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OnePlus 6 Review Roundup: ‘Flagship Killer’ keeps up with ever-more-premium flagships

Since its inception, OnePlus has always marketed itself as the “flagship killer.” Basically, this meant that it would create smartphones that rivaled the flagship devices from Samsung, LG, and other as far as performance but at a lower price. While the company has done it again with the OnePlus 6, the continuing trend of increasing prices and premium features among “true” flagships of the world has left the Chinese company doing the same to keep up.

Last night dozens of publications published their reviews of OnePlus’ latest flagship. Our review is still in the works, so stay tuned for more on that front soon. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the general consensus of these new devices.

There are two standout differences between the OnePlus 6 and its predecessors: the all-glass design and the larger, notched display. That glass build is something particular to note because it separates this generation even more from the original OnePlus One which had a completely unique look and feel. With the design changes and the inclusion of a glass back, the OnePlus 6 looks more like so many other Android phones on the market, as Android Central notes.

The OnePlus 6, despite sharing nearly identical dimensions with its all-metal predecessor, has gained a bit of thickness and a sizeable amount of weight, and that’s owing to its Gorilla Glass 5 housing, a first for the OnePlus series. It looks better than any OnePlus phone to date, for sure, but it also looks quite a lot like quite a few other phones on the market right now, including the LG G7, Huawei P20 Pro and, increasingly, others.

The second significant change is the notch. Just like many of you, we at 9to5Google aren’t fans of the notch when it does nothing significant to better the phone. That’s the case here, but the general consensus is that this phone does the notch better than any other, as Android Police notes:

Several Android OEMs have done the notch and completely screwed it up. Devices like the LG G7 have a chin at the bottom in addition to the screen notch, which defeats the purpose. If you’ve got a chin, why not move the screen down and make it symmetrical with small bezels? The OnePlus 6, much to my chagrin, does have a chin. However, it’s a pretty small chin.

Just like so many other phones, the OnePlus 6 includes the front-facing camera, notification light, earpiece, and proximity sensor inside of its notch. Unfortunately, the company still included a pretty large bottom chin which seemingly makes the use of the notch at the top of the screen useless. But maybe the notch isn’t all bad, as The Verge reports:

Notches may be 2018’s most polarizing smartphone design quirk, but I don’t find them to be a problem at all. The bigger screen gives me more vertical space to read email, articles, tweets, and messages, or use split-screen multitasking or whatever I want to do. The clock and notification icons are pushed right to the top and out of the way. A cutout for a notch in the middle of the top is a tradeoff I’d make for more screen in the same size phone any day of the week.

Performance is always something that OnePlus nails with its smartphones. It never includes stupid, gimmicky software, it typically runs as smooth as a Pixel smartphone running nearly-stock Android, and it is being powered by almost identical specs seen in every other flagship, as Engadget reports:

When it comes to software, you won’t find any AI gimmicks, bloatware or heavy skinning on the OnePlus 6; instead, you get a clean interface with a buttery-smooth response. I’ve been enjoying this Android 8.1–based OxygenOS a lot: I’ve yet to experience any lag or crash. Of course, Qualcomm’s top-tier Snapdragon 845 chipset plus the 8GB of RAM in my unit deserve some of that credit. OnePlus’s engineers have apparently labored over scrolling and transitions to make them as smooth as possible — and it shows.

Lastly, let’s talk about the cameras on the OnePlus 6. Around back, the device has a dual-camera setup featuring a primary 16MP shooter with a 20MP sensor that is mainly there to add detail to photos and allow for the capture of portrait-mode style photos. Thankfully, OnePlus added larger pixels and OIS to the primary sensor so that the phone can capture better low-light images.

I, personally, can’t speak to the quality of the cameras on the handset, but here’s what Android Police has to say:

The camera has improved slightly on this phone compared to the 5T, but the gulf between OP and the market leaders is still evident. The camera does fine in most outdoor settings and even inside with good light. However, the HDR is weak and low-light performance is just okay. OP’s image processing still results in over-sharpening and a “watercolor” effect in some photos as well. I also question the decision to include a second camera module that only operates in portrait mode. The camera is a case of “you get what you pay for.”

Now if you’re someone who is hating OnePlus for the steady price increase that its phones are seeing, Gizmodo hits the nail on the head. OnePlus phones are getting more expensive, yes, but so are the top-of-the-line handsets that it’s trying to compete with:

And all of this comes from a phone that starts at just $530. That’s $200 less than a Galaxy S9, $270 less than a Pixel 2 XL, and $420 less than a Galaxy Note 8. So yes, even though the OnePlus 6 is significantly more expensive than the OG OnePlus One, which cost $300 when it debuted, it still represents a considerable bargain compared to today’s premium phones.

Overall, the conclusion surrounding the OnePlus 6 is the same as previous years: it’s not the best phone you can buy, but it’s an excellent handset for its budget-friendly price range. Some of its tradeoffs include the camera system and hardware haptics that just aren’t up to par when compared to $900+ flagships. We’ll have more to say about the OnePlus 6 in our forthcoming review.

If you’re interested in purchasing a OnePlus 6, they will go on sale through the company’s website on May 22 for $529. Additionally, if you live in one of the select cities, OnePlus is hosting pop-up stores today, May 21, where you can purchase the handset a day early.

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Avatar for Justin Duino Justin Duino

I’m a writer for 9to5Google with a background in IT and Android development. Follow me on Twitter to read my ramblings about tech and email me at Tips are always welcome.