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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

Display, Audio & Software

Display - Still only Full HD, but does that matter?

Jumping on board the notch bandwagon, the OnePlus 6 has a notched 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED display with a Full HD+ 2,280 x 1,080 pixels resolution (~402ppi) and 19:9 aspect ratio. While most of OnePlus’ more expensive rivals are now using QHD displays, the OnePlus 6 has stuck to a Full HD+ resolution, which helps keep costs down. I’m okay with this for now, as it also means a more power efficient display, but as screen sizes increase (the OnePlus 6 has the biggest display OnePlus has ever put on a phone) OnePlus may have to consider making the jump to QHD at some point (maybe for the inevitable OnePlus 6T?).

The notch is fairly small, and much shorter than the one found on the iPhone X. It contains the 16-megapixel front-facing camera, earpiece, ambient light sensor and an LED notification light. 

If you’re not a fan of notches, you can effectively disable it, which turns the screen on either side of it black to create one continuous bar. OnePlus’ Oxygen UI handles the notch quite well too, and native apps either blank it out completely or display information around the side of it. The notch won’t cut into the side of videos like the iPhone X either. One minor frustration is that the full battery percentage is hidden unless you pull down the notification shade (an issue I also have with the iPhone X).

The display itself is excellent, with bright colors and great contrast. Viewing angles are perfect and don’t suffer from any of the color shifting that’s ruined many OLED displays over the past year.

If you’re not satisfied with the default colors on the display, you can tweak the settings in the Screen calibration menu. I’ve become acclimatized to Apple’s True Tone display, so I find the OnePlus 6’s default setting a little on the cold side. The sRGB and DCI-P3 settings are both a little warmer and softer on the eyes, while still displaying a vivid range of colors. Alternatively, Adaptive mode will toggle between various settings depending on what you’re looking at.

As with past OnePlus phones, there's also an option for an always-on display, but it's off by default. Turning it on will display the time and date, as well as any notifications on your lock screen.

 

Audio - Loud but unimpressive

Audio from the OnePlus 6 is a little disappointing, and comes from a single downward firing speaker on the bottom of the phone. The speaker is actually quite loud, but its position means it’s easily covered and muffled if you’re holding the phone in landscape orientation. There’s not much bass to speak of and there’s some slight distortion at maximum volume levels.

 

UI - Clean and easy to use

  

The OnePlus 6 runs on OnePlus’ Oxygen OS, which is a lightly skinned version of Android 8.1 Oreo. It’s fairly close to stock, and looks very similar to what you would find on a Google Pixel phone. 

There are a few features that OnePlus has added that are worth pointing out.

First is a Face Unlock system that is similar to the Face Unlock we've seen on a few other Android phones. It's not as secure as Apple's Face ID, and it doesn't even need you to be looking at the phone to unlock it, but it is really fast and convenient.

Next, there's a new gesture control system that you can use to replace the standard onscreen Android buttons. 

Gesture control is off by default, so you’ll first have to turn it on by going to Settings -> Buttons -> Navigation bar & gestures and selecting Navigation gestures.

You’ll notice the onscreen buttons will disappear, which lets the screen fill out all the way to the bottom. You get three gestures to replace the onscreen buttons:-

  • Swipe up from the bottom center of the display takes you to the home screen
  • Swipe up from the bottom of either edge of the screen will go back one screen
  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and then a pause with your finger still on the screen will access recent apps.

Unlike the iPhone X which changes orientation with you, if you have the OnePlus 6 in landscape mode, you still need to swipe in from the same edge.

The gestures work, but they’re all a bit too similar, and having to pause on the screen to access recent apps feels clunky. The gesture system also lacks some of the options you get from onscreen buttons, such as the ability to quickly launch the Google Assistant (long press the Home button), or quickly switch back to the last app you were using (double tap the recent apps button). 

The OnePlus 6 also sees the return of the Reading Mode, which we first saw on the OnePlus 5. This mode can be found under the Display menu and can be set to turn on automatically depending on what app you’re using. Turning the mode on shifts the display to a monochrome appearance that mimics an E-ink display, which makes it a little easier on the eyes.

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