I am a OnePlus 3 user since July of 2016. I loved this phone since day one. But it's time for a change!

The OnePlus 3

Let me share a bit of my experience with the OnePlus 3 first. Overall, it's a great phone, that costed me 400€. 2016 was the end of an era for OnePlus, when they stopped doing "Flagship killers".

It was definitely worth the price though. Here is a quick review:

  • Screen: good 5.5" 1080p AMOLED screen. Great colors, viewing angles, brightness.
  • Camera: OK. It was never a strong point tough. 4K video is available. I had to change the camera module because my focus was broken. Happened to other users after ~2 years of usage.
  • Fingerprint sensors: super fast, placed below the screen... one of the last of its kind. This was my first fingerprint unlockable phone, so being able to unlock it without waking up the screen was incredible. I think it was one of the fastest sensors in the market for a while.
  • Dash charge: freaking awesome. It has been the fastest charging technology for the past 2+ years, SuperVOOC only surpassed it a few weeks ago.
  • Headphone jack: it's there.
  • Notification LED: it's there. Not super important though but nice to have
  • Speaker: average, does get reasonably loud without distortion. At least it was way louder than iPhone 6.
  • Buttons: they are good and clicky.
  • Battery: Good. I rarely had to charge it throughout the day. I changed my battery a few weeks ago and it was worth it.
  • Alert slider: an awesome feature that OnePlus destroyed with an OxygenOS update... Before, the 3 modes were silent/vibrate/ring, now it's {silent OR vibrate}/do not disturb/ring. And you can't change it. This has been one of the main complaints for one or two years and OnePlus completely ignored it.
  • OxygenOS: It's very good. It's stock Android with a lot of quality-of-life improvements. I got my OP3 with Android 6, it got 7 and 8 and will be getting 9 in the coming months, which is pretty awesome. OnePlus wasn't always the fastest when it comes to security updates, but they were are of the best in terms on software support. Also, I was really active in the ROM community with my prior phones... With OxygenOS I just didn't need to, so I never flashed anything or rooted my phone.
  • Design: It's nice to look. The phone is super thin, but I have to say it's too thin. The edges are too sharp, so the phone doesn't feel that great in the hand without a case. It's solid by itself though, compared to full-glass phones...

I still love this phone and it's totally usable, which is hard to say for every phone that was released 28 months ago.

I even won a Galaxy S7 via a Twitter contest a few months after I bought my OnePlus 3. After using the Galaxy S7 for a few weeks, I decided to return to the OP3, mainly for the software.

Why would I buy a new phone then? I just wanted to change. More than 2 years for a phone is good enough. I also wanted to get a better camera, because the one on the OP3 is getting old.


The OnePlus 6T

I hesitated with some Huawei and Xiaomi phones but in the end I went with the OnePlus 6T.

Packaging and delivery

I bought the phone on the first day it was available in France. Two delivery options were available. The normal one was free since my purchase was over $100, and the estimated delivery was a week later. The express one was $10 and the estimated delivery was 3 days later. I chose the free one since I wasn't in a hurry, and the phone arrived 2 days later. 🤷🏻‍♂️

The packaging is clean and great.

Sorry it's a bit messy. On the top left hand corner are the OnePlus type-C bullets.

Since there is no jack port, you get a jack to USC C (red!) dongle. Bonus points for OnePlus: a case and earphones are included.

The case is pretty good, it's in silicon, glossy on the back and "mate" on the sides. It feels good and honestly I think it protects the phone well. I don't like the glossy back much since it takes fingerprints and scratches easily.

I usually go for Spigen cases (I had the rugged armor on both my OP3 and S7), but this time I bought the Karbon bumper case from OnePlus. It's very good, well made, seem to protect the phone well, looks great and feels super good. The finish is so smooth, I love it! It really feels better than holding the phone by itself. I think you can tell when a case is great when, well of course it protects your phone well, but when it makes it look great and make you want to use it.

About the Type-C Bullets: they're OK. They're sold for $20 and I think they're worth the price. It's kind of weird to have to plug earphones in the type C port, but not that much to be honest. The bullets don't seem cheap and I love the flat wire: they don't tangle. They don't fit my ears though, so I won't be using them.

The audio is all right, you can't expect much from this kind of product anyway. I wish it sounded less muffled.

Specs

I have the 8GB + 128 GB version. I has 6 GB on my OP3 so I know it plenty enough, but the midnight black version only comes with 8GB or RAM, which is, unsurprisingly, enough.

The storage is fast and it feels nice to have a bit of room. 64 GB on my OP3 was great, but I had to delete stuff from times to times. It's worth noting that I have about 30 GB of Spotify music!

I don't have much too say about the Snapdragon 845. It's a year-old SoC that performs really well with its 8 cores (BIG.little). The GPU is fine too.

Price

Costs twice as much as the OnePlus One. OnePlus does not make flagship killers anymore, just flagships. The sad thing is, 590€ was the price of flagships a few years ago. Now it's considered like a budget flagship, since Samsung phones or iPhones cost more than a grand...

Design and first impressions

The phone is really impressive. When you get it ouf of the box, you really have this "wow" moment, especially because of the screen!

The phone is noticeably thicker and heavier than the OnePlus 3. However the back of the phone is more rounder which means it's more comfortable to hold. The OP3 was too think and the edges were not rounded enough.

Actually the difference in thickness is 0.85 mm, but the sharp edges vs round edges accentuate the difference.

I'm fine with having a thicker phone especially when it means you get more battery, but when I hold my OP3 again, I really feel how much lighter it is. I don't think the OP6T is heavy when I hold it, but when comparing, I prefer the OP3's weight. But that's the only downside of the 6T, as I said the rounded back and big battery matter more to me.

In 2018, metal phones have nearly disappeared. Now there are only super fragile phone that get cracks, scratches and fingerprints if you don't get a case.

I had the S7, so I now how a glossy glass back feels like. OnePlus dropped metal for glass with the OP6 I think so I did't really had a choice. However they have two version of the phone: a mirror black and midnight black. The mirror black is a class black glass that indeed feels like a mirror - fingerprint make a mess on this.

The midnight black version, on the other hand, is still glass but does not feel like it. It's polished glass that feels incredibly smooth and it does not take fingerprints, or just very lightly. I'd even say it feels better than metal. I'm pretty sure it's more resistant to scratches as well. Both are Gorilla Glass 5 (the screen is GG 6), but it's still glass, so I'll keep a case on it. Also the way the glass is made make it so the reflection of the light forms a "S" shape. Overall the back feels great, and looks nice and sober. Of course, both versions are surrounded by a black metal frame. The phone really is black, which contrasts with the greyness of the OP3.

Oh, also a thunder purple version is available now, with a midnight black-like finish.

The phone is indeed thicker, but what about its actual size? Well, thanks to the screen, the phone feels really bigger... but it's not really. Here are the dimensions:

  • OP3: 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm
  • OP6T: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm

As you can the their width is nearly the same, but the 6T is 5mm taller. It looks way taller though, since there is nearly no top and bottom chin.

The OP6T will be much harder to repair than the 3. On the 3 the back can be removed easily as it's just 2 screws. On the 6T it's adhesive everywhere! 😔
I will probably sell it before needing to change the battery.

At the bottom of the phone are 5 little holes on each side of the USB C port. On one side is the actual speaker, but on the other side the holes are sealed, except for the one containing the microphone.

Speaker

The speaker is quite good - even though it's not front facing nor stereo. It's louder and bassier than the OP3's.

Screen

There is a lot to say about the screen. Indeed, for the same width, the OP3 had a 5.5" display, but the 6T has a 6.41" display! The PPi are the same (402 PPI) since the OP3's is 1920x1080 (16/9) and the 6T's is 2340 x 1080 (19.5/9!!) which is called super HD or something.

Also, from OnePlus' website:

The corners of the screen are within a standard rectangle. Measured diagonally, the screen size is 6.41 inches in the full rectangle and 6.24 inches accounting for the rounded corners

I'm not a fan of the rounded corners. It does indeed look great, but it's too rounded (more than on the 6). It does not bother me too much at the bottom of the screen, but it does on the top since we loose space for the status bar. And we already don't have much space thanks to the notch.

So... the notch! I would hate having one like on the iPhone or one the Pixel 3 (lmao), but the 6T's is really tiny, so I actually like it. There is not notification LED anymore, some people make a big deal out of it, I don't mind.

The notch has the same of rounded corners as the rest of the screen. It's a shame to make such a nice looking notch and loose so much space because of these rounded corners everywhere.

The display itself is great. Nowadays 1080p is the norm and high-end phones sometimes go for a QHD screen (like on the S7 I had). In fact, QHD looks better when you're looking really closely at the screen, but day-to-day, it's not a big deal. 1080p is enough and it's also better for the battery, which I will talk about a little later. The screen is nearly borderless, so it looks gorgeous.

I think the colors are a bit different from my OP3. There are multiple color modes which change the temperature of the screen. By default, I think the OP6T's has less vivid colors, which is a good thing because it was a little bit too much on the OP3. In fact I used to use the SRGB mode on the OP3, and, since a year or so, another mode which name I don't recall, that was an in-between the default mode and SRGB. SRGB looks great too, but the colors are a bit too pale. On the OP6T, this mode does not exist (SRGB does) but is replaced by "DCI-p3", which does not exactly look like on the OP3. I also noticed the night mode looked different. I know you can change the temperature of the night mode on both phones, but I think it looks a bit better on the OP3... Also the night mode is inconsistent and sometimes it enabled and disables itself depending on the app (?!).

Vibration motor

One of the worst part of the OP3 was the vibration motor (or haptic engine or whatever it is called). It's absolute garbage, and you can probably get something better out of a $20 phone. On the other hand, vibration motors on Samsung phones and iPhones feels so great. I also have the Galaxy S1, a phone that is nearly 10 years old, and the haptic feedback feels better than on the OP3...

I was kind of worried, since this was a common complaint for every OnePlus phone. I read on Reddit that the vibration motor didn't improve... But that's completely false. It feels 100x better on the OP 6T than on the OP3. I am sure the vibrations still feel better on other high end phone, but that is still a big improvement that is worth being noted, since this is one of the little things that make a phone feel premium.

The headphone jack port

The headphone is dead. And I don't really care. To be honest I think OnePlus should be ashamed of themselves, since they made fun out of Apple so much when they announced they removed the headphone jack and now... here they are. One of the co-founder of OnePlus even made polls on Twitter and about 95% of the people wanted to keep the headphone jack. And they're all about "listening the community" in they marketing campains, haha.... bullshit. I'm pretty sure they didn't have a choice and don't control much of their R&D because of their parent company.

But as I said, I don't really mind. I have been using my Bose QC35 for a year now and number of time I plugged something I my jack port can be counted on my fingers. It's just lame from OnePlus.

Dash/Fast charge

One of my favorite OnePlus thing, Dash Charge, is still here. Exact same speed, exact same charger, exact same cable. It's just not called Dash Charge anymore because they lost a lawsuit (to Amazon afaik). But it does not really matter, it's still is super fast and does not make your phone boil like Qualcomm's Quick Charge (from what I experienced on my S7).

Heat

Speaking of heat, the OP6T is surprisingly cool. The OP3 didn't heat that much, but since most of the time I had a thick silicon case on, I didn't notice. Even when charing and gaming on the OP6T at the same, the phone is of course a little warm, but not that much. On a daily basis, the phone can get lukewarm at most. It's pretty impressive, but I think the additional thickness and glass back might help. Good point to OnePlus on this one.

Speed

I don't game on my phone at all, compared to what I used to a few years ago. I did try Asphalt 9 though, and it's a really pleasant experience, thanks to the large screen. Loading time are super short too.

Overall, the OP6T is an incredibly fast and smooth phone. One of the reason I just did not want to move on from my OP3 was because after more than 2 years, it's still fast. Well, my dad is currently enjoying its speed, and he is also mind-blown!

Turns out... OnePlus didn't disappoint. The phone is even faster that what I was expecting. It's incredible!

Under-screen fingerprint sensor

I was worried about the under-screen fingerprint sensor. It really is dope tech but it has to be slower and less precise, right? Well, yes, it is. But not hat much. It's super impressive.

The sensor is actually a camera under the screen. When touching a specific area of the screen, some pixel turn green with the brightness to the max.

Here is a video:

I intentionally put my finger a little bit to the right so that it does not recognise me right away, in order to show how it works. Sound does not come from the phone. It's faster with my thumb. Sorry for low-quality video.

FYI there are 3 different animations, but the default one is the most fancy so I like it.

I was expecting the area to be white or blue to be honest, not green, but there is surely a reason.

The sensor is surprisingly fast, I was expecting it to be worst, especially since the one on the OP3 had one of the fastest fingerprint sensor on the market.

One of the downside of this kind of sensor is that the screen has to be on. I was also worried I had to wake up the screen every time I wanted to use my phone. On the OP3 I could just tap my finger on the fingerprint scanner and it would wake + unlock my phone.

Fortunately, this is not an issue at all with ambient display. You can configure it to be shown when you pick up your phone. It's a version of the lockscreen with most of the screen turned off but showing the hour, date, battery percentage, notification icons and the fingerprint scanner logo.

So when I'm on ambient display, I can just put my finger on the fingerprint area, and it will brighten up as shown above.

Ambient display is really nice, I can just tap one time on the screen when it's on a table or a desk and it will show just basic but important stuff such as the hour, the battery percentage, and the notification icons without the actual notification content. Another feature I like is when receiving a notifcation, the screen will light up only to show the notification on a dark background with the rest of the screen off, so it's discrete.

Speaking only of the recognition time, the OP3 is a bit better indeed, but we're talking about milliseconds here. However, in day-to-day usage, I actually unlock my phone faster thanks to the animations!

While using it, you could think that this sensor is less precise - it probably is - but I think most of the errors comes out of the fact that the "finger area" is not physically delimited. On my OP3, I could put my finger on the sensor and I would know right away if it was positioned correctly. On the 6T you're literally touching the screen so sometimes it's a few millimeters off.

One thing that I noticed is that with my OP3 it was a hit-or-miss. The phone would recognise my finger right away or it would not. With the 6T, it is fast most of the time, but sometimes it can take up to a second. Overall I'm satisfied with this sensor and it really has this "wow" effect when showing it to other people. This is still very new tech and it will take a few months before becoming mainstream. I'm pretty sure we'll see a Touch ID v2 from Apple soon.

OnePlus says the FP will work best with OnePlus-approved screen protections. In fact they ship the phone with one already installed (so did they on the OP3). It's great, and applied way better that I could ever do, and apparently has a bit of oleophobic coating. Since I take care of my phone and this is gorilla glass 6, I removed it, as I did on my OP3 and it survived 2 years without problem.

The OP6T's FP recognition improves over time. What I noticed is that when I put one of my finger in an unusual position, the FP sensor will sometimes take a second to recognise it. But once it has, if I try again, the process is much faster.

Every time a user successfully unlocks the phone with their fingerprint, the sensor also records areas of the finger that weren't registered in the initial fingerprint setup stage. This fingerprint data is then added to the data the phone already holds, making it more complete. So, every time the in-display fingerprint sensor is used, it gathers more data about the user’s fingerprint. This means that over time, the phone will unlock even faster.
The sensor’s algorithms are also able to figure out when the user’s fingerprint is different than usual – if their finger is wet or if they have a cut on it, etc. In these cases, once the phone is successfully unlocked, the algorithms add this new fingerprint data to the existing data to improve unlock speeds under these conditions in the future.

As another mean to unlock the phone, Face Unlock is available. It think it's been available since the OP5 but it has been backported up the OP3. I was really impressed because it was super fast on my OP3. On the OP6 it is still super fast and consistent. However it uses the camera only, so it can be easily fooled and not nearly as secure as a technology like Face ID. Also I prefer my slick fingerprint unlock animation, so I disabled Face Unlock.

Camera

The cameras are good, definitely better than on the OP3 at least, but not at the Pixel 3's level. Video quality seems better and we have 4K 60 FPS now!

The camera is pretty impressive in low light. OnePlus added a "Night mode", but in auto mode the photo is already heavily processed like you would expect in a night mode. The difference between what you see on the viewfinder and the processed picture is impressive. I can see more stuff on the picture than with my own eyes!

The night mode is disappointing when comparing the auto mode and night mode, because the auto mode already does so much. The night mode takes more frames, but this results in a more smoothed picture.

TL;DR: OnePlus's night mode is useless.

On the other hand I used the Pixel Camera port quite a bit and I have to say Google did a great job. Sometimes the OnePlus Camera's pictures turn out better, but most of the time the Google Camera does a better job, especially with its HDR+ mode. The night mode is also really good. And the pictures are not overexposed by default in low light (which is sometimes a good thing, but sometimes is not). The pixel's night mode make more yellowish pictures, sadly.

Here are some sample photos of a night scene with some bright elements.

Each picture isn't too noisy, but it's a great example to see how spectacular the HDR+ mode is. The night sight picture is impressive too, and it really represents what I saw with my eyes at the time. Sadly I forgot to take a picture with OnePlus's night mode.

There is a second camera on the OnePlus 6T. It could have been something useful like a wide-angle, monochromatic or telephoto lens... but it's not. It's a second lens for portrait mode. Most of it is software anyway, and it's really not impressive at all. Completely useless marketing bullshit.

Overall I'm satisfied with the camera. The front one is OK too. I will need more time to experiment with the Pixel port!

Alert slider

The alert slider is still here, but actually useful! As I said my OP3 mini-review, OnePlus destroyed it by merging the silent and vibrate mode and adding do not disturb, without letting the user have the choice. One the OP6T it's back to silent / vibrate / ring. Yay!

Battery

The battery life is incredible. With the OP3 I got 4 to 5 hours of screen-on-time at max, and 2 to 4 hours on a daily basis, with lots of different types of usage and a lot of locking/unlocking etc.

With the OP6T I get about 5 to 7h hours on a daily basis. Actually I think I never got home with less than 60%, even after a 10 hours-long day and a lot of GPS.

At home I can get up to 10 hours, but to be honest I think than on wifi, at low brightness with some youtube video playing, it can get more than 10 hours, maybe 15 according to my estimates. It's damn good!

It's worth nothing that the OP3 has a 3000 mAh battery and the 6T has a 3700 one. This is a huge improvement but the screen on the 6T is also much bigger.

Software

The OP3 does not have the Android Pie update yet so the OP6T is my first experience with Android 9. And it's great! I won't go into details but the OS feels overall more polished.

I just don't like the new iOS-like multitasking which is now horizontal instead of vertical. It's 10 times less fluid.

Since there are no physical buttons, you have 3 gestures modes:

  • The classic Android on-screen buttons
  • The Pixel on-screen buttons and gestures
  • No buttons and full gestures (OnePlus custom).

Since I want to enjoy my entire screen, I chose the gestures. So basically:

  • Home: swipe up from the bottom center of the screen
  • Back: swipe up from the bottom right or left of the screen
  • Multitask: swipe up about 2 cm while keeping your finger on the screen
  • Quick switch: like multitasking but faster and then swipe rapidly to the right.

Overall they are not bad and are probably one of the best at the moment. It's great to not waste screen space. The one thing I don't like is multitasking. The new horizontal system + theses gestures make it feel slow, unreliable and frustrating.

Miscellaneous

  • As on the OP3 I had to change the display size. By default everything feels super tiny. There are five sizes and by default it's on the second, but I prefer the third. Just FYI.
  • OnePlus also kept USB 2. In 2018. When 1 minute of 4K 60 FPS footage weighs 1GB.
  • When the OP3T was released, it was the first OP phone running F2FS for the data partition. This was backported to the OP3 with the Nougat or Oreo update. But it seems they stopped at some point, since the 6T is running ext4. It's not a problem but interesting to notice.

Conclusion

I hope this wasn't too painful to read!

OnePlus is not a perfect company by any means, but they make great phones. I like my 6T and I don't regret my purchase! Every time I pick it up, I feel like it comes from the future.

The OnePlus 7 will be the first OnePlus phone with 5G support. Will it be an excuse to increase the price even more? We'll see. It will be interesting to see how the notch will evolve (or disappear) and how under-screen fingerprint sensors will take over the market.


Main picture: Android Central