In case you live in a cave, and the name OnePlus is new to you, pay attention. The list of Chinese smartphone makers seems to get longer every day, and OnePlus is one of the newer brands. Formed in 2013, OnePlus brought in revenue of $1.7 billion in 2017. Going from zero to $1.7 billion in 4 years is probably worth paying attention to, right? Of course.
After a slightly awkward start with distribution problems in India and Indonesia, along with an admission that the USB-C cables bundled with the OnePlus 2 didn’t conform to the USB standard, things got better very quickly. OnePlus have now announced the OnePlus 6, due for release in the coming weeks.
Despite the issues mentioned above, in technical terms OnePlus hit the ground running. Not just running, actually, but Usain Bolt running.
The OnePlus One was touted as a “flagship killer”, providing specs better than many high end smartphones at the time, but for half the price. One or two early glitches were ironed out quickly, and the One was a huge success. The Two was equally as successful, which led to the release of the OnePlus X, a budget version of the flagship with a smaller screen.
The OnePlus 3 and 3T came in fairly quick succession. The 3T was along the lines of Apples S sub-models, with small improvements over the original model. Curiously, there was no OnePlus 4, but the OnePlus 5 and 5T are where the company started to become a real threat to the big boys. The 5 was the first dual camera model, and the 5T had a slightly bigger display at 6″ compared to 5.5″. The 5T also had facial recognition for unlocking the phone.
Rumors about what the OnePlus 6 would present to the world have been circulating for months. Most, to be fair, were pretty accurate as is the case with most smartphone rumors these days. Makers tend to have an unspoken policy of leaking several feature rumors to see which gain traction and which don’t. This can determine exactly what goes into the final design.
As expected, the 6 has mirrored the likes of Apple and Samsung, with glass front and back, but with a steel frame holding it together. Although ripples of conversation about a bigger display have been around, the 6.5″ display was still a nice surprise. OnePlus have also chosen to keep the headphone jack. This is an increasingly common trend with manufacturers, following a mixed reception to Apple’s insistence on removing it from recent iPhones.
Fortunately, the large amount of glass is Gorilla Glass 5, which does add some protection from scratching and minor knocks.
The battery is a little disappointing at just 3300mAh. OnePlus do claim it can give “a day’s use” – whatever that means – from just 30 minutes charge time, though.
It’s not so long ago that a rear camera, even on a flagship smartphone, wouldn’t break 8MP. More likely it was around 5MP, and you’d be lucky to get more than 2.1MP in the front camera. But, hold on to your britches, because OnePlus have reversed the trend. With a 16MP rear camera, 8 or 12MP might have been the expected number for the front. But no. Instead, OnePlus have somehow squeezed in a second 20MP sensor in the rear, and a 16MP front camera into the slim body.
Not only is the pixel count impressive, but the performance, particularly on video is equally good. With image stabilization on both still and video, the video is capable of 4K capture. More impressively is the ability to capture Full HD at 240fps and 720p HD at 480fps. Just check out YouTube if you want to see how great 480 frames a second actually is. By that point, you’re actually getting into high-end camera stuff, rather than regular smartphone video.
The expected price on the day of release is expected to be between $529 and $629 depending on the memory/storage config you choose. This makes it considerably less expensive than either Apple’s or Samsung’s flagship phones. Despite the price, it lacks nothing from either of those makers, with the possible exception of a slightly disappointing 2280 x 1080px resolution display.
Otherwise, you’re getting a terrific amount of technology for your money. Of course, once the initial hubub has died a little, expect those prices to drop. At that point, the OnePlus 6 becomes very difficult to resist.
Are there better smartphones? In some ways, yes. But are there better value for money smartphones? Not at this level.