Background & Introduction
I never did a proper review of the OnePlus 3, just a first impressions article which was admittedly written whilst wearing a thick pair of honeymoon glasses. But the truth is that the honeymoon phase never wore off. I did extensive research on the OnePlus 3 before purchasing it with my own money, and I was certain that it was going to be the best phone that I’ve ever owned. Two and a half years later, I was just as in love with my OnePlus 3 as I was the day I received it, if not more so. It was just as fast and responsive as day one, I’ve come to appreciate its lightweight yet solid metal unibody construction as it became more of a rarity over the years, and – most impressively – its software has gone from Marshmallow to Nougat to Oreo and soon, to Pie.
That is not to say that there haven’t been some rough patches. At one point the phone started randomly restarting and bootlooping on me. After sending in the phone for repair (which cost a whopping £170 to replace the entire motherboard), the cameras and proximity sensor soon started breaking down. Autofocus on the rear camera got wonky, and the front camera started to cloud up.
In any case, it was the first time in my life when I wasn’t excited to get a new phone because I didn’t want to leave my current one. If it weren’t for the broken proximity sensor (which rendered things auto-brightness and pocket mode useless) and the wonky cameras, I would’ve stuck to the OnePlus 3 for as long as I possibly could.
When I was finally convinced that it was time to let my OnePlus 3 go, I purchased the newly released OnePlus 6T. When it arrived though, I found myself being unsatisfied and nit-picky: I didn’t like the noticeable increase in heft thanks to the glass sandwich construction; I hated the absence of a notification LED; most of all, I loathed the relative inaccuracy and slower speed of the in-screen fingerprint scanner.
It’s been two months since then, and while certain frustrations remain unchanged, overall, I’ve warmed up to the OnePlus 6T. Make no mistake, this is a OnePlus phone through and through, and that is most definitely a good thing.
Body: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm, 185g
Display: 6.41” 1080 x 2340 19.5:9 Optic AMOLED (402 ppi), Corning Gorilla Glass 6
OS: Android 9.0 Pie
Chipset: Octa-core Snapdragon 845 (10nm), Adreno 630 GPU
Storage: 6/128, 8/128, 8/256 GB, no microSD expansion
Cameras (rear): 16 MP, f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/2.6″, 1.22µm, OIS, PDAF
20 MP (16 MP effective), f/1.7, 25mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 1.0µm, PDAF
Camera (front): 16 MP, f/2.0, 25mm (wide), 1/3.1″, 1.0µm
Battery: 3700mAh, 20W quick charging
Miscellaneous: NFC, water and dust resistance, in-screen fingerprint sensor, no notification LED, no headphone jack
The Bulk of It
This review will be shorter than usual and take on a point-form format, given the vast similarities that the 6T has with its predecessor, the OnePlus 6, which I have previously reviewed here. In fact, it would suffice that this review be a comparison on the pros and cons of what’s changed from the 6, save for a few additional comments:
Differences between the 6 and 6T
- Larger battery (3700mAh vs 3300mAh), though the improvements in battery life are marginal given the already stellar performance on the 6. On light usage the 6T is able to last me 2 days on a single charge and provide me with more than 5 hours of screen-on time
- Teardrop notch design vs conventional notch. I’ve used both the 6 and the 6T and I definitely vastly prefer the notch found on the 6T; it is subtle, unobtrusive and elegant, and I very much do not mind it at all.
- Marginally larger screen (6.41” vs 6.28”) and slightly smaller chin make for an even more borderless look to the display.
- The in-screen fingerprint sensor is nowhere near as fast or accurate as the ceramic rear-mounted sensor found on the 6. That being said, it’s not terrible, and the presence of ridiculously quick face-unlocking makes up for it. I’d say it’s around the realm of the first generation TouchID found on the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6, both in terms of speed and reliability.
- Lack of a notification LED means that you can’t tell if you’ve got a notification, what kind of notification you’ve got, or even if the phone is done charging, from a distance. This is a huge bummer for me as I’m used to being able to tell what notifications I’ve got from afar – white for WhatsApp, green for Messenger, blue for Telegram.
- The headphone jack is gone, so you’ve got to carry around a dongle if you want to plug in and can’t plug in while the phone is charging. That being said, this isn’t much of an issue for me personally as I primarily use Bluetooth headphones.
Other thoughts on the 6T
- OnePlus somehow managed to make OxygenOS even better with its Android Pie iteration found on the 6T. Animations are snappy and fluid, there are three different options for navigation buttons, and you can now even specify any colour you want to use as the accent colour in the light or dark themes. OxygenOS, plus OnePlus’ track record for providing timely security and OS updates (my 6T is already running the December security patch) is definitely my top reason for coming back to a OnePlus device time and time again.
- The 6T comes with a protective TPU case in the box, and I must remark that it is an excellent, rigid case, much unlike the usual flimsy plastic cases that other manufacturers provide, if at all. A protruding circumferential lip protects the display from drops, and the corners are additionally reinforced. I am confident that this case will protect the 6T just as well as other third-party cases, and this is a much welcome surprise that I hope more manufacturers will follow.
- Despite the larger battery, OnePlus’ quick charging (formally Dash Charge) is still one of the fastest charging solutions out there, providing a peak 20W of power compared to the 18W provided by Qualcomm QuickCharge which is found standard on most flagship phones. Excellent battery life + extremely fast charging are my second top reason to pick up the 6T.
- Few people may know this, but the 6T is actually water-resistant, and I personally believe – from videos of teardowns – that it is of a level that is equivalent to at least an IP67 rating. The reason why the phone does not have an official rating is so that OnePlus could keep the cost down.
- The single bottom-firing speaker is loud but still too easily muffled when watching a video or playing a game, both in landscape and portrait. I hope OnePlus will implement a stereo solution in their future devices.
- The price has been gradually creeping. Between the £329 OnePlus 3 and the £499 OnePlus 6T, I am slightly concerned about the price hikes that future models will inevitably take.
- The base storage option has been doubled to 128GB from 64GB, and you may argue that that alone justifies the increase in price from its predecessor, and I’d tend to agree with you.
Pricing, Summary & Conclusion
All in all, with the 6T, OnePlus took two steps forward and one step back. The larger battery and improved notch are much appreciated features, but these come at the expense of the headphone jack, a more reliable fingerprint scanner, and a notification LED. I sometimes find myself wishing that I had bought the cheaper and older OnePlus 6 instead, just so that I can have a better fingerprint sensor and notification LED.
What’s more, I’m certain that OnePlus could’ve figured out a way to fit in a notification LED despite the reduced notch, perhaps by placing the LED at the back of the speaker grill like what some other companies do.
My main gripe about the phone is, ironically, the headlining feature of the phone: the in-screen fingerprint sensor. Its poorer speed and reliability take us back to first-gen TouchID days, and I can’t help but feel like the only reason OnePlus implemented this feature is because if they hadn’t, a larger battery, smaller notch and lack of a headphone jack don’t seem like anything significantly new from the OnePlus 6.
With the in-screen sensor though, OnePlus would be certain that the phone would make headlines, even if it were at the expense of speed and reliability of the actual product. Ultimately this boosts sales for OnePlus, but the consumer suffers.
That being said, I still thoroughly recommend the OnePlus 6T. It is an excellent device with OnePlus’ stellar software and support, and save for the couple of aforementioned shortcomings, is one of the best smartphones that you can get at this moment in time.
The only issue is that the OnePlus 6 exists, and considering that it now costs less while providing a couple of features that’s even lacking on the newer 6T, the 6 ultimately feels like a more compelling buy.
The OnePlus 6T comes in several different configurations: 6/128 (Mirror Black) for £499, 8/128 (Mirror Black/ Midnight Black) for £529, and 8/256 (Midnight Black) for £579. If you’re in the UK, you can get a student discount of 5% via student beans.
As always, using Shopback for your purchases will save you some extra cash by providing you with cashback.