What is the OnePlus 6?
OnePlus has become well-known for its phones which take on the might of the Samsungs and Apples of this world, but without the super high price tag. The company has a strong emphasis on customer feedback, with a community of dedicated OnePlus fans who it is keen to please.
- Great value
- Sleek design
- Fantastic native camera app
- Mixed results from portrait mode
- No telephoto zoom
The OnePlus 6 is the latest flagship model in the company’s line-up. Compared to its predecessor, the screen, camera, battery and design has been upgraded. As we’re mostly interested in the camera – the important things you need to know about that is that it has a dual-camera setup. That’s something which is becoming increasingly common.
Rather than giving you a telephoto zoom, the second camera and lens provide detail. You’ve got a 20 million pixel sensor coupled with a 16 million pixel sensor, both featuring f/1.7 lenses.
Other camera-related features include the reintroduction of optical image stabilisation (the OnePlus 5 and 5T didn’t have it), 4K video recording at up to 60fps, super-slow-motion video recording, a “Pro” camera mode and raw format shooting.
Build and Handling
The OnePlus 6 is almost the same size as the OnePlus 5 or OnePlus 5T, but it has a bigger screen thanks to using a slimmer bezel. This is a trend we’re seeing across many of the current phones, and it is designed to make maximum use of the device space for the screen. Another popular trend that has been included for the OnePlus 6 is the addition of a “notch”. Some people seem to hate notches, personally I’m not bothered by them. But if you are then you can hide it in the menu – essentially meaning that any apps you use only occupy the main area of the screen.
We’ve been using the limited edition Silk White version of the OnePlus 6. It has a great pearlescent sheen to it, giving the phone the look of something a lot more expensive. The other two colourways are Mirror Black and Midnight Black. Both of those are also nice, but the Mirror Black is particularly prone to fingerprints. OnePlus has decided to use glass for the construction of the OnePlus 6, but its Corning Gorilla Glass 5, so it should withstand knocks and scapes pretty well.
The native camera app can be accessed directly from the lock screen by swiping up from the bottom right-hand corner. What you’ll find here is a simple layout, which you can make more complicated if you need to, but allows you to dive right into the important business of taking your photos.
By default, the app launches in “Photo” mode. Directly from this screen, you can also move to “Video” and “Portrait” mode. In Video mode you can shoot at resolutions up to 4K at 60fps. Portrait mode is something which is available a lot of phones now, recreating a shallow depth of field effect – the OnePlus 6 makes use of its second camera for this effect.
If you’re a little more advanced, you can find the camera’s “Pro” mode by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to reveal a set of extra shooting modes. In Pro mode you’ll be able to change white balance (including creating a custom setting), exposure compensation, shutter speed and focusing. You’ll also be able to switch on raw format, and set separate exposure and focal points.
As is often the case with most smartphones, you get the best results from the OnePlus 6 when shooting in good light. In these conditions, colours are well-saturated, and there’s a pleasing amount of detail (especially if you don’t look too closely). On the whole, exposures are balanced well, while the automatic white balance system handles different lighting conditions pretty well. You can leave the camera app in its standard automatic mode and generally expect good results.
The Portrait mode throws up mixed results. It’s far from the best execution of a shallow depth of field effect on the market, but at times it can be reasonably convincing. It works best if the subject is very clearly defined, and doesn’t have any fine detail in the outline (such as hair).
An update to the OnePlus 6 operating system means that you can also shoot in Portrait mode when using the front-facing Selfie camera. Here, the results are a little odd, too, but if you’re only planning on sharing images at relatively small sizes (such as via Instagram), it’s just about passable.
Focusing is pretty quick and accurate in most cases – the phone usually identifies the correct target meaning you don’t need to tap on the screen to select a different focus point most of the time.
There’s a huge choice of smartphones on the market aimed photographers at the moment. It means we’re a little spoiled for choice just now.
If you’re looking for the best camera phone on the market, the OnePlus 6 isn’t it. But it what it does offer you is fantastic value for money. In order to get the best camera phones (our current picks are the Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung S9+, Google Pixel 2 and the iPhone X), then you’ll be looking at a reasonably big cash outlay. By contrast, the OnePlus 6 starts at just £470.
Image quality is still pretty good, particularly if you’re using the OnePlus 6 in favourable lighting conditions. The native camera app is fantastic, featuring a good level of control for enthusiasts while keeping it simple and light for those who just want to point and shoot.
Should I buy the OnePlus 6?
If you want an excellent smartphone, but don’t have the top-end budget to match, the OnePlus 6 is possibly the best-value (that’s not to say it’s the cheapest) smartphone currently on the market. It looks nice, produces great pictures and has a well-featured camera app. In other words, there’s a hell of a lot to like.