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OnePlus 6 review (early verdict): the progeny of smartphone royalty has arrived

BigBagBlog Can the successor to one of the most popular phones ever reclaim its throne?BigBagBlog goes hands on to find out…

The OnePlus 5 was one hell of a smartphone, and the mid-cycle OnePlus 5T refresh simply helped cement it as one of the best models released over the past 5 years. Despite a top-of-mid-range price, the OnePlus 5 was arguably a game-changing transition phone for the indie Chinese maker, progressing it from flagship contender (neatly marketed at the time as a “flagship killer”) to genuine flagship, and at a below flagship price point, too.

Fast forward to 2018 and the progeny of the OnePlus 5 is here in the form of the OnePlus 6 and, simply put, my initial impression of the phone is that it has actually completed its journey to the big leagues, transitioning from contender, to flagship and now into a genuine, hardware-proven (see benchmark score boxout), killer of other flagship phones.

Naturally, until I can test the phone in full (this is only an initial impression hands on review), I’ll withhold definitive judgement, but if my usage experience so far is maintained, and the ball isn’t dropped in other as yet untested areas of phone, such as its camera system, supporting software and battery life, then the OnePlus 6 is going to be one hell of a smartphone.

To get the developing picture of what the OnePlus 6 delivers, and how I have found the device so far, then read on.

ONEPLUS 6 REVIEW (EARLY VERDICT): PRICE, AVAILABILITY, AND COLOURS

The OnePlus 6 is available to pre-order now for a May 22nd release. The limited edition Silk White is available on June 5th. The OnePlus 6 can be bought from numerous retailers, including the official OnePlus Store.

The OnePlus 6 ranges in price depending on the model selected. The 6GB and 64GB model will cost £469 ($529). The 8GB and 128GB model costs £519 ($569). And the 8GB and 256 GB model costs £569 ($629).

There are multiple different hardware variants on sale, with combinations of 6GB/8GB of RAM partnering with 64GB/128GB/256GB of storage space available. The model tested here in this OnePlus 6 review is a 8GB RAM / 128GB of storage space model. It is important to note that attainable spec is also determined by selected colourway, with not all hardware configurations available on all colours.

The OnePlus 6 is available in three different colour schemes, including Mirror Black (the edition tested), Midnight Black, and Silk White.

ONEPLUS 6 REVIEW (EARLY VERDICT): DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY

The big take away from the design of the OnePlus 6 is its all glass body. The glass used on both the front and back is the industry leading Gorilla Glass 5, which I know from past experience is super tough, and has been shaped on this handset so it wraps into the frame’s horizon line (yes, the OnePlus hallmark remains) almost seamlessly.

The overall effect generates a very slim and attractive look and feel in the hand, despite it not measuring in as dramatically thinner than rival flagships. Picking the phone up feels like a premium experience, with glass and metal exuding an air of quality. As you would expect, though, from a phone with such a glossy finish, fingerprints get everywhere, and damn fast, too.

Moving around the device, on the right hand side there is a three-position switch button with ridged top (this let’s you quickly slide between volume on, vibrate, and silent operation without accessing the phone’s UI), as well as power button.

On the left hand side you get a volume rocker and the phone’s dual SIM card slot, and on the bottom edge you find the now standard USB Type-C connection as well as a 5mm audio jack port. I, for one, welcome the current push back against wireless only connections, so OnePlus gets a hat tip here for sure.

The phone’s dual camera system is located in a central, vertically orientated array on the backplate, with the lenses extending out just a fraction (not flush). Beneath them you have a flash unit, and beneath the flash there is the device’s oval-shaped fingerprint reader. I can confirm that the fingerprint reader is well-positioned and easy to access.

 The only other things to note at this point is that the OnePlus 6 comes with a screen protector installed out of the box, as well as a solid if quite standard rubberised bumper case. Also, the phone is water resistant but does not carry a IP67/68 rating.

ONEPLUS 6 REVIEW (EARLY VERDICT): HARDWARE, SCREEN, AND PERFORMANCE

The OnePlus 6 comes stacked in terms of internal hardware with a Snapdragon 845 CPU, Adreno 630 GPU, and a whopping 8GB of RAM. This hardware spec is top, top tier flagship and, as you can see in the nearby box, delivers some outrageous benchmark scores.

A single core score of 2,478 and multi-core score 9,046 is higher than those achieved on not just the Sony Xperia XZ2 flagship smartphone, but also the 5-starred phone to beat in 2018, the Samsung Galaxy S9, both of which typically post scores in the mid-to-high eight thousand range in GeekBench 4. And it absolutely smokes our stock benchmark comparison phone, the HTC U11+, which scores well below the OnePlus 6 with a single core score of 1,937 and multi core score of 6651.

Those scores are, without doubt, largely down to the octa-core power delivered by the phone’s processor and, unlike 2018’s other flagship phones to date, 8GB of RAM instead of 6GB or even 4GB. As a user that always likes to have the best specced model of any phone release, it felt very satisfying to have that extra RAM tucked under my belt, especially as it adds a big dollop of future-proofing to the device, too.

As frequent readers of BigBagBlog will know, I am a big fan of large phones and, if they come packing a quality screen as well, then that definitely appeals to my tastes. So the 6.28-inch, 19:9, HDR, AMOLED, 2,280 x 1,080 resolution screen on the OnePlus 6 is right up my street.

And, thanks to the on-trend notch sported on the OnePlus 6, something that helps deliver a most welcome 84 per cent screen-to-body ratio, you really get to enjoy it to the maximum while navigating the device. Yes, that doesn’t carry over into the vast majority of apps, and yes notches are subjective too (you can turn on a good old black bar if you wish), but it really helps generate a premium, breathable aesthetic  in my mind.

 And as you would expect from a HDR AMOLED panel, colours are defined and really rather punchy when watching streamed content from Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as when playing games downloaded from Google Play Store. Detail, too, was great thanks to that sharp 2,280 x 1,080 resolution and while brightness and dynamism fell just short in my mind in comparison to the Super AMOLED panel equipped on the Samsung Galaxy S9+, I feel it is nonetheless one of the strongest screens I’ve tested this year.

ONEPLUS 6 REVIEW (EARLY VERDICT): CAMERA, BATTERY, AND SOFTWARE

OnePlus says that it has introduced a Smart Capture mode on the 6 that, depending on the shooting environment and time of day, will select which of the phone’s camera features to use to optimise the image for clarity. The maker has also reportedly upgraded its High Dynamic Range algorithm, too, which has been designed to improve lighting in taken photographs. I look forward to testing these out and communicating my thoughts in BigBagBlog’s upcoming full review.

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