THE ONEPLUS 6T is official, and given the number of leaks and rumors, it’s probably exactly what you were expecting.
The “T”-suffixed flagship is the first OnePlus device to come with an in-display fingerprint scanner, up to 256GB built-in storage, and – no doubt much to the dismay of many – it ditches the 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of audio over USB-C.
AS ITS NAME SUGGESTS, the OnePlus 6T is an incremental update over the six-month-old OnePlus 6.
And just like the Chinese firm’s previous ‘T’ suffixed releases, the OnePlus 6T is essentially a souped-up version of its now-defunct predecessor. This time around, though, there’s been some big changes; there’s now an in-display fingerprint scanner on offer, and the 3.5mm headphone jack has – likely to the dismay of many – been dumped.
It’s also OnePlus most expensive smartphone to date with a starting price of £499, although given most of its similar-specced rivals are more than £300 more expensive, it remains one of the cheapest flagships on the market.
Simplicity is the name of the game with the OnePlus 6T. Like the OnePlus 6 before it, the handset comes crafted entirely from glass, albeit for its painted aluminium edges.
We’ve been using the Midnight Black model, which offers a slightly lower-key matte finish compared to the fingerprint-amassing Mirror Black version. The design, while largely unchanged, remains one of our favourites; it feels solid, premium and pleasantly smooth, while the 6T’s subtly curved edges mean it sits snugly in the hand; despite being slightly thicker and weightier than the OnePlus 6.
This is likely down to the extra tech shoved inside the OnePlus 6T, namely its under-screen fingerprint scanner, which replaces the rear-mounted sensor found on previous models; more on that later.
While there’s been a handful of design changes, some things have – unfortunately – remained the same. Unlike the majority of the 6T’s rivals, it still doesn’t offer any level of IP certification, although OnePlus tells us that, like its predecessor, the handset is “water resistant for everyday use”. And despite the fact the OnePlus 6T boasts a predominantly glass design, there’s still no support for wireless charging.
That’s not all that’s likely to irk, as the 6T is the first OnePlus smartphone to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack in favour of USB-C. OnePlus says the decision was spurred by the fact that almost 60 per cent of current OnePlus owners have already adopted wireless headphones, but we can’t help but think it’s a bad one.
The size of the screen on the OnePlus 6 has increased slightly; you’ll now find a 6.4in Full Optic AMOLED display with a 2,340×1080 resolution, equipping the handset with an 86 per cent screen-to-body ratio, up from 84 per cent. In terms of quality, the use of AMOLED means black is dark and inky and colours are rich and vibrant. And while everything is plenty crisp and bright, we’d have liked to have seen an upgrade to a QHD panel.
While the size of the screen has increased, the size of the notch has done the opposite. While the OnePlus 6 sported an iPhone X-a-like cutout, the 6T features a ‘waterdrop’ notch, a far smaller and more subtle cutout than those we’ve seen on most other notch-toting handsets; it makes the notch on the Pixel 3 XL seem almost monstrous by comparison.
As well as showing-up its rivals, the slimmed-down notch also helps to increase the available screen space and free up more of the status bar.
Of course, as mildly interesting as the new notch is, the screen’s standout feature is its embedded optical fingerprint scanner. OnePlus tells us that the sensor is far more accurate and durable than CMOS alternatives, can unlock the handset in 350 milliseconds and, most importantly, is secure, with data secured in Qualcomm’s aptly-named ‘Trust Zone’.
As the OnePlus 6T is one of the first smartphones to boast an in-screen fingerprint scanner, it certainly feels futuristic, as demonstrated by the open-mouthed reactions we got while unlocking the handset in public. However, as cool as it looks – with its sci-f-esque unlocking animation – we found the scanner a little slower than the rear-mounted alternative on the OnePlus 6.
That isn’t all OnePlus is keen to talk up, as the 6T is also the first smartphone to come protected by Gorilla Glass 6. Thankfully, we haven’t had any booze-fuelled drops or tumbles just yet, but if Corning’s claims are to be believed, the toughened glass panel will let users drop the smartphone 15 times before it cracks.
The OnePlus 6T runs Google’s Android Pie OS out of the box, which comes equipped with OnePlus’ barely-there OxygenOS customisations on top. There are only a few changes compared to the software found on the OnePlus 6; Gaming Mode has been improved with floating notifications, Night Mode has seen some tweaks, and OnePlus’ Smart Boost feature has, er, boosted app startup times.
Overall, there’s not much to say about the software on the 6T, and that’s a great thing. While in our Galaxy Note 9 review we bemoaned Samsung’s added bloatware and, ugh, Bixby, you won’t find any of that here; there’s no unnecessary pre-loaded apps and no half-baked AI assistants.
The handset’s stripped-back software, coupled with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon8 845 and 8GB RAM, makes for an impressively smooth experience. We’ve been using the OnePlus 6T for almost a week and have so far experienced no lag or signs of slowdown, and if its predecessor is anything to go by, performance is unlikely to wane even after months of use.
And if you need proot, on Geekbench 4 the OnePlus 6T earned a single-core score of and a multi-core score of 8,945, putting the handset on par with the likes of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Pixel 3 XL.
Another way OnePlus is keeping the phone fast and responsive is by not including expandable storage. This is nothing new as there’s never been a OnePlus handset with microSD, with OnePlus maintaining that it would slow the phone down.
The cameras on the OnePlus 6T, as is typical for an incremental update, retains the same camera sensor as the OnePlus 6; you’ll find the same 16MP and 20MP f/1.7 Sony dual camera setup, and the same 16MP sensor around the front.
There have been some changes on the software front, though, with OnePlus following in the likes of Google and Huawei with improved AI features – including better scene detection, text-detection and, er, food photography capabilities – and souped-up Portrait and Night shooting modes.
All of this means the camera on the OnePlus 6T is even better, and we’ve already lauded the OnePlus 6’s camera for its balanced, natural and detailed shots that look gorgeous on the handset’s punchy AMOLED screen.
The improved Night Mode (above) means the 6T rivals the Pixel 3 and 3 XL – and outperformed out iPhone X – when it comes to gloomy nighttime shots, while matches its much more expensive rivals when it comes to images taken in bright, well-lit conditions.
Making good use of its slightly-chunkier design, the OnePlus 6T packs a 3,700mAh battery, 20 per cent larger than the 3,300mAh battery inside the OnePlus 6.
The increase in battery size is noticeable, too. While the OnePlus 6 made it through an entire day with roughly 15 per cent battery left as we crawled into bed at the end of the day, the OnePlus 6T, after a similar level of use, still had around 30 per cent juice left at the end of the day.
While there’s sadly no wireless charging support, Dash Charge, naturally, is included, which continues to live up to OnePlus’ claim that it’ll give you ‘a day’s power in half an hour.’
The OnePlus 6T is what we’ve come to expect from OnePlus devices. It’s beautifully simple and offers market-leading performance, despite its market-beating £499 price-tag.
It’s not without its niggles, though. There’s still no IP certification, the screen is still FHD+ rather than 2K, and the universally-loved headphone jack has been binned. However, when you consider the handset’s price-tag, along with its unique in-display fingerprint scanner, it’s still undoubtedly a flagship killer.
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