Why the OnePlus 6T is NOT the Phone for Me

For me there is a lot that goes into the decision of what phone I like and which ones are, to me, not worth the time or money. Some of them can be done away with, which I’ve only learned by experimentation, such as the headphone jack (learned on the iPhone 7) and apparently also the home button as it is traditionally known (learned on the Pixel 3).

Camera
Apparently that has to be better than I thought. I took pictures last night with the OnePlus 6T and was rather… disgusted… by the pictures it took, both front and rear cameras. It was blurry. No sharpness, no detail. Crazy part is, the cameras on this phone are higher than either the iPhone 7 (2 years old) and the Pixel 3 (current) and still takes worse pictures.
I’ve learned the numbers don’t mean anything when it comes to quality. The megapixel count is higher on the OnePlus 6T but the processing of the picture is so much worse that it renders the potential quality useless.

Home Button
The iPhone 7 had a home button. Very physical. Very there. Fingerprint scanner. The works. Loved it. Switching to the Pixel, I was worried I would have a problem with it, but it has NOT taken long to switch. I was kind of surprised, to be honest. The gesture style that Google has implemented is rather seamless, and I found myself switching to that style of control on the OnePlus 6T (because OnePlus gives you the option to switch things around like that through a slightly tweaked operating system). However, OnePlus made a few tweaks to that system too, and it isn’t QUITE as seamless, though it is close.
The home button as it was originally known, traditionally known, isn’t nearly as much of a requirement as I once believed. As long as much of the functionality is there, and in some cases more functionality, I find the switch easy.

Fingerprint Readers
Fingerprint readers. TouchID. Super useful tools for authentication or for locking and unlocking the device, logging into apps, etc. I really. REALLY. Like having a fingerprint reader. I loved that the TouchID system was integrated directly into the Home Button of the iPhone 7. It was such a seamless experience, I didn’t even know I was having my print read most of the time. It. Just. Worked. The Pixel 3, though has the reader on the back of the phone. I still maintain that I am not a fan of that, but at the same time I have quite quickly come to terms with the location, and even find myself trying to used that spot on the OnePlus 6T. I hit the bottom cameras lens, instead. Also, at least for now, the scanners that are standalone seem to be faster. The scanner in the 6T, built behind the screen and shining through a small hole in the screens backing, is already known to be less secure because it is optical, but it is also slower for me. I don’t know if I am not using it right or what, but the fingerprint readers on the iPhone 7 and Pixel 3 simply work, and quickly, whereas I find myself having to either wait for the OnePlus to scan my finger or I have to find the right place to put my finger as it tells me it cannot read my print. At the moment, I am not a fan of readers behind the display.
I think the idea of having the reader be on the back of the display is an ingenious idea. I think it will work for a lot of people, and plenty will be enamored of the functionality of it, as well as the “modernness” of the technology. Personally, I will stick with the standalone readers until more time has passed. Some technology, though great, needs time to be fleshed out, and there are people needed to test it rigorously to flesh it out, but that person is not me. Not this time.

Facial Recognition.
It goes by many names, and neither of my prior two main phones had it. Whether it is facial recognition, or FaceID, or whatever other name it may have, it does the same thing. It uses your face to unlock the phone. Usually it is a three dimensional map of your face, but I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure if it always is. I’m sure there either is or was a two dimensional version of it at some point, and it was/is likely MUCH less secure. The OnePlus 6T though, that… that has facial recognition. I have also tried the Galaxy S9 and S9+ and both of those had it. I’ll be honest, I love it. If it works well, and it does on the OnePlus, then it is a magical idea. Usually, the OnePlus 6T unlocks AS I PUSH THE BUTTON rather than afterwards. It is as close to instant as I’ve used, though admittedly my experience with the feature is limited. On the OnePlus I use it so much more often than the fancy new “not really in-display” fingerprint reader that I may as well not have the fingerprint reader. Really.
Case in point, I just had a few sales interactions that put the writing here on hold, and I had to use my calculator on my phone to do some quick math. Every time I pulled the phone out, I used the facial recognition because I knew, from less than a full day of using the phone, that it would be the fastest option by far. It was a super smooth experience on the OnePlus 6T, which is one of the nice things I have to say about it.
What I’ve Learned
I thoroughly like facial recognition based on my limited experience with it, and I feel like it should be an option on every single phone. I have no knowledge of the price of something like that, but I do know prices only come down when there is large scale production and competition. The more the merrier. However, I feel like it should be used in conjunction with fingerprint scanners, rather than in replacement of. Options are always nice from a hardware standpoint.

Speakers
This is where we start getting… into the weeds, if you will. Lots of phones have okay speakers. The OnePlus doesn’t necessarily stand out. In fact, if it did stand out, it’s only because it is claiming to be a flagship killer (or flagship phone, depending on who you ask) and it only has a single speaker. Downward firing, at that, rather than forward facing. I mean, I get it. The entire front of the phone is trying as hard as it can to be screen real estate, so putting a forward firing speaker doesn’t really jive with that idea. I just can’t concede flagship killer to something that doesn’t have a similar stereo speaker setup to all of the flagships.
Also, a really odd note here that I’m pretty sure is more software related than hardware, but connecting the OnePlus to my car via Bluetooth resulted in… quiet music. I made sure the phone was turned all the way up, as it wasn’t initially, and still about half the volume of any other phone I’ve ever had connected via the Bluetooth in my car. I haven’t tried headphones yet as of the writing, but I can’t imagine it would be any different, as all the other phones had similar sound in headphones, too, making this the odd man out.
Speakers, and sound in general, are super important. I wasn’t expecting the sound quality of the Dolby Atmos in the Galaxy S9 or the AKG tuned headphones that phone comes with, but I was expecting… more. Even the iPhone 7 had stereo sound. Not great stereo sound, mind you. It still had one downward firing speaker, and that was the louder of the two by far, and the Pixel 3 has dual front facing speakers (which is so nice, by the way). The OnePlus, by comparison sounds… it sounds like they forgot something. In my opinion, they did.

Screen Size
There isn’t much of a difference in size between the Pixel 3 phone body and the OnePlus 6T phone body, and even the glass on the front is about the same size. The screen, though, that is a different story. The screen on the 6T is noticeably larger. Rather than having the bezels for the forward firing speakers like the Pixel 3 does, or for the Home Button with TouchID like the iPhone 7 did, there is almost no bezel to be had. None that matters, anyways. There is a super tiny chin, and the notch at the top, the tiny teardrop that it is, is the only thing at the top other than screen. It feels like such a large phone because of this. I mean absolutely massive. I was comparing the two phones side by side and the OnePlus 6T body is EVER SO SLIGHTLY larger, but not by an amount that would be noticeable if they weren’t right next to each other.
For some reason, and I honestly think it is nothing more than a psychological interference, but the OnePlus 6T is almost too big for me to use. I mean, it’s not a bad size, and I still like it, but for me the Pixel is still a much more usable (for my hands) size. I’d rather have the iPhone 7 size, but with more screen, but that ship has sailed.


Battery Life

From usage so far, battery life seems pretty on par with everything else. More time will be required to really know for sure, but based on my usage so far, and the percentage I’m left with at this moment, it seems to be draining around the same speed. I know it has a larger battery than the iPhone 7 or the Pixel, but I don’t personally like compare the mAh of different batteries. Those numbers mean nothing. Different hardware, different software, different battery usage. My hope is that whatever battery size they put in the phone, it will get through the day without needing a charge. It’s something I actually like about how Apple does things. Sure, it would be nice to know numerical specs, but at the same time, it doesn’t matter. IPhone battery life has always been on par with the other flagship phones as far as time is concerned, but from everything I’ve seen has almost always had smaller batteries. Sometimes significantly so. The iPhone 7 for example was only 1960mAh, when everything else coming out was around 3000mAh. That phone still performed all day, though, like all the other phones. The OnePlus has a large battery, and it has a lot of hardware to power, and fancy FoD Fingerprint readers, and large cameras, and lots of screen, and it needs more power to run than a smaller phone.


Haptic Feedback
I absolutely, unquestionably, detest the haptic feedback of the OnePlus 6T. I may be spoiled at this point. I spent two years with the Taptic Engine of the iPhone 7, the Pixel 3 finally upped their game on the haptic feedback front and is now close to the Taptic Engine bar, and the 6T is… antiquated. It really feels like something on an older Android. It’s not bad for what it is, but compared to the other two it feels too mushy. When using the keyboard it feels like a drumroll, not a click. Maybe that is a setting. Maybe I can change it. It’s still early, and I will have to look into it, but at the same time, the initial choice for this shouldn’t be the mushy feel, it should be a click. Honestly, that’s all I’ve got. When using the keyboard for texting, which is 70 percent of my active phone usage, (something like watching a video is passive, searching for the video to watch is active) it should feel right. Correct. The first time. And it doesn’t.


Button Placement
So, this one is nitpicking for reasons the folks at OnePlus can’t help. I’ve gotten used to the Pixel 3 having all the buttons on the same side, and that is an amazing thing, sometimes. I hate that my car’s dash mount for my phone constantly clamps on the volume down button. Luckily it doesn’t change the volume, as it doesn’t mash hard enough, but still. The OnePlus gets to avoid that because of their placement. It looks good, it’s balanced, and the buttons are very clicky as they should be, but they are on both sides of the phone, and that’s just not what I was expecting. Again, it’s not bad, it’s just different.


Sound Toggle Slider
Thank you to everyone at OnePlus. This should be a feature on EVERY SINGLE PHONE EVER MADE. Holy cow this thing. Let’s be honest. IPhone got that right. They did. They got the mute switch perfect, and they have kept it because it is perfect. Depending on your feelings on the subject, you may hate or love that the OnePlus has three settings, Ring, Vibrate, and Silent. I personally am indifferent. I think two options instead of three would be nice. Rather than vibrate and silent, maybe include a setting so you can change if you want it to be vibrate or silent for the second option, with ring being the regular choice. Shoot, maybe make all three of them options. No real reason you couldn’t. That would be software, not hardware. Either way though, the slider is an AMAZING addition. Also, even though it has three settings, it takes enough force to switch between them that you won’t accidentally move the slider, and in my experience, I never moved two spots when I only wanted to move one. It was well implemented. Thumbs up.


Charging
Oh how I wish it had wireless charging. I so wish it did. I know, cutting costs while still getting the top of the line stuff is the name of the game for this, but… This was an oversight. Sure, it has USB-C (which I’m still not a huge fan of, but that is a different topic altogether) and sure, it has Dash charging. Great. But, I have wireless chargers everywhere I went all out. And now they are only useful because they are all powered by USB-C and I can unplug them to get their power cord. I mean, come on. You gave it the glass back. You did half the work already. All you had to do was throw in a coil. Super thin. Takes almost no space. Extra $30 bucks for the version that has wireless charging? Done. Take my money. As it is, this is another space I feel OnePlus missed the mark, even if only by a little.


Included Accessories
This was alright. They included a VERY nice USB-C charging cable, even if it is USB-A to USB-C. (Kind of went halfsies there, didn’t ya?) Their proprietary Dash Charger is in the box giving you UNLIMITED COSMIC POWER *cough cough* several hours of charge in just minutes. They included the USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter in the box, since they removed the headphone jack. No headphones, unlike the Googles and Samsungs, though again, removed some of the unnecessary items to make the whole unit cheaper to sell, so I can get behind that, especially since I personally am not a fan of that style of headphone. Ya done good, OnePlus.


Interface

No. Kind of yes, but mostly just no. Look, I don’t remember the reason they use Oxygen OS rather than just using the stock Android Experience. Maybe they weren’t allowed to. Maybe it was started before Android One (pretty sure it was) and now it has just become something they are known for. So, naturally, they would have to include it. And I don’t remember why they call it Oxygen OS unless it is supposed to be about as easy as breathing. They get credit, though. It is a really clean interface. It is NOT as clean as stock Android. No. They don’t get that. After using the Pixel 3, I can say it is really really close, but it is not the same. They made a couple of changes to it, and I don’t personally think they add anything. I think they just confuse the intended simplicity of the stock experience, but at the same time they add a couple of useful tweaks in some places to balance out the oddities in others. I miss stock. I do. I also miss being able to swipe the home screen and get the google news feed. Or swiping the home screen and getting the iOS Widgets tab, which is kind of what the Shelf on Oxygen OS reminds me of. It’s just not as clean looking. Nor is it as clean functioning. Same phone, running stock? Now that is an exciting thought.

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