The new OnePlus 6 introduces a new design for this generation of the product line. The main attraction here is the liberal use of glass, with both the front and back of the device being covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The aim here was to create the look and feel of ceramic while being significantly lighter (not to mention, cheaper).
Switching from metal to glass does seem to be the trend for 2017-2018, so we are not surprised here and glass does have its advantages. For one, the phone looks stunning out of the box, with a gorgeous piano black finish on our Mirror Black review unit. OnePlus has also painted the side aluminum frame in glossy black, making the glass and metal look and feel indistinguishable. The glass is also extremely grippy in hand, making the phone feel much secure than the metal body phones that came before it.
However, the advantages end there. Even the latest version of Gorilla Glass isn't completely averse to breaking when dropped. Other times, the glass tends to pick up micro-scratches and abrasions, as did our unit in less than a week of use, including one rather deep gash whose origin remains unknown. And when none of that is happening, the phone is also a giant fingerprint magnet. The ultra-glossy finish of the OnePlus 6 attracts smudges like they are going out of fashion.
This is less of an issue with the two other color variants, the Midnight Black and the Silk White, which use a matte finish glass on the back with a silky, sandblasted finish. To match the glass, both these variants also have a matte finished aluminum frame. These finishes will hide fingerprints and scratches much better than the Mirror Black but the downside is that they are extremely slippery. Either way, it seems you'd want to use a case with this phone.
Going around the phone, we see some familiar and some new elements. The front has the new 19:9 display with the notch that we already knew about. The phone has remarkably thin bezels all around and although there is a chin at the bottom, it is one of the smallest ones we have come across so far. The overwhelming feel while using the device is that of having an edge-to-edge display and the barely-six-months-old OnePlus 5T looks outdated in comparison. It's understandable though that the notch won't be to everyone's taste and there are downsides to having it but it does create a greater sense of immersion and the way the screen goes to the top corners looks quite neat.
Along the sides, the power button still sits on the right with a nice tactile feel but the alert slider has been moved right above it from being placed on the left side of the phone for all these years.
On the left now sits the dual SIM tray along with the volume control buttons. The buttons this time around are stiffer and less easy to press accidentally compared to the 5 or the 5T, however, their position means you will still press them every time you are lifting the phone. They also have slightly sharp edges that do not feel pleasant on your fingers.
At the bottom is the headphone jack, a Type-C USB 2.0 port and a thoroughly mediocre sounding loudspeaker that actually sounds worse than the speaker on the 5T.
Around the back is the new dual camera system in a vertical layout with a dual LED flash and the fingerprint sensor. We can't help but feel the fingerprint sensor would have looked better had it been vertically oriented.
Near the bottom is a 'Designed by OnePlus' marking that looks remarkably similar in typeface to the 'Designed by Vivo' marking on the X21. The phone otherwise completely lacks any other markings, making it look very clean.
OnePlus claims the phone has been designed to be water-resistant for "everyday occasions, such as rain or an accidental drop in a puddle, rather than for extreme scenarios". This means the phone should survive some amount of exposure to water even without any official certification. But that has largely been true of previous OnePlus devices as well and we would have still like to see some official water-resistant certificate for specificity instead of this somewhat vague description.
One, somewhat underappreciated, thing about OnePlus is the official cases it releases for its phones, which are some of the best we have seen. The OnePlus 6 will also launch with five different OEM cases, which include two bumper cases (Ebony and Nylon finish), and three standard cases (Silicone, Karbon and Sandstone).
All the cases fit great and don't add much to the size of the phone, especially the Karbon and Sandstone cases, which are very thin. The Silicone is available in a nice bright red that complements the black of the phone. Ebony Wood has a nice texture to it and made out of real wood as usual. The newcomer Nylon also has a great texture reminiscent of the DROID Turbo/Moto Maxx.
The bumper cases bring additional protection by covering all sides and having more substantial padding. The physical buttons on the phone work well through every case however the bumper cases do have more restricted headphone port cutout that could prevent some headphones from being used.
Overall, we did like the design and feel of the new OnePlus 6. The glass back and notch have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages and are bound to split opinions but that seems to be the trend of 2018. Hopefully, we will settle on a more rational middle-ground for next year.