Say you want a powerful smartphone, but can’t afford to pay the premium prices Apple, Google and Samsung typically ask. Over the last few years, OnePlus has emerged as the go-to option. The company’s latest handset — the $529 OnePlus 6 — boasts all-new internals with a refreshed design, innovative gesture controls and a pair of dual cameras that should perform much better when you need them to.
However, the device the OnePlus 6 is replacing, the OnePlus 5T, isn’t terribly old. Actually, it came out exactly six months ago, launching for $499 before it sold out in March. And although you can’t buy a 5T anymore without resorting to resellers and refurbished models, you might be wondering what OnePlus possibly could have improved in such a short span of time. Here’s a head-to-head rundown of everything new in the OnePlus 6.
|OnePlus 6||OnePlus 5T|
|OS||Android 8.1 Oreo with OxygenOS||Android 8.1 Oreo with OxygenOS|
|Screen Size (Resolution)||6.28-inch AMOLED (2280 x 1080)||6-inch AMOLED (2160 x 1080)|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Rear Camera||Dual: 16 MP (f/1.7) with OIS; 20 MP (f/1.7)||Dual: 16 MP (f/1.7); 20 MP (f/1.7)|
|Front Camera||16 MP (f/2.0)||16 MP (f/2.0)|
|Battery Size||3,300 mAh||3,300 mAh|
|Size||6.13 x 2.97 x 0.30 inches||6.14 x 2.95 x 0.29 inches|
Design and Display
In terms of dimensions, the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 5T are almost exactly the same size and shape, right down to the presence of a headphone jack. The difference is in the materials. Where the OnePlus 5T used traditional matte aluminum, the OnePlus 6 employs Gorilla Glass 5 that encircles the new phone. However, OnePlus has taken special attention to ensure that the OnePlus 6’s surface doesn’t feel nor look like typical glass, and it shows.
Our Mirror Black OnePlus 6 looks more like ceramic, but has the lightness of glass. OnePlus says it was able to achieve the finish by sliding a film under the glass to manipulate the light striking the surface in unique ways. There’s also a Midnight Black model with a matte finish that is the closest to the OnePlus 5T, as well as a Silk White version that has a soft pearl texture and gold trim.
At the moment, there isn’t a OnePlus 6 that emulates the Sandstone White variant of the OnePlus 5T that released early in 2018. However, OnePlus has a habit of making limited editions of its products, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see another color become available in the not-too-distant future.
The 6.3-inch OnePlus 6 uses a Samsung-sourced AMOLED panel much like the 6-inch OnePlus 5T, with the same full HD+ resolution. However, the OnePlus 6 extends that display upward, leading to a 19:9 aspect ratio instead of 18:9 in the previous model.
Like so many of 2018’s flagships, there is a notch. OnePlus provides users with the choice of hiding the 6’s notch, though, via a setting that cloaks the status bar region in black. The bezel below the screen has also visibly been shrunken down on the OnePlus 6, leading to an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 84 percent (up from 80 percent in the 5T).
The OnePlus 6 utilizes a pair of f/1.7 16- and 20-megapixel rear cameras, just like the OnePlus 5T. But OnePlus has made some critical improvements to the OnePlus 6’s main lens. The image sensor is now larger by 19 percent, and the sensor pixels themselves are larger as well. It also now benefits from optical image stabilization.
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The upshot of all of this should be brighter low-light photos that cut down on blurriness, based on OnePlus’ claims. OnePlus has also beefed up slow-motion video recording with a new 480 frames-per-second mode. While that’s not as slow as the Galaxy S9 or Xperia XZ2 at 960 fps, OnePlus 6 users can record at this speed for a full minute, rather than fractions of a second with those other devices. For reference, the OnePlus 5T peaked at 240 fps, which is the same as the iPhone X and Pixel 2.
Performance and Battery
The OnePlus 6 boasts Qualcomm’s latest premium mobile processor, the Snapdragon 845. This chip is said to be 30 percent faster than the previous Snapdragon 835 featured in the OnePlus 5T, but simultaneously 10 percent more efficient. It’s been mated to 6GB of RAM in the $529 base model with 64GB of storage, though OnePlus also offers 8GB of RAM with the 128GB ($579) or 256GB ($629) variants. The addition of a 256GB configuration is new, as the OnePlus 5T topped out at 128GB. Neither accept microSD cards.
The same 3,300-mAh battery that delivered an impressive 11 hours and 22 minutes of longevity in our testing with the OnePlus 5T returns for the OnePlus 6. Once again it comes equipped with OnePlus’ Dash Charge technology when partnered with the stock adapter. This is the fastest charging protocol we’ve ever tested, juicing the OnePlus 5T up to 59 percent in 30 minutes, and reaching 93 percent in a full hour. We look forward to seeing if the OnePlus 6 can live up to that standard once we have the chance to test the new phone.
Software and Special Features
The OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T were updated to Android 8.1 Oreo months ago, and the OnePlus 6 will launch with the same software. OnePlus’ OxygenOS skin returns from those models as well, and now has a couple additional features, including a new gesture-based navigation interface and a redesigned Gaming Mode that now prioritizes data bandwidth to whatever you’re playing.
The new gestures are somewhat similar to those teased by Google with its the Android P beta, except there is no home button and no gesture to reveal the app drawer from any screen. Instead, you swipe up from the center to go home, swipe up and hold to see your recent apps, and swipe up from either the left or right side of the bottom of the screen to go back. At this time, there’s no word on whether these new features will make their way to the OnePlus 5 or 5T.
Price and Availability
The OnePlus 6, as seen here in Mirror Black, will start at $529 when it launches on OnePlus’ site on May 22. That’s a $30 increase over the base OnePlus 5T with a similar 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. For $579, OnePlus will sell you a device with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The 128GB models come in matte Midnight Black as well as Silk White, while the range-topping 256GB variant, available for $629, only comes in Midnight Black.
Like the OnePlus 5T, the OnePlus 6 is unlocked but only supports GSM bands. That means it is compatible with the likes of T-Mobile, AT&T, MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless, but not CDMA networks like Verizon or Sprint.
Rest assured that even with a last-generation processor, the OnePlus 5T is still an excellent device that outpaces nearly all of 2017’s most powerful phones. The build quality, software experience, cameras and display are still impeccable for the money, even a year later. It’s just a shame you can’t buy one anymore.
However, the OnePlus 6 looks to be a great replacement. It introduces key changes across the board, while retaining most of what we loved about the outgoing model, like its wicked fast charging and loads of memory for multitasking and gaming. We’re about to put the device through its paces for a review, and you can look forward tour full impressions next week when the phone launches.
Photo Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom's Guide