There’s no argument: OnePlus absolutely crushed 2018.
First came the excellent OnePlus 6, then the even better OnePlus 6T, a carrier partnership with T-Mobile, and device support for Verizon. Next year, the startup will be among the first phone makers to release a phone that works on 5G networks.
To close out the year, though, the company released a special McLaren Edition of its OnePlus 6T.
At first glance, the OnePlus 6T McLaren looks like little more than a regular 6T dressed up in a carbon-fiber glass finish with sleek orange accents inspired by the supercar and sold for a more premium $699 (approximately INR 50,999 in India)
But that would incorrect. The 6T McLaren Edition isn’t a mere licensing partnership. This version of the phone comes with two notable new features: faster “Warp Charging” and a whopping 10GB of RAM.
OnePus calls the upgraded features in the 6T McLaren Edition a “salute to speed,” and after using it as my daily Android driver (I always have two phones: an iPhone and Android) for the last week, I’d say that’s true.
I won’t rehash every feature on the 6T McLaren Edition in this review since most of them are identical to the 6T. So, if you want in-depth camera comparisons, benchmarks, and thoughts on the in-display fingerprint sensor, definitely check out our 6T review.
I’ll keep this short and sweet: The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is gorgeous. Tons of phone companies partner up with car brands to slap automobile logos all over their phones, but few pull it off so tastefully.
The perfect execution balances the design and aesthetic so neither brand identity overpowers the other and comes off as tacky. The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is head-turning, but not gaudy.
I’m usually not a big on carbon fiber on gadgets, but on the 6T McLaren Edition it’s subtle, visible only dead-on and at certain angles, and it fades to black towards the edges of the glass back.
Same goes for the orange accent that runs around the bottom and tapers up the sides (but not all the way towards the top). My first impression after unboxing the phone was OnePlus missed an opportunity to make the power or volume buttons in a matching orange — give it a fun punch of color like the orange power button on the pink Pixel 3 — but I ended up appreciating the restraint.
The black, gray, and orange theme extends to Android, too. OnePlus’s near-stock version of Android 9 Pie, Oxygen OS 9.0.9, is themed in the same colors by default. You’ll find these accents in places like the Quick Settings shade and app drawer.
The darker theme might contribute to longer battery life since darker colors on AMOLED displays use less power. I like the color scheme, but I wish OnePlus went further and made notification cards within the notification shade black or gray instead of white (details matter).
‘Warp Charging’ really is faster
The 6T McLaren Edition has the same 3,700 mAh battery as the regular 6T. The only new change is the faster (and bulkier) “Warp Charge 30” power adapter that’s included. As its name implies, the power adapter is a beefier 30-watt charger compared to the 6T’s 20-watt fast charger (previously called Dash charger).
OnePlus claims the 6T McLaren Edition can get “a day’s power in 20 minutes” and “recharge 50% of your battery in just 20 minutes.”
In my testing, the 6T McLaren Edition does indeed charge quicker than the regular 6T, but I never could confirm the company’s claims.
I got close, though. In multiple tests where the 6T McLaren Edition’s battery was drained completely to 0 percent, it only ever charged up to 47 or 48 percent in 20 minutes. Not quite “50 percent” but very close.
In 30 minutes, the phone juices up to 65 or 66 percent; up to 83 percent in 40 minutes; up to 99 percent in an hour.
Here are the charging times I saw in multiple trials for the 6T McLaren edition:
- 10 mins: 23 percent
- 15 mins: 35 percent
- 20 mins: 47 percent
- 30 mins: 66 percent
- 40 mins: 83 percent
- 50 mins: 94 percent
- 60 mins: 99 percent
How does the 6T McLaren Edition’s charging compare to the regular 6T? Pretty good, actually. The 6T charges up to about 35 or 36 percent in 20 minutes, up to 53 or 54 percent in 30 minutes, and up to 90 percent in an hour (it hits 100 percent just a minute or two shy of the hour).
Crunching the numbers, the 6T McLaren Edition’s charging comes out to about 34 percent faster on the 20-minute charge test, 23 percent faster in 30 minutes, and 10 percent faster in an hour.
From those results, the Warp charger speeds up charging times, but its sustained faster charging decreases as you inch towards a full charge.
Still, if you want one of the fastest charging phones in town, the 6T McLaren Edition blazes by the regular 6T version and many other phones.
More RAM? Meh (for now).
But that’s the state of phones in 2018 and will only get more extreme in 2019 as phones with 10GB and 12GB (yes, 12GB) of RAM.
OnePlus was one of the first companies to stack its phones with more RAM than rival devices, first with 6GB and then with 8GB of RAM.
8GB of RAM is still widely considered overkill for a phone (even for Android phones which eat up more compared to iPhones, which don’t need as much for memory management), but here we are with 10GB of RAM in the 6T McLaren Edition.
I can think of several use cases where more RAM might be needed, like 3D gaming and video editing, but I just don’t see the need for it at the time of this review.
One great example: Asphalt 9 Legends, which has console-quality graphics, performs worse than on a regular 6T with 8GB of RAM. In moments where there’s tons of onscreen carnage (crashes and particle effects like weather and water splashes), the game stuttered and I could see dropped frames. It’s far from unplayable and doesn’t ruin the game since the gameplay doesn’t require pixel precision and accuracy. But for other games like Fortnite and PUBG, the latency could be an issue.
The only reason I can come up with for this performance hit is poor software optimization. Seems like the games just aren’t optimized to take advantage of the extra RAM. Maybe future software updates will smooth things over.
And video editing on Android… HA. Adobe Premier Rush CC isn’t out yet, and other video editing apps on Android are basically a joke compared to on iPhone. I’ve yet to find a sufficient video editing app that comes close to the performance available on iOS apps.
The 10GB of RAM doesn’t seem to benefit OxygenOS much, either. Performance is as fast and responsive as on a regular 6T with 8GB of RAM as far as I could tell.
Geekbench 4 scores also suggest they perform about the same. The 6T McLaren Edition scored a 2,426 on the single-core test and 9,007 on the multi-core test. That’s pretty similar to the 2,384 and 8,937 on the 6T I noted in my review of that phone.
I’m not saying there’s zero advantage to stuffing more RAM into a phone — it certainly has helped OnePlus make the most responsive Android phones (even more so than Google’s Pixels) — but until apps are updated to take advantage of this extra bandwidth, it’s kinda just sitting there idling.
If nothing, the bountiful RAM provides good runaway for future software updates. So if you plan on keeping the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition for a couple of years, I have a strong feeling it’ll still be speedy down the… road.
For trailblazers only
The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition is the rare phone with licensed branding that I actually really like. Most of the time, these kinds of partnerships are just cash grabs with little substance. But in this case, OnePlus does offer a few extras on the 6T McLaren Edition that you can’t get on the regular version.
Do I think slightly faster Warp charging, 10GB of RAM, and a McLaren colorway are worth spending another $150 over the regular version? Truthfully, no. But if you’re an early adopter and crave mobile innovation (no matter how incremental it may be) the 6T McLaren Edition is really dope.
The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition’s more than just a special edition. Read between the lines and you’ll see OnePlus is testing the waters for a more premium phones with higher pricing. Charging $699 for the 6T McLaren Edition is inching dangerously close to the cost of other flagships like a Galaxy S9 or iPhone XR.
I can’t speak for how well the 6T McLaren Edition is selling (that it’s sold out doesn’t really tell us much since we have no idea how much quantity OnePlus made), but it does suggest OnePlus’s brand value is hotter than before. And it should be, especially since OnePlus now has the retail visibility it previously didn’t thanks to its partnership with T-Mobile in the U.S.
I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again: One day, OnePlus will not be known as the company that sells the best Android phone at hundreds less than the competition. If OnePlus keeps growing and kicking butt the way it’s been doing the last couple of years, it could become the face of Android and command the kind of premium prices Samsung and Google ask for. So enjoy the value now, because it won’t last forever.