The OnePlus 6T doesn’t just bring new features to the table, it creates a partnership which distances the brand from its online reputation. Read on for all the news and insights.
A few minutes ago, the press conference in New York came to an end and we now know what the OnePlus 6T can do. Without further ado, we come to the crucial question: what did the Chinese manufacturer, which is plagued by leaks but regularly brings products with solid yet slightly quirky software onto the market at competitive prices, actually show us?
The ads began around 30 minutes before the live stream. A young-sounding male voice explained what OnePlus focuses on: you, the user. That’s why there’s already a low-light on-screen selfie flash and the ability to turn off all notifications while gaming, he said. The undertone is clear: this is just the beginning.
But there were a few reminders first. The message here was: we’re on the up. OnePlus made a big statement here, reflecting on itself critically. The OnePlus 2 may have been a washout and lost the connection to its user base, but this kind of brutal honesty is how you win sympathy.
«How do you scale fandom?»
There are some good questions asked about this in the video and print ads, primarily: «How do you scale fandom?», which is the issue troubling many Android manufacturers. They have loyal fans who buy every new phone without even considering the competition and just buy a OnePlus, for example. These loyalties are important when you need a new phone.
It’s exactly this, according to the ad’s subtext, that OnePlus wants to hang on to and include you in as well. But this is where the company’s biggest difficulty lies, with business interests and the pressure to grow clashing with love and passion.
The press conference doesn’t provide any answers. The question remains, and it’s one that more manufacturers should be asking themselves.
A glimpse behind the scenes
Press conferences follow a specific formula. First, a man talks about the company, then comes the device in question. For fans, these first few minutes are important and exciting. They are decisive when it comes to steering the ensuring speculation about the future and give insights into the company’s inner workings. Obviously, it’s all sanitised and trimmed down for PR purposes, but nevertheless, there is a little truth too. OnePlus has placed honesty high on its agenda, so listen up.
Pete Lau was the first to take to the stage. He founded the brand and is still its CEO. He looked a bit socially awkward and lost in front of an audience, but he was clearly happy to be there.
OnePlus CEO and founder Pete Lau
«This is the first time I’ve done a presentation in English,» he explained.
He started with a look back at a tough previous week. The reason: OnePlus had scheduled the 6T event for the 30th October, but Apple announced a keynote on that very day, so OnePlus hurriedly postponed things.
The OnePlus has been a global product since day one, including in the US, where the press event was held. In the beginning, the OnePlus team wasn’t sure whether the idea of ordering a phone online would work. Lau is fully aware that the idea seems stupid and outdated now, but that was back in 2014. The company’s doing well nowadays, despite a few setbacks and the odd flop now and then.
It’s a sensational partnership: OnePlus has teamed up with T-Mobile in the US. The online brand is taking things offline. Yes, the US provider’s standard carrier lock also applies to the Chinese brand’s phones, but this has no bearing on the Swiss market. But it does send out a signal. Are we next?
Kyle Kiang, head of North America and global marketing, was next up on stage and announced a spoiler: the event would finish with a big new development.
He started by talking about his brand’s success. The company turned over 1.5 billion dollars last year and the OnePlus 6 sold a record million devices in 22 days. This puts OnePlus in the top five of the world’s strongest brands. In India, OnePlus is the top premium brand.
OnePlus is available in 196 countries
5 million users have registered their OnePlus devices with the manufacturer
Last week, OnePlus sent the first ever tweet using 5G
And finally, the OnePlus 6T
The company presentation was short and had some of the charm that Apple had under Steve jobs: charisma was combined with vision, humour, humility and wit.
Then came the thumping bass and fast-paced animation. The OnePlus 6T was officially a reality.
OnePlus wasn’t looking for speed for speed’s sake with the 6T. It’s all about the user experience. That’s why OnePlus has decided against the screen unlock on the 6T, despite forfeiting the home button. It looks like there’s a fingerprint sensor under the screen, and that’s exactly the case. It doesn’t look spectacular at first glance, but apparently that’s intentional.
«Technology shouldn’t attract attention or dazzle. It should feel natural and never be a distraction,» explained Kyle Kiang.
That’s why this feature wasn’t built into the OnePlus 5. The performance simply wasn’t good enough – the user experience suffered. The company chose to wait and invested a lot of time in improving the fingerprint sensor under the screen. Now, with the 6T, it’s time, and the company claims that the security, comfort and speed are equally impressive.
Kyle Kiang showcases the specs of the OnePlus 6T
«The scanner unlocks the screen in just 0.34 seconds,» added Kyle Kiang. As the device learns the more it is used, this figure could even be reduced.
The new screen
The screen has been given a major overhaul. The company has used AMOLED screens since the OnePlus 3, and that hasn’t changed. The 6.41-inch diagonal screen has a tiny notch which houses just the camera – it’s a barely-there cut-out at the top of the screen.
At the bottom, the so-called chin has also got smaller. This is where the phone’s aerial is.
The screen is supposedly especially good for gaming thanks to its «Smart Boost» feature, which uses RAM as temporary data storage, keeping the phone fast – incredibly fast. RAM reads and writes data faster than ROM, which is used for internal storage and memory cards. The company’s test with the «PUBG MOBILE» game showed that Smart Boost reduced loading times by up to eight seconds.
The brand’s experts kept things very simple when it came to the design. There are two colours to choose from:
The phone’s profile is still slim to keep it manageable, with a plastic back.
«But it’s not some cheap plastic rubbish. We paid particular attention to the finish,» added Kyle.
The camera promises a lot. It looks like the OnePlus 6 camera, following the huge amount of positive feedback Kyle Kiang says it received.
The rear cameras deliver 16 and 20 megapixels, and the selfie cam 16 megapixels, but the phone’s low-light performance seems to be much improved after the public rated the performance of the P20 Pro above that of the OnePlus 6.
The low-light feature is called «Nightscape» and supported by an HDR algorithm. The image is calculated by the computer in your phone.
The whole thing took two seconds. The results were impressive, but didn’t have much in common with a real night. This is a criticism I can make of all the night modes on this year’s smartphones. It’s much more interesting when you open the aperture and let more light into the camera. Then the image looks like it was taken at night. An f-stop of 1.7 means this shouldn’t be a problem for the 6T, and it should produce really great images with deep black tones.
«Nightscape is also coming to the OnePlus 6,» said Kyle. Cue applause.
OnePlus has also worked hard on portraits. The OnePlus 6T is now among phones that have mastered studio lighting.
Kevin Abosch, photographer and innovation director at OnePlus, was next on stage and told us that he loves faces. This is why the portrait function was created with «an artist’s soul,» he said. Kevin knows that this is a slight overstatement. It may otherwise seem somewhat presumptuous, but it’s charming when coming from OnePlus. The brand has considerably improved when it comes to public relations.
OnePlus calls this feature «Studio Lighting», as the lighting makes images look like they have been taken with an SLR camera. Nevertheless, it doesn’t really have a USP, but there’s no definitive way to tell without testing it out.
Better gestures and tweaked features
«Software matters,» as Kyle Kiang said, as he proudly showed the survey on the presentation behind him confirming OnePlus software as the most popular in the world. He didn’t say a lot more, passing the baton on to phone tester Marques Brownlee aka MKBHD, who spoke briefly and dryly about the superior performance of OnePlus software.
OnePlus software isn’t really like what you find on stock Androids, but it looks impressive. It looks pretty flat and everything under the surface is focused on speed, efficiency and stability. The software on the OnePlus 6T is called OxygenOS, based on Android 9.0.
There’s also a feature called Full Screen Gesture 2.0. The gestures on the OnePlus 6T will be faster and more fluid, said Kyle, so he’s excited for users to test it out. Google Assistant is activated with a slight touch of the power button – a feature that users have wanted to see on South Korean devices since the Bixby button was introduced on Samsung phones.
The rest: an overview
OnePlus is one of the few brands to make USB-C earphones and they’re here to stay. The wireless version has had a makeover with a red cable and the music pauses when you connect the earbuds magnetically.
The OnePlus Explorer Backpack has been improved. It not only has a new name, it also boasts single-hand fastening. However, it is only available via an invite code, as OnePlus prioritises its community.
Seven cases, including the 3D nylon case, will be available for the OnePlus 6T.
OnePlus: «One More Thing», but not for Switzerland
The 6T wasn’t the biggest sensation, and neither was the partnership with T-Mobile. Under the heading of «One More Thing», a tactic favoured by Apple founder Steve Jobs when launching the iPhone, Kyle Kiang announced three pieces of news, but they only apply to the American market.
There would be a party in Times Square after the keynote
The phone will cost from 549 dollars
T-Mobile will cost up to 300 dollars less when you trade in your old device
Then, the bad news: Switzerland won’t be included in the first wave of the new release.
Switzerland won’t be included in the first release of the OnePlus 6T, so you’ll get your device at a later date. Our product management department tried its best to make sure the seven million eccentrics in the heart of Europe would be some of the first to get their hands on the 6T, but to no avail. It’s not clear at the moment how digitec will be offering the new model, but one thing is clear: it is coming, and you can pre-order it.
The prices stated in articles are just recommended prices
Prices will be updated when more information is available
Delivery is set for mid-November
Updates will be reported here as soon as they’re made
Nur Full HD, keine Stereo Lautsprecher (und damit zum Video Schauen für mich ungeeignet), kein Wireless Charging, nur USB 2.0 Geschwindigkeit, keine IP Zertifizierung: Damit ist das Gerät weniger Flagship Killer als je zuvor... :-(