OnePlus phones have been appreciated for offering premium-level design and hardware at affordable prices. The OnePlus 6 continues that tradition by offering 2018’s flagship-grade hardware and a premium glass design, all at a starting price of Rs 34,999, which is significantly less than the Galaxy S9s and iPhone Xs of the world. But the appeal of a OnePlus phone goes slightly beyond whats on the outside. While a Snapdragon 845 chipset, for example, is expected to be fast on any phone, one tends to feel its speed a little bit more on the OnePlus 6.
Similarly, a near stock Android phone allows for a cleaner, smoother and simpler user interface that nicely optimises with a good chipset making things all the more fast and fluid. But OnePlus believes that some tweaks and customisations on top of a strong Android base are good if they’re done in good taste and don’t sacrifice the overall software experience. Which is why OnePlus CEO Pete Lau in the past has chosen to call the Android software on OnePlus phones “Android Plus” rather than just Android, because he sees the company’s OxygenOS as something the “refines” pure Android.
A lot of what makes the experience on OnePlus phones so great is also due to some subtle tweaks and features sprinkled over the past few years with OxygenOS, and that’s what were looking at today.
One of the more interesting features OnePlus has introduced in recent times is Reading Mode. First launched alongside the OnePlus 5, the Reading Mode is a visual feature that turns the display monochromatic when turned on, removing all the colours and essentially turning the device into a Kindle e-book. Its a pretty neat feature that makes viewing the display easier on the eyes and also helps one to sleep better at night, similar to the Night Mode.
The Reading Mode can be used not only while reading an e-book, but also while browsing through social media sites or you can leave it on pretty much all the time. The feature is also smart enough to understand when you don’t require Reading Mode like say when using the camera app or the looking at pictures in the gallery.
Most companies try to find ways to make performing certain actions easier by reducing the number of steps it takes to get there. Motorola, for example, has something called Moto Actions which allows users to perform a karate chop to open the flashlight. OxygenOS from OnePlus also offers a number of gestures to quickly perform actions. There’s a three-finger screenshot gesture that allows you to take a screenshot by swiping down on the display with three fingers. You can also draw an O on locked screen to quickly activate the camera, or a V gesture to toggle the flashlight on. You can also double tap on a locked screen to turn it on and double tap it to turn it back off.
One of my personal favorites is the navigation gesture feature that was introduced following the OnePlus 5T. Its a feature similar to what we have seen on the iPhone X where you can use swiping gestures to perform navigation actions. This feature is particular useful today as phones come with 18:9 or wider displays. It allows one to remove the on-screen navigation bar so that they can have a more immersive viewing experience.
Navigation gestures on the OnePlus 5T and the OnePlus 6 work similar to the iPhone X. Swipe up from the bottom center quickly to go to the home screen. Swipe up and hold to bring up the multitask menu and swipe up from the bottom left or right to go back Once you get used to it, navigation gestures make things simpler and faster. Now, some other Android phone makers have also added navigation gestures as an option, but so far I’ve found things work a little more smoothly on the OnePlus 5T and 6 compared to some of the other phones I’ve tried. The iPhone X still has the best animations in my opinion.
Ill be honest, I have been a little undecided about notched phones. It just feels asymmetrical to the eyes and I feel that can be a little too distracting. The OnePlus 6 is the first notched phone that I have used and I have to say that the company has made sure users don’t really feel the notch ruining any sort of experience. Whether it’s watching videos on YouTube or Netflix, OnePlus has made sure the notch never cuts into anything.
Most of the apps have been optimised so that there’s a black bar across the top and the notch never gets in the way. However, for those who don’t mind the notch, OnePlus has also included the option to whitelist apps where you would like to see the notch and you can do this via the display settings. You can also choose to hide the notch entirely, a feature other Android OEMs are also including in their own notched phones.
Thanks to flagship-level hardware, OnePlus phones, especially the newer ones, are gaming beasts. Graphic intense games are handled with ease especially on the new OnePlus 6. But what makes the experience even better is a feature called Gaming Do Not Disturb that allows you to play games without being bothered by pop-up notifications.
The only exception to this feature is that it does not block incoming calls and alarms. Gaming DND also locks the capacitive keys so that users do not accidentally exit a game. You also have the option to answer calls via the speaker and disable automatic brightness. All of this essentially tries to provide a more immersive gameplay experience.
Another feature introduced with the OnePlus 5T is Face Unlock. Now, facial recognition is a feature being adopted by most phone makers so its not exactly a novel idea anymore. However, Face Unlock on the OnePlus 6 is mighty fast and among the fastest to unlock a phone. Its perhaps still not as fast as a fingerprint sensor, but were talking about a delay of just a couple of milliseconds.
OnePlus says that it is able to achieve such speed and accuracy because the front camera uses 100 identifying points on the face like the distance between the face and the nose to map the face more accurately. While the feature is pretty fast, it may not be as secure as the one on the iPhone X. It still makes for a great user experience nonetheless.