A beautiful Android smartphone with speed that kills
Weight: 185g Dimensions: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm OS: Android 9.0 Screen size: 6.41-inches Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 RAM: 8GB Storage: 128/256GB Battery: 3700mAh Rear camera: Dual 16MP f/1.7 + 20MP f/1.7 Front camera: 16MP f/2.0
REASONS TO BUY
+Incredibly fast with big benchmark scores
+Priced lower than some flagships
+Beautiful and premium build
REASONS TO AVOID
-No wireless charging-Similar to OnePlus 6
The OnePlus 6T is one of the absolute fastest Android phones on the market and easily makes it into our best phones for 2019 list. Its combination of the high-end Snapdragon 845 CPU, powerful Adreno 630 GPU, and a whopping 8GB of RAM (that’s 4GB more than the Samsung Galaxy S9), means that the OnePlus 6T smokes much of the opposition in terms of benchmark scores.
The phone’s use of Android 9.0 Pie and OnePlus’ own light skin of vanilla, OxygenOS, adds to this rapidity, too, with menu navigation as well as app loading and switching a buttery smooth experience.
The phone’s 6.41-inch 19.5:9 AMOLED screen isn’t the absolute best on the market, nor is its camera system (which is borderline identical to that on the OnePlus 6). Its battery, too, is merely competitive, and is soundly beaten by devices like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
This said, though, in terms of pure speed the OnePlus 6T sits at the top table of flagship phones, and its maker also delivers a device that is beautiful to look at and to hold. The in-box package of accessories is also first class, which taken with its mid-range price point, help make it a very attractive phone package overall.
There’s a new OnePlus 6T flagship in town, one uniquely similar and all the while, different from its predecessor. A new and bigger AMOLED panel, with a smaller notch and cutting-edge in-display fingerprint reader, plus a bigger battery pretty much define the upgrade over the OnePlus 6. However, the OnePlus 6T also marks the official removal of the headphone jack – surely, a downgrade and sad occasion for many long-term fans.
OnePlus 6T specs
- Body: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm, 185 g. Aluminum frame, glass back, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 6 display glass. Mirror Black, Midnight Black schemes.
- Display: 6.41″ Optic AMOLED, 2,340×1,080px resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio 402ppi; sRGB/DCI-P3 color space support.
- Rear cameras: Main camera: Sony IMX 519 1/2.6″ sensor, 16MP, 1.22µm pixel size, f/1.7 aperture, phase detection autofocus, OIS, EIS. Secondary camera: Sony IMX376K sensor, 20MP, 1.0µm pixel size, f/1.7 aperture. 2160p/60fps video recording, 1080p/240fps or 720p/480fps slow motion
- Front camera: Sony IMX 371 sensor, 16MP, 1.0µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture; EIS; 1080p/30fps video recording.
- OS/Software: Android 9 Pie; OxygenOS custom overlay.
- Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: octa-core CPU (4×2.7 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver), Adreno 630 GPU.
- Memory: 6/8GB of LPDDR4X RAM; 128/256GB UFS 2.1 2-LANE storage.
- Battery: 3,700mAh Li-Po (sealed); Fast Charge (formerly Dash Charge) proprietary fast charging (5V/4A).
- Connectivity: Dual nano-SIM; 5-Band carrier aggregation, LTE Cat.16/13 (1024Mbps/150Mbps); USB Type-C (v2.0); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0, supports aptX and aptX HD.
- Misc: Under-display fingerprint reader; single speaker on the bottom; tri-position Alert Slider.
OnePlus’s success is one of the textbook examples of viral online marketing in the smartphone industry. The Chinese manufacturer has built its reputation as an enthusiasts brand up from total obscurity relying on cutthroat pricing, lofty slogans and a loyal, tight-knit community.
So when you’ve spent the last few years cultivating a dedicated fan base by insisting that their opinions, wishes, and preferences come first, a certain backlash is to be expected when you go ahead and remove a feature they’ve explicitly voted as a must-have – the audio jack.
A hip, fan-friendly public image is great to have and OnePlus managed to craft one for itself truly masterfully. However, when it actually comes time to mass-produce handsets, the manufacturing realities ruling the parent company BBK Electronics Corporation impose a whole other set of necessities. In this regard, OnePlus, Vivo, Oppo, and even the young Realme are all subject to pretty much the same limitations and constraints that the whole industry abides by. And OnePlus is no longer positioned as the market disruptor it used to be so we can’t realistically expect more.
So love it or hate it, the OnePlus 6T design and hardware are a product of the market realities and trends in 2018. It’s no longer the brand you turn to for a breath of fresh air and just on the opposite, you get what everyone else is serving.
Luckily, a smartphone is a lot more than the sum of its hardware parts and external shell. The product experience exists on an independent plane of its own. Whether it is software, support or customer service, OnePlus has always put its own twist on things and usually, it’s always been to the benefit of the consumer. The OnePlus 6T is no different and there is plenty to love about the experience it provides. Let’s have a look inside the box first.
That experience starts with the package and accessories. In a way, the brand itself has added value. Few companies have managed to craft such an appealing signature image as OnePlus. Everything from the “Never Settle” slogan and mission statement it conveys to the recognizable logo design and materials, and the exclusive materials such as sandstone or wood have remained part of the package the consumer is getting. What’s more, you can accessorize the OnePlus 6T heavily to the point it even matches your attire on different occasions and OnePlus would love it if you consider them a lifestyle brand for the fashion-conscious.
This approach and the attention to detail have served them well. The retail package of our OnePlus 6T review unit is nothing short of a perfect embodiment of the company’s long-standing PR image efforts. It includes things like inspirational quotes and a letter from the CEO. All of them making it abundantly clear that you – the OnePlus community is at the core of the company itself.
Musings aside, the two-piece box itself feels very premium. It’s one of the nicest we’ve seen lately, without actually being too flashy. It is coated with a rubberized soft coating and comes with multiple boxes and trays on the inside, including a thick plastic bed for the phone. Shipping damage should be a non-issue. Plus, every bit and piece inside the box feels really good to the touch. The various leaflets and manuals even carry the signature red color. OnePlus clearly went all out on packaging, but we have to wonder if that money could have been better spent on accessories.
There are no headphones in the box, although, there is, at least a little Type-C to 3.5mm adapter included. On the other hand, we can’t really complain too much, since our box came with a thick clear rubber case. Another level of protection you get, out of the box is a precision-cut, pre-applied screen protector. It’s not glass, but still looks and feels pretty good.
For charging, you get a familiar 20W wall charger in the box, now branded simply Fast Charge as opposed to the Dash moniker of old. There’s also a red USB Type-A to Type-C cable, which is definitely not standard due to the extra pins the charging tech requires, so hold on to it. Otherwise, you’d be stuck with slower charging speeds. Speaking of which, while 20W is definitely snappy, it is nowhere near the whopping 50W, as found on Oppo’s Find X Lamborghini Edition. We know many fans were hoping to see this blazing fast charging make its way to the OnePlus line. But OnePlus is obviously trying their best to keep costs down. So, perhaps, next year.
Design and 360-degree spin
Circling back to the whole BBK Electronics Corporation ownership situation, it’s pretty easy to understand the design trends and limitations the lines of Oppo, Realme, Vivo and OnePlus have to work with.
While not necessarily a bad thing, or a new reality, for that matter, it does take away some of the design novelty and create similarity within BBK’s various smartphone lineups. That being said, as per expectations, the OnePlus 6T looks very similar to the Oppo R17 and R17 Pro.
Overall, you get the same familiar metal frame, glass sandwich design. It is still the prevalent look of the day. The OnePlus 6T is 2mm taller than its predecessor and about 5% thicker, also a bit heavier. Still, it does include a larger battery and bigger display. Unfortunately, ingress protection is still not on the OnePlus list of features. However, the front protective glass layer has seen a upgrade to the new Gorilla Glass 6 material, compared to Gorilla Glass 5 on the OnePlus 6.
OnePlus 6T glass back
The official specs don’t really mention anything about the back glass panel, though, other than a 40-step count for the manufacturing process. We haven’t had any durability issues with the review unit so far. Plus, OnePlus has a solid track record in this regard, so it should be a non-issue. We have to admit, we a re a bit bummed-out that the Silk White color option is gone. At least in this initial release, that is.
The OnePlus 6T can currently be had in a reflective Mirror Black or a mat Midnight Black. That might sound kind of boring, but the two actually look very different. Plus, going by track record once again, more colors are bound to pop-up in the future, in special limited editions of the OnePlus 6T or otherwise.
Both back panel variants looks and feel very nice to the touch. The reflective one, naturally, attracting more dirt and grease. It is a bit unfortunate that there is still no wireless charging on OnePlus phone, since it would have been a perfect match for the glass back plate.
One thing that’s clearly missing from the back side of the OnePlus 6T is a fingerprint reader. The 3.5mm audio jack, IP rating and wireless charging might be notable omissions, as already pointed out, but OnePlus decided that the under-display fingerprint reader is a worthwhile feature to jump on this year.
In case this is your first encounter with the tech, it does have certain limitations to overcome. Since the reader is optical by nature and placed a few inches away from the display glass surface, reading requires plenty of light and good transparency (which the OLED panel provides), a good and wide surface area without a lot of motion and a second or two to complete. Hence, for the best result, you need to get the finger placement right on top of the reader, conveniently marked with an on-screen circular animation then press slightly harder, so your finger spreads out more and doesn’t move too much.
Sure, this type of readers are still not at the level of speed and accuracy that the conventional readers offer. We’re happy to share that the UD fingerprint reader on the OnePlus 6T is definitely leaps ahead of earlier implementations we’ve seen. It is a lot less picky about the placement of the finger, the strength with which you press down is quite reasonable and the reading accuracy is nearly perfect. The only thing that still needs a bit of work is speed. And even that is no longer that far behind a conventional fingerprint reader and it’s perhaps the fastest UD reader we’ve seen so far (Huawei Mate 20 Pro included).
The OnePlus 6T finally brings one of the first usable and reliable in-display fingerprint reader implementations to the table.
If you find its limitations hard to swallow at this point, there is always Face Unlock, you can use instead or in parallel. It is just as snappy and accurate as the one on the OnePlus 6.
Enough beating about the notch then, shifting our eyes up a bit from the trendy in-display fingerprint reader, we instantly spot the “teardrop” notch – another 2018 trend. Now, we won’t go defending the notch design regardless the shape or size it comes in. However, to OnePlus’s (or rather BBK’s) credit, the one on the OnePlus 6T is really small. Definitely a lot less intrusive than the one on the OnePlus 6. Well, a hole is still a hole and if you really despise it, you will probably have to hide it from the settings menu and sacrifice a bit of screen real estate.
Still, that relatively small area does manage to hold the 16MP selfie camera, along with the full array of traditional sensors, namely a three-in-on ambient/distance/RGB module. Plus, the earpiece is somewhere in that region as well. No notification LED, though. This obviously had to go.
On to controls then. In keeping with tradition, the OnePlus 6T has one extra button, compared to most conventional handsets. And it’s definitely better than a dedicated AI assistant button. The three-stage mode selector toggle key has remained one of the OnePlus design staples for yet another year. It is positioned pretty high up on the right-hand side of the device and complete with a textured finish and plenty of customizability on the software side.
The only real issue we have with it is the stiffness. Granted, compared to the OnePlus 6 unit we have at the office, the rocker on the OnePlus 6T feels a bit lighter and easier to slide. However, the force required to do so is still a bit too much and it could easily lead to a nasty fall.
Underneath the mode switch there’s a standard power button. Nicely defined and wide enough to press comfortably.
Dual SIM tray
On the opposite side – a volume rocker. Also, pretty bog-standard. These provide a nice tactile feedback and feel “clicky” so no complaints at all.
The top of the OnePlus 6T is pretty much empty, with only a small secondary microphone hole in sight. The bottom side has a bit more going on, but with one notable omission – no 3.5mm audio jack. Instead, OnePlus decided to go for a double grill aesthetic. Only one of those actually houses a speaker, while the other is for the main microphone. And that’s the only speaker you get on the OnePlus 6T. The earpiece does not pull double duty for a hybrid setup. A potentially missed opportunity, in our book, but also likely a cost-saving measure. The same can be said about the USB Type-C port, namely since it still houses a USB 2.0 data connection. A minor annoyance for most users, for sure, but non the less, it is worth pointing out that the port lacks any additional whistles, like fast data transfer rates or video out. OTG is present, though.
One may be nearly useless, but the other is great
OnePlus, along with sister company Oppo, has been pushing a particular camera setup for a few generations of devices, one we didn’t feel was entirely justified from the get go and that’s not changed with the OnePlus 6T. Starting with the OP5T, the secondary cam on the back got the same focal length lens as the main one, replacing the slightly longer (and similarly slightly more useful) module of the OP5. Effectively that means two cameras with the same FOV but different sensors.
The hardware goes like this. You have the primary cam with a 1/2.6″ Sony IMX519 sensor that packs some 16 million 1.22µm pixels. The lens has a 25mm equivalent focal length and an f/1.7 aperture, and is stabilized. The secondary one relies on the 1/2.8″ Sony IMX376K imager placed behind a similarly specced f/1.7 25mm-equivalent lens.
There are no major changes to the camera app compared to the previous generation, which was in turn an evolution of the one found on the 5T. The app defaults to the stills viewfinder, but a swipe to the right (or up in landscape) will bring up one for video, while a swipe to the left (or, obviously, down) evokes the Portrait mode. Another swipe in the latter direction will then take you to the Night mode – this one’s new.
In the stills viewfinder you also have quick toggles for flash mode, self-timer, and aspect ratio. The HDR toggle is gone from plain sight and is now in settings. As before, there’s still a 1x/2x button despite the lack of an actual telephoto camera.
Accessing other modes is done by tapping on the tiny arrow next to the 1x/2x button. That’ll get you access to Panorama, Pro mode, Slow motion, and Timelapse. It’s only on this mode selector screen that you can see the settings cog wheel – if you have no prior experience with OP phones, you’d be scratching your head trying to find the settings the first few tries.
The Pro mode allows manual tweaking of shooting parameters, including ISO (100-3200), white balance (by light temperature), shutter speed (1/8000s to 30s), focus, and exposure compensation (-2/+2EV in third-stop and half-stop increments). You can save 2 sets of custom parameters too, if you happen to do the same thing over and over again. A live histogram is also provided (quite a rare feature) and RAW capture is available too.
Camera interface: Viewfinder • Aspect settings (up top) • Portrait mode • Other modes • Pro mode
Daylight images from the OnePlus 6T come very likable, which isn’t remotely a surprise given the identical hardware to the OP6, whose shots we really enjoyed. We’re particular fans of the wide dynamic range in the default AutoHDR state. Detail is good too, though we’ve seen better per-pixel results. And while you’re zoomed in to 1:1, you’d spot some noise too, even at base ISO, but it’s not as much or as obtrusive as to be an issue.
Colors are a subjective area, but we still feel like OnePlus has got them just right. It renders the Fall scenes very pleasantly and manages to convey the vibe nicely. We observed a significant difference between the OP6T and OP6 in some scenes (the dreamy sunrise shots of the trees), and we’re strongly leaning towards the 6T’s version. The OP6’s rendition is more muted – more so than even the generally color-conservative iPhone, whose shots we’ve included for comparison. That said, images taken at midday didn’t really differ all that much between the two OnePlus phones – is it some sort of a sunrise scene optimizer on the OP6T?
Camera samples: OP6T • OP6 • iPhone XS Max
There’s a 1x/2x button so figured we’d test what the OP6T, fully aware that it doesn’t have the camera to properly do the 2x part. Predictably, the results aren’t amazing and it’s nothing you can’t achieve by cropping the 1x shot, upsampling and sharpening a bit.
Camera samples: 2x zoom
In low light, the OnePlus 6T takes very good, if not class-leading photos. Color saturation is very well preserved, detail is good and noise reduction is well handled.
Low-light samples, Photo mode
There’s a newly added night mode, which attempts to do something along the lines of the pseudo long exposures we saw introduced on the Huawei P20. It’s nowhere nearly as good, however, and in handheld shooting often produces less sharp results than the regular photo mode.
Low-light samples, Night mode
It behaves quite differently when the phone detects it’s being well supported – like on a tripod. The pseudo long exposures get actually longer, to the tune of 30s per shot as opposed to the ~3s when hand-held. You can expect overall superior images that way, though it raises the question of whether the newly added Night mode is of any use if you have a tripod anyway.
OP6T, low light: Tripod, Photo mode • Tripod, Night Mode • Handheld, Photo mode • Handheld, Night Mode
For thoroughness’ sake we took a bunch of zoomed in shots as well. You could call them usable in a pinch, though again you could achieve the same results from post-processing the wide-angle images. In all fairness, in low light, even phones with actual telephoto cameras don’t actually use their telephoto cameras for 2x zooming, so the end results are comparable.
Low-light samples, 2x zoom
If not for zooming in, then at least the second camera can be used for depth detection in portrait mode. As with all implementations that rely on a 25mm-ish camera for portraits, taking headshots with the OnePlus 6T means going very close to your subject, and people generally aren’t thrilled to have cameras stuck in their faces. On the other hand, you can do self-portraits with the rear camera at arm’s length distance and still comfortably fit your mug in the frame unlike with tighter telephoto-based setups.
The OP6T does a great job with subject separation, and background blur looks pretty convincing.
It works similarly well on non-human subjects too, even if they happen to be doggos.
Portrait samples, non-human subjects
Don’t forget to check out how the OnePlus 6T fares against the competition in our Photo compare tool. We’ve picked OnePlus’ own 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S9+ to get you started, but it’s a pretty rich database of tested phones to choose from.
OnePlus 6T against the OnePlus 6 and the Galaxy S9+ in our Photo compare tool
16MP selfies too
The OnePlus 6T has a 16MP camera on the front too, just like the OnePlus 6. It’s mated to an f/2.0 aperture lens, which the EXIF says has a 20mm equivalent focal length. It really doesn’t. It’s more like a 25mm (which is what the OP6 used to report back in the day, only now the old model says 20mm too – just OP things?).
EXIF musings aside, the OP6T takes some impressively detailed selfies under the right light. However, if the HDR mode kicks in it robs images of absolute sharpness, and it does tend to kick in a lot. There’s also a particular tendency to render dark areas straight up black, like this guy’s hair.
Portrait mode is available on the front as well despite the lack of a secondary cam. The haloing we observed around OP6 selfie portraits is present here too, but other than that the algorithms work very well.
Selfie samples, portrait mode
Not much has changed in the video department compared to the OP6. The OP6T can still record video in both 2160p and 1080p at either 60fps or 30fps, plus a 720p mode if you particularly hate the subject matter. 720p is also the resolution where you can have 480fps slow-mo capture.
Bit rates are also unchanged and 4K60 footage clocks in at a whopping 121Mbps, 4K30 gets 42Mbps, while 1080p is allocated 40Mbps and 20Mbps for 60fps and 30fps respectively. Audio is recorded in stereo at 156kbps in all modes.
As before, stabilization is available in the 30fps modes and cannot be switched off. On top of the expected crop that it introduces, it also has a detrimental effect on absolute detail and effectively 60fps footage is sharper and crisper. Wouldn’t it have been nice if there were a toggle to turn it off if you knew you’d have proper support for the phone? Or, you know, have processing algorithms that don’t ruin video quality for the sake of stabilization?
Anyway, the stabilization works quite well ironing out handshake or the motion produced when walking. It’s less impressive when panning, with somewhat abrupt transitions at the start and finish.
2160p capture is nice and detailed in both frame rates, though as we said, the 60fps has an edge in sharpness. Dynamic range is nice and wide and we’re also liking the color reproduction.
Dynamic range and colors are similarly great in 1080p, and the difference in crispiness is again present – the 60fps mode is the sharper one.
Another kind of pixel peeping can take place inside our Video compare tool. We’ve pre-selected the OnePlus 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S9+, but feel free to play around with other phones we’ve tested.
OnePlus 6T against the OnePlus 6 and the Galaxy S9+ in our 4K Video compare tool
OnePlus 6T against the OnePlus 6 and the Galaxy S9+ in our FullHD Video compare tool