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OnePlus 6/6T redux: Are they still worth it?
With the massively anticipated OnePlus 7 series now public, we decided to look back at the outgoing models to see just how well they stack up in 2019 (spoiler alert: they’re still top-notch!). A revisit was in order, and I was tasked with finding out just how badly, or excellently, the OnePlus 6 and 6T have aged.
Pricing has always been a crucial part of how OnePlus markets their devices, going all the way back to 2014. With the 6 and 6T still at around $550 new (or even less if you are willing to buy used), they’re still great value. There have been other phones come in and take the role of super-budget flagships, such as the POCOphone F1 from Xiaomi. Competition has pushed some consumers to question OnePlus’ “Flagship Killer” status. However, there are some key advantages to the OnePlus 6 and 6T over cheaper models, advantages that show themselves even when the devices are over six months old.
They're still a fantastic value in the flagship market.
Firstly, the big and beautiful FHD+ OLED displays. The 6 and 6T share very similar panel types, and we don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. At just over 400ppi, you’re getting some sharp detail whether you’re watching videos, playing games, or reading that super long text from your significant other that you only received because you forgot to do the dishes. Sure, these panels don’t quite match the OnePlus 7 Pro’s QHD or even UHD displays we see on some smartphones, but they don’t have to, and they come bearing advantages.
Battery life and performance are key traits of the 6 series. The use of AMOLED screens has given OnePlus a massive advantage over its 2019 mid-range competition. The perfect blacks and deep contrast immerse you in a way that LCD just cannot, especially in the dark and when watching dark content, where LCD gives off an unnatural glow.
With the Snapdragon 845 and 6 to 8GB of RAM under their belt, the 6 and 6T are hardly strapped for speed. It’s a year-old SoC, yes, but the OnePlus devices in which it’s installed are known to be among the fastest phones on the planet, even now. The Adreno 630 GPU can push pixels with ease, and there have seemingly been no signs of slowdown, lag, or any hiccups of any kind; that’s refreshing to see, a year after launch.
We know a lot of you are avid mobile gamers, and this is something the 6 and 6T do very well. I tested PUBG Mobile and Real Racing 3 to try and get these things to trip but they’re still as smooth as butter, a testament to their solid software and hardware combination. 6GB of RAM on the base model versions is still plenty in 2019, allowing for smooth multitasking and split screening, and the 8GB models are naturally an extension of this.
As of writing, we get Oxygen OS 9.0.4 and 9.0.12 on the 6 and 6T respectively, with OnePlus looking to push Android Q to these devices, and possibly Android R when the time comes. Previous devices have managed to get software support that their pricey competition just plainly hasn’t got.
The very stock-looking software is so clean and unmolested, it allows the whole phone to feel fresh and not bogged down like some older models from Samsung and HUAWEI. I believe the best feature of OnePlus devices is their software and the 6/6T simply prove that point.
Battery life is definitely an important point to peek at since we’re looking at six-month- and year-old devices here. We are not getting the 4,000mAh cells from 2019 flagships and that shows. However, the 3,700mAh unit found in the 6T still easily gets me through a full day of watching the odd YouTube video, reading articles, endlessly looking through memes, and chatting with the team. The 3,300mAh battery in the 6 is slightly less impressive, generally getting me 90 percent through the day. Since there’s 20W Dash Charge on both, topping up for 15 minutes at lunch isn’t a problem and allows me to breeze past that 18-hour mark without any anxieties.
Haptics is an area of the 6 series that feels significantly worse than the competition. If you’ve used any iPhone from the 7 and up, the 6 and 6T’s vibration motors will feel mushy and echoey. This is something that the OnePlus 7 Pro has massively improved upon and will make the 6 and 6T feel outdated.
Camera quality is definitely not what OnePlus is known for, and that’s something set to continue with the new OnePlus 7 Pro. I really liked the images coming from the OnePlus 6 and 6T, but I can’t say they’re the most impressive I’ve ever seen, even from their generation.
Software makes up a massive part of the modern smartphone camera and you can really see it working hard here on the 6 and 6T’s shooters. The array of modes and settings in the OnePlus camera app is definitely a nice balance between simplicity and versatility. The manual, pro options are very handy, though they’re tucked behind the pull-up drawer with the other modes and settings.
Image quality from the OnePlus 6 and 6T looks solid, there’s no getting away from that. They aren’t massively spec’d and neither have the best HDR available, but remember the age and the price and you’re getting something rather special here. You get great dynamic range, excellent details in highlights, shadows and everything in between; the colors are slightly washed out, but nothing substantial; the selfies are stellar.
The one area in which the 6T seems to stomp the 6 is in NightScape, OnePlus’ take on night mode. Clarity, sharpness, and detail are so much better on the 6T in my testing that it seems almost unfair to compare them. It’s a stark contrast to the almost indistinguishable day-time shots.
The 6 series' biggest weakness is its lack of extra focal lengths.
The biggest weakness of the 6-series cameras has to be the lack of different focal lengths. We are used to seeing wide-angle/telephoto lenses now, and ToF sensors in the latest and greatest Android phones. A single, standard 25mm-equivalent is rather underwhelming. The 7 series brings OnePlus up to par with its competitors, but you’ll have to leave with the lack of flexibility on the 6 series.
If you’re seeking a more 2019-esque design, it goes without saying that the 6T will fit you far more, with a water-droplet notch and in-display fingerprint scanner, albeit without the headphone port. Neither the 6T or the 6 have any kind of water resistance certification. That’s something of concern if you’re an outdoors person, and I personally enjoy the peace of mind that I can drop my phone in a puddle and not have it die of water damage. Alas, the OnePlus 7 Pro still suffers from the same shortcoming.
Are the OnePlus 6 and 6T worth it in 2019? Absolutely yes. In fact, given the chance, I’d likely take the 6T over any other phone on the market currently, thanks to its speed and reliability alone.
Post-OnePlus 7, the OnePlus 6T has enjoyed a $30 price cut that makes it very well-placed in the market, even six months later. I know several people who bought the OnePlus 6T or 6 in the past three months, and they’re all happy owners who are more than content with their purchases.
But what do you think of the 6 series from OnePlus? Do you own one/want to own one? And what are your thoughts on buying used?