Release Date: 11/01/2018
MSRP: $529.99 (6GB RAM, 64GB Storage), $579.99 (8GB RAM, 128GB Storage), $629.99 (8GB RAM, 256GB Storage)
Colors: Mirror Black, Silk White, Midnight Black
Coming from being a dedicated fan of one manufacturer and switching to a new one can be jarring, but sometimes it can bring in a breath of fresh air. Recently I looked at my Note8 thinking about the Note 9 and realized how little of a difference there is between the two, and about $400. Samsung’s phones have gotten more expensive over the years and have become so pricey that I now have to start putting down payments on my upgrades which I never did before. Then after I decide to wait it out for a while along comes OnePlus. I’ve heard of them before, and most of us have, but they were a flash in the pan that didn’t last very long.
Here we are at the end of 2018 and OnePlus comes out swinging with features that both Samsung and Apple have not done yet or haven’t done right, and that’s what gets you sales. The biggest attraction by far is the on-screen fingerprint sensor and the best screen notch to date, and not to mention it’s 1/3 the price of other phones. The same hardware packed into the Note 9 with a fraction of the price? Yes, please!
The 6T is a very sexy device and probably one of the nicest I have ever seen. The extreme bezeless display is just amazing to look at and has a look even Samsung can’t get right with their Edge displays. We finally have a phone with about 95% screen and that’s a big deal. Gone are the days of physical buttons and large bezels for cameras and sensors. OnePlus managed to pack ambient light, camera, notification LEDs, and everything else into a tiny spot on the front of the phone that is just about the same width as the notification bar. It’s really a sight to behold and looks so damn good with the AMOLED display. OnePlus did not cut any corners here and this is clearly a luxury phone that tops some of the big dogs already.
The entire phone is also made of glass so it feels high-end and features a volume rocker, power button, and a volume slider that allows you to physically silence or set your phone on vibrate, and I can’t say how nice this feature is enough. I got so tired of taking my phone out to silence it and this feels like a great addition. The phone has a USB-C connection and a vertical rear camera and flash. It looks sleek, minimal, and attractive at every corner, and it’s still slim with a large 3,700 mAh battery.
Underneath It All
If you go inside the hardware we have heavy-duty state-of-the-art hardware that makes this a high-end phone. For starters, the Snapdragon 845 is present with the Adreno 630 GPU for insanely smooth high-end gaming, and thanks to OnePlus’s OxygenOS the Android experience is buttery smooth and games never see any slowdown or suffer from poor OS optimization which is something that Samsung and a lot of other manufacturers suffer from at least in a small amount. The $580 model also comes with 8GB of RAM which makes switching apps and loading them lightning fast and they instantly load. This is also in part with being the first Android phone to launch with Android Pie 9.0 which has insane optimizations and feels on par with Apple’s iOS which is well known for being fine-tuned to their hardware.
Gone are the days of 32 and 64GB of storage so we get 128GB and 256GB options on the 6T which is more than enough, and the exclusion of an SD card slot is a little disappointing, but OxygenOS has the option of using OTG (On-The-Go) storage built into the OS so your USB-C flash drives will come in handy there. The phone also has no headphone jack, but at this point, most phones are leaning that way and it does save space inside the phone. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me at all as I don’t use headphones with my phone hardly ever. I do have to mention that this phone does not have wireless charging which was a bummer and probably the biggest disappointment with this phone, but it makes up for it with the fastest charge time I have ever seen. In my first test, my phone was at 30% and charged to 90% in just 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, so a full charge would be about an hour or less which is insane. Even on my Note8, a full charge from 0-100 was almost 2 hours on fast-charge and it was a smaller battery. With that said, you have to use OnePlus’s proprietary charger cables and plugs.
The phone features a 16MP+20MP rear camera dual-lens camera and a 16MP front-facing camera which is kind of unheard of. It can actually shoot 4K at 60FPS which the Note 9 can do but only for 5 minutes. The photos are incredibly sharp and vibrant and I am not disappointed at all with this setup. Camera enthusiasts won’t be disappointed.
A Smooth Ride
There are quite a few options in OxygenOS that just kept impressing me and this is clearly the most innovative and optimized Android OS variant I have ever used. I actually didn’t need my third-party home launchers for once which was nice. There are plenty of options to change themes, accent colors, icon packs, and the Shelf is a great alternative to Samsung’s Edge Bar as you can swipe left and have a whole area full of neatly organized widgets that allow you to add weather, app shortcuts, contacts, and various other things. I use it a lot and it’s much easier than searching for apps in the drawer.
OnePlus’s Game Mode works well and while not quite as robust as Samsung’s it feels more optimized and has some options Samsung doesn’t like various ways notifications display and what part of the hardware you actually want to be optimized rather than a universal setting. It has more options rather than features which is fine by me. OnePlus also added a night mode and reading mode which will make apps appear in black and white and change the darkness based on the ambient light.
OnePlus is also the next phone to use something similar to Samsung’s Always On Display as the 6T has a gorgeous AMOLED screen. However, it utilizes this feature better as the actual notifications will now pop up with text while the phone is off rather than just an icon which is really awesome. The Ambient Display is also not always on to conserve battery life but allows you to tap the screen to show it or when you pick up your phone. These are quality-of-life features that other manufacturers aren’t thinking of.
There are some nice gesture features such as drawing letters on the screen while it’s off to launch apps, and the navigation bar is fully customizable. You can hide it, and even use gestures to navigate the phone which I am currently using and it’s incredible. Swipe up on the bottom left corner for back, bottom right for forward, and up the center for recent apps. It works so well and I haven’t run into any issues with it.
Overall, the OnePlus 6T is the phone we’ve needed in 2018 when the big guys aren’t innovating anymore. Each year phones are less and less dissimilar and the prices are skyrocketing. OnePlus brings us premium luxury features at a budget price, and it knocks every single feature out of the park that it does have. Sure, it’s missing a 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless charging, and a higher resolution screen, but in the end, it doesn’t matter as it does everything else the others are doing better and bringing new things to the table. In-screen fingerprint scanning, ultra-fast charging, a nearly invisible notch, and a gorgeous camera as nothing to scoff at.