OnePlus 6T review

Over the years, OnePlus has released phone after phone with flagship-level specs and power at a fraction of the price you’d expect. The OnePlus 6T is the latest in the line, and naturally it comes packed with stellar performance, as well as a great camera and a new style of notch.

And even though prices for the latest model have crept up to $550, which is quite different from the super affordable price of the first OnePlus phone, the OnePlus 6T is still comfortably cheaper that flagship phones currently offered by Samsung, Huawei or LG.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ review

The OnePlus 6T improves upon its predecessor, the OnePlus 6 with a number of things, but obviously the most important upgrade is the in-display fingerprint scanner.

Although, the OnePlus 6T is by no means the first smartphone to take advantage of this novel technology (think OPPO R17, Xiaomi Mi 8 Explorer Edition or Huawei Mate 20 Pro), it’s indeed the first to offer the feature on the US market.

What else does the OnePlus 6T bring to the table and how well does this new tech perform? Keep reading below to find out more.

Design and display

The OnePlus 6T and OnePlus 6 are quite similar in design, although with a few key differences that make it easy to tell them apart from one another.

For starters – the notch. The OnePlus 6T replaces the tab-shaped cutout at the top of the display, with a less-intrusive waterdrop-shaped notch that’s barely large enough to include the single selfie camera. This means OnePlus had to move the earpiece, which now lives on the right on the top edge. In case you don’t like the tiny notch, OnePlus gives you the option to hide it from Settings, just like before on the OnePlus 6.

Also read: Ten first things you should do with your new OnePlus 6T

Furthermore, the bottom chin on the OnePlus 6T is a bit slimmer than its predecessor, although this detail is less noticeable, unless you put the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T side-by-side.

Compared to the previous iteration, the OnePlus 6T does have a LED notification light anymore. Given the popularity of the feature, we expect a lot of OnePlus fans to be disappointed by this design choice. Although they will probably not mind it as much as the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Yeah, unfortunately the OnePlus 6T is the first phone from the company to come without it. Apparently it was a hard decision to take, but it had to be done in order to make space for the in-display fingerprint display underneath the hood, as well as for the larger battery.

The company does include a USB Type-C to 3.5mm headphone port dongle in the box with the phone, so at least you won’t have to worry about going out and buying an extra adapter just so you can use your favorite pair of wired headphones.

Speaking of the most important innovation that comes with the OnePlus 6T – the in-display fingerprint scanner aka Screen Unlock. It uses an optical sensor beneath the display panel to shine green light that ensures all the important details are captured when your fingerprint sensor is registered.

But as it often is with very new technology, the fingerprint scanner is far from being perfect. You get a cool, futuristic animation (which can be customized) when you press your finger against the display, but in our experience it often takes a few tries before the scanner unlocks the phone.

Also read: Ten tips and tricks for the OnePlus 6T

When it works as intended, the setup is quite quick to do its job, even though it’s not as fast as the fingerprint sensor we’ve seen on the previous OnePlus 6.

Interestingly enough, OnePlus claims (via a blog post) that the Screen Unlock feature gets faster over time. We’re told that as the phone learns how you unlock it, its sophisticated algorithms allow the system to improve and work faster and more accurately. We can’t say we’ve experience a significant improvement over time, but then again we’ve been using the phone for less than a month.

Well in case the in-display fingerprint scanner gets on your nerves, you can always switch to face unlock or use the PIN/pattern way of unlocking the device.

Those who used the OnePlus 6 before, will probably notice that the OnePlus 6T is a bit heavier than its predecessor. The new model weighs 185 g and has an 8.2mm profile. By comparison, the OnePlus 6 tips the scales at 177g and has a sleeker 7.8mm frame. You can feel these differences just by holding the two phones in hand. This happened because the OnePlus 6T has a larger battery and the new authentication tech under the hood.

As for the display, the OnePlus 6T continuous to feature an OLED display, although this time around it’s a bit larger at 6.41-inch. It boasts the same FHD+ resolution (1080 x 2340 pixels) as before, which is lower than what flagships like the Galaxy S9 or LG V40 offer, but that’s quite alright. The display is still crisp enough, and it does not look pixelated or anything like that. Indeed, it might not be the sharpest around, but most of the times you won’t even notice that, unless you get uncomfortably close to it.

Also read: LG V40 review

The phone also comes with a few different screen calibration modes which you can find in Settings. Out of the box, the 6T’s display is set to system default, but you can easily switch it up to sRGB, DCI-P3, Adaptive mode or a user-defined calibration profile.

What’s more, OnePlus has also included Reading Mode, as well as Night Mode, to help you use the screen more comfortably when you’re reading or before bed.

Power and speed

The OnePlus 6T is one of the most powerful phones around. Based on a Snapdragon 845, the phone can be coupled with up to 8GB of RAM.  Recently, OnePlus unveiled the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition which includes a whopping 10GB of RAM on board.

Such a sturdy configuration guarantees that the OnePlus 6T will handle every task you throw at it like a champ. Whether you’re loading a bunch of demanding games, or you’re switching fast between apps, the overall experience is quick and effortless. The occasional stutters do arise from time to time (frozen apps, phone becomes unresponsive to taps), but they are quickly forgotten in the face of overall swift performance. Interestingly, with the OnePlus 6 we did not noticed any such glitches.

While the internal specs are pretty much the same as its predecessor’s, the OnePlus 6T does get an upgrade in battery department. The phone now packs a 3,700 mAh power house, up from the 3,300 mAh one of the OnePlus 6.

So what does the difference amount to in the real world? Well, with the OnePlus 6T we would constantly end the day with close to 50% left. On busier, more intensive days, the battery levels would drop down to around 30%, which is still pretty good.

The difference between the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T battery life is not HUGE, but it’s still noticeable, as the latter does then to last a bit longer.

While the OnePlus 6 performed great out of the box, in terms of battery life, over time we noticed it was fading a lot faster than before. To the point that it’s draining quite quickly presently. For example, it will habitually go down to around 30% by 6 pm.

So it remains to be seen whether the OnePlus 6T will retain its great battery life as time passes.

Anyway, the new comer still doesn’t have wireless charging, but it does come with fast charging technology which the company has rebranded into Wrap Charge. This allows you to fully juice up your phone in around an hour and a half. And if you get palpitations seeing your phone at the 25% mark, you can always plug it for 25 minutes or so and get the levels back up to 70%.

Photography

The OnePlus 6T has pretty much the same camera specs as it predecessor. You get a 16MP main sensor on the back that’s supported by a secondary 20MP for bokeh shooting. It’s a solid camera with which you can take great photographs. You can check out the gallery below for some samples.

With this new model, OnePlus has included a new Night Mode which uses a Huawei-like emulated long exposure trick. This results in pretty great night shots, although in some instances you’ll still get a lot of blur in your images and a loss of details. But compared to the OnePlus 6, the OnePlus 6’s night shots definitely retained more detail and had less noise.

OnePlus also included a feature called Studio Lighting, which is designed to recognized faces when portrait shooting and adjust the lighting accordingly to simulate professional lighting. The feature is quite subtle, so in most shots you can’t really tell the difference between the standard photos of pictures and portrait shots. Except for the blurred background, of course.

The selfie snapper is still a 16MP sensor, but here we could see a difference in performance. The selfies taken with the OnePlus 6T appear to have a better contrast than the ones taken with the OnePlus 6, although it also depends on the lighting conditions.

Software

As weird as it might sound, the OnePlus 6T is among the few recent smartphones to launch with Android 9 Pie out of the box. With the company’s Oxygen OS on top, of course, which is a joy to use like always.

It’s clean and clutter free, as it resembles Google’s stock Android version, but it also packs a lot of customization options and tweaks that aren’t available in the standard version.

For example, unlike the competition, OnePlus lets you swipe down from anywhere on the screen to pull down the notification shade. Or it allows you to use quick gestures to control music, answer calls by raising the phone to your ear and so much more.

With the OnePlus 6T, the company has introduced the OnePlus Laboratory where you can find experimental features. For the time being, you can give Smart Boost a try, a feature designed to leverage the performance of loading app and games by taking full advantage of the larger RAM on your phone, based on daily usage.

Software is also a big contributing factor to the phone’s overall lighting speed. Apps take a second to load, and everything is just smooth sailing.

So even as other flagship offer similar and at times superior specs and features compared to the OnePlus 6T, the software experience remains unmatched.

Price

The OnePlus 6T is available in the follow configurations:

  • 6GB of RAM + 128GB of storage (Mirror Black) – $549.99
  • 8GB of RAM + 128GB of storage (Mirror Black) – $579.99
  • 8GB of RAM +128GB of storage (Midnight Black) – $579.99
  • 8GB of RAM +256GB of storage (Midnight Black) – $629.99
  • 10GB of RAM +256GB of storage (McLaren Edition) – $699.99

All these versions are available via the company’s official website. But for the first time ever, OnePlus has teamed up with one of the top four US carriers to sell the phone. So customers in the US can get the device via T-Mobile too. The Magenta carrier is offering the 8GB of RAM + 128GB of storage version which costs $579.99 outright.

Alternatively, T-Mobile also has a deal going on which lets you save $580 via bill credits when you buy an OnePlus 6T (on a monthly payment plan) with an eligible trade-in and you add a line

Conclusion

OnePlus has produced yet another great phone, and as always the starting price is comfortably lower than for any other flagship on the market.

Yes, the 3.5mm headphone jack is gone, there’s still no wireless charging, and the phone is a bit bulkier than its predecessor, but the OnePlus 6T gives you the chance to try out a novel technology. It’s also a powerhouse and comes with a slightly altered design (new waterdrop-type notch).

But if you’re coming from an OnePlus 6, upgrading to an OnePlus 6T doesn’t really make sense given that they mostly have the same hardware. Especially since OnePlus 6 was also updated to Android Pie and also got the new camera modes that made a debut on the 6T.

However, if you’re currently on an OnePlus 5T or lower, the OnePlus 6T does bring a lot in terms of improvements. Even if you’re trying to decide if you should get a Galaxy S9 or a Pixel 3, the OnePlus 6T is still a great option to consider, for many reasons. Price being chief among them.

Indeed, the OnePlus 6T might not have the advanced camera of the Pixel 3, or a microSD card slot/headphone jack like the Galaxy S9, but it nails it perfectly in other departments. Like software or power. The main takeaway here being, if you’re looking for the best value flagship right now, look no further than the OnePlus 6T.

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