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$529 OnePlus 6 arrives May 22 with iPhone X-style notch, 6.3-inch screen

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The OnePlus 6 got its big unveiling at a London press event Wednesday, riding a wave of anticipation, carefully tailored hints on social media — and a few unplanned leaks

With this latest offering, the company hopes that its relatively affordable flagship will lure people away from expensive marquee phones like the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X.

Known primarily by Android enthusiasts, OnePlus is based in China, and its OnePlus 6 is the company’s seventh flagship. Though it is the most expensive OnePlus phone to date, it still costs hundreds of dollars less than its high-end competitors.

Among the most significant updates to the OnePlus 6 is the notch that sits at the top of its display. In an exclusive interview with CNET, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei proclaimed the OnePlus 6 as the company’s “boldest design” yet.

The phone will be available online from May 22 and you can nab it in three different finishes. Though it’s about $40 to $50 pricier than last year’s 5T, its sub-$530 starting price still makes it a competitive buy.

OnePlus 6 pricing

US UK Australia (converted)
64GB $529 £469 AU$700
128GB $579 £519 AU$770
256GB $629 £569 AU$835

OnePlus 6 has a big screen and a notch

The OnePlus 6 has a 6.3-inch screen — or, to be more specific, a 6.28-inch screen. It’s bigger than last year’s OnePlus 5T (which had a 6-inch display) even though the phones are actually about the same size. That’s because the OnePlus 6 now has a notch, meaning the top sides of its screen have been pushed all the way to the edge.

Phone notches are a point of contention, especially among Android users, who argue that its distracting presence far outweighs the “advantage” of a small increase in screen real estate. With this notch, the OnePlus 6 joins the iPhone X (which popularized the look despite not having been the first to have it), the LG G7, Huawei P20 and others.

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The OnePlus 6’s notch houses an in-ear speaker, front-facing camera and LED notification light.


Josh Miller/CNET

Pei insists that the notch is “the best thing we can do for our consumers” and allows for the OnePlus to give the phone a bigger screen without increasing its overall size. The notch houses the phone’s front-facing camera, in-ear speaker and signature LED notification light, which you can still customize for alerts.

Like LG and Huawei’s phone, you will have the option to hide this notch with a software update. This update will blacken the sides of the notch so you can have a more traditional-looking alert bar.

Few design surprises and still not fully water resistant

OnePlus claims that the OnePlus 6 is more water resistant than past iterations. But because it’s not IP-certified for water protection, that means you can’t go ahead and dunk it underwater for any notable amount of time. Instead, the company claims the phone can survive a couple of drops here and there from the rain or an overzealous sink.

This is kind of a bummer. Although making the phone splash proof instead of fully water resistant may help keep costs down, it means you still have to be careful with the phone around pools, beaches and the like.

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The phone may be able to survive a few drops of water, but don’t submerge it underwater.


Josh Miller/CNET

Overall, the phone looks similar to last year’s, except it’s now got vertically stacked and centered dual cameras on the back. But there are subtle design notes that aren’t apparent at first glance.

For instance, the phone’s back is now made out of Gorilla Glass 5, rather than metal. Also, the two black variants — the glossy mirror black and the matte midnight black — both have “hidden” accents. The mirror black has an imperceptible drop shadow on the OnePlus logo while the midnight catches the light in a unique S-curve. There is also a third white and rose gold model, which will be available later, on June 5.

Overall, the phone feels sturdy and comfortable to hold, thanks to those thin edges. But it’s not nearly as comfortable as narrower phones like, say, the G7. And while it’s a drag that the phone isn’t fully IP-certified, we all know where exactly the line is drawn with waterproof protection — at least it’s a bit more durable against water than in years past.

Dual rear cameras with image stabilization

When you look at the specs, the OnePlus 6 doesn’t seem to stray from the OnePlus 5 and 5T. You get a dual 16-megapixel lens and a 20-megapixel telephoto shooter for bokeh-style portrait photos. But there are two important differences under the hood.

The first is that the main camera’s (16-megapixel) sensor is 19 percent larger, which will let in more light and in theory should help brighten up and sharpen your pictures.

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The OnePlus 6 now has optical image stabilization.


Josh Miller/CNET

The 16-megapixel camera also has optical image stabilization, a feature OnePlus fans have been long requesting. With OIS, your photos and video recordings should be clearer and steadier. Having OIS is also useful for shaky hands considering the phone can now shoot slow-mo video at up to 480 frames per second. We’ll test this out more thoroughly soon, so stay tuned.

OnePlus plans on rolling out a software update that’ll also enable the front-facing camera to take portrait pictures with blurred backgrounds too. Because it’s a single-lens camera, however, the effect will be applied through software.

Goodies for gamers and Android P Beta

With its minimalist take on Android 8.1 Oreo, OnePlus kept the software mostly the same. You can now hide the onscreen hotkeys (including the home button) completely and navigate the phone using iPhone X-like gestures, including swiping up and holding for recent apps. If you play games on your phone though, there are some added bonuses.

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OnePlus added more tweaks to the phone’s “Gaming Mode” setting.


Josh Miller/CNET

On top of muting notifications during game play, you can now shift the network data usage of apps running in the background to maximize the intake of data your currently opened app or game is using. You can also choose to have games display in a low or high resolution to save battery and you can disable auto-brightness while gaming.

And if you’re interested in getting started with Google’s upcoming OS update, the phone is one of the first few phones that can run Android P Beta, along with the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL and the Essential Phone.

The upcoming OS update supports navigational gestures (similar to the iPhone X) around a digital home button. It also uses artificial intelligence to predict what apps you don’t use as frequently and optimizes battery life around those habits.

OnePlus 6 spec comparison

OnePlus 6 Samsung Galaxy S9 Google Pixel 2 iPhone X LG G7 ThinQ
Display size, resolution 6.28-inch; 2,280×1,080 pixels 5.8-inch OLED; 2,960×1,440 pixels 5-inch OLED; 1,920×1,080 pixels 5.8-inch; 2,436×1,125 pixels 6.1-inch IPS LCD; 3,120 x 1,440 pixels
Pixel density 402 ppi 570 ppi 441 ppi 458 ppi 563 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.13×2.97×0.31 in 5.81×2.70×0.33 in 5.7×2.7×0.3 in 5.7×2.79×0.30 in 6×2.8×0.31 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 155.7×75.4×7.75 mm 147.7×68.7×8.5 mm 145.7×69.7×7.8 mm 143.6×70.9×7.7 mm 153.2×71.9×7.9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.2 oz; 177 g 5.75 oz; 163 g 5.04 oz; 143 g 6.14 oz; 174 g 5.7 oz; 162 g
Mobile software Android 8.1 Nougat Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo iOS 11 Android 8.0 Oreo
Camera 16-megapixel standard, 20-megapixel telephoto 12-megapixel 12-megapixel Dual 12-megapixel Dual 16-megapixel
Front-facing camera 16-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel 7-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor 2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (2.8GHz + 1.7GHz), or Samsung Exynos 9810 (2.7 GHz + 1.7 GHz) Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Apple A11 Bionic 2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 256GB 64GB
RAM 6GB, 8GB 4GB 4GB 3GB 4GB
Expandable storage None 400GB None None Up to 2TB
Battery 3,300mAh 3,000mAh 2,700mAh 2,716mAh 3,000mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back of phone Back Back cover None (Face ID via TrueDepth camera) Back
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C Lightning USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes No No Yes
Special features Portrait mode, notifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging Dual-aperture camera, water-resistant (IP68); super slo-mo video; wireless charging; iris scanning Google Assistant; unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR-ready Water resistant (IP67), wireless Qi charge compatible, TrueDepth front-facing camera adds Face ID for payments and enables front-facing AR effects Water resistant (IP68), wireless charging, DTS:X 3D Surround, Quad DAC
Price off-contract (USD) $529 (64GB), $579 (128GB), $629 (256GB) Varies: $720-$800 (64GB) $649 (64GB), $749 (128GB) $999 (64GB), $1,149 (256GB) TBA
Price (GBP) £469 (64GB), £519 (128GB), £569 (256GB) £739 £629 (64GB), £729 (128GB) £999 (64GB), £1,149 (256GB) TBA
Price (AUD) AU$700 (64GB), AU$770 (128GB), AU$835 (256GB) converted AU$1,199 (64GB), AU$1,349 (256GB) AU$1,079 (64GB), AU$1,229 (128GB) AU$1,579 (64GB), AU$1,829 (256GB) TBA

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