OnePlus on Monday officially announced its latest Android smartphone in the form of the OnePlus 6T, unveiling it a day earlier than originally planned due to the fact that Apple resolved to hold its next major product event tomorrow. As the new handset has already been leaked in an extensive manner over the last several months, today's New York City launch revealed little surprises, though that isn't to say the OnePlus 6T is not a compelling product. As far as T-series devices from OnePlus are concerned, this is certainly the biggest step forward the company made yet, with the smartphone being a significant upgrade over the critically acclaimed OnePlus 6, as well as the most ambitious offering from the Chinese manufacturer to date.
Hit the road, jack
In terms of core specifications, the biggest upgrade comes on the display front, with the OnePlus 6T featuring a 6.41-inch AMOLED panel with an FHD+ resolution of 2,340 by 1,080 pixels (19.5:9 aspect ratio) as opposed to a 6.28-inch (2,280 x 1,080) one sported by its predecessor. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 is still part of the package, as is a choice between 6GB and 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of flash memory. The device features a USB Type-C (3.1) port and Dual Nano SIM Slot but lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, thus being the first OnePlus-made smartphone to ditch the popular audio connector. The company claims this allowed it to upgrade the battery capacity of the OnePlus 6T which is powered by a 3,700mAh cell instead of a 3,300mAh one used by the previous handset, with the change also enabling an easier implementation of an in-display fingerprint reader, a first for a mainstream smartphone in the United States. Android 9 Pie-based OxygenOS is on offer as well, as is Bluetooth 5.0 and a dual-camera setup similar to the one used by the OnePlus 6. The final major spec improvement comes in the form of Corning's Gorilla Glass 6, the toughest protective glass ever delivered by the American manufacturer.
A cleaner look
The removal of the headphone jack is being framed as one of the main reasons why the OnePlus 6T has a significantly cleaner look than its predecessor. It allowed for the inclusion of an in-display fingerprint reader, meaning the new handset doesn't have a traditional sensor on the back and hence offers a more uniform design. The company also managed to reduce the size of the display notch compared to the cutout found on the OnePlus 6, hence delivering its largest-ever screen. The glass-sandwich design of the previous handset is still one of the most defining visual features of its successor, albeit the overall package now looks even more sleek and refined.
An imaging déjà vu
The dual-camera setup found on the OnePlus 6 is making a return with its direct follow-up, featuring a 16-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle (25mm) lens and another 20-megapixel module. The setup can go as wide as f/1.7 in terms of aperture and supports 480fps slow-motion videos, as well as both OIS and EIS. The tiny notch houses yet another 20-megapixel camera, though OnePlus claims its imaging formula is now even better due to improved software. Intelligent scene recognition, aggressive image noise elimination, and a more accurate portrait mode are just some of the novelties debuting with the OnePlus 6T, all of which are meant to ensure its mobile camera is the best imaging solution the Chinese OEM ever delivered. Regardless, you can expect performance in line with the OnePlus 6 in terms of actual end results, with the only notable exception being low-light performance that will now benefit from Nightscape, a new mode that combines multi-frame stabilization, noise reduction, and other technologies in order to deliver more detailed pictures in dark environments in as little as two seconds.
A new milestone for OxygenOS
The OnePlus 6T ships with the first-ever version of OxygenOS based on Android 9 Pie, which introduces a slightly reworked user interface and new gestures. After introducing gesture support with the OnePlus 6, the firm is now ennobling it with the addition of a new app switch, so OnePlus 6T users will be able to simply swipe from the bottom center of the screen to its upper-right corner to switch between the last two applications. The new Android implementation should have even smoother performance than the previous one, be more energy-efficient, and improve the accessibility of certain features such as Google Assistant which can now be launched by holding the power button for 0.5 seconds.
The presence of an in-display fingerprint reader is another major improvement offered by the OnePlus 6T, with the feature being officially advertised as "Screen Unlock." This is the first such mobile technology to be commercialized in the U.S. and relies on an optical scanner; even though such solutions are usually slower than traditional readers, OnePlus claims its sensor can authenticate a fingerprint in 0.34ms, 0.06ms faster than the rear-mounted scanner of the OnePlus 6.
The best OnePlus battery yet
The 3,300mAh battery from the OnePlus 6 has now been replaced by a 3,700mAh cell which still features fast charging support that promises "a day's power in half an hour." The only other difference is that OnePlus isn't referring to this capability as "Dash Charge" any longer due to an ongoing trademark dispute that may soon get very ugly. The vast majority of consumers should have no problem with getting well over a day of use on a single charge, though the company has yet to clarify what it did to combat battery degradation, a common issue with lithium-ion cells.
As was the case with previous OnePlus handsets, the OnePlus 6T line has also been envisioned to provide consumers with a range of choices, allowing less demanding users to save some money while still enjoying a contemporary smartphone experience. The handset is being offered in three regular memory configurations, with the base model sporting 6GB of RAM and 128GB of flash memory. A variant with 8GB of RAM is also part of the series, as is a high-end model with 256GB of memory. In terms of colors, the Mirror Black and Midnight Black finishes are making a return, with more variants already being hinted at, though no concrete details on the matter have yet been given.
The most expensive and ambitious OnePlus smartphone to date
The OnePlus 6T with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage starts at $549 in the U.S., thus being $20 more expensive than its predecessor, though it also comes with twice as much flash memory. An 8GB/128GB variant will cost $579, whereas the 8GB/256GB model will retail at $629, with their sequential price hikes being identical. The OnePlus 6T is also the company's first smartphone set to be sold by a U.S. carrier, with the manufacturer striking a distribution partnership with T-Mobile.
The move marks a major win for OnePlus and essentially allows it to finally launch a truly mainstream product stateside; starting from November 1, the OnePlus 6T will be carried by over 5,600 T-Mobile stores throughout the country, and the carrier will also be offering it online. A trade-in program allowing you to save up to $300 with one of 30 eligible devices (including all previous OnePlus handsets) will also be offered by T-Mobile. The Android flagship will be released globally on the same date. The OnePlus 6 sold over a million units in about three weeks, becoming the firm's fastest-selling handset ever earlier this year, and its successor is now all set to break that record, largely due to the newly confirmed T-Mobile partnership, but also because of its never-better carrier support that now also includes Verizon's 4G LTE network. Given that state of affairs, the OnePlus 6T is certainly the most ambitious product from the OEM to date, though it remains to be seen how the average U.S. consumer responds to the new Android flagship.