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OnePlus 6 review: Another great value phone, but is cutthroat pricing still enough?

By James Lu - 29 Jul 2018
Launch SRP: S$868

Benchmark Performance, Imaging, Battery life, and Conclusion

Benchmark Performance

As with most of the latest flagship smartphones, the OnePlus 6 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor with either 6GB or 8GB RAM. The 6GB RAM version comes with 64GB internal storage, while the 8GB RAM version has 128GB storage. Unfortunately, we only have the 6GB/64GB configuration available for review.

  OnePlus 6 (6GB/64GB) OnePlus 5 (8GB RAM/128GB) LG G7+ ThinQ Sony Xperia XZ2 Samsung Galaxy S9 Apple iPhone X (256GB)
  OnePlus 6 (6GB/64GB) OnePlus 5 (8GB RAM/128GB) LG G7+ ThinQ Sony Xperia XZ2 Samsung Galaxy S9 Apple iPhone X (256GB)
Launch SRP
  • From S$868
  • From S$799
  • From S$1198
  • From S$998
  • From S$1198
  • From S$1888
Operating system
  • Android 8.1 Oreo with Oxygen OS
  • Android 7.0.1 (Nougat) with Oxygen OS 4.5
  • Android 8.0 Oreo with LG UX 6.0
  • Android 8.0 Nougat
  • Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience
  • iOS 11.1
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core (4 x 2.8GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4 x 1.7GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core (4 x 2.8GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4 x 1.7GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core (4x2.7 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz)
  • Samsung Exynos 9810 octa-core (4x2.8 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4x1.7 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Apple A11 Bionic hexa-core
Built-in Memory
  • 6GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
Display
  • 6.28-inch / 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (402ppi) / 19:9 ratio / Optic AMOLED
  • Always-on Display
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / AMOLED
  • 6.1-inch / 3,120 x 1,440 pixels (564ppi) / 19.5:9 ratio / IPS LCD
  • Always-on Display
  • 5.7-inch / 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (424 ppi) / IPS LCD 18:9 ratio
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.8-inch / 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (570 ppi) / 18.5: 9 ratio / Super AMOLED Infinity Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.8-inch Super Retina HD / 2,436 x 1,125 pixels (458ppi) / OLED
Camera
  • Rear: Dual: 16-megapixel (f/1.7, 27mm, 1/2.6", 1.22µm, OIS) + 20-megapixel (f/1.7, 1/2.8", 1.0µm),
  • Front: 16-megapixel (f/2.0, 25mm, 1/3", 1.0µm)
  • Primary Rear: 16-megapixel, f/1.7, contrast detection autofocus, EIS, LED flash, 1.12 µm pixel size
  • Secondary Rear: 20-megapixel, f/2.6, phase detection autofocus, LED flash, 1.00 µm pixel size
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, 1.0 µm pixel size
  • Rear: Dual: 16-megapixel f/1.6, OIS + 16-megapixel f/1.9 wide-angle
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear: 19-megapixel f/2.0 predictive phase detection and laser autofocus, LED flash
  • Front: 5-megapixel, f/2.2
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, dual f/1.5 and 2.4, 26mm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, LED flash
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.4, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v5, NFC, 4G LTE Cat 16 (up to 1024Mbps)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 2.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v5, NFC, 4G LTE Cat 16 (up to 1024Mbps)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 18 (up to 1200Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 18 (up to 1200Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 4G+ LTE Cat 12 (up to 600Mbps), dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector
Storage Type
  • 64GB
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 2TB via microSD
  • 64GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 400GB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 3,300mAh
  • Dash Charge
  • 3,300mAh
  • Dash Charge
  • 3,000mAh
  • Quick Charge 3
  • Wireless charging
  • 3,180mAh
  • Quick Charge 4
  • Wireless charging
  • 3,000mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging
  • 2,716mAh
Dimensions
  • 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm
  • 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm
  • 153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9mm
  • 153 x 72 x 11.1 mm
  • 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm
  • 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm
Weight
  • 177g
  • 153g
  • 162g
  • 198g
  • 163g
  • 174g

SunSpider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is in delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. 

The OnePlus 6 wasn't actually that impressive on this benchmark, and was slower than every phone other than the OnePlus 5. Having said that, in actual usage, it still feels snappy and responsive.

 

Basemark OS II

Basemark OS II is an all-in-one benchmarking tool that measures overall performance through a comprehensive suite of tests including system, internal and external memory, graphics, web browsing, and CPU consumption.

The OnePlus 6 was much better in this benchmark, and was the only phone able to match the iPhone X. I expect the 8GB version to surpass the iPhone's score. According to OnePlus, it does a lot of optimization at the software level to achieve faster performance, which explains how the OnePlus 6 is able to outperform other 845-powered smartphones.

 

3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

In this benchmark, the OnePlus 6 was on par with the other 845-powered smartphones, easily beating the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X. Once again, I suspect the 8GB version of the OnePlus 6 would easily claim the top spot in this benchmark.

 

 

Imaging - The mystery of the OnePlus 6's secondary camera

At first glance, the OnePlus 6's dual rear camera setup appears to be identical to the one found on the OnePlus 5, with a 16-megapixel main camera paired with a 20-megapixel secondary camera. However, the main camera actually has larger pixels now at 1.22μm pixel size, and it also has optical image stabilization. The secondary camera also has a larger aperture, and now matches the main camera at f/1.7.

Here's the thing though: as far as I can tell, the only thing the secondary camera is used for is to capture depth information in Portrait Mode; it can't shoot on its own, and it doesn't seem to have any other purpose. OnePlus however, doesn't actually say this anywhere. If you recall, on the OnePlus 5, the secondary camera was a telephoto lens with 1.6x optical zoom. And on the OnePlus 5T, that telephoto lens was replaced with a "low-light camera" and all zooming was done through digital "lossless" zoom.

For the OnePlus 6, OnePlus has been very elusive about saying what exactly the secondary camera does, and the focal length of the secondary camera isn't listed anywhere. The only clue listed on OnePlus' website under the title "Dual Camera" is a cryptic message stating "capture in no time" which is hardly a clue at all. There is a big 2x zoom button on the camera app, but activating it clearly shows a reduction in image quality very similar to the OnePlus 5T, so at least some, if not all of the zoom is digital. So what does the secondary camera do?

Investigating further, I placed some tape over the secondary lens (it's the upper one) on the OnePlus 6 to see what would happen, and unsurprisingly, it didn't affect anything, regardless of whether I was shooting photos or videos, in both normal and low-light, and at any zoom levels. The only time shooting was affected was when I activated Portrait Mode, where I received a popup message saying "Lens is covered." When I removed the tape, it changed to "Depth effect". Based on this, this would seem to suggest that the only thing the secondary camera does is provide depth information to create the bokeh effect.

  

While this by itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's worth noting that Google has proven with the Pixel 2 XL that good bokeh effects can be achieved through software alone, so a secondary camera just for depth information isn't really necessary. Even with the dedicated secondary camera for depth information, Portrait Mode on the OnePlus 6 isn't good, and it has some very noticeable edge detection issues. It also makes the camera setup feel like a step down from the OnePlus 5 and 5T, which both had more functionality attached to their secondary cameras.

Questionable dual camera setup aside, image quality from the OnePlus 6's main camera is actually quite good. Low-light performance is better than last year's OnePlus 5, and images are sharper with better detail retention. Colors and exposure are both generally accurate, but images tend to be slightly grainy and there is some noticeable over-processing.

Click for full-size image.

Like a few other phones, the OnePlus 6 is now also capable of shooting in slow motion at 240fps in Full HD, or 480fps at HD resolution. Obviously this isn't as good as the super slow motion 960fps you get with the Samsung Galaxy S9 or Sony Xperia XZ2, but it's still a decent addition.

There's also a new video editor app that makes it easier to edit your videos on the go.

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

The OnePlus 6 has the same size 3,300mAh battery as its predecessor. Battery life was also quite similar, with the OnePlus 6 lasting ten hours and 52 minutes.

The OnePlus 6 isn't compatible with Qualcomm's QuickCharge technology, and instead uses OnePlus' own Dash Charge technology. Dash Charge is just as fast as QuickCharge (if not faster) and also has built in measures to protect from overheating. It will charge the phone from 0 to 60% in about 35 minutes, and from 60 to 100% takes another 45 minutes or so. The disadvantage to Dash Charge is that it requires both a proprietary Dash Charge wall plug and a proprietary Dash Charge USB-C cable.

Despite switching to a glass back, there's no support for wireless charging on the OnePlus 6.

 

Conclusion

The OnePlus 6 is a great phone with an attractive design, a gorgeous display, good battery life, fast performance, and a clean UI, but it doesn't do much to change what OnePlus has been doing for the past four years. And that also means that it comes with the usual drawbacks associated with OnePlus phones: the camera could be better, it doesn't have a proper IP rating, and there's nothing really exciting or unique about it.

While I'm glad that OnePlus hasn't resorted to gimmicky features like squeezable sides, or extra powerful vibration, I would like to see OnePlus at least try to break out of its comfort zone. OnePlus' sister companies Oppo and Vivo are attempting new things with the Oppo Find X (pop up camera) and Vivo x21 (in-display fingerprint scanner), now I want to see what OnePlus can do. There are just too many phones out there hovering around that S$600-1000 price bracket for OnePlus to keep pushing out the same formula every six months.

There's been a gradual upward trend in OnePlus' pricing too, with the 6GB/64GB OnePlus 6 now retailing for S$868, and the 8GB/128GB version going for S$998, without any real additions to justify those price increases. As a reminder, two years ago, the highest spec OnePlus 3 retailed for just S$649.

All things considered, the OnePlus 6 still offers good value for a smartphone based on a high-performance processing platform, but it's not as good a deal as it used to be. OnePlus has a lot of fans that I'm sure will be happy with this phone, but I wouldn't be surprised if their gaze starts wandering elsewhere, especially when the more interesting, equally powerful, and more feature-packed Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition finally makes its way to Singapore.

 

Note: This article was first published on July 20, 2018.

8.0
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 7.5
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 8
The Good
Gorgeous new glass and metal design
Great performance
Good battery life
Clean UI
The Bad
Dual camera not useful
No unique or exciting features
Price is slowly creeping up
No expandable storage