OnePlus 6 Review

OnePlus 6 Review with AR Point of View

For those who don’t follow my Twitter, yesterday I bought the OnePlus 6 Android smartphone. I’ve already shared on a post yesterday why I have decided to finally purchase an Android phone. I wouldn’t have bought it if I wouldn’t need it. In this article, I will review the OnePlus 6. Keep in mind that this is an on-going review and I might add more insights as I use the device in the upcoming weeks. It’s written with an AR perspective in mind, although I do touch some other aspects which aren’t related to AR.

Overview

The main reason for me to buy it is that I wanted to be able to test and review ARCore apps no most part. Before that, I only owned an iPad (ARKit-enabled) and an old iPhone 5S which I use to make some videos but that’s about it.

I was debating between buying the Pocophone F1, Xiaomi Mi 8 and eventually have decided to buy the OnePlus 6.

It’s the first time I own a powerful Android device. The first time I held it in my hand I felt like I was holding a mini-iPad. The screen was huge (at least compared to my ancient iPhone 5S), the colors were vibrant and very pleasant to my eyes.

With my previous phone, I didn’t even bother using the Internet or doing anything meaningful, maybe testing some of my responsive websites to see how they run on a small screen but that’s about it.

The One Plus 6 is Super Fast!

I’ve heard and read about the OnePlus 6 having Snapdragon 845 SoC, but this is just an identification and nothing can illustrate the power of the device until you try it yourself.

Well, the OnePlus 6 is insanely fast. I remember not liking Android device (compared to iPhones) because of the screen gesture lag and I the overall experience for me, as I remembered it, wasn’t smooth, at least not at the same quality as the iPhone. Well, this is a thing of the past now. The OnePlus 6 has no screen interaction lags whatsoever. Everything feels like its running in an instant. I don’t even need to wait, things just load so fast, unless it’s a large game that requires loading of lots of 3D assets and textures before the scene is rendered on the screen, and I tried a few of those.

The fact that I had really nothing to say about the performance, only good things, means that the performance of the OP6 is epic, really, I have no negative things to say about it, it’s a beast.

Installing Android 9.0 Pie on OnePlus 6

Installing Android 9.0 Pie on OnePlus 6
Installing Android 9.0 Pie on my OnePlus smartphone

When I got home, started the device and connected to the WiFi, an update was waiting for me. However, this wasn’t just a regular update, it was an upgrade from Android 8.1 (which was installed) to Android 9.0 Pie (OnePlus 6 OxygenOS 9.0, update size: 1521MB).

The thing is that the Android 9.0 stable release version was released just a week ago on the 21st of September (I’ve read it on the Internet). People told me that this device will receive an update soon because first, it’s a flagship device, and second, it has an OS that is closer to the vanilla Android, although it has OxygenOS custom OS installed.

This was great news, and I’ve decided to update to the new operating system straight away, so I didn’t even have the time to experience Android 8.0 and see how it is compared to Android 9.0. Of course it didn’t matter, what matters was that the device will be updated and provide the best user experience, and of course, this improved from each OS version to the other. I didn’t want to deal with bugs, crashes or issues, just to be productive.

I did take a long time to download the 1521MB update from the CDN, I have no idea why because I have a fast internet connection, still, it was painfully slow. Nonetheless, it is installed and everything is fine.

OnePlus 6 Look & Feel

First of all, from a person who comes from an ancient device, the OnePlus 6 is a tremendous leap. when I first held it in the store (I needed to check that everything is in the package, the seller asked me to do that), I was amazed at how slim the device was.  According to the specifications, the device is 7.8mm thick. It’s amazing how much tech is built into that super thin device.

Holding the OnePlus 6
Holding the OnePlus 6 (with a protective cover)

The phone is made of aluminum frame and it felt solid. In terms of weight, for me, it felt like it weighs like the iPhone 5S, although after checking, the iPhone 5S weighs 112g (3.95 oz) which is 65g (2.3 oz) more than the OnePlus 6. The thing is that that weight difference didn’t really matter, the weight felt good, not overweight.

The Camera

fOne of the reasons I prefer investing extra is to have a phone with a good camera. The OnePlus 6 has one of the most compelling rear-facing cameras on the market, at least judging by DxOMark ratings. It is ranked in the 11th place.

I wasn’t after getting The Best camera, I wanted a camera that is good enough to do a few things right: allow me to capture high-quality videos, use augmented reality in less ideal lighting conditions, and record AR videos with clean output and little noise as possible (the iPad was really bad in this) . Most of my requirements from the camera were related to the AR performance. As you know, AR needs good lighting to work well and if you have a large-aperture lens and high-sensitive sensors, ARCore will be able to pick up details in the scene better and therefore work more accurately. In some cases, it’s the difference between working or not working at all. Of course, when testing apps I do my best to find a place with optimal lighting conditions, but when shooting indoors, even with lighting turned on, the iPad gave me troubles sometimes.

I also didn’t enjoy seeing so much noise in app usage videos that I’ve shared. The virtual content looked super sharp and the camera video stream looked noisy. It made the virtual look less of an integral part of the scene, making the overall AR recorded scene less exciting to watch.

One thing that I really liked is the Bokeh effect. I love photography and I the reason why I purchased a DSLR camera in the past was to have the option to capture photos with a shallow depth of field effect. I invested in fast aperture lenses and an APS-C DSLR camera to have this creative option enabled. I don’t own them anymore, but it’s great to know that I can achieve a fake effect that looks quite convincing. I didn’t see any way to control the (fake) aperture value to increase or reduce the effect.

Here is an example. The left image was shot using the OnePlus 6 “Portrait” mode, and the other one in standard mode.

OnePlus 6 Bokeh effect
OnePlus 6 Bokeh effect

It might be nice for some photos for the blog or intro images to YouTube videos, so I am happy that I have this feature. The Bokeh was also accurate. I tried it on one of my friends and I was impressed with the results. I think that the secondary rear-facing camera has something to do with it, although I didn’t dive deeper into details.

Oppo 6 Plus Screen Size vs iPad

One of the things that felt different is consuming AR on a 6.28-inch display compared to my iPad that has a large and wider 9.7-inch display.

This is a quite a big difference, and it showed me how more exciting AR can be if you have a larger window as a viewfinder into the AR world. Furthermore, the OnePlus 6 has a much wider lens (smaller focal length) compared to the iPad’s camera, which skews the view in comparison to the world as my eyes saw it, making the AR experience felt less immersive. With the iPad, the AR view felt more in parallel to the real world view, making the experience feel more immersive and realistic.

Let me give you an example. Here is Meow! AR game as used using the OnePlus 6 compared to the iPad 9.7-inch.

It doesn’t mean that the experience was bad, just significantly less immersive compared to how I experience it on my iPad. Even when putting the phone relatively close to my eyes (which wasn’t comfortable to use in general), the AR still felt in some way and relatively detached and less engaging.

Furthermore, the iPad has a much bigger and wider screen, which covers a larger part of the viewing angle, and with a good positioning of the device, make you more the device less to follow virtual moving objects. With the OnePlus 6, I felt that I need to move the device more to track a moving object in the AR scene.

For example, I used the virtual pet AR game called Meow!, and the cat looked so small because I was holding the device in a position where I felt comfortable to hold it, which was not to close to my face. The thing is that if you put the OnePlus 6 screen close to your eyes,  it impairs some of the natural interaction that you usually do in AR, like moving the phone close to the virtual object to inspect it up close. If I hold the device near my eyes, I need to physically lower my buddy, crouch and then I will be able to inspect the cat in close range. That felt more like wearing AR glasses and wasn’t a great experience as a whole.

So overall, the AR experience was different compared to what I am used to. Of course, the experience will be different depends on the app and how it is designed. Some of the things that I described above will be much less significant for certain apps (those who are more static), compared to apps like Meow! with a moving character. It doesn’t mean that, in general, the experience felt less immersive compared to the iPad.

Tons of Customization Options

One of the good things about Android is that it allows you to customize your phone to your liking. I tried several apps and I felt much more in control of my phone. It felt more like a personal computer compared to my iPhone iPad, just because of all the advanced customization options that it had (some built-in, other using installable apps).

Google Play and ARCore

Google Play no sorting option
Google Play no sorting option

It might sound weird, but one of the things that I find very disappointing is not related to the device but Google Play. I still wasn’t able to find how can I sort the apps when searching by their release date, something that can easily be done on the App Store, but seems to be missing on Google Play. I mean, how can I discover new AR games like that? Anyway, I am still trying to find out whether this is possible or not. If you have an answer, please let me know.

This sorting option is important for me because it helps me discover new apps. I hope I’ll get a solution for that soon.

Conclusion

Overall, I am very pleased with the OnePlus 6 Android phone. It’s probably even more than I need but it’s important for me to have a reliable, powerful and tested device.

Of course, the most important thing is that I can run ARCore augmented reality apps and games smoothly and have a great camera to capture footage for my reviews.

AR aside, this is a fantastic phone. Everything from the design, performance, camera, responsiveness, screen image quality—everything felt great.  I can’t wait to try out some of the ARCore games that I didn’t get a chance to test on my iPad and share my experience with you.

Of course, if you are an ARCore developer, give me a shout when you release a new app or game, so I can check it out.

I will share more of my experience with the OnePlus 6 in the near future. Until then, I hope you enjoyed reading my review, and see you in the next article.