OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T vs. OnePlus 5: Is it worth it to upgrade?

oneplus 5 vs 5t vs 6
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 6 is the latest flagship killer from OnePlus, offering top specs at a price hundreds of dollars lower than market-leading flagships. However, how does it stack up against the last generation, the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T? If you’re using either of the last two OnePlus models, is it worth upgrading to the latest model? We took a look to find out.

Specs

OnePlus 6 OnePlus 5T OnePlus 5
Size 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm (6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches) 156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm (6.15 x 2.95 x 0.29 inches) 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.3 mm (6.07 x 2.92 x 0.29 in)
Weight 177 grams (6.24 ounces) 162 grams (5.71 ounces) 153 grams (5.40 ounces)
Screen size 6.28-inch AMOLED display 6.0-inch AMOLED display 5.5-inch AMOLED display
Screen resolution 2,280 x 1,080 pixels (407 pixels per inch) 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (401 pixels per inch) 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo
Storage space 64GB (with 6GB of RAM), 128GB, 256GB (both with 8GB of RAM) 64GB (with 6GB RAM), 128GB (with 8GB RAM) 64GB (with 6GB RAM), 128GB (with 8GB RAM)
MicroSD card slot No No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 6GB (with 64GB storage), 8GB (with 128GB or 256GB of storage) 6GB (with 64GB storage), 8GB (with 128GB storage) 6GB (with 64GB storage), 8GB (with 128GB storage)
Camera Dual 16MP and 20MP rear, 16MP front Dual 16MP and 20MP rear, 16MP front Dual 16MP and 20MP rear, 16MP front
Video 2160p @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120, 720p @ 480 fps super slow motion, HDR 2160p @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 30/60 fps, 720p @ 30/120 fps, HDR 2160p @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 30/60 fps, 720p @ 30/120 fps, HDR
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes (back) Yes (back) Yes (front)
Water resistance No No No
Battery 3,300mAh

DashCharge

3,300mAh

DashCharge

3,300mAh

DashCharge

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support AT&T and T-Mobile AT&T and T-Mobile AT&T and T-Mobile
Colors Midnight Black, Mirror Black, Silk White Midnight Black, Lava Red, Sandstone White Midnight Black, Slate Gray
Price $530 $500 $480
Buy from OnePlus, Amazon OnePlus, Amazon Amazon
Review score Hands-on review 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

fastest cell phones oneplus 5t full review screen protector

While you’re looking at similar specs across the board between all three phones, it’s the upgraded processor in the OnePlus 6 that elevates it above the older models. OnePlus said the Snapdragon 845 in the OnePlus 6 is 30 percent faster than the Snapdragon 835 in the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T, and after seeing the impact that the latest Snapdragon processor has had on phones like the Galaxy S9, we believe them. The OnePlus 6 is the faster phone, but it’s not like the Snapdragon 835 is slow. It’s still a perfectly capable, speedy processor that’s more than sufficient for even power users.

All three phones are equipped with hefty 3,300mAh batteries, and come with OnePlus’ Dash Charge technology for super-fast recharging. We got good performance out of the OnePlus 5 and 5T during our reviews, with more than a day’s worth of battery life from a full charge of each device. We expect similar performance on the OnePlus 6, and though the screen is likely to be a larger power draw, we believe that will be balanced out by the Snapdragon 845’s power efficiency.

While there’s a lot to like from all three phones, the OnePlus 6 is objectively the more powerful phone.

Winner: OnePlus 6

Design and durability

Oneplus 6 review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

With chunky bezels and an old-school iPhone aesthetic, it’s fair to say that the OnePlus 5 loses out to the two more modern bezel-less designs of the newer phones. But between the more recent two, which triumphs? The OnePlus 5T was the first OnePlus phone to come with trimmed bezels, and it’s still a great-looking phone even when compared to the slightly newer design on the OnePlus 6, which has even slimmer bezels. There’s an elephant in the room, though — the OnePlus 6’s notch. We don’t mind notches — the cutout at the top where the front camera and earpiece sit — but there has been a lot of vocal opposition to the design ever since it arrived in the Essential Phone and the iPhone X. You’ll be able to hide the notch via software in a later update, if it really puts you off.

The OnePlus 6 also feels slightly more high-end due to the company’s use of Gorilla Glass 5 on a phone’s body. It doesn’t add wireless charging, and the use of glass is purely for aesthetic purposes. It does mean either side of the OnePlus 6 may shatter on impact in the event of an accidental drop — not something you have to worry about much thanks to the metal body on the OnePlus 5T. The camera has also been moved to make the setup more central on the OnePlus 6, with the fingerprint sensor placed underneath the vertically stacked camera.

We like the updated design on the OnePlus 6, but we can’t deny the use of glass — with no wireless charging benefits — doesn’t help the phone’s durability. Neither phone is water resistant. This one’s a tie.

Winner: Tie

Display

Oneplus 6 review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

In terms of pure screen tech, there’s not much of a difference between the three models, as each model has its own AMOLED display that delivers great color reproduction and crisp quality. Display technology has improved, and it’s likely the OnePlus 6 has the best of the lot, but it’ll be tough to notice. However, there’s a clear difference in screen sizes. The OnePlus 5 comes with a 5.5-inch AMOLED display, while the OnePlus 5T — thanks to the bezel-less design — was able to up that even further to 6-inches. Now, the OnePlus 6 will come with a massive 6.28-inch display that dominates the phone’s front.

Since the underlying tech is so similar, it ultimately comes down to your personal preference on size. If you look at each phone’s dimensions, you’ll notice that they aren’t hugely different in size. The reduction of bezels allows for a bigger screen, while still maintaining a similar body size. We’re giving the OnePlus 6 the win for its larger screen.

Winner: OnePlus 6

Camera

Oneplus 6 review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The camera megapixel count on all three phones hasn’t changed at all, but there are a few changes and tweaks to each phone’s camera. Each of these models sport a dual-camera setup on the rear comprised of a 16-megapixel and a 20-megapixel lens, as well as a 16-megapixel lens on the front of the phone. In practice, most users will find the cameras on the OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 6 to be superior, thanks to an increase in aperture size.

OnePlus says it’s taken the tech on the OnePlus 6 even further than the 5T, with an increase in sensor size and improvements to the optical image stabilization system. There’s also an A.I.-assisted Portrait Mode with selective blurring available on both the front and rear cameras.

It’s not just the photo camera that has benefited from upgrades — the OnePlus 6 also comes with support for super-slow motion 480 frame-per-second video in 720p quality, and it can record 60 frames per second video at 4K resolution. We’re confident that the OnePlus 6 will outpace its predecessors here, and while we’ll have to do more testing, it takes the win.

Winner: OnePlus 6

Software and updates

oneplus 5 screen 3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

All modern OnePlus phones run on OxygenOS, OnePlus’ modified version of Android, and all of them are currently running on the latest version of Android 8.1 Oreo. The OnePlus 6 will receive more major Android updates, and will be supported by a greater number of security patches going forward. At this time, these three phones are neck-and-neck in terms of software — but the OnePlus 6 has been confirmed to be able to enter the Android P beta. In our mind, that gives it the edge in this category, but it’s a small edge. The OnePlus 5 and 5T will likely get Android P when it rolls out later this year.

You’ll find facial recognition on the OnePlus 6, and it’s nearly identical to the version we saw on the OnePlus 5T. It’s still not secure enough to act as any sort of security clearance, which is a shame, but when it’s this fast, we don’t mind. The OnePlus 6, like the OnePlus 5T, can utilize gestures to navigate throughout the operating system, similar to the iPhone X.

The OnePlus 6 is getting a Gaming Mode, which allows people to play games without having notifications disrupt the experience. It also reduces latency by lowering the amount of data assigned to apps running in the background, allocating those resources to the game you’re playing. This capability is currently available via beta to the OnePlus 5 and 5T.

We’re giving the win to the OnePlus 6, since it will be supported with updates for a longer period of time.

Winner: OnePlus 6

Price

The OnePlus 6 with 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM will start at $530, and will be available from OnePlus and Amazon starting May 22. The OnePlus 5 and 5T have technically been discontinued, but you can still pick one up from Amazon or other retail websites.

Overall winner: OnePlus 6

We’d be scratching our heads if the OnePlus 6 didn’t come out of top against its predecessors. While OnePlus isn’t offering any sort of huge advancement over the formula we saw in the OnePlus 5T, it’s the small changes that make the biggest difference — such as the upgrade to the Snapdragon 845 and the slightly larger screen.

If you’re new to OnePlus, we recommend going with their current flagship, the OnePlus 6. If you’re using a OnePlus 5 or 5T, we don’t see much of a reason to upgrade just yet. It’s likely there will be a OnePlus 6T later this year, and it may have more compelling reasons to upgrade.

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