, and in fact praised the device — and its OxygenOS Android skin — as elegant and clean.

"It's safe to say that the OnePlus 6 will most likely win over existing fans, and hopefully win the affections of other buyers along the way, too." — Richard Lai, Engadget

The Good

"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...OnePlus's engineers have apparently labored over scrolling and transitions to make them as smooth as possible -- and it shows."

"It may not pack as many bells and whistles as its competitors, but it's not as if it'll be needing those: Most of us don't need AR Emoji, Animoji or AI-assisted camera filters. It's safe to say that the OnePlus 6 will most likely win over existing fans, and hopefully win the affections of other buyers along the way, too."

The Bad

"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."

The Verge

In his review for The Verge, Dan Seifert explains that the OnePlus 6's camera is OK for its price, but can't sit next to the cameras in the pricier phones it's looking to take down.

"Handling the OnePlus 6 is a lot like handling other big, mostly glass phones. It often just feels too cumbersome to use when I’m on the go and only have one hand free." — Dan Seifert, The Verge

The Good

"The most striking thing about the OnePlus 6 is its new design, which swaps out a full aluminum chassis for glass panels on both the front and the back. That makes the phone look basically like every other high-end phone released in 2018, but it’s an attractive design without any weird quirks."

"When it comes to performance, the OnePlus 6 is very fast, which isn’t a huge surprise given its processor and copious amounts of RAM. But OnePlus does a lot of things to make it feel even faster than other Android phones, such as speeding up animations so everything happens a millisecond or two quicker."

The Bad

"Compared to last year’s OnePlus 5 or 5T, the OnePlus 6’s camera is a step up: images are sharper and have more detail, especially in low light. ...
But if you compare it to something like Google’s Pixel 2, a Samsung S9, or a Huawei P20 Pro, the OnePlus 6 images don’t hold up. Colors are nice and exposure is generally accurate, but the pictures have a gritty, over-sharpened look to them, especially when you zoom in."

"In the couple of weeks that I’ve been using the OnePlus 6, it’s picked up annoying scratches on both the front and back. (OnePlus does ship the 6 with a screen protector preinstalled on it, but I removed that because it’s gross.)"

Ars Technica

At Ars Technica, Ron Amadeo's particularly down on the glass design, because of the material's inherent fragility and how often he found himself wiping the screen.

"Second, glass backs are usually fingerprint magnets, and the "Mirror Black" version that I have for testing is no exception. It quickly turns into an ugly, greasy mess, and I'm constantly compelled to wipe down the phone." — Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica

The Good

"You get a 6.28-inch, 2280×1080 Samsung AMOLED display that looks great even on low brightness."

"As far as third-party Android packages go, OnePlus' Oxygen OS is one of the best out of the box. OnePlus customizes the Android operating system by adding more features but mostly leaves the design alone, or at least it uses a design that tries to match Google's existing design language."

The Bad

"With the switch to an all-glass design, OnePlus is taking on a number of negatives. First, glass is famously more fragile than metal, and so you have double the chance of shattering the phone if you drop it. Second, glass backs are usually fingerprint magnets, and the "Mirror Black" version that I have for testing is no exception. It quickly turns into an ugly, greasy mess, and I'm constantly compelled to wipe down the phone."

"The single bottom-firing speaker is not great. Some of these notched phones, like the iPhone X and LG G7, use the earpiece as a second speaker and overall sound fantastic. The OnePlus 6 speaker sounds pretty bad and is the only media speaker on the device."

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide