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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.

Hands-on with the OnePlus 6: An all-glass, notched smartphone for $529

OnePlus' excellent metal phone design is dead, but it's still cheap, at least. OnePlus is back with its new flagship smartphone for 2018, the OnePlus 6. OnePlus has big changes in store this year, not all of which I would call positive. OnePlus' stand-out metal phone design—which has existed in the company's last four flagship smartphones—is dead. The company is switching to an all-glass design and a notched display. As a result, the OnePlus 6 looks and feels like a million other Android smartphones released this year. Like the iPhone X and several other new Android phones, the display has a cutout at the top housing the front-facing camera, earpiece, and other sensors.  This at least seems to be a well-executed version of a notched phone. The bottom bezel isn't nonexistent, but it is pretty small. The notch is small enough to fit inside a normal-height status bar, which means you don't have a tall, stretched-out status bar like the Essential Phone. The display is a 6.28-inch 2280×1080 Samsung AMOLED with a 19:9 aspect ratio. Thanks to the notched design, the OnePlus 6 fits more screen in a body about the same size as the OnePlus 5T. I was a huge fan of OnePlus' metal back over the years, and along with the Pixel line, it was the only flagship smartphone that hadn't given in to the glass smartphone trend. Glass backs are fragile fingerprint magnets, with the only benefit being wireless charging. The OnePlus 6 doesn't support wireless charging, though, so this is just a straight downgrade over last year's metal back. If you're looking for more RAM or storage, you can upgrade to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for $579 (€569, £519). There's also a phone with 8GB RAM/256GB storage for $629 (€619, £569).  There are three colors—white, black, and black—and each color is limited to certain spec combinations and price points. I photographed the "Mirror black" version, which comes in the 6GB/64GB and 8GB/128GB loadouts. " Midnight Black" is supposedly a matte black (but still glass) version and comes in 8GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB versions, and a "Silk white" (white and gold) version only comes in 8GB/128GB. As much as I feel like the OnePlus 6 could be better with a metal back, for $529 it is still a hard phone to beat. It's the cheapest Snapdragon 845 device you can buy, and that will always make it worth considering. Another great OnePlus feature is the software package. While I wouldn't call it "Stock Android," it's a version that doesn't go out of its way to reskin every little piece of Android so it looks like a completely different operating system. OnePlus adds extra features, but overall, the UI follows Google's Material Design language and fits in well with Google's apps and the third-party app ecosystem. The bad part of the software package is still here, too: OnePlus doesn't have a concrete update commitment, only pointing to its past behavior as evidence of what kind of support the OnePlus 6 can expect. In the past, the company has been good about delivering monthly security updates for supported devices, but the length of support is a total crap shoot. If the OnePlus phone you buy ends up being unpopular with the masses, OnePlus could drop support early. This happened with the OnePlus 2, which got less than one year of major update support from OnePlus. The rest of the phone is much like past OnePlus devices. There's still a USB-C port on the bottom with 5V, 4A "Dash" quick charging. There's still a headphone jack and rear fingerprint sensor. There's still a three-position physical volume switch. OnePlus says the phone is "water resistant for everyday occasions, such as rain or an accidental drop in a puddle," but there's still no official ingress protection rating. As usual, a low price does a great job of muting any complaints we might have about the OnePlus 6. You could probably do better than the OnePlus 6, but not at this price point. We might not like the switch to all-glass, and we wish OnePlus would put a concrete update system in place, but as always, it's hard to argue with this much power for $529. The OnePlus 6 launches May 22.