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OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition Review: Doffing The Hat to McLaren Inspiration

OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition Review: Doffing The Hat to McLaren Inspiration

One of the most powerful Android phones becomes even better—and you thought that couldn’t happen.

OnePlus has always talked about salute to speed, and how fast the OnePlus 6T is as a flagship Android smartphone. The OnePlus 6T is the company’s current flagship smartphone. In many ways, what better way to signify speed, than doff your hat and team up with British car maker, McLaren. This leads us neatly to the company’s latest variant of the OnePlus 6T smartphone—it is called the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition. It is said that this phone is inspired by the McLaren MCL33, which was the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship challenger. The OnePlus 6T, with its 6GB and 8GB RAM variants, was already one of the best Android phones you could spend your money on. Now this limited-edition phone just takes that game up a notch. This has a price tag of Rs50,999 and though this does have a premium over the Rs45,999 price tag of the top spec standard variant of the 6T, it may just be worth that extra money—this isn’t a case of just cosmetic changes, but there are significant improvements under the hood.

What’s new, and what remains the same

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition phone has, wait for it, 10GB of RAM. That is more than the 8GB goalposts the OnePlus 6T’s predecessors set, a few years ago. Though this isn’t the only phone with 10GB RAM now—the Vivo NEX Dual Display and the Xiaomi Black Shark are rare examples—this surely is one of the very few phones with this much memory to drive multi-tasking, apps and games on a phone. That elite company gives OnePlus a head-start as they build the next generation of the Android flagship phone, by which time, a 10GB RAM variant would pretty much be a standard option. But the generous amount of RAM isn’t its only party piece.

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition also introduces the new Warp Charge 30 charging technology, which is could become the standard in its upcoming phones. The Warp Charge 30 charges more than 50 percent of the 3,700mAh battery in just 20 minutes. There are new Integrated Circuits in both the updated charger and the phone, as well as updated power management software, which handles 30 watts of power flow from the charger to the phone—all this to keep the charge consistent and reduce heat emissions.

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition otherwise is the same as the other variants of the OnePlus 6T, at least on the specifications sheet. This is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, a 6.41-inch Optic AMOLED display (2,340 x 1,080 resolution), and the dual 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel cameras at the back. The Android 9 Pie is wrapped nicely in a thick layer of Oxygen OS. This special edition phone will only be available in the 256GB storage variant, at least for the moment, while the other OnePlus 6T phones are available in 128GB and 256GB storage options, with 6GB or 8GB of RAM.

Beautiful design, enhanced

In terms of the design, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition smartphone retain the design cues from its other OnePlus 6T siblings. There are no changes in how the phone looks, feels and cradles in your hand. That is perhaps a good thing, because the OnePlus 6T’s curved back pretty much feels ideal to hold. The overall size and dimensions remain the same as the standard OnePlus 6T (157.5mm x 74.8mm x 8.2mm) and also weighs the same (185 grams). However, that is where the similarities end.

Pick up the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition phone, and you know this isn’t just another OnePlus 6T given a fresh paint of coat. The back panel is layered with carbon fiber beneath the glass—this is something that has otherwise been a fixture of very premium phones thus far. There is also the McLaren inspired orange accent colour (popularly known as Papaya Orange) frame around the phone—this is thicker and brighter near the bottom and narrows as well as fades out towards the top. There is the McLaren branding on the back as well. OnePlus adds a nice element of how light reflects off the back panel with the various colour finishes for its phones over time, and this time is no different. Instead of a pattern emerging from the entire back panel, this time around, it is the McLaren logo which does the visual delighting. When light reflects off it, the logo gives you the illusion that it is moving around—you may not notice it at first, but that is certainly not something you can ignore.

Display canvas didn’t need changing

The 6.41-inch Optic AMOLED display packs in the 2,340 x 1,080 resolution, 402 pixels per inch and has the tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition retains the much smaller teardrop notch (also known as dewdrop). The colours that this screen reproduces are well balanced, without either being too rich or too subdued, which makes this great for watching photos and videos on. The display has good sharpness as well, which helps when you are reading something. OnePlus have added a bunch of customization options to the Oxygen OS, including the screen calibration option (you can choose between sRGB, DCI-P3, Adaptive Mode and Custom Colour mode—depends on whether you prefer rich or subdued colours), the Night Mode which reduces the blue light emissions by the display to reduce eye strain (this is handy if you are looking at the screen in a dimly lit room or just before you are about to hit the bed) and the Reading Mode which turns off all the colour, and therefore text is significantly better to read on a monochrome screen.

10 out of 10 for performance

As things stand, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is one of the very few Android phones that offer 10GB of RAM. This comes at a time when most phones now offer 6GB or even 8GB RAM options. The benefits of 10GB RAM are purely debatable. However, if you are really intent on doing resource intensive tasks on the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, such as perhaps editing multiple streams of 4K videos, this could pretty much be able to do it without having to kill other apps in the background or slow down the overall performance. This runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, which is the fastest chip that OnePlus could have used at the time.

In terms of battery life, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition charge very quickly, and doesn’t drain even half as quickly as most other Android flagships (barring the Google Pixel 3 XL, but that costs significantly more too). The fact that you can charge as much as 50% of the battery in 20 minutes, is great for a splash-and-dash sort of scenario. We noticed that the Warp Charge feature delivers on the claims about keeping the heating low as well—the phone does not heat up at all when it is being rapidly charged. Incidentally, the Warp Charge feature only works on the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition, and if you are to use the Warp Charge charger with any other OnePlus 6T phone, it will default to the fast charge speeds. The new hardware and power management software in the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition phone enables the even faster charging capabilities, and the other phones don’t have the same hardware or software.

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition runs Android 9 with the OxygenOS customizations that are a trademark of OnePlus phones. This is one of slickest and lightest customizations in the Android ecosystem, and still retains the clean look overall. This is not the first time OnePlus has made a special edition phone, and the tweaks aren’t limited to just the design or the specifications. Before this, there was the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition and the OnePlus 6 Marvel Avengers Edition. Both phones had a tweaked version of the Oxygen OS running on them, with additional themes, colour palettes and wallpapers for their fans. The same continues with the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, which gets a new black and orange theme to go with the outer personality of the phone as well as a special animation for the in-display fingerprint sensor.

Camera is all about consistency

While we were first reviewing the OnePlus 6T, we had noted that OnePlus phones’ cameras had always threatened to be great, but always fell short just that little bit. Now however, things have changed significantly. For the better. The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition also takes advantage of all the improvements that the standard OnePlus 6T brought to the table.

For starters, OnePlus have teamed up with Irish conceptual artist Kevin Abosch, who has well known works in photography. The focus for this partnership has been to improve the image processing algorithms so that they are able to recognize human faces better (useful for portrait photography in particular), better exposure and light handling in different scenes and how to keep the detailing spot on in complex photos.

The optical hardware here continues to be a 16-megapixel (Sony IMX 519 sensor) camera paired with a 20-megapixel (Sony IMX 376K) secondary camera. The former has an aperture of f/1.7 and a pixel size of 1.22 microns, while the latter has an aperture of f/1.7 and each pixel is 1.0 micron. Low light photos are significantly sharper, more detailed and accurate than ever before. There are no soft edges visible, and the noise is very well restrained. That makes this one of the better cameras to have in low-light environments. For daytime, good lighting and landscape photos, the colours and detailing is very good. It is perhaps just a notch short of the Google Pixel 3 XL league, but it actually matches and even beats the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in a lot of situations.

Special edition is the smart choice

If you are a fan of the British auto maker McLaren, then you really must already be ready to splash the cash on this one. For the rest, it is a bit more complicated. As things stand, the OnePlus 6T line-up itself poses the biggest hurdle in convincing potential buyers. With the McLaren Edition now added, there are as many as six 6T editions to choose from. Prices start at Rs37,999 (for the 6GB + 128GB variant) and go up to Rs45,999 (for the 8GB + 256GB variant). You instead pay Rs50,999 for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, which is the premium that you pay for flaunting your allegiances to McLaren, the flaunt factor of the carbon fiber finish on the back as well as the performance advantages of 10GB RAM on board as well as the Warp Charge feature. Yes, you pay a little bit more than the top-spec variant of the standard OnePlus 6T iterations, but this is more a case of an already excellent phone just appealing to your motoring inspirations as well—and you can consider us sold.

Also Read | OnePlus 6T Review: The Android Flagship to Buy, if You Don't Want to Pay Flagship Prices