OnePlus 6 First Impressions: Affordable Flagship Phone for 2018?
This is the OnePlus 6 and it has a notch. 
This is the OnePlus 6 and it has a notch. (Photo: @2shar/TheQuint)

OnePlus 6 First Impressions: Affordable Flagship Phone for 2018?

The OnePlus 6 is here, and even though we’ve spent a little over a week with the device, it feels like we’ve known the latest from the Shenzhen-based company for a lot longer. The phone will be available from 21 May onwards with a starting price tag of Rs 34,999 for the 64GB variant and Rs 39,999 for the 128GB variant.

You see, courtesy the huge number of leaks, including many official teasers and “lets-beat-the-leaks” confirmations from the brand itself, you probably already have a pretty good idea of what could be expected from the OnePlus 6!

Nevertheless, the beast from the east has arrived and here’s our first impression of it.

Design

Sporting an all-new all-glass design, the OnePlus 6 takes Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and shapes it into a seamless curve around the rear, giving the phone the OnePlus characteristic Horizon Line – a continuous hard line around the edge of the phone.

The result…is visually stunning.

This is by far the most premium looking OnePlus device, and it punches well above its weight in the polish department. Yet, as the pictures of the‘Mirror Black’ variant likely reveal, the phone is a nightmare to keep free from smudges… and to photograph properly.

Premium glass body is a fingerprint magnet also. 
Premium glass body is a fingerprint magnet also. 
(Photo: @2shar/TheQuint)

The OnePlus 6 sits rather well in the hand for a device that packs in a 6.28-inch display, since it’s no larger than the 5T that it replaces, and it has the smooth glass rear edges going for it. The larger, 2280 x 1080 pixels display is courtesy this year’s big trend in the Android world – the notch, so if you’re not a fan of the iPhone X’s most divisive design element, you may as well look away now.

6.2-inch 19:9 ratio screen with AMOLED resolution. 
6.2-inch 19:9 ratio screen with AMOLED resolution. 
(Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

The notch, albeit a lot smaller than the iPhone but about the same as the Honor 10, houses the front facing 16MP EIS-enabled camera, the ambient light sensor and the earpiece.

Android 8.1 Oreo running out of box. 
Android 8.1 Oreo running out of box. 
(Photo: @2shar/The Quint)

The larger screen without the added bulk is a bonus, but what really makes it shine is the neat software tricks OnePlus had added to maximize the visual real estate.

And then there are the gestures – the OnePlus 6 lets you remove the navigation bar altogether and replace it with gestures – swipe up from the bottom centre to go home, swipe up and hold to see recent apps and swipe up from the left or right bottom edge to go back.

While that may sound somewhat familiar, the crucial bit is that outside of Cupertino, this is the most fluid and refined implementation of gestures I have seen on a smartphone.

Fingerprint scanner underneath the dual-rear camera. 
Fingerprint scanner underneath the dual-rear camera. 
(Photo: @2shar/The Quint)

I use an iPhone X on a daily basis, so I took to the gestures immediately, and in the one week I’ve been using the phone with gestures (in place of the navigation buttons), it hasn't missed a beat.

Alert slider moves to the right side now. 
Alert slider moves to the right side now. 
(Photo: @2shar/The Quint)

One final note about the design, the Alert Slider has moved over to the right edge, the phone sports water resistance (so it can handle a bit of rain or a splash in a puddle) and yes, the 3.5mm headphone jack lives to fight another day! No wireless charging, though.

Hardware

OnePlus has always played up the spec game and how its fans expect top speed and performance from its devices. Now, while many of us have questioned how much hardware is too much hardware, putting speed above all else is what the company does best.

So, you get Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor – the first such device in India, paired with Adreno 630 graphics which make short work of anything you throw at it…without breaking a sweat – we’ll have our full benchmark scores in the full review, but suffice to say, this is one performance beast!

OnePlus 6 centres around gesture-based features. 
OnePlus 6 centres around gesture-based features. 
(Photo: @2shar/The Quint)

There’s 6 and 8 GB of RAM, along with fast UFS 2.1 2-LANE storage, in 64 and 128GB avatars for the regular edition, with the top-end 256GB reserved for the special Avengers edition.

All phones launching in India will support 37 global bands, including support for Gigabit LTE and 4x4 MIMO.

USB Type C port and the 3.5-mm audio jack is still there. 
USB Type C port and the 3.5-mm audio jack is still there. 
(Photo: @2shar/The Quint)

Battery capacity remains unchanged at 3300mAh, but OnePlus’ secret weapon – Dash Charge – is as snappy as ever and quite literally changes the charging equation from a nightly cycle to a quick splash-and-dash when you need it. Bluetooth 5.0 support is along expected lines, as is aptX & aptX HD for higher resolution audio streaming.

Camera

We’re still putting the 16MP/20MP dual camera system through its paces, but the improvements on the camera front – a larger sensor, a 1.22 μm pixel size and OIS/EIS are already showing results on the photos and videos, particularly those shot in low-light.

Dual-rear cameras at the back now support super slow-motion videos. 
Dual-rear cameras at the back now support super slow-motion videos. 
(Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

4K at 60fps and the super-slow-mo 480fps 720p video modes are the highlights to watch out for, as are the built-in video editor to trim and clip your clips to share on social!

What We Think

Somewhere around the 3T, OnePlus figured out a rather unique formula of its own, one that had a healthy serving of power topped up by a generous helping of refined software. In that respect, the OnePlus 6 doesn’t veer from its roots, and the added spit-and-polish on the design makes it stand tall in 2018’s flagships.

Ready to pay big for the OnePlus 6? 
Ready to pay big for the OnePlus 6? 
(Photo: @2shar/The Quint)

Stay tuned for our full review and in-depth look into the OnePlus 6, including how it compares with the impressive Honor 10!

(Tushar Kanwar is a technology columnist and commentator and has been contributing for the past 15 years to India’s leading newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at @2shar.)

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