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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.

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.