Mobile

OnePlus 6T : Making affordable unbeatable

Android darling OnePlus moves at a speed that often feels too fast. Didn’t the OnePlus 6 just come out six months ago and set the bar for a value-packed premium Android phone?

It sure did! But unlike other phones that cram more into a glass-and-metal sandwich to justify ballooning prices, OnePlus keeps pushing innovation forward without charging an arm and a leg.

As fantastic as the OnePlus 6 hardware and pricing is, mimicking the best parts of the most popular phones and selling them in your own device can only get you so far. At a certain point, a flagship phone needs to lead by other means to really step out of its competitors’ shadows.

And lead the new OnePlus 6T phone does. With a fingerprint sensor built into the display that’s nearly as fast as the physical reader it’s replacing, a larger display with a smaller notch, a bigger battery, vastly improved cameras, and pricing that starts at $549, the 6T offers the futuristic package other companies can’t or won’t give us.

Oh, and these are two big firsts for OnePlus: You can buy the phone from a carrier in the U.S. (T-Mobile), and it officially supports Verizon. Yes, OnePlus’ phones are no longer limited to work only on T-Mobile and AT&T in America. I’ve been using the 6T on Verizon and it’s been glorious.

I’ve reviewed every OnePlus phone except the OnePlus One and every time I get the latest model in my hands, I’m awestruck how the company can offer so much for less.

OnePlus phones gradually get pricier with each release, but not by so much to disgust you; the 6T still costs a good amount less than a Google Pixel 3, iPhone XR, Galaxy S9 or any of the more luxurious and expensive $1,000+ phones like the iPhone XS and Galaxy Note 9.

The entry-level 6T costs $549, which (if you’re keeping track) is only $20 more than the price of the OnePlus 6, and it comes with 128GB of storage (double the previous amount) and 6GB of RAM. The version I tested costs $579 and includes 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. And if you want even more storage, there’s a $629 6T with 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM.

Cue the crybabies who are going to be upset over the hike for the entry-level model (the two other versions are identically priced as the 6), but $20 for double the storage is a steal especially when you compared it to the 50 bucks Apple charges to double the iPhone XR’s 64GB to 128GB or the $100 asks for the same on the Pixel 3.

Whether you like OnePlus phones or not, there’s nothing to dislike about their pricing. Find me a phone with the best specs (for a 2018 Android phone) and a near-stock and bloatware-free Android experience rolled up into a design that looks and feels so good for same cost, and I’ll eat my foot.

 

A+ DESIGN AND BIGGER DISPLAY

It’s both a blessing and a curse to review tech for a living. Particularly with phones, it’s a privilege to be able to try out so many new devices and see futuristic innovations such as pop-up cameras (motorized or not) before everyone else does.

But phones are phones and they’ve all started to look the same with almost all of them opting for the “glass-and-metal sandwich” design, where a metal frame is sandwiched by a glass display on the top and a glass back on the bottom.

I don’t have anything against this aesthetic, but I think it’s time for something new. One of the things I liked best about the OnePlus 6 was how different OnePlus approached the now-traditional smartphone design. The glass back was thinner and more curved around the sides than on an iPhone 8 (or newer) or Galaxy S6 (or newer) and the Midnight Black version with matte finish is a look Batman would approve of.

The OnePlus 6T is just as attractive as its predecessor. I miss the OnePlus 6’s slightly thinner profile (the 6T is 0.05 inches or 1.27mm thicker), and it weights a tad less, but I got used to the thicker 6T just like I did with switching from my iPhone XS to the iPhone XR during its review period.

If you’re a case person (the phone even comes with a TPU-style case, though I think it’s ugly), the design will be lost on you. If not, though, you’ll appreciate how the curves, smooth metal, and clicky buttons feel in your hands. It’s a beautiful phone with clean symmetry.

Those are the more subtle changes, but there are some pretty big ones on the OnePlus 6T that are impossible to miss.

The display, for one, is larger than the OnePlus 6’s 6.28-inch screen. Though the height is a hair shorter and the width is identical to the 6, OnePlus has squeezed a larger 6.41-inch Samsung-made AMOLED display by shrinking the bottom “chin” bezel.

And it looks so good. There are phones with higher resolution than the OnePlus 6T’s 2,340 x 1,080 (402 pixels per inch) display, but at this point counting pixels is a thing nobody should be worrying about. The screen looked great on the OnePlus 6, and it looks just as good if not better on the 6T.

It’s one of the brighter phone displays I’ve seen, with great colors (sRGB and DCI P3 color profiles are both supported), rich blacks, and wide viewing angles. I’m fine with the default display setting, but if you feel the colors are too saturated, you can change the color profile to one you like.

OnePlus says the display glass is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 6, which is more scratch-resistant than the Gorilla Glass 5 on the OnePlus 6, but I didn’t take knives or keys to the screen to test its durability. I’ll let the inevitable YouTubers who specialize in that kind of gadget teardown pull off such stunts.

I’m also happy to see that many apps like YouTube, which didn’t work properly to support the OnePlus 6’s edge-to-edge display and instead chopped content right below the notch, are now working properly.

Missing on the 6T is a headphone jack. Yes, the 3.5mm audio jack is now officially dead on OnePlus’ flagship. I asked OnePlus why there’s no headphone jack, and it explained that there just wasn’t room for it. Looking over at images of the internals of the 6T, I was shown how the in-display fingerprint sensor literally takes up space where a headphone jack would have fit.

It sucks not having the jack, but you’ll live. Besides, the future is wireless headphones, and you can buy OnePlus’s cheap and good-sounding Bullets Wireless for $70 or a pair of Bullets wired USB-C earbuds for $20. It would’ve been nice to have some earbuds included with the phone, but at least there’s a 3.5mm-to-USB-C dongle in the box.

The OnePlus 6T also doesn’t have any official IP rating for water or dust resistance, though the company says it’s splash resistant. Nor does it have wireless charging. Both of these features have been absent from OnePlus phones, and while it would have been a good to finally see them both, neither is unforgivable. If I had to kill features to shave a few hundred bucks off a phone, these would be the ones I chose.

 

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