The OnePlus 6T is a gaming champ even if it’s not a “Gaming Phone”
OnePlus has always been particularly proud of the speed of their smartphones, which by all accounts they should be. Since the OnePlus 3T, the company has made speed their top priority, and that philosophy stuck with them right through to the OnePlus 6. The OnePlus 6T arrived at the start of November 2018 with a few changes in tow like the removal of the headphone jack in favor of a larger battery and the addition of an in-display fingerprint scanner, though none that should really affect performance all that much over its predecessor. It still features the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB/8GB of RAM, and a 1080p notched display. Still, OnePlus has knocked performance out of the park with every device since the OnePlus 3, so we assumed they’d get it right yet again with the OnePlus 6T.
Disclaimer: OnePlus sent XDA this device for review purposes. The opinions in this article are our own.
OnePlus 6T Specifications
|Dimensions & Weight||157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2mm|
|Design & Colors||Glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 6)|
Midnight Black, Mirror Black
|Storage||128GB/256GB UFS 2.1 Dual-Lane|
|Display||6.41-inch 2340 x 1080 (19.5:9) Optic AMOLED display. 402 pixels per inch. Supports sRGB and DCI-P3. 86% screen-to-body ratio.|
In-display fingerprint scanner.
|Battery||3,700 mAh (non-removable)|
|Camera (Image)||Front: Sony IMX 371 (16MP, f/2.0, 1.0μm) with EIS.|
Rear (Primary): Sony IMX 519 (16MP, f/1.7, 1.22μm) with OIS and EIS.
Rear (Secondary): Sony IMX 376K (20MP, f/1.7, 1.0μm).
Dual LED Flash
|Charging||Fast Charge (5V 4A)|
|Camera (Video)||Front: 10[email protected], [email protected]||Ports||USB 2.0, Type-C|
Dual nano-SIM slot (international model)
Single nano-SIM slot (T-Mobile model)
|Software||Android 9 Pie-based OxygenOS 9||Audio||Bottom-facing speaker. Audio tuned by Dirac HD Sound. Dirac Power Sound.|
|System-on-chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU (4x 2.8GHz Kryo 385 + 4x 1.8GHz Kryo 385) with Adreno 630 GPU||Multimedia Codec Support||Audio Playback: MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, WAV, FLAC, APE, OGG, MID, M4A, IMY|
Audio Recording: WAV, AAC, AMR
Video Playback: MKV, MOV, MP4, H.265(HEVC), AVI, WMV, TS, 3GP, FLV, WEBM
Video Recording: MP4
Image Viewing: JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF
Image Output: JPEG
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and the Adreno 630 GPU
Most of the OnePlus 6T’s raw power comes from its system-on-chip, which is why it should have nearly identical performance to the OnePlus 6. Any differences between the two devices will purely be because of slight changes in testing, along with any software optimizations the company may have made over time. The Snapdragon 845 boasts a beefed up Adreno 630 GPU, touting an impressive 30% performance improvement over its predecessor while also improving on efficiency by 30%. Mobile gaming is in a great place now, with games like PUBG and Fortnite on the rise and emulators like Dolphin Emulator being the best they ever have been. Other games like Asphalt, Dead Trigger, and the new Call of Duty: Legends of War also provide some fun gaming experiences right in your pocket, and the OnePlus 6T should handle them like a champ. The OnePlus 6T has a 1080p display, which helps lighten the load when gaming at a slight cost of graphical fidelity on a handful of titles.
The OnePlus 6T has a lot more weight to it than the OnePlus 6 due to the larger battery. It’s heavy, but not in a bad way. It’s actually something I prefer over the OnePlus 6, which felt so light at times that I was afraid it would fly out of my hands. The weight of the OnePlus 6T makes it feel stronger and a whole lot more premium. It’s a small thing, but it’s one of the first things that I noticed when I took it out of the box.
The OnePlus 6T features a waterdrop notch at the top, impeding very little on-screen real estate. The bottom bezel has also been shrunk even further, giving the phone a shockingly high 86% screen-to-body ratio. The widescreen display is great for gaming, though it’s a little bit long for use in landscape mode for extended periods of time. It can be hard to tap the center of the screen when held that way.
OnePlus is clearly proud of the OnePlus 6T’s design, just like they were of the OnePlus 6. The OnePlus 6T features the same “Designed by OnePlus” branding on the bottom at the back. The device is sleek, stylish, and sits nicely in the hands. My only problem with the design is its length. This is one of the only phones I have where I actually feel the need to use an app like Reachability Cursor. With the Razer Phone 2 and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, I didn’t need the extra help. It’s a great design, but I just think it’s a little bit too tall for me.
Gameplay framerate data recorded with GameBench, an excellent service that helps you analyze gaming performance on Android and iOS. GameBench has desktop clients and mobile clients. We used the Android mobile client for our review.
PUBG is one of the most competitive games on Android available. High performance is a must for a game where skill is everything, as you want nothing to get in the way of you playing your game. These games are the most important for a company to get perfectly right, and the OnePlus 6T achieves near perfection.
OnePlus 6T PUBG framerate over time
The OnePlus 6T maintained an incredibly consistent FPS throughout my game of PUBG. Only when the map was loading did I see frame drops, along with when I died right at the end. While actually playing, there are no significant frame drops that seem to go below 39 FPS. The performance in PUBG Mobile is better than what I got with the Razer Phone 2, a phone marketed towards mobile gamers. I’m incredibly impressed with the OnePlus 6T’s performance in PUBG.
However, these results should be taken with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that the Razer Phone 2 operates in 1440p, which means it pushes a lot more pixels than the OnePlus 6T does. That plays to OnePlus’ advantage, as a lower resolution display will be less taxing on the GPU and thus provides more stable frame rates.
Asphalt 9 framerate over time
Asphalt 9 isn’t a game that I enjoy all that much, but it’s a graphically intensive game that the OnePlus 6T handles with ease. The frame drops you see above are during map loading, where the FPS naturally tanks. Once a map was loaded, you can see that the framerates are very consistent. Performance is stellar, and again, there are no complaints from me here.
I tested out Super Smash Bros. Brawl from the Nintendo Wii on the OnePlus 6T and it runs pretty much perfectly. Nearly all of the frame drops are related to map loading, though there were one or two dips in gameplay overall. Even still, it works surprisingly well and with an Xbox controller (or other controllers) gaming through emulation is very much a possibility on the OnePlus 6T. I also tried the GameCube game Simpsons: Hit and Run and it ran nearly perfectly. There were a lot of slowdowns at times, but I never made any effort to optimize Dolphin Emulator, something that you should be doing if emulated games are taxing your device. Thus, OnePlus 6T should have little to no trouble with any modern-day emulator optimized for Android.
Gaming on the OnePlus 6T is a great experience and it actually performs some gaming phones like the Razer Phone 2, at least in the case of PUBG Mobile. With Dolphin Emulator, the two were more neck-and-neck, though it hardly matters when both devices maintain stable framerates throughout the gameplay. The OnePlus 6T is a powerful device and will run basically any Android game you throw at it, which is the most important thing. It has flagship processing just like any other flagship on the market, and the Adreno 630 GPU is only bettered by the Adreno 640 in the newly launched Qualcomm Snapdragon 855.
Memory management is something that OnePlus had issues with dating back to the OnePlus 3 due to aggressive memory optimizations, but I can personally say that I have had no issues with getting notifications or keeping open apps and games on my OnePlus 6T. Opening a game, switching to a web browser and coming back to the game later is entirely possible. Switching between applications is a breeze, as it should be for a device with 8GB of RAM. Even while gaming I can listen to music, talk on Facebook Messenger and switch between applications without any issue. It’s admittedly not a very high bar for any flagship phone with 8GB of RAM to pass, but poor memory management can absolutely ruin the user experience so it’s important for the OnePlus 6T to get it right.
Storage speed is one of the most important aspects when it comes to performance. It’s as important as the raw processing power, as slow storage will hamper app and file loading times and will make games stutter as they attempt to fetch game assets. This is clearly something else that OnePlus cared about while making the OnePlus 6T, as the AndroBench results show the device outperforming the Razer Phone 2.
Battery Life and Temperatures
One of the major upgrades the OnePlus 6T offers over the OnePlus 6 is the 400mAh increase in battery capacity. The OnePlus 6T is slightly thicker than the OnePlus 6 due to the in-display fingerprint sensor, which meant that the company also removed the headphone jack and increased the battery size to compensate. I’m not sure if it was worth it as I’d prefer a headphone jack and a regular fingerprint sensor. In spite of those trade-offs, I will admit that the battery life on the OnePlus 6T is excellent – at least in the benchmarks. First, take a look at the PCMark benchmark below.
This is an excellent result for PCMark’s benchmark, as devices can struggle with it. The Razer Phone 2, when switched to 60Hz mode, reached 7 hours and 32 minutes, slightly behind the OnePlus 6T despite having a bigger battery. Benchmarks aren’t everything though, and real-world usage is most important. So, how did it fare in my case?
The battery life on the OnePlus 6T is excellent and I’ve heard multiple members of XDA’s Portal Team say the same. Our own Editor-in-Chief Mishaal Rahman wrote about getting 9 to 10 hours of screen on time in his first week of use. I didn’t quite reach those heights, but I am a heavy user of my phone so it’s not too surprising. Take a look at my battery stats below and I’ll walk you through my typical day of usage.
A typical day of usage for me is likely to be far removed from what other people may define as typical, especially as I commute a lot. I wasn’t using my phone particularly heavy that day, but I still was using it on occasion while having basically no signal whatsoever. The fact I had no signal was somewhat peculiar as I’ve had devices retain a signal much better than the OnePlus 6T, but this Irish report seems to agree with me that the OnePlus 6T is likely the problem more than anything else.
I spend a lot of time on Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Reddit. I also do some light web browsing, with YouTube every now and again as well and Spotify in the background playing throughout most of it. The OnePlus 6T fares pretty well here, all things considered, as it was on the battery for 13 hours. It’s a far cry from the 9 to 10 hours of screen on time I was told was possible, but it’s still acceptable and, frankly, above the average of what a lot of the competition offers. There are still devices on the market with much better battery life, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S for one, but those are admittedly few and far between. The OnePlus 6T does have very good battery life, I’ve just had better. Unless you’re a heavy user of your phone like I am, you’d likely be fine with typical day-to-day usage.
But battery life is something that concerns me for a phone that I may want to be gaming on. Just like in the case of the Razer Phone 2, what happens if I want to charge my phone while I’m playing and have earphones in? The OnePlus 6T somewhat gets a pass here, given that it’s not marketed as a gaming phone, but it still seems like somewhat of an oversight. OnePlus clearly is pushing their smartphones in a gaming/performance direction, especially as they’ve introduced a gaming mode. To push it in that direction without a headphone jack seems strange to me, but at least the OnePlus 6T charges fast. OnePlus’ quick charging (formerly known as Dash Charge) is here, and it charges to 60% in roughly half an hour. Warp Charge 30 is the new talk of the town, but it’s only available in the premium McLaren Edition.
OnePlus Gaming Mode
OnePlus’ gaming mode isn’t as great as what competitors offer since there aren’t that many features. Here’s what it can currently do:
- Call answering via speaker
- Customized notifications (so you can block the notification headers while you play)
- Calls from third-party apps such as WhatsApp can instead be displayed as notifications
- Automatic brightness can be disabled
- Limit the network usage of other applications
There’s nothing really unique here, but these features will still be appreciated by mobile gamers. Having said that, gaming smartphones typically have a lot more options, most notably the ability to choose the clock speed your smartphone operates at while playing. Some game tuners from other OEMs also let you choose the resolution or limit the frame rate, something we would love to see in OnePlus’ gaming mode.
The company continues to polish and update their gaming mode, so it’s possible that these features will be added in the future. It would be harsh to say that the OnePlus gaming mode is a poorly made feature – it’s much better than nothing which is what stock Android/Pixel software offers. I just think that OnePlus’ competitors have a leg up here.
The OnePlus 6T is not a gaming phone, yet it performs like one
The OnePlus 6T is in a bit of an odd place for me. It’s an everyday smartphone, not a gaming smartphone, yet the company has clearly pushed speed above all else with its marketing. The company loved to mention gaming on your smartphone when marketing their devices in the past, and they’ve even built in a gaming mode for that very purpose. The OnePlus 6T performs better than the Razer Phone 2 in a few areas while costing less, so why pick up a device that costs nearly twice the price?
Well, the OnePlus 6T has the raw performance, battery life, RAM, and storage speeds needed for gaming, but it doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of other gaming smartphones. You don’t get a high refresh rate display, you don’t get two large front-facing speakers, you don’t get a first-party gamepad accessory. Instead, you get an all-around great smartphone – a jack of all trades, master of none type deal. The OnePlus 6T is not a revolutionary smartphone, but that’s not a bad thing. Just because the OnePlus 6T isn’t revolutionary doesn’t mean you should overlook it, it’s just a good phone at a lower price than the competition. A case can be made that the OnePlus 6 is a better choice over the OnePlus 6T, and choosing the former doesn’t compromise on performance in any way whatsoever. These are essentially the same devices under the hood.
There were a number of things I didn’t like that solidify the Razer Phone 2 as the gaming phone to beat in my mind, but that’s by virtue of the fact that the OnePlus 6T is a phone first, a gaming phone second. The single downwards-firing speaker is way too easy to cover with my hand when playing games, for starters. On top of that, rounded corners are nice – so long as they aren’t too rounded. Sadly, the OnePlus 6T suffers as the corners are so rounded, they often cut into UI elements of games and apps. It seems like an odd design choice as the rounded corners are a lot more dramatic than the OnePlus 6’s.
The OnePlus 6T also suffers when gaming because of its long display. It can be hard to reach into the center of the display, which can make some games frustrating. When using the phone in portrait mode for games such as Animal Crossing Pocket Camp or Pokemon Go, it can be difficult to use one-handed as it’s a really tall device. I made a point that the Razer Phone 2’s front design looks ugly in my review, but it was functional for gaming. That’s not something I can say about the OnePlus 6T when it comes to gaming. It has a great overall design, but it’s not as functional in some situations that involve gaming.
If it seems harsh to compare a device that retails at $549 to one that retails at $899, that’s more a testament to the OnePlus 6T than a smear against it. This is not a poor device from OnePlus, rather showing that when a device costs more, it delivers more – it’s just a question of how much more. OnePlus cut the right corners here to keep costs low, as the OnePlus 6T is certainly not exclusively marketed as a gaming phone.
The OnePlus 6T is a phone for everyone, and it just happens to run games exceptionally well.