OnePlus 6T review: Blurring lines between midrange and premium smartphones

Chinese smartphone manufacturer has in the past few years emerged as one of the most successful premium mobile phone brands. Known for its flagship devices with top-of-the-line specifications at competitive pricing, the smartphone maker seems to have lived up to the name with the recent launch of the 6T.

A successor to the 6 (review), launched earlier this year, the T-edition has got several upgrades. Most of the newer changes – a higher battery capacity, a new screen format and an in-display fingerprint sensor – are useful. However, the phone might have cut corners on a few flagship features, such as ingress protection (IP) rating for water and dust resistance, stereo speakers, HDR display and wireless charging. The OnePlus 6T has also done away with the 3.5mm audio output jack which might not go well with users accustomed to wired headsets.


OnePlus 6T sale in India today know price launch offers

Design

The OnePlus 6T might look almost identical to its predecessor, but it has a bigger screen, no fingerprint sensor on the back, and no 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom. These three are the most noticeable differences between the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T. Though the latter has a bigger 6.4-inch screen – compared with the predecessor’s 6.28-inch – the dimension and overall form factor change is incremental, thanks to the new format display stretching from edge to edge, leaving no bezels except a thin one at the bottom chin. The removal of the fingerprint sensor from the back for an in-display fingerprint sensor makes the back uniform. The bottom, without a 3.5 audio jack, now has five-holes grilles on either side of the USB type-C data transfer, charging and audio output port.

The newer phone otherwise looks and feels similar to the older one. It continues with a glass-metal-glass design language, which is slick but premium nonetheless.

Display and fingerprint sensor

The OnePlus 6T has a 6.4-inch optic AMOLED screen of a fullHD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) resolution, stretched in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. Unlike the OnePlus 6, the screen of the ‘T’ edition has a tiny notch (waterdrop) at the top to accommodate just the front camera. The earpiece and sensors have moved to the thin bezel above the screen. The screen also houses the optical fingerprint sensor, which sits beneath the display panel and turns a part of it as a biometric recognition module. Though the sensor is not flawlessly fast and accurate, unlike conventional sensors, it is better than the previous iteration of the in-display fingerprint sensor seen in Vivo smartphones.

ALSO READ: Vivo X21 review: A worthy mid-range flagship to challenge OnePlus dominance

The screen is bright and vivid. Apart from the default mode, it also supports three pre-set calibration modes – sRGB, DCI-P3 and adaptive mode – and a custom mode to switch between warm and cool colour tones. In most cases, the adaptive mode works well to automatically tune the screen tone based on ambience light conditions. However, the addition of sRGB and DCI-P3 modes makes the screen even for perfectionists.

Though the screen lacks HDR capabilities, it supports WideVine L1 DRM services required to stream high-definition video content via over-the-top (OTT) apps, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, etc. However, because of an unconventional aspect ratio, the screen is not fully utilised by these video-streaming services and shows a thick black bar on either side when viewed horizontally.

Overall, the screen is good, but not class-leading. It renders deep blacks and has good sunlight legibility. True, a non-optimised aspect ratio diminishes its overall utility, but the issue is not limited to OnePlus 6T; it is seen in all Android smartphones with unconventional aspect ratios.

Camera

The OnePlus 6T has a dual-camera module on the back featuring a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 20MP secondary sensor. Both sensors have an f/1.7 aperture size and support phase detection auto-focus. However, the primary sensor also has optical image stabilisation (OIS) and electronic image stabilisation (EIS). On the front, there is a 16MP sensor of an f/2.0 aperture.

The camera modules are taken straight from the OnePlus 6.

Therefore, the photo and video outputs are similar – that is, satisfactory. As part of an upgrade, the OnePlus 6T has got two additional modes – Nightscape and Studio Lighting. The nightscape shot is tuned to capture better frames in low-light conditions and the studio lighting mode enhances portrait shots by balancing the lighting. The nightscape mode plays automatically in dim-lit conditions and lights up the frame to capture more details, resulting in balanced low-light shots with less noise. The Huawei P20 Pro (review) and Google Pixel 3-series (review) also have similar features for night photography, and both these phones take astonishing frames. The OnePlus 6T output is not as good as the other two. Nonetheless, such a mode is always a good improvement to imaging capabilities, especially for a midrange premium smartphone like OnePlus 6T.

The OnePlus 6T’s studio lighting mode in portrait shots, on the other hand, is a mixed bag of hits and misses. It does not make much difference to the overall output. However, it might be improved over time through updates.

Performance

OnePlus 6T sale in India today know price launch offers

In term of specifications, not much has changed in the OnePlus 6T, except that it comes with 128GB of internal storage (base model), compared with the predecessor’s 64GB. Though the phones have similar specifications, the OnePlus 6T has got around 500 software-level enhancements. These would also roll out to the OnePlus 6 in future but the OnePlus 6T will until then continue to have an edge.

Apart from these differences, the two OnePlus phones look similar in every respect, including the new Android Pie-based OxygenOS operating system. The new gesture-based navigation, transition effects in the quick settings area and a dark theme to optimise all apps and open in the dark mode have seen some improvements in the latter version.

The OnePlus 6T has also got an enhanced gaming mode and smart-boost technology for an improved gaming performance. With the new gaming mode, it becomes convenient to take and respond to notifications without hampering the gaming experience. The smart boost technology works in the background, so it goes unnoticed until you compare gaming performance by keeping the OnePlus 6T with any other smartphone with similar specifications. Compared with the LG G7 ThinQ (review), the OnePlus 6T loads graphic-intensive game titles such as PUBG and Asphalt 9 quicker and maintains an even frame rate.

Powering the OnePlus 6T is a 3,700 mAh battery, which keeps it going for around two days on regular usage. The on-battery time drops to almost a day if the phone is used for power-intensive tasks like streaming of online videos with display brightness set to the maximum, playing graphic-intensive games, or using the smartphone as a hotspot device for internet sharing, etc. The phone comes bundled with the Dash-charging technology, which replenishes the battery from zero to 100 per cent in around one hour. The good part is that the charger that comes along with the device supports Dash charging, so you do not need to buy one separately. The downside, though, is that dash charge is a proprietary technology that works only with OnePlus-supplied charger, not with any other charger or cable. Though the phone supports charging via other chargers and USB type-C cables, it does not charge as quickly; it takes more than two hours to replenish battery from zero to 100 per cent.

Verdict

Priced at Rs 37,999, Rs 41,999 and Rs 45,999 for the 6GB/128GB, 8GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB variants, respectively, the OnePlus 6T represents another step by the company in its transition from a midrange flagship maker to a premium brand. Of the three subsidiaries of China’s BKK Electronics, OnePlus is not at the innovation forefront; Oppo and Vivo are. Therefore, the OnePlus 6T does not have a radical design change or a unique new feature. It has a waterdrop notch display reminiscent of the Oppo-branded smartphones, and an in-display fingerprint sensor first introduced by Vivo. However, OnePlus has done a good job in bringing the best of both worlds together in one smartphone that does not cost a bomb and still has a modern design, features and top-notch specifications. These make the OnePlus 6T a worthy smartphone in its segment.

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