OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T: Should you upgrade?

OnePlus has followed a six-month release cadence over the last couple of years, introducing a new device in the summer and following it up with a refreshed variant with upgraded internals around November. The OnePlus 5T, for instance, retained the same design aesthetic as the OnePlus 5 while ushering in an 18:9 panel.

With the OnePlus 6, the company is refining its design language with the addition of a glass back. This isn't the first time OnePlus rolled out a glass design — the OnePlus X gets that distinction — but the switch away from metal gives the OnePlus 6 a more upmarket feel.

Like previous OnePlus devices, the OnePlus 6 offers the latest hardware available today, with the company rolling out a 256GB storage option for the first time. There's also a notch up front, which OnePlus says is designed to maximize the screen real estate, and the phone is resistant to the occasional splash of water.

With the phone coming just six months after the launch of the OnePlus 5T, you won't notice a significant difference in specs or the resulting performance. So should you still consider an upgrade? Let's find out.

OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T: Specs

OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T

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CategoryOnePlus 6OnePlus 5T
Operating systemAndroid 8.1 OreoOxygenOS 5.1.2Android 8.1 OreoOxygenOS 5.1.1
Display6.28-inch AMOLED, 2280x1080 (19:9)Gorilla Glass 56-inch Optic AMOLED, 2160x1080 (18:9)Gorilla Glass 5
ChipsetOcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8454x2.80GHz Kryo 385 + 4x1.70 Kryo 385Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8354x2.45 Kryo 280 + 4x1.90GHz Kryo 280
GPUAdreno 630Adreno 540
Storage64GB/128GB/256GB (UFS 2.1)64/128GB (UFS 2.1)
Rear camera 116MP, 1.22μm, f/1.7OIS, EISDual LED flash4K@60FPS, 720p@480FPS16MP, 1.12μm, ƒ/1.7Dual LED flash
Rear camera 220MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/1.720MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/1.7
Front camera16MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/2.016MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/2.0
ChargingUSB-CDash Charge (5V 4A)USB-CDash Charge (5V 4A)
Water resistanceSplash resistant (no IP rating)No
SecurityFingerprint sensorFace unlockFingerprint sensorFace Unlock
AudioAptX HD, Dirac HD Sound, Dirac Power SoundAptX HD, Dirac HD Sound, Dirac Power Sound
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac , 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0USB-C (2.0), NFCGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, GalileoWi-Fi 802.11ac , 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0USB-C (2.0), NFCGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
NetworkLTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/1718/19/20/25/26/28/29/3032/34/38/39/40/41/66/714xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 16, UL Cat 13LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/1718/19/20/25/26/28/29/30/664xCA, 256QAM, DL Cat 12, UL Cat 13
Dimensions155.7x75.4x7.75mm177g156.1 x 75 x 7.3 mm162g
VariantsMirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk WhiteMidnight Black, Lava Red, Sandstone White

What's the same

OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T

The OnePlus 5T wasn't exactly short on performance, and while the OnePlus 6 comes with Qualcomm's latest silicon, you're not going to see a massive difference when it comes to day-to-day usage. There's 6GB or 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM on either device, but you can get a 256GB storage option with the OnePlus 6.

The OnePlus 6 continues OnePlus' legacy of offering top-notch internals for lesser than the competition.

Thankfully, the headphone jack is intact on the OnePlus 6. You also get AptX HD on both devices, and Dash Charge is unchanged as well if you're looking to quickly top up your phone in the middle of the day.

The OnePlus 6 comes with OxygenOS 5.1.2 atop Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box. I'll delve into the additions on the software front early next week, but if you've used a OnePlus device over the last 12 months, the experience should be largely familiar.

What's different

OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T

The design of the OnePlus 5T felt iterative, but that isn't the case on the OnePlus 6. The glass back and pronounced curves along the sides make it a much more comfortable device to hold, and the added 15g of weight and 0.45mm thickness — thanks to the Gorilla Glass-encased back — gives it a reassuring heft.

The glass back gives the OnePlus 6 a design flourish over the 5T.

The display on the OnePlus 6 is marginally larger — 6.28 inches over 6.01 inches — even though the phone isn't as tall as the 5T, which is facilitated by the notch. The added 0.27-inch screen real estate fits in a few extra lines of text when you're browsing.

Videos are still letterboxed to fit to a 16:9 ratio (or 18:9 in a few cases), so you don't have to worry about the notch interfering with your ability to view multimedia content on the OnePlus 6.

On the subject of multimedia, the OnePlus 6 continues to offer a single speaker that's located at the bottom, but it manages to beat out the 5T both in terms of clarity and loudness.

There are a few changes on the design front aside from the glass back. The Alert Slider has been moved to the right side of the phone, with the SIM card slot switched over to the left.

While the underlying hardware is largely similar between the two devices, the OnePlus 6 does offer a new imaging sensor (Sony IMX 519) with larger 1.22μm pixels and OIS. I haven't used the OnePlus 6 long enough to make a full judgement on the camera quality or battery life just yet, so stay tuned for that early next week.

OnePlus is also touting water resistance with its latest flagship. The phone isn't certified for an IP rating, so it's only good for the occasional splash of water and won't survive a dunk in the pool, but it's better than what the OnePlus 5T managed.

Should you upgrade?

OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 5T

The OnePlus 5T is still a fantastic phone today, and is in fact better than the OnePlus 6 in a few areas — particularly if you're not sold on the idea of the notch. The device did incredibly well in terms of sales, so much so that it was sold out in North America after just four months, and globally a month after.

If you already have the OnePlus 5T, it makes little sense to pick up the OnePlus 6. Considering the company's release window, we'll likely be seeing the OnePlus 6T in just under six months, with the phone offering wireless charging as a possible differentiator.

But if you haven't picked up the OnePlus 5T and are looking for a phone with flagship specifications and top-notch performance, you cannot go wrong with the OnePlus 6. The notch is irksome, but you can at least hide it away, and the glass back makes the device feel more refined next to its predecessors.

The OnePlus 6 goes on sale starting May 22 in North America, and May 21 in India. The 64GB variant starts off at $529, with the 256GB option going all the way up to $629.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.