The OnePlus 6T was the best Android phone released in 2018. It may be one of the best Android phones I’ve ever used. Let’s take a look at the things that make this a great phone as its successor draws near.
I reviewed the OnePlus 6T back in December, nearly five months ago. Given the issues I’d had with the company in the past, this was my first go with a OnePlus device. But times change, and after a conversation with the company, it was clear that it had grown a lot since the days of asking users to smash their phones or women to draw the OP logo on their bodies.
I titled that review “I Concede” for the simple reason that OnePlus had proven to me—a harsh critic of the company since day one—that it knew how to make a genuinely damn good phone. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, is how much it had won me over.
I told myself that, after that review, I’d go back to my Pixel 2 XL. But a week later, I still hadn’t swapped my SIM card. Two weeks passed, then three weeks… you get the idea. Then one day, it hit me: I didn’t want to change. I had no desire to go back to my Pixel, which is what I would’ve said at the time was “the best Android phone you can buy.”
So not only did I concede that OnePlus made a great phone with the 6T, but I also had to admit to something I never thought I’d say: I prefer it over the Pixel. It’s still sort of a shocker to me even almost five months later.
But even now, it’s something I stand by.
Now there’s a subhead I never thought I’d write. Calling a OnePlus phone—not a Pixel or even a Galaxy—the cream of the Android crop is an interesting concept. But man, this phone has been a beast since the day I popped it out of the box.
Every Android phone I’ve ever used has suffered from many of the same issues, with the biggest one being lag. After a few months of use, apps being installed and uninstalled, and—let’s be real here—heavier use than the average user, the 6T is still an absolute speed demon. It has held speed better than any other Android phone I’ve ever used.
And that rule applies across the board. One of the most irritating issues I’ve had with all other Android phones—from the original Pixel to the Galaxy S9—is Android Auto lag with my car’s head unit. I would plug the phone up, then wait. And wait. And wait some more. Sometimes it was minutes before AA was ready to go. Minutes! But the 6T has been a champ day in and day out. I plug it up, AA starts, and away we go. No sweat. I love it.
But performance is only half of the issue that plagues most other Android phones. There’s another big one: battery life. While Android has historically gotten a bad rep for having terrible battery life, the last few years and newer Android versions have done a lot to fix that issue. But still, like performance, every Android phone I’ve ever used has fallen off a cliff at some point—it’s like a switch flips, and suddenly the battery is trash.
Also like performance, this is an issue the OnePlus 6T hasn’t had. That said, I have to also keep my expectations there slightly in check—I’ve only been using the phone for about five months, after all. Still, I’ve seen absolutely no degradation in battery life over that time. In fact, it may have even gotten better. I can’t quantify that for sure, but it sure feels like it. It’s one of the only Android phones I’ve ever owned in my life that can consistently skip the charger two or three nights a week. It’s wild.
It’s still hard to believe that the best Android phone you can buy is also one of the most affordable (comparatively, anyway). For as little as $550, it’s a damn steal.
No qualms about it, the OnePlus 6T is a fantastic phone. But it still falls short in some areas. The biggest one that gets most users is the camera—it’s a good, usable camera by all standards—it’s just not the best. If you compare it to an iPhone X-series, Pixel, or even a Galaxy camera, it’s not going to come out on top. It’s just not.
But sometimes we need to be reminded that just because something isn’t “the best,” it doesn’t mean it’s automatically “the worst.” Fun fact: I took my favorite picture I’ve ever shot on a smartphone with the OnePlus 6T.
The 6T’s telephoto lens shot the photo above. And by most standards, that’s a pretty damn good picture, especially given the conditions: a dark room full of people, lots of movement, smoke, and who knows what else. They weren’t the ideal conditions to be shooting great pictures. But the 6T delivered an image that I love.
In my review I also called it out for not being waterproof and the lack of wireless charging. While the latter is still a bit of a luxury, the former is something I would still expect to see on a phone of this caliber, and I stand by that criticism. That said, I’ve gotten the 6T wet on multiple occasions, and it’s been fine. It has never been completely underwater, but I’ve had it in the rain and tucked in my jersey pocket on the bike where it may or may not have been subjected to more sweat than it should’ve been. It’s still fine. (Probably because like the OnePlus 7, it’s probably waterproof without being IP certified. It’s a stupid distinction that led to OP releasing a terrible video teasing the 7’s non-official waterproofing. Oof)
At this point, the 6T’s in-display fingerprint sensor is the only thing I don’t like about it—but that’s also generally speaking. In-display fingerprint sensors are a solution to a problem that no one had; they’re slower, have proven to be less secure, and are generally not a great experience. I still prefer rear-mounted fingerprint sensors across the board.
The OnePlus 7 is right around the corner. Two different models—the 7 and 7 Pro—will be announced on May 14th. The 7 is rumored to be a marginal upgrade compared to the 6T, with a very similar form factor, look, and set of features. It will have a faster processor and better camera. These are the things that anyone would expect to see from a new phone model.
But the 7 Pro looks to take OnePlus to a whole new level. It’ll have a triple camera array on the back, with a 48MP primary shooter, a telephoto lens, and an ultra-wide angle sensor. The front camera will be motorized and pop out from the top of the display instead of housed in a notch like the 6T or 7. It’ll have more RAM and a bigger screen. It’s going to be a beast.
And I can’t wait to get my hands on it, because, for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about a new phone. In a time when everything that isn’t a foldable looks “boring,” OnePlus is still providing a breath of fresh air in a way that makes sense and should provide some sort of meaningful upgrade over, well, everything else out there.