Is the OnePlus 6 the first real challenger to the iPhone X?

OnePlus has just revealed its latest phone, the much anticipated OnePlus 6. The unveiling at Londons Copper Box arena this evening follows months of rumours, as well as a healthy sprinkling of leaks, and confirms much of what had been suspected about the Chinese manufacturers new Android flagship.

So here it is. The OnePlus 6 has an all-glass design with a 6.28” full optic AMOLED display and an impressive 84 per cent screen-to-body ratio – a relatively recent metric for this brave new, bezel-averse generation and a scoreboard that OnePlus, but for a fraction of a smidge of a per cent, now almost sits atop. The back of the phone looks and feels ceramic-smooth, but is in fact made of specially treated Corning Gorilla Glass 5, layered with film to produce a light-catching matte effect in the Midnight Black model, and a luxurious, polished look in the Silk White version. OnePlus has always had an Apple-level attention to detail, and the 6 is no exception to the rule – it is a splendorous phone.

At the top of the screen theres the fiercely debated notch, which, love it or hate it, is considerably smaller than that of the iPhone X. Its arrival allows for a new, taller 19:9 ratio display, in which the notification bar can slip neatly into the gaps on either side of the notch and leave the rest of the screen free to display taco recipes and Instagram pictures of skateboarding dogs. For the anti-notch crowd – some people have very strong feelings on the matter – theres a software option to obscure it with a solid black bar, which is a surprisingly effective solution.

Ive been trying out the OnePlus 6 ahead of its announcement today, and its an impressively engineered object. In most regards its an incremental update to the barely six-months-old OnePlus 5T, yet its still recognisable as something new. The dual-camera is improved by OIS (optical image stabilisation) and has been repositioned vertically along the back of the device. A portrait mode has been added along with a new slow-motion video capture mode. Facial unlocking returns and feels just as snappy as the previous model, as does Dash Charging, which pumps the phone full of a days worth of juice in half an hour.

Theres the latest Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of RAM under the bonnet, and a fresh focus on mitigating performance degradation in the long term – the slogan here is “The Speed You Need” – by using intelligent software to keep things lagless and snappy well into the phones lifespan. Despite what the glass back might suggest, the phone does not feature wireless charging.

The display is bright, vivid and well-balanced in its default colour profile, though still running at the same 1080p resolution as the OnePlus 5T, which looks a little lacklustre by direct comparison to the sharper Pixel 2 XL or Galaxy S9. The trade-off gives a boost to the battery life however, and youd need to get your eyeball so near to the phone to see the difference that people will think youre odd. The OnePlus 6 is not certified waterproof, as rumours had suggested it might be, but OnePlus says that its designed to defend itself from a reasonable degree of everyday splashing. Its also got a headphone jack, if youre still keeping track of that kind of thing.

Having built a reputation – and a growing cult following – by cramming top-end components and whip-fast custom software into budget-price phones, an increasingly profitable OnePlus has seen its revenue double to $1.4bn between 2016 and 2017. In turn the price of its handsets has also steadily drifted upwards, towards those of the rival flagships it challenges, but the OnePlus 6 is still a firmly cheaper proposition than the competition it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with. The 64GB option is £469 (a £20 increase on the launch price of the OnePlus 5T), the 128GB options are £519 and a new 256GB option sells for £569.

The OnePlus 6 launches in Europe on 22 May, and well have a more complete review soon.

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