Phone

OnePlus 6 Review: The Underdog Smartphone Winner

OnePlus 6 review by Singapore consumer tech blogger Chester Tan musicphotolife.com

OnePlus has always been one of the strongest underdogs when it comes to premium smartphones. It has build up a reputation over the years with its premium hardware and reasonable price. One year ago, I reviewed the OnePlus 5, the first model to finally have local warranty support, but it didn’t impress me enough. This year, the OnePlus 6 won me over, and I enjoyed using the phone.

OnePlus 6 Unboxing review by Singapore consumer tech blogger Chester Tan musicphotolife.com

  • Models available and prices
    • $868: 6GB memory and 64GB storage (mirror black)
    • $988: 8GB memory and 128GB storage (mirror black, midnight black, silk white, and red)
    • $1,088: 8GB memory and 256GB storage (midnight black)
  • Where to buy: Available from Lazada, Shopee, Qoo10, as well as Challenger outlets and selected retailers.
  • Service centre: 269 Queen’s Street #01-230, Singapore 180269. Open from Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm (except public holidays).

The OnePlus 6 has a curved glass back that wraps around the hand nicely when holding. The front display fills almost to the brim, with the notch to house the front camera, speaker and proximity sensor. The alert slider and the volume buttons are on the right side, while the power button is to the left. 3.5mm jack is next to the USB-C charging port below the phone, together with the speaker.

OnePlus 6 review by Singapore consumer tech blogger Chester Tan musicphotolife.com

OnePlus 6 Specs

  • Display: 6.28 inches 2280 x 1080 AMOLED, supports sRGB, DCI-P3
  • OS: OxygenOS based on Android Oreo
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (Octa-core, 10nm, up to 2.8 GHz), within AIE
  • GPU: Adreno 630
  • Rear Main Camera: 16MP f/1.7 with OIS, Sony IMX 519, PCAF autofocus
  • Rear Secondary Camera: 20MP f/1.7, Sony IMX 376K, PDAF autofocus
  • Front Camera: 16MP f/2.0 with EIS, Sony IMX 371, fixed focus
  • Notification Light: RGB LED
  • Ports: USB 2.0 Type-C, support USB Audio, dual nano SIM slot, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Battery: 3300 mAh, Fast Charging 5V 4A
  • WiFi: 2×2 MIMO, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0, aptX HD
  • NFC: Yes
  • Weight: 177g
  • Dimensions: 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75 mm

There are a few things I instantly like about the OnePlus 6.

Font

Seriously? Yes, the OnePlus Slate font that is broader and stouter makes the phone visually more pleasant to use. It’s almost like the Android Roboto font, but different.

OnePlus 6 Font

Smooth, Responsive, Fast

The phone may have similar CPU and GPU specs as some of the flagship smartphones, but OnePlus made the internals work so much better. And no wonder it is the top 3 smartphones benchmarked by Antutu.

OnePlus 6 Antutu Benchmark

Customisation

There are customisation capabilities on the OnePlus OxygenOS that are not available in many phones out there, customisation that only advanced users could appreciate. For instance,

  1. You can define whether the clearing of recent apps is “normal clear” or “deep clear”, the latter will stop background processes.
  2. The screen calibration options include sRGB, DCI-P3, Adaptive mode, and Custom colour (warm to cold slider).
  3. You can decide which icons to show on the status bar.
  4. The phone supports dual apps for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Whatsapp.
  5. The notification for each app can be defined further so that some of the mundane issues will not get sticky on the notification drawer.
  6. For supported Bluetooth audio device, you can choose to enable “HD audio” (like aptX) or normal audio.

OnePlus 6 customisation features

Ambient Display

OnePlus 6 also supports ambient display: by hovering your hand over the blank screen, the clock will appear with notification icons. But unlike other implementations, it does not offer a peek of the messages, something that Moto does it really well. After a while, I turned off this feature to save battery, since it offers no other benefit except telling the time.

OnePlus 6 Ambient Display clock style

Camera

OnePlus 6 camera app is relatively easy to use. 3 modes appear above the shutter button which you can access by swiping left and right. If you want to change to other modes, just swipe up to reveal the rest. The available mode options will appear at the top, albeit limited.

OnePlus 6 camera app

Under portrait mode, it is possible to activate depth effect, though the bokeh level cannot be adjusted, nor can it be modified after shooting. What’s interesting is the ability to select 4 different bokeh filters – normal, round, star and heart.

OnePlus 6 bokeh filter

At times, the bokeh filters might appear too distracting for normal photos, but if you want to increase the kawaii factor, use it for sweet times.

OnePlus 6 bokeh sample - Old Chang Kee nasi lemak

I find the images are a tad underexposed, so you need to post-process it for best Instagram outcome. The background blur is subtly sufficient to create subject isolation.

OnePlus 6 bokeh sample - KFC salted egg chicken limited edition

There is a halo effect around the area where the blur is processed, and if you see it positively, it does resemble the result of an extreme shallow depth of field. But no, purists would simply reject such fakery. But, yes, it looks good enough for the common man.

OnePlus 6 bokeh sample - McDonald's Ha Ha Cheong Gai burger limited edition

Images are sharpened to create a more crisp outlook, exposed conservatively, again, to retain all details.

OnePlus 6 outdoor sample - MyVillage

Low-light night shots are similarly well-managed to deliver good exposure and sharpness without the light haze. Shooting in Pro mode increases noise level.

OnePlus 6 night sample - Kallang Wave Mall

Facial skin processing for front camera is more natural, though there is no adjustment options. Newer firmware updates support beauty mode for selfie portraits (background blur), while older firmware can only opt for one over the other.

OnePlus 6 selfie sample

Battery

OnePlus 6 battery life is within expectations of my normal usage, draining to single digit when I use excessively. On light days, the phone manages to retain 20% before I sleep. Fortunately, the Dash Charge tops up the battery in such an insane speed that I recommend putting one in office so that you get the needed boost. At night, use a normal charger to deliver slower charge overnight.

The Trade-offs

The OnePlus 6 is not perfect, in a few ways. This is how I see it:

  • Price. OnePlus 6 is getting too pricey, at least in Singapore market. I know overseas markets are selling at a lower price after currency conversion (I don’t recommend getting expensive smartphones without warranty). Other brands are getting telco support resulting in higher take-ups despite higher retail price. I do think OnePlus 6 commands the price given its generous RAM, but at this price, a few things are lacking.
  • No wireless charging, no microSD card, no IP rating. Not a big deal, unless you really needed them. Personally, I don’t use microSD card because they tend to slow the OS down. As for IP rating, based on teardown observations, the phone does have sufficient protection from water, just that OnePlus did not get official certification. OnePlus could not deliver their promise of “Never Settle”.
  • Speaker not loud enough. At noisy places, I struggle to hear the speaker output, unless I place it directly against the ears. Having said that, the audio quality remains pristine even at maximum volume. Besides, the OnePlus 6 supports 3.5mm audio, so plug in to get the best sound.

Verdict

Overall, I enjoy using the OnePlus 6, just like how I enjoy using Huawei P20 ProLG G7+ ThinQ, and Google Pixel 2. All of these phones offer great value and elevates my smartphone experience, thanks to fast UI, great camera, useful unique functions. Among these phones, OnePlus 6 is the cheapest and the fastest, its UI is the cleanest with fewest bloatware.

If you happen to have some prejudice against certain big brands yet you hate how these phones have great features, then OnePlus 6 will be the smartphone that you will come to love. The UI is fantastic, the camera delivers great quality images (albeit a tad underexposed), and it’s not overpriced.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
OnePlus 6
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