Take the hugely successful OnePlus 6, replace the physical fingerprint scanner with an in-display sensor, reduce the notch and bump up the battery and rip out the beloved-but-soon-extinct 3.5mm headphone... and you have the iterative yet impressive OnePlus 6T. Despite OnePlus charging a slight premium for the new variant, OnePlus is still knocking it out of the park and the 6T makes for a solid upgrade for anyone looking for stellar performance without paying for the top-tier flagships.
Yet, it is what the OnePlus 6T loses that should raise concerns about the broad future direction the brand will take. Here's the lowdown on what the OnePlus 6T got right, and where OnePlus could have done better.
OnePlus 6T is a good looking phone
The OnePlus 6's DNA runs strong within the 6T, but with the slimmer bottom bezel and a new teardrop-style notch, OnePlus has taken the near-bezel-less experience a notch further. Even coming from the OnePlus 6, the 2% increase in the screen to body ratio is immediately noticeable, even as the rest is rather familiar territory - read: mildly thicker yet still slick design that feels great in the hand, yet still with no official water resistance rating.
The AMOLED panel looks great
Yes, another year has come and gone and OnePlus has resolutely stuck with the Full HD+ resolution display even as it has crammed in a tiny bit of extra screen into the OnePlus 6T (6.41" vs 6.28"). The AMOLED panel with its punchy colors, deep blacks and bright whites makes for an immersive visual experience, with a bunch of color calibration modes for those that care.
The OnePlus 6T runs the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 as the OnePlus 6, with 6/8GB of RAM and 128/256GB of storage to boot – insanely (if somewhat stupidly) powerful and finely tuned components that make the most of the stripped-back Android Pie-based Oxygen OS 9. New on the 6T is an improved Gaming Mode, which lets you fire up Asphalt and ensure that notifications are blocked and the game has data priority over any network resources.
Big Battery and
Dash fast charging
At 3,700mAh, the 6T's battery tips it into the rare category of big-battery flagships, and the result is truly-all-day battery life, the kind that lasts a really long day (and then some) no matter what you throw at it. Also, call it what you will, but OnePlus' fast charging tech is still its hidden weapon against the "why no wireless charging" criticism that the brand has faced over the past year. Even with the increased capacity, a full tank of juice takes a little over an hour and a quarter, or about fifty percent in around 30 minutes.
In-display fingerprint scanner
It's undeniably a cool piece of tech and a novel party trick (check out the unlocking animation), but all things considered, it's got its obvious shortcomings. The fingerprint scanner isn't always active, and you have to wake the screen up in one of three ways for it to show up.
It's certainly not as fast as a regular fingerprint scanner. Not only does it require a whole lot more attention and precision to place your finger just right, it takes that extra beat longer than one would expect. More likely, with Face Unlock, you're unlocking the phone faster anyway.
Same camera as the OnePlus 6
With literally no hardware upgrade from the OnePlus 6 – no fancy third or fourth camera on the rear - OnePlus has instead chosen to tweak its processing and portrait algorithms. Photo quality in daylight is impressive, with sharp on-point focusing and instant shots, even if the colors were a little muted compared to the competition. The Portrait Mode still gets a bit too aggressive with the edges, leaving you with artificial blurs in many portrait shots.
In dimly lit situations, the camera struggles and ends up excessively smoothing out the image to reduce noise. A new Night Mode takes ten frames over two seconds and combines them to eke out sharpness while controlling noise, but in my testing, the mode only reduced some amount of noise and the differences weren't particularly discernible.
No headphone jack on the OnePlus 6T
The most divisive aspect about the design will be the removal of the headphone jack to increase battery capacity and accommodate the in-display fingerprint scanner, which is odd for a company that famously retained the headphone jack just over a year ago as a pro-community move. Yet, here we are, with OnePlus finding the courage to drop the port and make the shift to wireless audio. There is a Type C-to-3.5mm dongle in the box, though.
The OnePlus is now officially expensive
We've all seen it coming, the gradual but inevitable increase in pricing from generation to generation of OnePlus phones. First it was inflation and cost of components, then bigger screens and now the in-display fingerprint scanner, but you have to ask – how long can the price of OnePlus flagships increase before users turn to legitimately cheaper alternatives from Xiaomi and Asus? Flashback to five years ago, OnePlus used the same strategy to upend the budget flagship category. Only now, the flagship killer is now firmly in flagship territory.
The reduced notch claimed another victim, the notification LED, a genuinely useful piece of old-world tech. Speaking of old-world tech, isn't it super odd for a phone with the highest end specs around to ship with a glacially slow USB 2.0 port?
- Capacity: 128 GB / 256 GB UFS 2.1 2-LANE
- Size and Weight: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm, 185g
- Memory: 6 GB / 8 GB LPDDR4X
- Display: 6.41 inches Optic AMOLED 2340x1080 pixels with Gorilla Glass 6
- Chip: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (Octa-core, 10nm, up to 2.8 GHz)
- Graphics: Adreno 630
- OS: OxygenOS based on Android Pie
- Camera – Rear: 16MP f/1.7 with 1.22 µm pixel size (main), 20MP f/1.7 with 1.0 µm
- Camera – Front: 16MP f/2.0 with 1.0 µm pixel size
- Unlock Options: In-display Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock
- Ports: USB 2.0, Type-C, Support standard USB Type-C Earphone, Dual Nano SIM Slot
- Battery: 3700 mAh (non-removable) Fast Charging (5V 4A)
- Colors: Mirror Black / Midnight Black
- Price: Rs. 37,999 (6/128GB), Rs. 41,999 (8/128GB), Rs. 45,999 (8/256GB)
Tushar Kanwar is a Bangalore-based technology columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar.