OnePlus has their new OnePlus 7 out now and leading as their flagship but with the 7 being available it also pushed down the pricing on the Oneplus 6T. I’ve been using the 6T for a while now and with the new discounted price I thought it would be a good time to check it out and see how it compares with a few of today's top phones. I’ve got the Note 9 and S9+ to test alongside of the 6T today which are both similar in size and the S9+ is similar to the 6T in that it was a flagship that was recently surpassed by the S10. So let's check out what OnePlus has to offer with the 6T then run it through all of our tests to see how its performance compares.
Product Name: OnePlus 6T
Review Sample Provided by: OnePlus
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures Provided by: Wes Compton
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Photos and Features
Before getting into the OnePlus 6T we have to get it out of the box first. OnePlus packed it up in a box with a large 6 on the front and the OnePlus logo up in the top edge. Below that is a red band that wraps around the box keeping it closed. The band highlights the OnePlus community and how by now owning the 6T you are one of them. Around on the back of the box, the band repeats its quote about superior taste in the finest technology. Below that is a standard sticker with the barcodes for things like the phone itself, its serial number, two IMEI numbers, and the meid number. Those help with setting the phone up if in the store. The sticker also shows this as the Midnight Black model with 8 gigs of ram and 128GB of storage. There is a 256GB of storage model as well as 128GB models with 6GBs of ram. There is a special edition McLaren edition with 256GB of storage and 10GBs of ram as well but it is hard to come by at this point. The 8GB/128GB variation I’m testing is also the same configuration that is easiest to find and has been on sale.
When you pull off the red band and the slide on cover from the packaging right up on top of the 6T’s box is the phone itself. It comes with a peel-off sticker on the front that shows where the fingerprint scanner is and it sits in a tray formed to fit the phone perfectly. Once you pull that tray out there is a small note under the tray that is printed but in the handwriting of OnePlus co-Founder and CEO Pete Lau welcoming you to the community and pointing out that your feedback moves the company forward. This note reminds me of the cards you get with Razer products as well. It's clear that OnePlus is focused on the underdog community aspect where you don’t get things like this with Samsung phones for example. I’m impressed that they still have this focus and feel, they did the same thing on their early phones but the company and name have grown so much I’m happy to see that they haven’t changed.
Inside the box up under everything are the accessories just like every phone. OnePlus has that bright red charging cable that they have had for a while now, I like it because it stands out from all of the other cords you might have in your car or on your desk and you know right away it is the cord that supports the 4 amp fast charging. Sadly the normal 6T doesn’t get the 30-watt warp charging the McLaren Edition and OnePlus 7 have though. The charger cord has a USB type-C on one end and a standard A on the other. That end plugs into the included AC adapter which is a little big and bulky but it is small enough to at least not block a second plug on a power outlet or strip which is the main thing I care about. There is also a Type-C headphone adapter which has that same white and red theme as well.
Up under the accessories OnePlus gives you all of the documentation but they pack it all together inside of the included case for the 6T. My OnePlus 3 was the first phone that I had come with a screen protector on it by default and seeing the included case made me feel the same as I did back them with the 3. Not everyone wants to rush and spend even more money on their phone right after buying the phone, not having to worry about protecting it right from the start is a huge relief. Not to mention it saving money. As for the documentation that was tucked inside, you get a card with the SIM card tool, a safety book, a manual, and one about the OnePlus Community.
So most phones have merged into a very similar style with just a few features now helping to set them apart. In the past, OnePlus has had a bottom row on the front of the phone with the android controls as well as a built-in thumbprint reader. The OnePlus 6 was their first model to drop that and extend the screen all the way down due to a built-in under screen fingerprint reader. The OnePlus 6T that I’m looking at is the successor to that model that made a few changes like dropping the headphone jack and making the “notch” at the top of the screen smaller. Speaking of, when you get a close look you can see that the front-facing camera is still at the top but the screen still extends up to the top of the phone. OnePlus shipped the 6T with a screen protector from the factory which I think is awesome, the included screen protector on my OnePlus 3 lasted years eventually saving the phone from a large scratch where I was able to then pull it off to a like new screen. The front facing camera is a 16MP model Sony Exmor IM371 which is the same one used on the OnePlus 6, 5T, and 5. It has a focal ratio of F/2.0 and is capable of 1080p at 30 FPS.
Around on the back, the 6T has a little more helping it stand out. Our model is the black version. My photo of the phone gives it more of a metallic looking finish but the phone actually has a really nice flat black finish. All of the sides are beveled with the long side edges having a lot more of a curve than the top and bottom for better in hand comfort. The overall phone dimensions are 157.5x74.8mm which for comparison the new S10+ is 157.6x74.1mm so extremely close in size. It's hard to see but OnePlus also put their logo on the back in a gloss black which looks great against the flat black. It is right above the sticker on the back with the IMEI and MEID numbers. Above all of that, they have the rear camera centered with the LED flash at the bottom and the dual rear cameras above that one on top of each other. The cameras are slightly raised over the back of the phone, but not much. It is similar to both the Note 9 and the S9+. For rear cameras, there is the main camera and a secondary. The main one is a Sony IMX 519 which is a 16MP with an aperture/focal ratio of f/1.7 then the secondary is a Sony IMX 376K which is a 20MP that is also f/1.7. The 16MP camera uses a larger sensor with a 1.22 µm pixel size vs the 1 µm of the secondary camera.
Taking a look at the right side of the 6T gives us a look at the overall thickness of the phone. At 8.2mm thick it is thinner than the new OnePlus 7 Pro and thicker than the Samsung S10+. It is thinner than the S9+ and Note 9 that I’ve also been testing alongside of the 6T. This edge doesn’t have very much going on, the power button is there and then one of OnePlus’s signature features, a switch that lets you flip between silent, vibrate, and ring modes.
The top edge only has one small microphone hole and right at the edge of the glass and the casing above the front-facing camera there is a small slit with the ear speaker but it isn’t visible at all without looking very closely.
The left edge of the 6T has the pop out SIM card tray which has support for two SIMs. Then below that is the volume up and down buttons.
Down on the bottom edge, the 6T has two sets of speaker holes and then a USB type-C plug for charging and data sync. Only one of the speaker ports is for the build in bottom facing speaker, the other is where they have the microphone is tucked away. You will also note that there is no longer a headphone jack like the OnePlus 6, you have to use the included Type-C to headphone adapter.
The 6T has a 6.41-inch screen or 6.24 if you account for the rounded corners of the display. It runs at a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2340 x 1080 giving the display a total PPI of 402. The display is an Optic AMOLED screen running 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 6 covering it. With the screen on you can see the notch around the front-facing camera better with that teardrop shape but I was immediately impressed with how close the screen gets to the side edges as well as the top other than around the camera. The bottom edge still has a little bit of a bezel.
I mentioned it when I talked about the packaging for the 6T but I can’t say it enough, I love that OnePlus includes a phone case with their phone. It is a simple transparent rubber case and it isn’t spectacular in any way, but it is free and protects the 6T. Combined with the pre-installed screen protector you shouldn’t have to worry about scratches and most damage right away. The case leaves openings on the end for the speaker holes and is designed to form fit over the power and volume buttons. While not very thick, the case is thick enough to also keep the camera glass off of a table when you set the phone down as well which is always a concern when the camera protrudes even if it is a small amount like the 6T.
Here is a look at the case after being installed. It has a transparent smoked color and as expected it fits perfectly. The only hole on the sides is for the SIM card tray which I’m surprised they bothered with, a lot of cases just cover those, but if you need to swap SIMs the included case will still allow that easily. On the bottom around the Type-C charging port, the case left extra room to make sure charging cables will still plug all the way in. In that same photo, you can also see how OnePlus went thicker on the corners to help protect the screen without making the entire case feel bulky. Even with the case installed you can still see the sticker on the back of our 6T which gives you a better idea of the overall transparency of the phone.
So knowing I would be testing against the Samsung S9+ and Note 9 I also got a few pictures with both of those next to the OnePlus 6T. The Note 9 is in blue and the S9+ has that rose color. I will say that I love that Samsung offers a few color options which help give a little uniqueness. OnePlus does have the McLaren 6T which has that carbon fiber and orange finish which would fit my own personal tastes, but beyond that, the 6T is only available in gloss or midnight black aka gloss or flat finishes. The picture of the three phones stacked shows that they are all similar in thickness favoring the OnePlus 6T by about half a mm. Its shape is very different, Samsung has their rounded glass on the front of both phones so the sides have more of a full round shape where the 6T has more of a curve on the back than the front edge. They all have USB Type-C plugs as expected but Samsung has kept the headphone jacks where the 6T dropped it. The top-down look shows how similar the S9+ and 6T are in overall size with the Note 9 only very slightly larger. Seriously, remember when “normal” phones where smaller and the Note like used to look huge, now all phones are basically at the same size as the Note lineup.
With the screens on all three turned on you can really get a better idea of how the notch around the camera and the thin bezels help fit a big screen. Both the Note 9 and S9+ have a larger bezel at the bottom of the phone and they both have a bezel at the top which the 6T didn’t.
I put all three phones through our benchmark suite which has been updated with a few new tests and a few of our older tests as well. You can spot the older tests because on those I have left past results in as well for even more comparison points. Just getting to compare the OnePlus 6T against the Note 9 and S9+ is interesting enough, but slipping a few older phones in the mix might be exactly what you need to see how your previous phone would compare. All of our tests are also available and simple to reproduce as well on your own device for comparison. So for hardware, the OnePlus 6T has 8 gigs of ram and is running on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 which is a 10nm octa-core and runs at “up to” 2.8 GHz. Four cores run at that 2.9 GHz and 4 efficiency cores run at 1.9 GHz. For the GPU it has an Adreno 630. The Note 9 and S9+ both have the same CPU and GPU configuration as well which should keep them close in performance but software and thermal can also affect that.
So my first round of tests are all browser based tests that check HTML5 and JAVA performance. For a lot of people, this is what they use their phone for the most. Across all four tests, you can see that the three Snapdragon 845 devices run together. All three phones came out ahead in at least one test showing that they all performed about the same even with there being gaps between them in individual tests but even the old iPhone 7 still came out again here in most of the tests.
My next round of testing was for gaming performance. I like 3DMark a lot for these because some of the tests can even be compared to laptops and PCs. I did also get a VRMark test which is a good look at phone based VR performance The OnePlus 6T really excelled at the gaming tests, staying at the top in most of the tests, especially in the VR test which it was WAY ahead. You can see just how big the performance gap is between these phones which are all still last years models compared to a few of our older tests, gaming performance has improved significantly recently, the Note 9 vs the Note 4 is nearly three times as fast for example.
Now it might not be something you think about when shopping for a phone but storage performance plays a big role in how a device performs and feels. The worst part is when looking at specifications you can’t just look at know about how it will perform, you only know what you get for ram and data storage and that is it. I’ve run a few tests to take a look at the performance of those. In AndroBench I check out read and write speeds which has the 6T in the middle of the other two for read speeds and out ahead for write speeds. That said I’m happy to see that phones are now getting performance up in the 700 MB/s for read speed, write speeds need to significantly improve. The storage IOPs tests, on the other hand, put the 6T as the slowest of the three. Then the PCMark storage tests storage performance in the internal, external, and database to put together an overall score which as you can see the 6T really stands out in this test with the two Samsung phones not even beating the older Moto Z Force from a few years ago.
For general CPU performance, I used a few overall benchmarks like PCMark, Passmark, and AnTuTu. In PCMark, I ran the older Work workload and the new Work 2.0. The older Work test lets us look at a lot more past tested devices but like in the gaming tests you can see a big dropoff when going back to older devices. The S9+ pulled ahead on that test out of the group of three but then on Work 2.0 it was the 6T on top with the S9+ behind.
Two of the new tests added were about AI and image recognition. The first is the Computer Vision test in PCMark. This tests how quickly the phone recognizes barcode and QR codes with ZXing, optical character recognition with Tesseract, and image recognition with TensorFlow. Again all three phones were bunched up together but with the 6T out ahead and the S9+ and then Note 9 behind it. The AI Benchmark which is both the name of the benchmark and also what the test does had the 6T significantly behind which given the same hardware I’m really not sure why that happened. That test is similar to the image recognition part of the PCMark test.
I split Geekbench apart from the other tests because I love that it allows me to take a look at single and multi-core performance. Our previous test to do this went away. Of course, all three phones are running the same Snapdragon 845 so they are close in performance. You can see though that single core results are the same but when all 8 cores are used thermals change the performance a little with the OnePlus 6T coming out ahead. Passmark had the 6T out a lot more than the other two 845 phones which really makes me look forward to the thermal throttling tests because its clear that has to be going on here given they all have the same CPU and clock speed. The same with the AnTuTu score which had all three close but the 6T out ahead.
A few years ago my biggest concern when it came to purchasing a phone was actually battery performance. Taking your phone to work and using it from time to time or even just being in a lower signal area and having it barely last your work day was a big issue. That has improved a lot as you can see in our battery performance tests but it is still nice to get the best possible battery life. OS improvements play a role in this, each phone has their own way of handling low battery power as well to help. But brute force always helps with a larger battery. In this case with all three phones being close in screen size and having the same GPU and CPU configuration I was very curious how things would work out. Screen brightness is important on all of these. For the Geekbench test which I just added I ran the shorter test and Geekbench set the brightness level. For the two PCMark tests I set the brightness to the halfway point and did the tests. All phones were on airplane mode to keep emails, messages, or updates from changing things as well. I should note though that the 50% screen brightness setting had the 6T noticeably dimmer than the two Samsung phones and the Geekbench had the 6T at least twice as bright as the other two. In the Geekbanch test, I couldn’t even see the screen on the Samsungs. I've included a picture below of what the screens looked like, something is clearly wrong on the Geekbench test.
Anyhow I still have our results and in the older PCMark Work test the 6T dominated with a 953-minute long result which is over 15 hours of running the PCMark tests over and over again. The Work 2.0 workload was a little more demanding and dropped the result down to 802 minutes which is over 13 hours. The Note 9 and S9+ came in behind that. The Note 9 has a the largest battery out of the three at 4000 mAh, the 6T second at 3700 mAh, and then the S9+ at 3500 mAh. The Geekbench 4 result put the 6T in the middle of the pack which was in line with the overall battery capacity, but didn’t really match the two PCMark results and given the screen brightness in the above picture I would say something is up there. After doing the battery tests I was curious how the total charge time for the 6T. Going from 18% charge I got a full charge in 67 minutes which wasn’t bad at all with OnePlus’s fast charging though it does make me wonder how the Warp Charging would improve things.
The last thing I wanted to look at was thermal throttling and I already had an idea of what I was going to see given some of the results in the other tests. The OnePlus 6T came out ahead of the Note 9 and S9+ in a lot of benchmarks even with all three running the same CPU and GPU configuration. So to take a look I used a benchmark called CPU Throttling Test that runs a 15-minute long test loading everything up and then monitoring the CPU cores to see if they drop down in clock speed. In the graphs below you can see that the S9+ really took a hit when under extended load, dropping down to half the speed at some points in the test and overall it was bad early on and through the test. The Note 9 held up for longer but dropped down in the second half throttling down to 68% at one point. Then the 6T was a little better with a slower gradual drop dropping down to 83% at its worst. The average numbers were even more in favor of the 6T. Overall this was one of the big contributors to the 6T’s performance.
I used to keep a small point and shoot camera nearby all of the time and would often travel with our big DSLRs as well but as phone cameras have improved I haven’t had to do that in a while. Camera performance is extremely important to me when it comes to a new phone because not only are you potentially improving how fast your mobile PC it is also normally your big camera upgrade as well. Well, the OnePlus 6T is sporting a few different cameras. For the front facing camera is has a 16MP Sony Exmor IMX371 which can do 1080p and 720p both at 30 FPS. It supports HDR and has a focal ratio of F/2.0. For comparison both the Note 9 and S9+ that I have been testing the 6T up against have 8MP front cameras with F/1.7 focal ratio’s. Now I’m not a selfie person personally, but for some people, this might be the most important camera on the phone so it is nice seeing that upgraded resolution. For testing, I did take a selfie with all three as you can see below for comparison. Other than my face being red because I’m always red you can see a noticeable difference in the detail on the 6T compared to the others. Now the 6T does have a few different photo aspect ratio options and this was taken with the stretched out version that uses the same aspect ratio as the screen. OnePlus seems like including this option because you can fully take advantage of that edge to edge screen but a normal 4:3 aspect ration would be a lot better for a vertical photo like this.
Samsung Note 9
For me, though the rear camera is what I use the most and I don’t think a day goes by without me taking 4 or 5 pictures at minimum and more when traveling. I use my camera to remind myself of things without having to write a model number or something down, to document change in something like our pool opening, for portraits or just to get a picture to post up on social media. The OnePlus 6T uses a 16MP camera on the rear as well but it is the Sony Exmor IMX519 with a focal ratio of F/1.7 and then a second camera which is 20MP (the Sony Exmor IMX376K). Together they are used for HDR and for phase detection autofocus. This combo does video in 4k at up to 60 FPS, 1080p at up to 240 FPS, and 720p at up to 480 FPS. Slow motion capabilities at 1080p and 720p are nice! For comparison, the Note 9 and S9+ both have dual 12MP cameras. Both Samsungs have a 2x optical zoom which I really wish the 6T had. For testing here, I took a few different types of photos. My first batch below were outside photos of a local church. This is basically a best case photo on every camera. I also included one picture using the 2x optical zoom to give an idea of how much closer you can get with that. IMO the two Samsung phones pictures are more vibrant here but having been there in person the OnePlus 6T was a little closer to what it looked like in person. The S9+ and Note 9 bright out a lot more details like up on the roof because of that vibrancy.
Up under our studio lights, I took a few pictures of our Nvidia GTX USB drive for macro shots. This is where the 2x optical zoom on the two Samsung devices really helped to get in closer without having the phone completely against the drive. In these shots I feel like the Samsung devices, even with lower resolution cameras did a better job focusing and showing the detail.
Samsung Note 9
My last photos are of a small quadcopter. I like taking these because it is small in size so it’s a good look at the detail and the orange ring seems to be one of the hardest for cameras to get the coloring right. I then take a second set with the quadcopter on and the lighting turned down. These pictures give an idea of how night photos with lighting are handled. The 6T did the best replicating the orange of the three and it didn’t have as much trouble with the focus like with the previous macro shot. The night lighting with LEDs shot was also best on the 6T in my opinion. Both Samsung’s blew out the lighting by over-correcting on the colors, just like on the outside shots.
Samsung Note 9
Overall and Final Verdict
Normally I am taking a look at the latest and greatest hardware and frankly when OnePlus sent over the 6T it still was. But the 6T has now been passed up by the OnePlus 7 and phones like the new Samsung S10. But just because the 6T isn’t the flagship phone anymore doesn’t mean it isn’t a great phone. More importantly, the pricing has dropped as well and I’m really interested in seeing if the 6T is a good value, especially for those of you who prefer to buy their phones outright to keep an older plan or to avoid paying monthly. So today I’ve been checking out the 6T compared with the Samsung S9+ and Samsung Note 9. They both have the same Snapdragon 845 Oct-Core CPU and Adreno 630 GPU so right away I knew performance would be close. But I was surprised to figure out that OnePlus is handling heat better with the 6T and because of that, the 6T outperformed the other two phones in a lot of situations due to not having as much thermal throttling. In the end, any of the three phones are extremely fast but the 6T has that performance edge. That combined with fast read and write performance on the storage makes the 6T feel snappy.
It ended up being the little things that really helped the OnePlus 6T stand out for me. You get a screen protector and a phone case with the phone for free and while I do like to pick out a unique case for my phone not having to rush and get those things the day you buy your phone is really nice and it helps add a little value, saving you from buying a case or screen protector. Then small details in the packaging show that OnePlus is still community focused and has that small company feel while you get the performance and features of the big companies. The edge to edge screen is amazing, there were almost no bezels at all with the exception of the notch for the front-facing camera. The 6T did really well on the cameras as well with a 16MP front-facing camera for those selfie lovers and dual rear cameras for people like me who have replaced their day to day camera use with their phone. The only thing missing to me would be a small optical zoom like both the Note 8 and S9+ had, but even when carrying both I favored the 6T for most situations.
Now OnePlus did drop the headphone jack which was a big bummer for me. I use my headphones when doing lawn work and have multiple higher end pairs of earbuds that I have picked up over the years. I’m eventually just going to have to get a wireless pair but this is an area that Samsung is still impressing me with them continuing to include a headphone jack on their phones. The under glass fingerprint sensor on the 6T was exciting, this was the first phone I had a chance to try that out on. Initially, I wasn’t happy at all with it, OnePlus fingerprint sensors have been extremely fast and the 6T’s sensor wasn’t quick at all. In fact, early on the fingerprint sensor had a lot of trouble working at all. I added my thumb in multiple times and over time it did improve. Once worked out though the performance did improve except outside in bright sunlight. The battery life on the 6T was also a big feature, it having to run home and charge your phone after 8 hours of work is no longer a concern and even if it was charge time wasn’t much longer than fixing and eating dinner.
With the OnePlus 6T’s performance not in question, really the main question is what it is selling for. The Galaxy S9+ that I tested against the 6T has dropped down in price to $599.99 and you can even find the Note 9 for $575. The 6T, on the other hand, can be found for $509 right now. It was cheaper a few weeks ago but even at the $509 price point on Amazon, it isn’t looking like a bad option. Compared directly with the competition it is cheaper and frankly when you compare its price to the new S10 which is $659 or the S10+ which is $784 it is a lot closer to that price range that people can afford to buy outright rather than finance. Now $509 isn’t cheap like past OnePlus phones, but if you are looking for a high-end phone that isn’t going to break the bank like the recently introduced Galaxy S10 the OnePlus 6T is still a great option. With OnePlus only offering the 7 Pro in the US, not the 6T based OnePlus 7 this is still near the top of their product lineup as well. Keep an eye out for deals, this could be a solid phone that isn’t priced like the other flagship phones.
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