The OnePlus 6 has enough raw power to compete with the best Image: T2 Online
The OnePlus 6 launch this year was preceded by some big promises, most of which the Chinese smartphone giant managed to deliver upon. The device turned out to be a solid daily driver with enough bells and whistles to impress regular users. But reclaiming the title of the flagship killer, especially after minor hiccups with last year's OnePlus 5 and 5T variants, was always going to take some doing — especially when it comes to gaming performance.
So, how does the OnePlus 6 hold up in the most resource-hungry function modern smartphones are put through and judged on in recent times?
We put the device through the paces for about a month to find out.
The OnePlus 6 colours look vibrant yet realistic
To be blunt, the OnePlus 6 display is simply gorgeous. The 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED display keeps the colours close to real-life but they pop enough to add a fair amount of zing to the display. To be fair, OnePlus has experimented with a fair number of display technologies in their past devices and the latest iteration seems to be a result of hard-toiled research and experience.
The lack of QuadHD+ resolution (2960x1440) is unfortunate, but considering a lot of games don't scale that far natively and the intense battery-drain associated with running devices at these resolutions make it a non-issue when it comes to gaming. There's a reason even devices with QuadHD+ support keep the default resolutions at FullHD+ (2280×1080).
The 'divisive' notch is a non-factor, too, considering most games are designed to cut them off while running. As for whether or not it impedes in the immersive experience of a display is a discussion for another day.
On the hardware front, the OnePlus 6 seems to have all aspects covered, on paper at least. The device sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor coupled with the powerful Adreno 630 GPU and 6GB or 8GB RAM — specs on par with premium flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S9, S9 Plus, Huawei P20 Pro and the Apple iPhone X. But experience dictates that just having the tools for the trade doesn't always translate to stellar performance.
Implementation plays a crucial role in gaming performance and the OnePlus 6 seems to have gotten the basics spot on. Let's take a step back here. The OnePlus 6 doesn't quite qualify as a gaming smartphone. It doesn't come with advanced cooling features traditional gaming smartphones like the Razer Phone, Nubia Red Dragon or the Xiaomi Blackshark boast of and neither does it have the nifty cosmetics like RGB lights or support for specialised add-ons.
However, stripped down to the basics, the OnePlus 6 more than stands its ground when it comes to raw performance. We had the 8GB RAM variant to test.
The OnePlus 6 speakers can get blocked when playing games
The OnePlus 6 was never designed as a gaming smartphone and inevitably it comes across as its biggest drawback while gaming. Firstly, the speakers are placed at the bottom. With most games functioning in landscape mode, we inevitably ended up blocking the speakers while holding the phone sideways, muffling the sound. It's advisable to use earphones or headphones out of the 3.5mm jack while gaming.
The OnePlus 6 is solidly built and the weightiness feels good in the hand. But using it over long periods is a tad stressful on the wrists. We found the flat glass back of the OnePlus 6 a little cumbersome to grip but it can be worked around using an appropriately designed back cover.
The 3,300mAh battery on the OnePlus 6 holds up pretty well while gaming. We lost around 4-5 per cent battery for every PUBG session, which is fairly commendable. With Pokemon GO, the battery drain seemed more rapid than on the Apple iPhone 7, but that might have something to do with the high GPS battery drain on Androids in general.
The OnePlus 6 has a battery saver option while gaming but as per our tests, it doesn't do much. But again, we are yet to find a smartphone with a gaming battery saver implementation, which actually makes a tangible difference.
The OnePlus 6 gets warm to the touch after an hour or so of gaming but it was well within temperature thresholds. We advise caution if you decide on a marathon gaming session outdoors on a hot summer afternoon, but other than that, you're good to go.
The OnePlus 6 has a game mode
One thing about the OnePlus 6 you will notice the moment you start using it is that the UI is super fast. Apps load in no time and so, no more waiting on the loading screens for ages. It's click and game.
There's a Game Mode accessible through the settings menu, which stops notifications and unnecessary background processes to direct maximum-possible resource towards gaming. It works fairly well.
The OnePlus 6 also has a network boost option under the Gaming Mode to reduce lag and latency for online games. It didn't really make any noticeable difference when using high-speed WiFi but did show some improvements when we tried it in an area with low network coverage while on 4G.
Let's get into the good stuff — the games.
If you're using your smartphone to game, chances are that you will be playing PUBG... a lot of it. OnePlus 6 handles the Battle Royale phenomenon beautifully. Gameplay is butter smooth even at the highest settings. Frame rates stay close to the 30fps cap, with 2-3fps drops during heavy battle scenes with explosions. The game looks gorgeous on the OnePlus 6 screen and is a treat to play.
Dead Trigger 2
The zombie survival game maybe a little dated but is still a fan-favourite and has top-notch graphics, even compared to new games. The OnePlus 6 handles the game really well, even at highest settings.
Niantic's popular AR-based game isn't really a resource hungry beast but can be used to good effect in judging the touch sensitivity of the screen, which is crucial when trying for pinpoint throws to maximise your chances of catching the pokemons. The OnePlus 6 passes with flying colours.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
No gaming review is complete with the racing favourite. The OnePlus 6 maintained the fps ceiling with amazing authority throughout and the experience was quite satisfying.
The OnePlus 6 is an excellent gaming smartphone, especially for its price tag. It has enough raw power to handle any games out there currently and that too, with room to spare. The design and ergonomics may be the only drawback, considering your preferences, but they're not deal-breakers by any stretch.
In fact, OnePlus can easily make a few token changes and pass it off as a dedicated gaming smartphone.