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Review

OnePlus 6T Review: T marks the spot

Following the tradition of biannual launches, late 2018 brings the OnePlus 6T. We review.

oneplus 6t in display fingerprint

OnePlus 6T 4.5 5
BGR Rating :
4.5/5

Highlights

  • The OnePlus 6T is priced from Rs 37,999, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on the base variant.

  • The phone is among the earliest devices to launch with Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box.

  • One of the key features on the new phone is the in-display fingerprint sensor, which works through the phone's screen.

A little less than two years ago, OnePlus launched its very first ‘T’ phone, the OnePlus 3T. That set the benchmark for the company’s end-of-year device; small tweaks to what is essentially the same phone as the one launched earlier in the year. It’s an idea not meant to render obsolete the ‘number’ device, but rather keep the range interesting for new buyers. And while it took some time for that idea to get established, it’s a largely inoffensive concept today.

Now into its third iteration, the OnePlus 6T carries the idea of the mid-cycle refresh forward. This phone is meant to build on the OnePlus 6, rather than straight up replace it, although that’s exactly what it’s doing. Priced from Rs 37,999 to Rs 45,999 – depending on the variant you buy – the OnePlus 6T is a bit more expensive than its predecessor but does offer improvements that hope to justify not only the price, but also the need for the refresh itself. I’ve had a chance to use the new OnePlus 6T for the last few days, and here’s my review.

WATCH: OnePlus 6T Hands On

OnePlus 6T Design and Display

In this age of maximizing screen size without making the phone itself too big, a lot of companies have tried a lot of things. And while using mechanized components and sliders might make it possible to stretch the screen to the edges, they often complicate the design process and add parts that could break or fail. OnePlus has kept it comparatively simple with the 6T; there is a display cut-out – popularly known as the notch – at the top, but it’s significantly smaller than the one on the OnePlus 6.

Different brands call it different things, but it’s commonly known as the ‘waterdrop’ notch. On the OnePlus 6T, it’s just about large enough to sport the front camera, proximity and ambient light sensors. And while the earpiece on the OnePlus 6 was on the notch, the 6T pushes it upwards onto the top edge. You will therefore have to adjust your grip a bit when on calls, but it isn’t an issue.

The power and volume buttons, alert slider and USB Type-C port all remain in the same place as before. However, a key design change comes in the lack of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Many users will be bothered by this, and till maybe a year ago, I’d have been annoyed as well. But now, the missing headphone jack has barely bothered me, and I’ve gotten used to using either wireless or Type-C headphones, and occasionally relying on the Type-C to 3.5mm dongle bundled in the box. I don’t use the OnePlus 6T as my primary audio device, and on the occasions that I do use it, it serves my purposes using Bluetooth.

Other key changes come by way of the slimmer ‘chin’ on the phone, as well as the slightly larger 6.4-inch AMOLED screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on top. Although the chin hasn’t been done away with entirely, it almost completely blends into the bottom bezel of the phone. It adds significantly to the all-screen look and allows a slightly larger screen without significantly impacting the overall size of the phone. The OnePlus 6T is largely the same form factor as the OnePlus 6, and feels neither too big nor too small. However, the phone does feel slightly heavier, but not by much.

The screen itself is largely the same as before and retains the same color tuning as well. The software allows for various color configurations, letting you set up the screen the way you want it. The use of AMOLED tech enables the low-power ambient screen, and generally keeps colors punchy, attractive and sharp, along with excellent black levels. Also built into the screen itself is the phone’s signature feature – the in-display fingerprint sensor.

OnePlus 6T Screen Unlock

Up until the OnePlus 6, the company implemented standard capacitive fingerprint sensors on its phones. While this works well, the sensors do add what many would consider a blemish on the design. Furthermore, the increasing focus on an all-screen front means that a physical fingerprint sensor would have to be at the back. It’s precisely why Apple did away with Touch ID.

OnePlus doesn’t approach the situation as drastically as Apple; instead, the OnePlus 6T implements an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is called Screen Unlock. The technology isn’t new, with Vivo, Oppo and Huawei having implemented it on some of their phones already. In this case, the fingerprint sensor works through the display, using light to illuminate the fingerprint and authenticate it.

In theory this sounds cool and allows OnePlus to bring the fingerprint sensor to the front again. In practice, it works well enough, but not quite as well as the capacitive sensors on its previous phones. It isn’t as fast to unlock the phone and needs you to place your finger correctly in order to authenticate properly. I often found myself relying on face unlock or simply punching in the code to get into my phone quickly, particularly when I was holding the OnePlus 6T a bit awkwardly.

Furthermore, it isn’t always ready like a capacitive sensor; you need to activate the ambient display or wake the phone to use the sensor, which adds a step to the process of unlocking the device. There are gestures such as lift to activate or tapping the screen which activate it, but the lift gesture sometimes doesn’t trigger it, and the tap function disables the double-tap to wake gesture thus making face unlock a slower process.

These are issues that can and probably will be fixed with software updates, so we’ll stand by on an entirely negative judgement. But on the face of it, the in-display fingerprint sensor takes away some of the speed that previous OnePlus phones were known for, making you a bit more reliant on the not-entirely-secure or accurate face unlock function.

OnePlus 6T Specifications and Software

The OnePlus 6T is, as mentioned, not a massive upgrade. One of the places where the status quo is being maintained is the specification sheet. The device is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage, which is the same as before. One change here is in the variants; the base option starts with 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage, with a middle variant sporting 8GB RAM / 128GB storage. As before, there is no option for expandable storage, but you do get dual-SIM connectivity with dual-4G connectivity enabled on the device.

On the software front, the phone runs Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box, and is among the earliest smartphones to launch with the new version of Android. On top of Android is OxygenOS 9, and I received a minor software update taking the version to 9.0.4 as soon as I turned on the phone and connected it to the internet. It’s largely the same as the software version you’ll see on the OnePlus 6, with minor tweaks purely to control the in-display fingerprint sensor and Smart Boost function.

While still in early stages of development, Smart Boost promises an improvement in app cold-start speeds by up to 20 percent by storing data from frequently used apps in a portion of the phone’s RAM. Even under heavy circumstances, at least 2.5GB of RAM is sitting free, making this software tweak possible. While the difference is not entirely perceivable all the time, I did feel a slight difference in the functioning of apps and games I commonly use, including WhatsApp, PUBG Mobile, Facebook and more.

OnePlus 6T Performance and Battery Life

In terms of performance, the OnePlus 6T is largely the same experience as that of its predecessor. As a flagship Android device with top-end hardware, more RAM than is reasonably needed, and what is widely considered the best manufacturer UI on Android today, the OnePlus 6T sticks to its tag of being the best performing Android device you can buy today.

Performance is improved by Android 9 Pie, the improvements to OxygenOS and the slight benefits of Smart Boost. For me, switching from a OnePlus 6 was seamless in all ways, and I continued to get the same reliable level of top-end performance from the OnePlus 6T.

And thanks to the larger 3,700mAh battery, the ability of the phone to go longer has also improved. Even with heavy use, I was able to get screen-on time of over six hours, and the phone would easily last about 20 hours between charges, getting me through the day assuming I had started with over 90 percent on the battery. On lighter days (essentially days that I slept longer), I’d be able to go 24-25 hours between charges. Charging the phone is slightly slower than before because of the larger battery size, but it’s still among the fastest in the segment.

OnePlus 6T Camera

Another department where OnePlus hasn’t made any hardware changes is in the camera. The OnePlus 6T continues to go with the dual-camera setup at the rear, featuring a 16-megapixel primary sensor and 20-megapixel secondary sensor for depth effect and telephoto shots. At the front, the phone sports a 16-megapixel camera.

The primary sensor at the rear gets OIS and EIS as was the case with the OnePlus 6. Additionally, video can be recorded at up to 4K at 60fps resolution with the rear camera, and up to one minute of slow-motion video at 480fps is again possible. The only difference for now is ‘Nightscape’, a new mode than ensures better low-light shots. While it’s only on the OnePlus 6T for now, the OnePlus 6 will get it in the coming weeks. Also rolling out now is ‘Studio Lighting’ which improves portrait shots, but shouldn’t be confused with the studio mode on the Apple iPhone series.

Regular low-light photography

Nightscape mode switched on

When it comes to regular images and videos, it’s business as usual. Images are on par with what we saw on the OnePlus 6; that is to say that while the camera is good, it certainly isn’t on par with premium options such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Google Pixel 3 XL or even last year’s Apple iPhone X.

However, Nightscape does make a significant difference to low-light shots, but this difference may not necessarily work in every scenario. Low-light photography is capable enough for a sub-Rs 40,000 phone. But switching on Nightscape bumps up the high dynamic range and captures more light and detail by slowing down the shutter speed and using multiple exposures.

Camera sample shot on the OnePlus 6T

Camera sample shot on the OnePlus 6T

Front portrait mode on the OnePlus 6T

Indoor shot taken with the OnePlus 6T

As a result, images are brighter and show a lot more detail in dark zones, but given the tweaks in shutter speed and exposure needed to make this happen, these shots only work well in static situations. Any movement in the frame while shooting will produce effects that aren’t necessarily what you want. Additionally, the images aren’t always photo-realistic, and you’ll still see a bit of noise in the shots. The general tendency for OnePlus phones to add a slight painting-like effect to photos is clearly far from going away.

Verdict

While I had a lot more to say in my review of the OnePlus 6, the OnePlus 6T isn’t quite as detailed. There aren’t many changes here, and the OnePlus 6T is essentially the same phone with a handful of changes. That isn’t to say it’s a bad phone at all. If you were considering buying the OnePlus 6 but decided to wait till the 6T launched, you’re still assured the same level of quality. The OnePlus 6T sticks true to the OnePlus philosophy that has made the brand so successful the world over.

The OnePlus 6T comes with a solid assurance of quality software, timely updates, the best performance on an Android phone today and the show-off value in unlocking your phone simply by looking at it or placing your finger on the screen. The improved battery life and low-light photography mode add reasons to buy this device if you’re shopping for a good device at around Rs 40,000. Furthermore, frequent updates will only improve the phone over time.

However, if you just bought a OnePlus 6, there’s very little reason to fret. It’s largely the same device in most ways and going forward, both devices will receive software updates together. And for the time being, there is no better smartphone you can buy at under Rs 40,000. Perhaps the only reason to look elsewhere would be if you’re an audio enthusiast (the LG G7 ThinQ is for you in that case) or are looking for an excellent camera, for which you might prefer the Google Pixel 2 XL.

You Might be Interested

OnePlus 6

34999

Android 8.1 Oreo with OxygenOS
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core SoC
16MP + 20MP
OnePlus 6T

37999

Android 9.0 Pie with OxygenOS
Snapdragon 845 octa-core SoC
Dual - 16MP + 20MP
  • Published Date: October 31, 2018 4:12 PM IST