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When you follow tech and smartphones closely the constant onslaught of new, supposedly better models coming out can be numbing. It can also wrongly convince you that you need to upgrade your phone that is six, 12, or 20 months old. The OnePlus 6T is one such phone.
It is a very good smartphone, but it’s not much of an upgrade from the OnePlus 6 that launched just five months before it. It has the same processor, same basic design, very similar display and comes in two of the same colours. If you own a 6, you do not really need a 6T. And you might not even want one, either.
But for the rest of the world, for the normal people out there, this is one of the best phones you can buy. It just isn’t, in context, anything new or exciting. But maybe that’s just today’s phones in general.
The OnePlus 6T looks a lot like the OnePlus 6 and we compare them here. But for a moment, let’s pretend the 6 doesn’t exist.
The 6T has a premium glass design and you can have any colour as long as it’s black: Mirror Black (gloss) or Midnight Black (matte). It’s gently curved on the back and is a comfortable weight to hold, though the curve coupled with the tiniest of camera bumps means it does rock when used flat on a table.
It has a dew-drop shaped notch at the top of its large 6.41in display that houses a camera, while the speaker is a slit right on the top edge of the phone. We had to adjust how we hold the phone for calls to line it up to our ears properly, but this is an issue with many notched phones that don’t house the speaker in a top bezel.
The back panel houses dual cameras and the OnePlus logo, while the antenna lines are hidden in the aluminium frame.
With a USB-C port and no headphone jack in all black, the OnePlus 6T suffers a tad from the black rectangle syndrome of modern smartphones. In a line up, it blends in with the LG V40, Pixel 3 XL and Sony Xperia XZ3 as an all-glass black slab.
The loss of that headphone jack jars more than with other manufacturers since it was only five months
prior to the 6T’s release that co-founder Carl Pei stood on a stage to announce the OnePlus 6 and claimed people still really wanted one. OnePlus told us it was time to remove it on the 6T, in part to fit the in-screen fingerprint sensor.
The company is between a rock and a hard place – its fanatical community probably wants a headphone jack but the wider public don’t actually care en masse, evident in the acceptance of iPhones without jacks since 2016. It’s the latter market that OnePlus desperately needs to sell to now to break into the mainstream, helped by new operator partnerships.
Removing the headphone jack to fit in a snazzy new piece of tech is the decision. But the big question is, like with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, does the sensor actually work?
The short answer is yes, complete with funky software animations. It’s not quite as fast as most decent physical fingerprint sensors, including the one
on the OnePlus 6. On the 6T it worked through the factory-installed screen protector, which we then took off to test again and it seemed fine. It just takes that split second longer than you might expect.
We also ended up re-training the phone twice to read our thumbs and then it seems fine. It’s less good at edge detection than physical sensors and you have to place your thumbprint quite flat. But it’s amazing that it even works in the first place, and it’s secure enough to use for biometrics.
It’s not as fast as face unlock, which we found ourselves using more and even works well in the dark, but you’ll still need to rely on the fingerprint sensor for secure transactions and app authentication.
It’s notable that OnePlus still won’t give the 6T an official IP rating, though it did tell us the phone is ‘water resistant’ and uses silicone rings and foam in ports and buttons to prevent water damage. During our testing, our 6T unit took an accidental tumble (in a case, thankfully) into a toilet. Apart from being ashamed at our bathroom habits, at least we know the phone can survive such a dunk.
This is a slick phone and we prefer the matte black finish to the gloss option, but like most other black slabs out there it’s nothing new and comes at a time where smartphone design has been reactive to the iPhone X. This notched display with no home button or physical fingerprint sensor is evidence of that.
Processor, memory and storage
What the OnePlus 6T definitely has going for it (like all previous OnePlus phones) is its high-end specs for a
OnePlus has replaced the headphone socket with an in-screen fingerprint sensor