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Opinion: The OnePlus 6T just isn’t a big enough upgrade

The OnePlus 6 is one of my favorite phones of 2018, but I can't say I'm as excited for the OnePlus 6T. How about you?

Published onOctober 27, 2018

A leaked render of the OnePlus 6T.

The OnePlus 6 may not be loaded will all the bells and whistles of more expensive flagships, but it’s easily one of the best phones you can buy in 2018. After reviewing the OnePlus 6 earlier this year I felt it would be pretty hard for the company to put together a compelling T iteration.

Turns out I was right.

The OnePlus 6T brings a few changes to the table, but I argue most of them aren’t all that interesting.

A smaller notch is still a notch

The OnePlus 6T shrinks the notch down by 75 percent. That’s a big improvement, but a smaller notch is still a notch.

Those that find notches visually distracting likely aren’t going to find the teardrop notch speaks to them any better. Using several notch phones I have found you get used to the notch no matter the size, but some of my notch-hating friends seem to think that the only way to go is to get rid of it all together in a move similar to the Mi Mix 3. Of course, both the 6 and 6T allow you to disable the notch if you really hate it.

There is at least one major advantage to this smaller notch, as there is now room for more notifications. Whether this is a game-changing difference is up to you.

HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro in screen fingerprint reader
HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro is one example of a phone with an in-display scanner.

In-display fingerprint scanners are cool, but not a must-have

I won’t deny that in-display fingerprint scanners look really futuristic and will be a cool feature to show off to others. But are they really any better? Not really.

Judging by existing in-display scanners, the scanner will likely be at least a little slower than the rear scanner on the OnePlus 6. Some people prefer front-facing scanners because they don’t want to have to pick their phone up to unlock it. I’m not one of these people. In fact, I think I pretty much always pick up my phone before using it.

The debate between front or rear fingerprint scanners is a personal one, but I’ve always preferred the natural center position on the rear. So this just isn’t a feature that speaks to me.

The new software will come to the OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6T is expected to ship with Android Pie, as well as the latest version of Oxygen OS. That said, the 6 already runs Android Pie via an upgrade, just on a slightly older version of Oxygen.

I’m sure the new update will bring a few new features, but it’s only a matter of time before they come to the OnePlus 6.

Always on displays are great, but not must-have
Always on displays are great, but not must-have

If it happens: the always-on display is actually pretty cool

The OnePlus 6T is rumored to come with an always-on feature. I’ll admit, I love always-on displays like found on the Pixel 3. If this does come to the OnePlus 6T, that’s great. It’s certainly not enough to make me buy a new phone, but I look forward to hopefully seeing it in the OnePlus 7 next year.

OnePlus has partnered with T-Mobile

The OnePlus 6T will be the first phone from the brand to be on a US carrier (T-Mobile to be specific). This is a good step in the right direction, but not something that will affect me. Most existing OnePlus fans probably feel the same and will continue to buy directly from OnePlus.

OnePlus 6

The headphone situation is jacked up

So far none of the new features are that important to me. One thing I do care about is the headphone jack, and the OnePlus 6T is removing it.

While most of the time I do use Bluetooth headphones, it’s nice to be able to keep on listening when the battery dies. As someone who works from a desk and listens to music all day, this happens reasonably often.

Axing the headphone jack goes against what most OnePlus owners want in a phone

Now I could live without a headphone jack if I found one of the features above to be super compelling, but I don’t. I also feel like this is a slap in the face from a company that supposedly monitors forum comments and listens to its user base.

Then again, we shouldn’t be that surprised. The OnePlus 6’ notch was also a bit of a slap in the face (even if it was a change I got used to). OnePlus clearly is interested in going mainstream and doesn’t care if it drives away some of its original fans in this process.

As much as the headphone jack thing bothers me, I also have to point out that the “axing useful features” isn’t new for the T line either. After all, the OnePlus 5T removed the 5’s telephoto lens and many weren’t too happy about that either.

Iteration is the name of the game: OnePlus 5, 5T, and 6 shown

T iterations aren’t meant to be major changes

The T iterations are always pretty minor mid-year refreshes meant to capitalize on the biggest trends of the year.

Last year OEMs were jumping on the 18:9 display train and the 5T was OnePlus’ opportunity to catch up. This year, it’s smaller notches and in-display fingerprint scanners that are the newest hotness.

None of these things are revolutionary changes. However, coming from a OnePlus 5, I found the 18:9 display on the OnePlus 5T really made a noticeable difference in my day-to-day use. I was able to get much more screen real estate without switching to a bigger phone. It also just felt cooler.

The OnePlus 6T seems like a good phone, just not a massive upgrade - even for a T release

The trends for 2018 don’t appeal to me as much. A smaller notch doesn’t give me much more space and the front facing fingerprint scanner isn’t my cup of tea.

I feel like the OnePlus 6 was so refined that there just wasn’t much to change. Personally I think OnePlus should have just waited for the OnePlus 7, or finally gave us a second-gen OnePlus X. Of course, everyone is different and choice is a good thing. The OnePlus 6T isn’t for me, but it might be for you.

Android Authority’s C Scott Brown was truly excited to see the return of the front-facing scanner and liked the idea of a smaller notch. He pointed out several other reasons he plans to get the OnePlus 6T, which you can read here.

The OnePlus 6T isn’t a bad phone and I’m sure many will enjoy it. I just don’t think it’s that exciting. Hopefully OnePlus can wow me again with the OnePlus 7 next year.

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