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OnePlus 6 hands-on: Slick looks come at a higher price


A gorgeous new design coupled with powerful specs. It's been only six months since the launch of the OnePlus 5T, but today the company is pushing out a new device that both packs the latest top specs and manages to one-up its earlier design. As you probably saw a little earlier, the new OnePlus 6 is yet another flagship that stuffs plenty of processing power into an elegant package, with its slogan promising to deliver "the speed you need. " It also happens to be OnePlus' most expensive phone to date, with a base price starting at $529 to make up for the extra work put into its gorgeous glass design. From afar, this new device is unmistakably OnePlus. Save for the dual cameras that are now sensibly centered on its back, the OnePlus 6 feels almost identical to the 5T. The rounded edges and subtle curvatures are further highlighted on the Mirror Black edition, with its surprisingly convincing ceramic look, courtesy of a five-layer coating on the Gorilla Glass 5 panel plus some extra polishing on the metallic frame. In fact, when I place it side by side with my actually ceramic Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, the OnePlus 6 makes that phone look dull. And its curves ensure that the material finish really shines. That said, if you can't stand fingerprint smudges, then you may want to consider the other two flavors of the OnePlus 6. Both Midnight Black and Silk White feature a matte finish, which apparently is achieved with a corrosion process similar to the one applied to Apple's glass trackpads. The result is a silky smooth finish -- almost like the "baby skin" feel on the legendary OnePlus One. The company then took it a step further by adding some visual tricks. By embedding a thin textured film below the glass, the Midnight Black shows off an S-shaped line along the back when viewed from a certain angle. The Silk White is even more bonkers, with pearl powder -- yes, pearl powder -- sprinkled underneath the glass, which gives off a subtle shimmering effect when you play around with the device. I probably wouldn't even mind the rose gold frame on the white option. OnePlus continues to deliver a stunning AMOLED display, now stretched to a 19:9 ratio (at 6.28 inches) as it goes all the way to the top. The trade-off here is the small notch, but that's been growing on me -- it's just nice to have that extra screen real estate inside a phone that's the same size as the 5T. I can expand the screen even further by replacing the Android navigation bar with gesture controls. They may sound familiar: Swipe up from the center of the chin to go home, swipe up and hold to see recent apps, and swipe up from either the left or the right side to go back. iPhone X users will already be familiar with some of these gestures, and likewise for those who have already been trying out the Android P beta. While the screen's 2,280 x 1,080 resolution isn't the Quad HD+ (2,880 x 1,440) upgrade that I was hoping for, this is still plenty, given the overall display quality. Besides, this also gives OnePlus some leeway to keep its OxygenOS (based on Android 8.1) super snappy, and so far the phone certainly runs incredibly smoothly in general. Another notable -- but less obvious -- upgrade is the 16-megapixel f/1.7 main camera, which now sports slightly larger pixels for better low-light performance, along with optical image stabilization (at last!) to reduce blur. The challenge will be whether these spec bumps transfer to better photos -- a weak point for previous OnePlus phones. I'll be taking a closer look when I review the new flagship. For video, the OnePlus 6 can shoot 4K at up to 60fps -- doubling the frame rates on the two earlier models -- while still supporting electronic image stabilization, along with super slow motion at 480fps in 720p or at 240fps in 1080p. OnePlus' unique tri-state alert slider has moved to the right side -- although I'm not sure why. It now toggles between Ring, Vibrate (instead of Do Not Disturb) and Silent. You'll also find the same built-in 3,300mAh battery, which is backed by OnePlus' Dash Charge technology, although, oddly enough, the company decided not to add wireless charging under the glass back, so that's one feature you'll find only on pricier flagship phones. Oh, and about those new OnePlus earbuds: The Bullets Wireless' magnetic trick did a good job of keeping the wires from tangling up during my brief hands-on time with it. I wish there were a way to adjust the length of the cables so I could put the remote control in a more accessible spot, though. It hangs right by my jaw, and when reaching up for it I almost always knock the earbud out of my ear. I enjoyed wearing it as a faux necklace for a bit, and it's certainly not a bad-looking accessory. Having said all that, gorgeous design aside, the rest of the phone is a relatively standard affair. On top of the Snapdragon 845 processor, which has proven to be quite the beast in other recent smartphones, you get to choose a combination of 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage ($529/£469/€519, Mirror Black only), 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage ($579/£519/€569, all three editions) or 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage ($629/£569/€619, Midnight Black only). The OnePlus 6 may not be the same bargain that the series used to offer, but very few competitors carry such features and specs at these prices. This is the most premium smartphone OnePlus has made, by a big margin. You'll be able to grab a unit starting May 22nd, with the limited-edition Silk White to follow on June 5th. I'm completely in love with the OnePlus 6's design. New features on the software side are a little light, but at least OnePlus chose not to waste effort on AI gimmicks. Instead it's focused on making a phone that can realistically go toe-to-toe with devices that are hundreds of dollars more expensive.

OnePlus’ latest flagship arrives May 22 for $529


OnePlus has never been the flashiest or most cutting edge — the Chinese company has mostly left that stuff to the Apples and Samsungs of the world. But in spite of some stumbles along the way, the upstart smartphone manufacturer has consistently delivered one of the best deals in mobile, a trend it most definitely maintains with the OnePlus 6. Due out on May 22, with a starting price of $529, the new handset continues the companys trend of definitely being ever-so-slightly behind the flagship smartphone curve, for the sake of keeping costs down. The handset does borrow a few cues from recent handsets, including, notably, the embrace of the top notch. The company concedes that the cutout is an inevitability on handsets these days, particularly with Googles newfound embrace through Android P. Though here it also arrives alongside the companys largest-ever display, measuring 6.28 inches, at a 19:9 aspect ratio. Of course, OnePlus decision to focus on a single handset at a time means a single size option. For some longtime fans, that might fly in the face of the companys never settle mantra, but at this point in the smartphone game, it probably makes the most sense for a company of OnePlus size to focus on a single model. Besides, the company has managed to fit a fair amount of screen into a relatively small form factor, keeping it roughly the same footprint as the OnePlus 5T. The design language has also been adjusted a bit, this moving to Gorilla Glass 5 on the back (same as the front), which looks nice and also makes it better for those radio waves to pass through. That backing comes in three different colors, including Mirror Black, Midnight Black and a snazzy Pearl White, which have limited availability, depending on the specific SKU. This being a 2018 flagship, the OnePlus 6 sports dual rear-facing cameras, though the orientation has shifted to vertical. The sensors measure 16- and 20-megapixels, with improved optical image stabilization and improved shooting in the low-light settings — not quite as low-light as offered up on the latest Huawei and Samsung devices, however; ditto for the slow-motion feature, which doesnt match the super-slow-motion offerings recently rolled out by Sony and Samsung. The front-facing camera is getting a software upgrade, as well, bringing the faux bokeh portrait mode to selfies, courtesy of some on-board AI. The phone maintains the super-fast fake unlock youll find on other recent OnePluses — as ever, the caveat there is not to make that the primary unlock method. Its not nearly as secure as handsets that use depth sensing to face unlock. Sure is fast, though. OxygenOS is still the heart of the software experience here. As ever, the key is keeping the companys proprietary Android skin as much in the background as possible, and using OnePlus actively online community as a sounding board for new features through the beta program. Theres not really a lot new to announce on the software front this time out, however, though the companys done a good job rolling out updates to handsets after release. Inside is a Snapdragon 845 — the latest flagship chip from Qualcomm. The base system is loaded with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Another $50 will get you 8GB of RAM and double the storage. Bumping things up to 256GB of storage, meanwhile, will cost another $50.