Editor's Note: This hands-on was updated Dec. 13 to include performance and charging speed benchmarks.
OnePlus may prefer to sell just one phone at a time, but the company doesn't shy away from producing limited editions of its handsets.
In November, it introduced a Thunder Purple variant of the OnePlus 6T, which promptly sold out in a couple of weeks. And now it's extending that special treatment of the OnePlus 6T to a partnership with famed British automaker McLaren.
This carbon fiber-clad superphone is the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition. But unlike last month's purple model, the McLaren edition of the phone adds more than a new paint job.
OnePlus has boosted the RAM in this version of the 6T to 10GB, which is more than you'll find in any other phone currently sold in the U.S. And to further hammer home those sports car analogies, the company is using this opportunity to introduce its new Warp Charge system, which outpaces the Dash Charge protocol found in OnePlus' last several handsets.
The McLaren Edition of the OnePlus 6T drops today (Dec. 13) for $699 (£649) from OnePlus' store. That's a $150 (£120) premium over the starting price on the regular 6T.
Here are three ways in which OnePlus' latest 6T variation differs from its predecessors.
OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition Specs
|OS||Android 9.0 Pie with OxygenOS|
|Display||6.4-inch AMOLED (2340 x 1080)|
|Rear Camera||16-MP (f/1.7), 20-MP (f/1.7)|
|Front Camera||16-MP (f/2.0)|
|Battery||3,700 mAh with Warp Charge 30|
|Size||6.2 x 2.94 x 0.32 inches|
No, the carbon fiber that peeks out from underneath the back of this OnePlus 6T isn't actually carbon fiber — but it certainly looks the part, and pays tribute to McLaren's storied history in motorsport all the same. The perimeter of the glass back has been finished with a Papaya Orange gradient, which evokes the color of McLaren's racing cars and appears to shimmer and glow in certain lighting conditions.
That orange theme is woven throughout every aspect of the device — from its new charging brick and cable to the interface, which comes with an exclusive McLaren theme switched on by default. It's pretty much the standard dark Oxygen OS scheme with the accent color changed to orange instead of blue, but it makes the transformation feel a bit more thorough. There are also exclusive wallpapers that better complement the exterior of the device, as well as a McLaren-branded, carbon fiber-effect silicone case included in the packaging.
The frame of the phone remains a glossy black, similar to what you'll find on the standard OnePlus 6T. That's fine enough, but we can't help but feel OnePlus may have missed an opportunity to give this phone an added dash of personality with an orange or silver alert slider, as it did for the Sandstone White OnePlus 5T earlier this year.
New for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is the startup phone maker's Warp Charge 30 system. Dash Charging, which was introduced alongside the OnePlus 3 in 2016 and continues in the other OnePlus 6T models to this day, delivers 20W of power using a higher amperage than what you typically find in most fast charging solutions, such as Qualcomm's QuickCharge. But Warp Charge 30 ups that to — you guessed it — 30 watts.
OnePlus tells us the added wattage makes Warp Charge fast enough to "deliver a day's [worth of] power in 20 minutes." In our testing, it achieved 66 percent in 30 minutes and was up to 98 percent in an hour. That's impressive, considering that the normal OnePlus 6T and its identically-sized 3,700-mAh battery reaches 60 percent in 30 minutes.
To get that speed, you'll have to not only use the Warp Charging brick, but the braided Papaya Orange USB Type-C cable as well. OnePlus' cables are slightly wider than those typically packaged with phones, so that they can feed a greater flow of current. Yet OnePlus is still adamant that the speedier delivery won't overheat the phone — a potential danger of many fast charging solutions that would ordinarily throttle the processor and shorten the lifespan of the battery.
Even more RAM
The OnePlus 6T can usually be bought with a maximum of 8GB of RAM. However, OnePlus has punched that up by another 2GB for the McLaren Edition, resulting in a spacious 10GB to keep all those apps, games and background processes humming along with no slowdown.
There are some smartphones with 10GB out there in the wild, though they're mostly confined to China right now. One such example is a special version of the Oppo Find X — a nearly bezel-free phone with a pop-out camera from a phone maker that is affiliated with OnePlus, but that doesn't sell its products in most of the West. A range-topping 10th anniversary variant of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10 has been rumored to carry 10GB to 12GB of RAM, though that's far from confirmed at this point — making OnePlus' McLaren phone the first of its kind outside Asia.
But what kind of performance benefit can users expect with 10 whole gigabytes of RAM? The 8GB OnePlus 6T already has lots of headroom for keeping apps in memory and quickly switching between tasks, so we weren't surprised to see a barely-noticeable bump in the McLaren Edition's Geekbench 4 results. The new phone topped out at 8,986 in multi-core testing, compared to 8,972 for the 8GB model. Both are nearly 2,500 points below the iPhone XS, though still good enough to rank among the fastest Android devices powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 chip.
If you were holding out for a more substantial hike in power, you may want to wait until OnePlus introduces its Snapdragon 855-powered flagship next year. Qualcomm hasn't said whether the 855 will outpace Apple's silicon, though the chip maker is promising the biggest performance gain in the history of its Snapdragon processors — so stay tuned.
The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition looks to be something of a half step after the OnePlus 6T — which is arguably a half step itself between the OnePlus 6 and whatever flagship the company will likely introduce in the spring of 2019.
At its core, this is really just the OnePlus 6T with the added benefits of more RAM, faster charging and some fan service for McLaren loyalists or car lovers in general. Though at $699 (£649), it firmly takes OnePlus out of value flagship territory and toward the pricier phones OnePlus usually undercuts.
In other words, while the McLaren Edition will likely end up being the best iteration of the 6T when OnePlus closes this chapter and moves onto the next generation, the modest enhancements might not be worth the premium for most users. But if the carbon-fiber motif and blistering charging speeds speak to you, you certainly won't come away disappointed.
Image Credits: Tom's Guide