OnePlus 6 Review - Still the Flagship Killer?

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OnePlus has always been the most anticipated phone because of the value for price it offers. Now that competitors have noticed, is it still a flagship killer?
OnePlus 6 Review - Still the Flagship Killer?
Still the flagship killer?

The OnePlus 3, 3T, 5, and 5T have been our favorites because of the flagship performance at a more affordable price range at a trade-off. 

The trade offs to achieve that price has always polarised customers. Those who don't mind have mostly been happy with their purchase.

Now that more phones have offered the same chipset for around the same price, is it still the flagship killer?

Let's find out.


Display Quality

Gorgeous 1080p goodness!
Gorgeous 1080p goodness!

The display is a large and immersive 6.28-inch FHD Optic AMOLED 2280 x 1080 resolution, at 408 ppi. It has a Gorilla Glass 5 protected 2.5D curved display.

The AMOLED display allows for super vivid and super contrast-y images with the deepest blacks. The only drawback we see is the possible burn-in which plagues AMOLED displays in the long term.

There is a notch, but like the Huawei P20/P20 Pro, it can be hidden via software.

It gets relatively bright with a maximum of 576 nits. The auto brightness is there and is accurate. We've never had to adjust it manually unless we wanted a specified brightness.

It has an option to display color calibrate to default, sRGB, DCI-P3, adaptive or custom. We prefer the DCI-P3  for movies as it is the standard for film/movies while the sRGB is for color accuracy in photography.

The display has 10 points of multi-touch and is accurate and responsive. It is perfect for multiple touch inputs like in games.

Audio Quality

With headphone jack and single speaker
With headphone jack and single speaker

The single bottom placed speaker on the OnePlus 6 has good power and details. It is on the bass side of the spectrum with a loud maximum volume. The separation is there but it isn't the strongest. The distortion at max volume is there but it is only noticeable when you are looking for it.

This is a personal opinion but, most flagships now offer stereo speakers and we wished that OnePlus had done too. We would have gladly have accepted minor design changes in favor of stereo speakers. I mean, we always have a case on all our phones to protect it anyway.

What we laud OnePlus for is their choice to retain the 3.5 mm headphone jack. In the iFixit teardown, the OnePlus 6 has the "WCD9341" as its DAC. It is quite capable and is decent even for most audiophiles.

It does not come with earphones/in-ear monitors out of the box. We used our daily driver, the RHA S500i and the audio quality is good.

The microphone quality is good. We've never had a problem where the people we were calling had a hard time hearing our voice.

Battery Life

Low in benchmarks but decent in real world use!
Low in benchmarks but decent in real world use!

Our usual PC Mark battery benchmarks keep yielding under 6 hours of battery life. We did the same test three times and this was not consistent with our actual use. This is why you should look at benchmarks and real world use.

Actual battery performance is respectable!

In our actual, real world use, the OnePlus 6 would be unplugged at 100 percent at 8AM and would have 10 to 15 percent battery at 8PM when we get home. This was a typical workday where in LTE was on majority of the time with texting, messaging, calling, YouTube streaming, web surfing and e-mail work was done. 

The performance is not as good as the OnePlus 5T, but not by a large margin. This most likely due to the larger display and newer chipset. Given that it retained the old 3300mAh capacity of the OnePlus 5T, but managed to push a larger screen with a 5% margin is decent.

Because it uses the same Dash Charging Technology and the same battery capacity, it is still the fastest charging solution out there. It still boggles our minds how it can charge in an hour without heating up!

Camera

Dual cameras!
Dual cameras!

OnePlus changed the camera from the OnePlus5T and did the same on the 6. It is still a rear facing dual camera set up. The primary camera is a 16MP f/1.7 IMX519 sensor while the secondary camera is a 20MP f/1.7 Sony IMX376 sensor w/ PDAF.
Robust pro mode
Robust pro mode

In the OnePlus 5T, the secondary camera was used to improve lowlight performance by using pixel binning. In the OnePlus 6 however, the secondary camera is there to improve the bokeh effect.

The camera app remains mostly the same from the 5T. It has video, photo and portrait modes and if you swipe up from either the photo or video tabs, it reveals  other modes like slow motion, pro mode, time lapse and panorama.

The pro mode allows for manually selecting the following: ISO 100-3200, white balance in Kelvin, shutter speed 1/8000th of a second to 30 seconds, focus and exposure compensation.

Powerful cameras!

The daylight and indoor image quality are good. The resolution is sharp enough, the colors are vibrant and the contrast adds depth to the image. 

It is an improvement over the OnePlus 5T. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ and the Huawei P20/P20 Pro, the images are good. Not bad, just not as great as the top flagship cameras of 2018.

In lowlight, again, it is an improvement over the 5T. It is noticeably has better noise control at first glance. It does tend to overexpose light sources given that it always tries to balance the exposure. It's not bad and don't get us wrong, the low light performance of the OnePlus 6 is better than other phones like the ZenFone 5.

Portrait mode is only available on the rear facing dual cameras. It does it better than most cameras out there given that it now uses mostly software with images coming from both cameras. But like most bokeh effects, its mostly a hit or a miss.

It has an option where you can choose from either circle, heart or star bokeh.

In summary, the OnePlus 6's dual rear facing cameras performance is good for its price. Competing phones in the same price range are performing slightly less than the OnePlus 6. Compared to flagships like the S9/S9+ and the P20/P20 Pro though, the difference is noticeable but the margin isn't that great.

Rear Camera Samples

Normal
Normal
2x zoom
2x zoom
Auto daylight
Auto daylight
Close-up
Close-up
Hearts bokeh
Indoor dim
Indoor dim
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 2
Lowlight 2

For selfies, it has a 
16MP f/1.7 IMX371 sensor. It goes with portrait mode and 8 levels of face beauty too.

It is one of the best selfie cameras out there in both daylight and lowlight!

The selfie camera on the other hand is good.  It is sharp with vivid colors and good contrast. This remains even in low light but with noticeably more grain.

Like the main camera, it tends to over expose light sources. Otherwise, the selfie camera is very good.

It has a screen flash for lowlight selfies. 

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie flash
Lowlight selfie flash

The OnePlus 6 can shoot:  4K 60fps, 30fps; 1080p 60fps, 30fps; 720p. It has slow motion and shoots: 1080p 240fps and 720p 480fps. The footage from the OnePlus 6 is very good! Images are sharp. Colors pop. Contrast is decent. There is some grain but is mostly noticeable in low light. The audio recording is also good given that it is from the phone. Sound is crisp and well separated. 

The stabilization is good but not the best. It struggles with sudden movements like most stabilization.

Video Samples


Performance

Over 267K in AnTuTu!
Over 267K in AnTuTu!

Like always, the 6 is equipped with the latest chipset. It is powered by the Snapdragon 845 with the Adreno 630 with RAM that starts at 6GB up to 8GB and ROM that starts at 64GB up to 256GB.

BEAST!

Real world performance is indeed flagship level. The AnTuTu and Geekbench are validated with the great graphics performance on games like PUBG. Frame rates and resolution are smooth on the highest setting. With our daily apps like Gmail, Chrome, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and the like all launch quickly and smoothly. 


With LTE, the phone gets slightly warmer after extended periods of use but it doesn't throttle.
Near stock OxygenOS!
Near stock OxygenOS!

It is running Android 8.1 Oreo based OxygenOS from OnePlus that is near stock. It has added features that we've seen from the OnePlus 5/5T. Our favorite is the feature gestures that allows for shortcuts like the three finger screenshot or draw a "C" to launch a camera. You can map any app to any gesture you can think of.
A lot of extra features!
A lot of extra features!

It still has the same face unlock as the 5T and is still the fastest on the market today. It isn't the most secure but it is rather convenient. The fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back under the rear cameras. It registers our fingerprints quickly and responsively. In the weeks that it was with us, we never recalled a time where it misread our fingerprint taps.

There is OTG, GPS, and gyroscope that all work responsively and accurately. Telephony in GSM and LTE are strong and fast.

Pros - Flagship grade design, large immersive display, can turn-off the notch, rear and selfie cameras perform well even in lowlight, 3.5 mm headphone jack, Dash Charge is still the fastest
Cons - Battery is average, single speaker only, no earphones in the box

Verdict

The OnePlus 6 may no longer be the most affordable flagship with the latest chipset, but it is one of the best when you take a look at its overall design and performance.

The 6 has the best design ever from OnePlus and is directly competing with the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+.

We would have traded some of the production cost of the new design for stereo speakers, a slightly larger battery and maybe earphones in the box. These three are our only gripes with the phone and we get that this is subjective but because we always put the case on anyway, the beautiful design isn't our priority. 

But if you prioritize design, want the fastest charging possible with the latest chipset and are okay with single speakers, decent battery and no earphones out of the box, then the OnePlus 6 is for you.

Build / Design - 4.5
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4.25
Battery - 4
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.33/5
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