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Hands-on: This is the OnePlus 6, starting at $529


After months of rumors, leaks, and teasing the OnePlus 6 is finally a real thing. It starts at $529 and will go on sale May 22. As usual, it looks like a compelling flagship at an affordable price. But this time around, OnePlus is looking to make the gap between itself and the $1000 flagships smaller than ever. CNBC liked TNW Conference that muchLets start with the specs. They shouldnt come as much of a surprise, but there are a few interesting highlights: As everyone interested in this phone knows by now, the OnePlus 6 has an iPhone-X like notch. While it doesnt include any fancy face-detection sensors, it does allow for a larger screen in a body thats virtually the same size as its predecessor. You can replace Androids navigation bar with gestures to maximize real estate too. And dont worry – if you dont like the notch, you can hide it in the software. Given the OLED panels pure blacks, thatll make the display cutout virtually invisible. More polarizing will be the glass back, which OnePlus CEO Pete Lau previously justified in a blog post. Having seen the phone now, my opinion remains largely the same as back then: without wireless charging, a glass back just doesnt make much sense. At least, thats true of the cheapest Mirror Black finish, which just looks nice enough… but also very generic. The Midnight Black, on the other hand, has a cool frosted look thats far more unique and feels great in hand. My favorite by far is the Silk White, a limited edition color which wont be available right at launch. It has a gorgeous matte pearl finish, accentuated with a rose gold trim. That colorway is beautiful, and I wish OnePlus used its bolder designs on the base model. I mean, just look at Huaweis take with the P20. I would still take a metal back or high quality plastic over glass for durability, though. Heck, Id love more adventurous materials like leather or wood on the Moto X of old. But at least OnePlus includes a thin case in the box to help protect against drops somewhat. Speaking of durability, OnePlus is also officially claiming the device is water-resistant enough to survive rain or a drop in the sink, though it isnt providing an IP-rating. As for the lack of wireless charging, OnePlus said it opted out because the technology is still too slow, while the companys Dash charging tech is the fastest on the market. Fair enough, I guess. Some design caveats aside , theres no question whether OnePlus phones present a good value. Since the original OnePlus One, the company has straddled the line between midrange prices and flagship specs carefully. Its always provided state-of-the-art performance – Oxygen OS is one of the best custom Android builds out there – but has sometimes lacked the finesse of more expensive competition, particularly in the camera. Hopefully the addition of a larger sensor, OIS and a refined HDR algorithm will help OnePlus catch up in that area. Plus being one of the few phones capable of running the Android P beta will be a nice selling point among Android die-hards. Early rumors suggested the OnePlus 6 would be significantly more expensive than its predecessor, but those didnt pan out. With flagship specs starting at $529 – and just $629 for the 256 GB model – its hard to imagine the OnePlus 6 will disappoint. Well need more time with the device before our final verdict, but so far, so good.

OnePlus 6 announced with a glass back and a notched 6.3-inch display


A little earlier than its usual June refresh window, OnePlus has revealed its new flagship Android device today, the OnePlus 6. The most controversial aspect of the new design, the notch at the top of the 6.3-inch 19:9 OLED display, has already been the subject of a preemptive rationalization from the company, and fan demands have been answered with the added option to conceal the notch by putting a black bar on the screen around it. Though beloved by few, the notched design does have a significant upside in helping OnePlus fit a lot more screen into basically the same dimensions as its previous OnePlus 5T and 5 models. The OnePlus 6 is a little smaller than my 6-inch Google Pixel 2 XL, but it offers more vertical screen space and makes the Pixels bezels feel crude and chunky by comparison. Its not that the 6 lacks bezels; they just happen to be minimal and nicely designed. OnePlus interface is well-tailored to the notch, and the company has tested the top 1,000 Play Store apps to ensure they play nicely with it. Whether or not the notch is to your liking, you cant accuse OnePlus of moving to it without sufficient forethought. The other big change with the OnePlus 6 is the introduction of a new glass back, replacing the unibody aluminum case thats been the norm for OnePlus for a number of years. The companys press release says that this is the first in OnePlus line of flagships to feature an all-glass design, suggesting that the metal backs of the past are going to stay in the past. With this alteration, OnePlus joins the vast majority of smartphone manufacturers — companies like Apple, Samsung, Sony, Nokia, LG, and Huawei — in having glass on both the front and the back of its flagship device. Ive been told by a number of these companies that the general trend has been driven by the requirements of faster and more advanced LTE, making it increasingly difficult to produce a phone with a metal back. Although the OnePlus 6, replete with a notch and a glass back, now blends into the mass of Android phones out there, it does stand out with a number of its own unique strengths. Firstly, the software is clean, thoughtfully designed, and unfailingly fast. The OnePlus 6 was among the first Android phones to support the Android P beta, even before it was officially announced. OnePlus says that its committed to heeding and responding to its fans wishes, and its eagerness to deliver updates as soon as possible is a testament to that. The other thing, the one that matters a great deal more than its discussed on pages like these, is the price. Starting at $529 with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, the OnePlus 6 is once again a little more expensive than its predecessor, but also a lot less pricey than the typical Android flagship. Itll be compared to phones like the Galaxy S9 and Huawei P20 Pro, both of which cost hundreds of dollars more, but its priced right in line with the Honor 10. I think the OnePlus 6 has the quality of design, materials, and display to be held right up alongside the best Android phones on the market. Where I remain dubious with OnePlus is on the camera front, though the companys made positive strides by increasing the main sensor size of its dual-camera system by 19 percent (for a pixel size of 1.22μm). Optical image stabilization has been added to both rear cameras, and you can now shoot faux-bokeh portrait mode pictures with the front as well as the rear cameras. OnePlus is getting into the algorithmically reprocessed photo game by offering the option to turn the bokeh in a photo into various shapes like hearts and stars. Ive seen a demo of that, and, well, I guess Im too old to appreciate its value. Not many other things are different about the OnePlus 6. The signature OnePlus alert slider moves from one side of the phone to the other, which the company tells me was a simple matter of space considerations with the new phones layout. The headphone jack remains in place, though, and OnePlus says it has no plans to remove it anytime soon. I would have liked to see OnePlus add wireless charging with its shift to a glass back, but that hasnt happened, and neither has the addition of waterproof certification. OnePlus argues that the 6 has comparable water resistance to most modern flagships, and it was tested extensively for that, but Id still feel more reassured by having it adhere to the same universal standard as everyone else. Marketed under the slogan of the speed you need, the OnePlus 6 comes with a Snapdragon 845 processor, Adreno 630 graphics, and up to 8GB of RAM and a maximum of 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage. On one hand, its great that OnePlus can cram the latest and best specs inside a phone that retains a distinct midrange price (by 2018 standards). On the other hand, Im not convinced that OnePlus can actually use that fact to make its device stand out. The comparably priced Honor 10 also has a flagship processor inside, Huaweis Kirin 970, and it also offers a smooth and responsive experience. The rest of the OnePlus 6 specs are fairly predictable: 2280 x 1080 resolution, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 up front, 3,300mAh battery, Bluetooth 5, support for two nano-SIM cards, and Dash Charge fast charging. The one trend that OnePlus isnt entertaining with its new flagship (at least not yet) is offering a diversity of color options. Youll be able to buy the OnePlus 6 in either a glossy or matte black or a shimmery white variant. These colors correspond to particular specs: the mirror (i.e., glossy) black covers the $529 6GB / 64GB and $579 8GB / 128GB OnePlus 6, the silk white and the so-called midnight black will be at the $579 price point and spec, and therell be a $629 8GB / 256GB midnight black model as well. All variants of the OnePlus 6 go on sale May 22nd directly from OnePlus online store in North America, India, and across Europe. The European and UK pricing is less attractive than the USs, with prices starting at €519 / £469 for 64GB of storage, going through €569 / £519 for 128GB, and maxing out at €619 / £569 for 256GB.