OnePlus 6 Review: Premium High Performance Android For Less
OnePlus 6 Software, User Experience And Camera Performance
On the software side of the equation, the OnePlus 6 is fairly unique as well. For historic users of the OnePlus Oxygen OS, which came back in 2015 when the company held a "Name The ROM" contest to name their Android based OS, the experience of a near-bone stock, bloat free experience is preserved. However OnePlus does provide some thoughtful user customization features and tools to go with Android 8.1 Oreo here.
Fortunately, unlike Samsung and others, this really is an otherwise stock Android 8.1 setup here, with standard Recent Apps, Home and Back buttons on the bottom ribbon in their usual places. And everything else with Oreo is in its place as well, though OnePlus does offer Light and Dark themes, that latter of which you're seeing above here. OnePlus also added new gestures, like flip to mute, to silence incoming calls, three finger screen shot swipes and double tap to wake the display, among others.
There are also Reading and Game modes now. Reading mode turns the display to black and white for easy daylight viewability, or in the event that you're just looking for that Kindle e-reader sort of feel for copious text consumption. You also get Nighttime mode as well of course, which comes stock with Android 8.1 for filtering out circadian rhythm-disrupting blue light. And finally Gaming mode now not only puts you in DND to block incoming messages and other app interruptions, but also offers a gaming packet prioritization of sorts, called Network Boost, that minimizes bandwidth consumption from background tasks but affords more data bandwidth to a game that is being played.
These Gaming mode optimizations for performance all sound great, but to be honest we didn't have an easy way of testing the phone's Network Boost feature. We will say that we definitely notice how OnePlus has optimized its OxygenOS variant of Android Oreo for overall performance and responsiveness. Maybe it's the 8GB of RAM or how the OS just responds to input and requests and then executes or gets out of the way, but this phone just feels really responsive and it stays that way all day long. With its potent combination of hardware, along with lean, mean and optimized software, the OnePlus 6 is truly a delight for Android performance enthusiasts and purists alike.
OnePlus 6 Camera Software And Performance
If you're a shutterbug, you'll likely not be disappointed by the OnePlus 6 as well, at least in terms of its overall camera feature set. Everything is in here, from Portrait Mode, to Slo-Mo, Panorama and Google Lens.
For video, OnePlus also offers up to 4K 60fps video recording with reasonably good image stabilization and fast autofocus in all modes. In fact, we were impressed at how well the OnePlus 6 captured video footage and it in fact competes with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in this area. The sample shot above is captured at 4K60 by an unreasonably wobbly camera man.
When it comes to still shots, the OnePlus 6 holds its own as well with some of the top Android phones on the market. We won't go into a deep dive A/B comparison here but instead will offer you some samples from the OnePlus 6, though we again invite you to check out the image gallery in our Note 9 review if you'd like to compare a few similar shots here and there.
Portrait Mode - Cropped to 1920x1080 And a side of side-eye...
Indoor low light shots (white knick-knack table above) were captured admirably with good exposure and relatively low noise from the OnePlus 6's f1.7 aperture lens on its primary camera. In general, images are reasonably color-balanced and sharp, though you might see things as slightly over-saturated (Yogi laying on the stairs), depending on your taste. I like a little more pop, personally so to my eye its all good. Tough mixed-light shots (Statue of St. Michael the Archangel), were handled competently as well, again with minimal noise levels. However, Portrait mode shots are only available currently in a 4:3 aspect ratio, unfortunately. Also, with the exception of well-lit outdoor shots (flowers above), the OnePlus 6 didn't produce as prominent a bokeh effect as other phones can deliver, like the Galaxy Note 9 or Pixel 2 XL.
Regardless, as long as you're not a Portrait mode-shooting, bokeh blur super-freak, the OnePlus 6 should handle most smartphone camera duties with relative ease and with satisfying results for most mainstream users.
So the side of the OnePlus 6 box says "The Speed You Need" - let's attempt prove that out next, in the benchmarks...