OnePlus 6 review

The speed, and the phone, you need

OnePlus 6

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Power and interface

  • Flagship Snapdragon 845 chipset and either 6GB or 8GB of RAM
  • Android 8.1 with Oxygen OS (and Android P Beta compatible)

The tagline for the OnePlus 6 is ‘The speed you need’, and to achieve such speed it uses a Snapdragon 845 chipset to keep everything running smoothly.

OnePlus says it’s worked hard to ensure there’s no slowdown or lag, optimizing the CPU and Adreno 630 GPU by up to 30%, while they draw up to 30% less power compared to the 5T.

This will, OnePlus promises, enable the OnePlus 6 to work just as well in a year’s time as when you take it out the box – so we’ll get back to you on that a year from now…

... five months later, and the OnePlus 6 is one of the many smartphones we've continued to use since its initial review, allowing us to keep an eye on the latest software updates, and gauge its performance over time.

We're pleased to report that the OnePlus 6 is still running smoothly, and quickly, several months since its launch, so at the present time it bodes well for the firm's one year promise.

Another way OnePlus is keeping the phone slick is by not including an expandable storage option. This is nothing new, as there’s never been a OnePlus handset with microSD support, with the firm maintaining that it would slow the phone down.

For most users the 128GB middle storage option will be more than enough, while for power users there’s now a 256GB option if more space is needed.

However, there will always be some who’ll be disappointed that the OnePlus 6 doesn’t quite offer the freedom and flexibility they’d like - and it slightly flies in the face of the firm’s ‘Never Settle’ mantra.

One thing is for certain though: the OnePlus 6 is fast. With either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, there’s more than enough performance under the hood to keep you going. 

We reviewed the 8GB/128GB variant, and everything ran smoothly, with fast load times and smooth graphical performance.

It’s still not clear why you’d really need 8GB of RAM in a smartphone – 6GB will likely suffice in most circumstances – but it means the OnePlus 6 should be nicely future-proofed.

Running Geekbench 4 on the OnePlus 6 returned an impressive average multi-core score of 9100, which is better than the Sony Xperia XZ2, Galaxy Note 8 and Google Pixel 2 XL; however, the iPhone X still trumps the lot with a score of over 10,000.

Still, considering that the OnePlus 6 is cheaper than all of those handsets it’s an excellent result, and it just shows how much raw grunt is housed inside the glass body.

OnePlus 6

On-screen you’ll find Android 8.1 – the latest software from Google – with OnePlus’ own Oxygen OS running over the top. On the surface, Oxygen is very similar to stock Android, offering a familiar experience.

However, head into the settings menu and you’ll find a range of additional customization options, allowing you to fine-tune the handset to your specific requirements.

The OnePlus 6 inherits the gesture-control navigation which debuted on the OnePlus 5 and 5T, removing the need for a visible navigation bar and instead relying on swiping gestures from the base of the screen to move around. 

It’s similar to Apple’s gesture control on the iPhone X – the gestures are slightly different on the OnePlus 6 – and it allows even more screen space for apps. This feature isn’t enabled by default though, so you’ll need to turn it on in the settings.

One feature which is missing however, is the ability to pull the notification shade down using the fingerprint scanner. 

It’s a feature we used frequently on the 5T, so we were disappointed to find it wasn’t available on the OnePlus 6 – especially given its larger, taller screen, which makes stretching a thumb all the way to the top all that more difficult.

OnePlus 6

OnePlus has yet to provide us with a reason why it’s not an option on its new phone, but we suspect it could be down to the smaller footprint of the scanner, which may make performing a sliding motion more difficult.

One gesture that is retained for the fingerprint scanner is a long press to snap a photo, making selfie taking all the easier.

There’s good news for those of you who want the latest software on their smartphone, as the OnePlus 6 is compatible with the Android P Beta, enabling you to trial the new software before it’s officially launched by Google later this year.

Be warned though: the Android P Beta is not final software, and will therefore contain a number of bugs which could seriously affect the performance of the OnePlus 6, so install it at your own risk.

Movies, music and gaming

OnePlus 6

With its larger, wider 19:9 aspect ratio screen the OnePlus 6 offers a great surface for watching video, especially movies.

Video doesn’t wrap round the notch, so none of the action is obscured, with the OnePlus 6 automatically ‘hiding’ it with a black bar for a clean look.

The only real criticism we have here is the screen resolution. It’s ‘only’ Full HD, and doesn’t support HDR content, so if you’re a fan of the 4K HDR movies and shows on the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Netflix you won’t be able to take full advantage of their quality.

It’s not an issue most of the time, though, and we were happily able to stream shows from Prime Video at a good quality.

As we’ve mentioned, the single speaker’s placement at the base of the OnePlus 6 isn’t ideal, and it’s easily muffled when held in landscape. 

Audio quality from this speaker is good enough for the odd YouTube video or music track, but if you’re settling down to watch a movie you’ll want something better to listen on.

The good news is that the OnePlus 6 has a headphone jack, allowing you to plug in a set of headphones or external speaker setup. There’s also the option to use wireless headphones thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 support.

The OnePlus 6 also comes with Qualcomm’s AptX audio enhancement technology, giving you clearer, punchier audio over both wired and wireless connections.

OnePlus 6

OnePlus has revamped its Gaming Mode for the OnePlus 6 (previously called Gaming DnD), which stops notifications getting in the way of your gameplay and optimizes performance to reduce latency – perfect for uninterrupted PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) and Fortnite sessions.

Now you can also choose to lock the screen brightness and reduce the network activity of other apps to ensure optimal playing conditions at all times, while a dedicated battery-saver mode will keep you gaming for longer on titles that use the Unity Engine.

You can select the games you want Gaming Mode be enabled on, ensuring that you can still keep an eye on notifications during your daily Candy Crush blast.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.