The incremental upgrade remains the inflection point to decreasing returns.
“Never settle” has been the motto of the Chinese company since its inception, and the 6-month update cycle since the OnePlus 3T has been the embodiment of that philosophy which goes against the norm of one flagship a year as followed by Apple, Google, and most other manufacturers. Even if they do release 2 flagships, they do it under separate banners- like Samsung with it’s Galaxy S and Note lines occupying two very important launch times, or with how LG keeps its G line further away from the V line.
OnePlus has pledged to remain at the bleeding edge of tech, to the point that any person looking to buy a OnePlus doesn’t have to look further back than 6 months to their latest flagship. Their product cycle is also similar to Apple, only occurring at twice the frequency.
Just like every alternate year Apple releases an ‘S’ version of their iPhone which is supposed to be an incremental upgrade over their preceding iPhone, so is the T in the OnePlus product cycle. The T is also one letter after ‘S’- One plus if you will. Just like most other Android OEMs, OnePlus doesn’t fail to take a dig at Apple every chance it gets.
In its event on 30th October, OnePlus launched its new flagship the OnePlus 6T. In typical half year upgrade fashion, it is a refinement of the OnePlus 6.
The internals remain largely unchanged- and still top of the line. Powering the device is the Snapdragon 845 which is the flagship SoC by Qualcomm which powers almost all Android flagships of 2018 like the Pixel 3, Galaxy Note 9 and others. It still comes with either 6 or 8 GB RAM, though the base storage has been bumped to 128GB which is a welcome move. The maximum storage is now 512 GB.
The most noticeable change is the replacement of the already small notch of the 6 with an even smaller “waterdrop notch” which takes up no more than a drop’s space up on the top of the screen. Along with a few other phones by parent company Oppo, this is the best implementation of the notch in any phone- much less intrusive than both the iPhone XS and the Pixel 3XL.
The bottom chin bezel has also been shaved off a bit. The two points help bump up the screen size of the phone to 6.44 inches without a noticeable difference in footprint.
Another thing different from the 6 is the lack of a fingerprint sensor on the back. This is because it is embedded into the front under the screen, making it one of the first phones to implement an under screen fingerprint scanner. The sensor is not as fast as the dedicated sensor on the back of the 6 or most other new phones, but that is the tradeoff in being an early adopter of new technology. Seeing how much faster fingerprint sensors have become since the introduction of first gen Touch ID in the iPhone 5s back in 2013, the technology is expected to improve and spread substantially within a couple of years.
Another tradeoff of having this sensor on the front in the lower section is that there was no space left for the headphone jack- making OnePlus another victim of the jack-shunning trend. Samsung now remains the only big player to be providing a headphone jack on their phones.
Following the trend of last 3 years, the phone’s price has been bumped up by Rs 2000 again, taking it to Rs 37,999 for the base 6 GB/128 GB variant. While still lying south of the MRP of current flagships, one has to worry about the impact of dropping prices of last year’s flagships eating into the sales of the 6T. For now, OnePlus does enjoy the leader’s position in India when it comes to market share in the premium phone department. It remains to be seen how long can OnePlus latch on to this lead in the ever changing tech landscape.
By Dhruv Malik