The 6 best things about the OnePlus 6

Since 2014, OnePlus has been slinging some very nicely-priced — and surprisingly capable — handsets. The OnePlus 6 is both of those things. In our full review, we said the device could be the perfect phone for OnePlus fans. Here are six (get it?) reasons why.

Affordability is kind of OnePlus’s shtick. The company has built its name peddling “flagship killer” devices that offer a reasonable facsimile of the products the big players are selling, but at a friendlier price point. At a starting cost of $529, the OnePlus 6 continues that trend. It’s a heck of a bargain for what you’re getting, with (almost) all the trappings of a modern high-end smartphone.

Sure, OnePlus has steadily been increasing the price of its offerings year over year; and yes, if you saved a while longer, you could nab a Pixel 2, which runs $649. But while the Pixel 2 is still a great phone, it’s a device from last year. It doesn’t have these specs, it doesn’t have this design — and if you want a screen in the size range the OnePlus 6 offers, the Pixel 2 XL starts at $849.

Something else the Pixel 2 doesn’t offer. “Refreshingly not new. (Ahem.)”

Headphone jacks probably aren’t too long for this world — in smartphones, anyway. They may never die out completely, but years from now, 3.5-millimeter auxiliary connectors will likely be a semi-niche audio component the way RCA cables are today: there’s nothing wrong with them, and you probably have something, somewhere that uses them, but the tech has been around forever, and it’s not something you directly interact with very often.

But in the present, not every car has a Bluetooth receiver, and batteries aren’t sufficiently advanced as to make a scenario where you might want to charge your device while listening to music implausible. Several manufacturers are aware of this reality (as well as the fact that a headphone jack is still mandatory for plenty of buyers), and OnePlus is one of them. We salute your pragmatism, OnePlus.

OnePlus has always punched above its weight in terms of design and build, and the OnePlus 6 is no exception. At that previously mentioned bargain price point, you get a phone that looks (and feels) like it costs hundreds of dollars more than it actually does. It’s got a premium build with tight tolerances, and that modern, tall-aspect-ratio screen, complete with notch.

Yes, there’s a notch — that’s the price of a slim top bezel in 2018. If you hate it, you can black out the space on either side of it in the system settings. Since it’s an OLED panel, the notch disappearing act goes rather well, giving you a persistent notification area where a non-notched top bezel would be. The OnePlus 6 does have a chin at the bottom of the screen, but it’s a diminutive one.

With a big 6.28-inch screen and a considerable weight of 177 grams, the OnePlus 6 feels substantial in the hand, and the gentle curves at the edges of the device make it comfortable to hold. Everything about the outside of the device seems well-considered.

The beauty of the OnePlus 6 isn’t just skin-deep. In keeping with tradition, its internal components are just as impressive as its looks and construction: its got a Snapdragon 845 paired with six gigabytes of RAM and 64 gigs of storage for the base model, with options for up to eight gigs of RAM and 256 of storage. The highest-end model tops out at a still-pretty-reasonable $629.

Those top-shelf internals play well with OnePlus’s Oxygen OS running on top of Android 8.1. Oxygen OS is lightweight, handsome, and pretty close to a stock Android experience. (It does have some questionable additions — half-baked gesture controls and a useless “Shelf UI” panel to the left of the home screen — but they can be ignored or switched off.) Great specs coupled with well-optimized software make for a device that’s really, really fast.

Speaking of fast. While the OnePlus 6 does tick a lot of 2018 flagship boxes, one corner OnePlus had to cut to keep its newest phone’s price low was wireless charging. You won’t miss it, though — it might not be called Dash Charge, but OnePlus’s proprietary charging method is still insanely fast. With first party hardware, the OnePlus 6 juices up from zero to 50 percent in about a half hour, and thanks to the engineering of OnePlus’s charger, it doesn’t slow down much as the battery gets fuller. To get that kind of speed, though, you do have to use both a OnePlus-branded wall wart and USB cable. The OnePlus 6 doesn’t support other fast-charging methods, so anything else will deliver significantly slower results.

And not only does the thing charge in no time, but we found in our review that the OnePlus 6’s 3300mAh battery holds up more than well enough to last a full day.

People often give Android OEMs guff when they take feature inspiration from competitors, but an idea doesn’t necessarily have to be original to be good. Since 2015’s OnePlus 2, OnePlus has included in its phones a feature familiar to iPhone users: a physical mute switch. OnePlus takes it a step further with a slider, and it’s smart, simple, and confoundingly unique among Android handsets.

Starting with Android 7.0 Nougat on the OnePlus 3, the alert slider got kind of wonky, but after a whole lot of complaints to that end, the OnePlus 6’s slider has returned to a setup that makes sense. It has three positions: sound on, vibrate, and silent, which blocks all noise save for alarms. Android P’s second Developer Preview has the same three settings available next to the on-screen volume slider as well as an awkward two-button silence gesture, but such software solutions require, at the very least, the phone’s screen to be on.

A physical control just makes sense here. Out to lunch? Click, you’re on vibrate. Going to sleep? Click, no interruptions until your alarm. Forget to silence your phone at the movies and it starts ringing? You don’t even have to take it out of your pocket — just feel for the textured slider and flick it to silent. The alert slider is a real differentiator for OnePlus, and something I’d like to see other manufacturers ape in their own devices.

Now, this isn’t specific to the OnePlus 6, per se, but another great thing about owning a OnePlus phone is the righteous first-party case selection. Handsome though the OnePlus 6 may be, the clumsy among us will feel safer slapping a case on it. From basic silicone to carbon fiber to a lovely ebony wood number that makes me miss my old Moto X, OnePlus probably has something to suit your tastes that won’t diminish your phone’s looks.

The OnePlus 6 isn’t perfect. Its glass back prioritizes aesthetics over durability, and it’s not certified for any proper water resistance (OnePlus only says it’s “splash-proof”), and there are better cameras out there. But if none of those factors are deal-breakers for you, these six features are great reasons to consider OnePlus’s latest.