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Two weeks with the OnePlus 6: Useful buttons, gorgeous design, stellar software, and reasonable price

I've tried a couple OnePlus Android phones in the past, but with the high price of flagships and stumbles by some it was time to take a closer look. The OnePlus 6 exceeds my expectations and continues to impress me daily.

Video: OnePlus 6 first look

Last week ZDNet's Sandra Vogel posted the site's full review of the OnePlus 6 and the week before that OnePlus sent along a mirror black one for me to test. After just a couple of days of use, I ordered my own Silk White OnePlus 6 and after more than two weeks with this device I am going to have a tough time paying for a flagship again.

Read also: OnePlus 6 review: Top-quality design

While I mostly enjoy the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus after several weeks of use the battery life is a bit disappointing I'm not convinced it really is the best Android right now. I was hoping that HTC U12 Plus was going to be the one, but the haptic buttons are a fatal flaw that should convince HTC to pull it from the sales channels and try again. The LG G7 ThinQ, at $750, is back near the top of my list too with all of the flagship specs and a nice form factor.

The OnePlus 6 sold more than one million phones in just three weeks, which is quite a feat considering not a single US carrier has the phone in stores and it is only sold directly from OnePlus. After testing the Mirror Black one, I bought my own Silk White model and it is honestly one of the most gorgeous phones I have ever used with a back that feels more like a marble counter top than glass.

Here are several reasons to consider the OnePlus 6:

  1. Design: There are some stunning phone designs today, but the Silk White OnePlus 6 may be my favorite. The front Gorilla Glass 5 transitions into beautiful rose gold metal edges and then into curved back pearl white Gorilla Glass 5 that looks and feels stunning. The highlights of rose gold are perfect, the rear fingerprint scanner is perfectly positioned, and the entire device feels like $1000. However, I only paid $579 for this 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage smartphone.
  2. Buttons: While HTC completely failed with its new buttons, OnePlus continues to have tactile volume, power, and alert slider buttons. The alert slider gives you a three position physical button for silent, vibrate, and ring modes where you can define some specifics for your needs.
  3. Gestures: Google demonstrated an Android interface with gestures in Android P, but OnePlus beat them to the punch with an option in Android 8.1 to depart from using the three bottom navigation buttons and use gestures to replace the navigation bar. I chose that method since I am so used to the iPhone X and am very happy with the performance and functionality of the gestures. OnePlus also provides system gestures and the ability to customize five letters for screen off gestures.
  4. Speed and updates: OxygenOS provides nearly a stock Android experience with software customizations that make the device even better than stock. The software screams and in the short couple of weeks of using it I have seen updates so the default software is Android 8.1 with the May Android security update. Shoot, the HTC U12 Plus I tested was still at Android 8.0 with the March update.
  5. Band 71: Samsung and LG both launched new phones with Band 71 (600 MHz) support, which is the expanded network T-Mobile is actively rolling out. It's fantastic to see an independent, non-carrier phone launch with support for this frequency. In addition, the OnePlus 6 is a dual SIM device so you can even switch networks on the fly.
  6. Minimal bezels and a notch: I have no issue with notched screens and after using the iPhone X for many months I prefer to maximize my screen experience. The OnePlus 6 has minimal side, top, and bottom bezels so it feels like most of what is in my hand is all screen and I like my phones this way.

There is always something missing from a phone, especially ones that are priced hundreds less than the flagships from Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. There is no wireless charging, but honestly the fast proprietary charging provided by OnePlus is extremely quick at charging up a phone and the battery has easily lasted me a full day of typical usage.

There is no rating for the water resistance, but OnePlus states that it will survive the rain or a dunking. Don't take it swimming or submerge for extended periods, which is something you should not do even with a phone with an IP68 rating. It's nice to know I can use it in Washington State's often overcast drizzly days though.

OnePlus has dual cameras on the back and so far I have been satisfied with their performance. It seems to be a bit of a lost opportunity for the second lens to only help with depth effects rather than optical zoom, wide-angle coverage, or monochrome images, but maybe we'll see more with the next OnePlus device.

Read also: Everything we know about the OnePlus 6 (CNET)

The Silk White OnePlus 6 keeps selling out when OnePlus has a few more available, but it is worth checking the OnePlus Twitter account and keeping an eye out for availability. It is stunning and now that I've tested it out for a few weeks I am off to install the Android P beta since the OnePlus 6 is one of the devices officially supported by this beta program.

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