Hands on: OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition review

A striking design and even faster charging

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is an eye-catching phone with plenty of flagship features that improves on the standard 6T with even more RAM and even faster charging. It cost more, but it still undercuts a number of top flagship phones.

For

  • Not as expensive as rivals
  • New design is attractive
  • Even faster charging

Against

  • Only a couple of upgrades

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition sees the smartphone and performance car makers team up, with a handset that packs in a huge amount of RAM and new fast charging technology.

It sees OnePlus follow in the footsteps of Huawei and Oppo, who have previously teamed up with Porsche Design and Lamborghini respectively to produce limited edition smartphones.

The difference with the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is that it's comfortably cheaper than its rival, car-branded smartphones - making it a more attainable special edition device.

While there are a couple of new additions on the McLaren Edition, much of this handset is the same as the standard OnePlus 6T.

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition release date and price

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition release date is set for December 13 in Western Europe and North America, with availability in India, China and the Nordics soon after. 

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition price is set at $699 (£649), which is $70 (£70) more than the 8GB+256GB top-spec configuration of the standard OnePlus 6T.

Considering the price of Huawei's Porsche Design and Oppo's Lamborghini edition handsets, the price increase for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is relatively modest, although the upgrades provided here are relatively minimal.

Design and display

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition design has the same dimensions as the standard 6T, at 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm - and the general form factor is the same.

There's the all-screen front, power/lock, volume and mute slider on the sides, USB-C port on the base and no headphone jack (although you do get an orange 3.5mm adapter in the box).

The difference here is the color, with McLaren's signature 'Papaya Orange' wrapping around the bottom edge of the handset and then fading to black as it travels up the side of the phone.

It makes for an eye-catching design statement, and one which we are particularly fond of.

There's also a McLaren logo on the rear, and under the glass on the back of the handset OnePlus has worked in a carbon fiber-like pattern around the camera block, similar in look to that of the material McLaren uses in its race cars.

When it comes to the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition display, you still get the same 6.41-inch Full HD display with the water droplet notch at the top as the 6T.

It's bright, clear and houses an in-display fingerprint scanner under it, allowing you to unlock the handset with your finger through the screen.

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition hands on gallery

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Power and performance

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition has 10GB of RAM, and it will be the first globally available smartphone that packs in that amount of RAM. It's not the first smartphone to pack 10GB of RAM though - the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 beats it there, but it's not as widely available.

While increasing RAM improves multi-tasking, heavy lifting tasks and helps devices avoid performance bottlenecks, smartphones do have an upper limit of how much they can do.

Some of the best performing smartphones from 2018 pack just 4GB of RAM (handsets such as the iPhone XS, XS Max, Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL and Samsung Galaxy S9) and our in-depth reviews of these handsets show there are no obvious performance flaws.

The likes of the Galaxy S9 Plus (6GB) and Galaxy Note 9 (8GB) do pack in more RAM, but it's only Xiaomi and OnePlus currently hitting the 10GB mark. 

With 4GB still so common in flagship devices, the 10GB of RAM in the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition doesn't obviously make a noticeable difference on-screen from the get-go.

Alongside all that RAM is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 chipset, which means the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition will be able to handle any heavy lifting task you throw at it.

Sure, the Android 9 Oreo operating system is slick, fast and fluid under finger, but from our initial usage we can't say it feels any faster. We will, of course, put the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition through its paces in our in-depth review process, where we'll see if the extra RAM makes a difference.

Battery life and camera

With the same size display, same chipset, same design and same size battery, we expect the battery life of the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition to be on par with the standard 6T.

That means it should last a day, as we found in our 6T review that the battery was "giving you a solid day of use from a single charge – and often we found ourselves with a little extra in the tank as well."

Whether the additional 2GB of RAM inside the 6T McLaren Edition will eat into any extra battery remains to be seen - but it's something we'll find out in our in-depth review.

Even if the McLaren Edition is a little hungrier, it does have an ace up its sleeve. OnePlus calls it Warp Charge 30, and it'll top up your handset faster than any previous charging tech from the firm.

OnePlus claims you'll be able to get a day's power from a 20 minute charge with Warp Charge 30, which is an improvement on the 30 minute Dash Charge claim which we saw with the OnePlus 6 and 6T.

The traditional red charging cable is out too, with the McLaren Edition getting a papaya orange, corded cable instead.

As we've already mentioned in this hands on look at the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, it shares many specs with the stock 6T, and that includes its cameras.

On the rear you'll find a 16MP + 20MP dual camera setup, while on the front there's a 16MP selfie snapper. You find out how they perform in our in-depth OnePlus 6T review.

Box and book

No special edition handset is complete without its presentation box, and the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is no different. 

Slide the black box, with its carbon fiber texture effect, out of the papaya orange sleeve, and open it up and you're greeted by a book titled Salute to Speed. Pull it out and set it aside for a moment, and it will reveal goodies beneath.

There's a charging block, charging cable and 3.5mm adapter all finished in orange, alongside a carbon fiber effect case and a card with a message from OnePlus CEO and founder Pete Lau.

Under the case there's the final special edition treat, a McLaren Speedmark logo made from the carbon fiber used in the firm's Formula 1 car. It's encased in glass, so you can show it off to friends at home.

Back to the book though, and once you've flicked through the pages detailing McLaren's and OnePlus' history you'll get to the final page where the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is. 

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition box gallery

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Early verdict

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is an eye-catching smartphone with plenty of flagship features that improves on the standard 6T with even more RAM and even faster charging.

It does cost more, but the price increase is no where near as steep as we've seen from other automotive-branded handsets, and its price points means it still undercuts a number of top flagship phones.

This is a special edition handset, which means it will be available in limited in numbers, but if you manage to get hold of it the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition it's unlikely to let you down.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.