Chinese company launches flagship smartphone complete with headphone jack, but iPhone X-style notch won’t please everyone
With the new OnePlus 6 the Chinese upstart smartphone manufacturer wants to steal people away from Apple, offering an iPhone X-like smartphone complete with “notch” for less than half the price.
Launched at an event in London on Wednesday, the OnePlus 6 comes equipped with the latest top-of-the-range Snapdragon 845 processor from Qualcomm, at least 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, plus the latest version of Android 8.1 Oreo.
The OnePlus 6 is the company’s first flagship phone with glass on the front and back, replacing last year’s curved aluminium with various finishes of curved glass. The phone still has a headphone jack, unlike the majority of the current premium smartphones, and is partially water resistant – although OnePlus has not gained an IP rating for the device as rivals have.
The full HD+ AMOLED screen has a cut out at the top containing a speaker, sensors and a 16-megapixel selfie camera that is used for facial recognition, which OnePlus claims is one of the fastest on the market, using over 100 identifiers for security.
Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight, said: “It looks like 2018 is most definitely the “year of the notch” when it comes to premium smartphones. Once again, Apple has emerged as the trendsetter with regards to smartphone design, but my own personal view is that its facial recognition is still the benchmark to beat despite bold claims by rivals.”
A new dual camera system with optical image stabilisation hopes to keep pace with rivals, placed vertically on the back and offering better low-light shots and portrait mode. Below the camera is a rear oval-shaped fingerprint scanner.
The OnePlus 6 runs the company’s modified version of Android called OxygenOS, which it says will stay as fast on day 365 as it does on day one out of the box – a common criticism of Android smartphones is that they slow down over time. The company claims the OnePlus 6 will therefore have “no lag of any kind”.
The OnePlus 6 is also one of a small collection of smartphones eligible for the Android 9 P beta test, which was recently made available for Google’s Pixel devices. The hope is that OnePlus will be able deliver rapid updates, addressing another pain point for Android smartphones, which can wait up to 12 months for major software updates.
The new phone supports two sim cards at once, and also has OnePlus’s Dash Charge fast charging system, which the company says will give the phone a day’s worth of battery in just 30 minutes.
For Wood, OnePlus has ticked enough boxes to keep its dedicated followers happy, using the best technology available within the sub-£500 price boundary. But differentiating it against competitors will remain difficult.
“The bigger challenge of making the new phone stand out from rivals is more problematic,” said Wood. “For all smartphone makers this is harder than ever before as devices look more similar than ever.”
The OnePlus 6 will be available from 22 May starting at £469 ($529) with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage in a gloss “mirror” black colour, with a matt “midnight” black costing £519 with more memory and storage, and a “silk” white colour available on 5 June. The phone will be available direct from OnePlus or through O2 in the UK.
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