The OnePlus 6 camera will mature with software updates

The OnePlus 6 camera will mature with software updates

In the past, OnePlus smartphone cameras were never really a threat to Samsung's Galaxy-S class, Apple's iPhones or Google's Pixel Phones. Has this changed with the OnePlus 6? We put it to the test to find out.

OnePlus has always been committed to offering a top-quality smartphone at an affordable price that can keep up with the top models from Samsung, Apple and co. In terms of performance, battery life and display this is certainly the case, but the previous OnePlus smartphones could not quite fulfil the promise of a "flagship killer" when it comes to cameras.

Has OnePlus finally managed to be named Galaxy-S-class, Apple iPhone or Google's Pixel Phones for photos and videos in the same breath? No, but the OnePlus 6 camera is good for a smartphone in this price range and is convincing in everyday use.

Comprehensive app, no AI hype 

In China, there is a current trend to advertise artificial intelligence and the abbreviation AI on products. AI in particular is currently being used very loosely when it comes to smartphones. OnePlus is holding back in this matter, and this is also visible in the camera app.

No scene or image recognition functions can be found, the familiar modes for video, photo, portrait, pro mode and the special modes such as slow motion, time-lapse and panorama are sufficient. Even in the lower settings there are very few adjustment possibilities, so that one does not need a long acclimatization phase.

OnePlus 6 Kamera App
The camera app has a simple structure. / © NextPit

A technical clone of the Oppo R15

Somewhat unusual is the technical implementation of the OnePlus 6 dual main camera, which is a 1:1 transplant from the Oppo R15 series and consists of a 16MP Sony IMX 519 main sensor and a secondary 20MP Sony IMX 376K sensor. Both sensors can come up with an f/1.7 aperture. With regard to image stabilization, the first sensor is optically stabilized, in videos an additional electronic image stabilization is activated.

AndroidPIT OnePlus 6 5969
OnePlus relies on sensors from Sony. / © NextPit

The camera's response time is good, but not as fast as a Huawei P20 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S9, the difference can be seen when switching between the three main modes: video, photo and portrait. 

Speaking of portrait mode: The second camera only becomes active in this mode and serves to create the depth of field effect in interaction with the primary sensor. The quality is quite respectable and thanks to the possibility to save the image from the main sensor separately, one can always look at the quality of the bokeh afterwards.

Bokeh vs no boked oneplus 6
The portrait mode with bokeh (left), image from the primary sensor without bokeh (right).  / © NextPit

For design possibilities you can still influence the shape of background light sources in portrait mode. But like the beauty mode in Seflies, this is just a gimmick that you'll likely use a few times and then deactivate. 

In automatic mode, OnePlus 6 delivers consistently good images with natural colors and good dynamics. In HDR mode, there is a slight noise here and there, but overall the HDR mode is not exaggerated. The autofocus is usually accurate and fast for photos and the dual zoom also produces good and solid photos in good light. 

OnePlus 6 Playground
The colors are displayed very naturally, without special image recognition, which increase the saturation by software. / © NextPit
oneplus 6 appletree
The branch did not rest as quietly as in the picture. It was windy and despite the movement the OnePlus 6 manages this shot. / © NextPit

All in all, the OnePlus 6 as a camera is rock solid and can produce respectable photos in almost all situations in life. But the OnePlus 6 would certainly lose a photo contest at night against the Huawei P20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S9.

onplus 6 oberbaum
Here, too, natural color rendering. / © NextPit
oneplus 6 oberbaum
The double zoom provides quite good pictures. / © NextPit

We have also uploaded all photos and videos for you in a Google Drive directory, so that you can view them there in high resolution.

  • Gallery of photos and videos taken with the OnePlus 6

Videos are presentable on small displays

Of course I was also curious about the video capabilities during the OnePlus 6 camera test. While slow-motion shots are still good and still look good on large displays, video changes at normal speed. The best way to notice it is with the videos in 4K with 60 frames per second.

The autofocus shifts the focus point frequently. Moreover, the electronic image stabilization seems to be still in conflict with the optical stabilization, because the trembling and hopping is clearly visible on a large screen. The further down the resolution, the better the image stabilization.

In both 4K resolutions, electronic image stabilization is limited. At 4K, this is 5 minutes, while in UHD shooting at 30 fps for 10 minutes, the EIS blur compensates.

Conclusion: the foundation stone has been laid

All in all, the OnePlus 6 has a good hardware basis from which the current software (v2.6.9 and Oxygen OS 5.1.5) creates unspectacular but solid photos in almost all standard situations. In the video sector, OnePlus still needs to improve and better coordinate the EIS and OIS.

We have already seen over the past few years that OnePlus is continually making improvements to its cameras after the official sales launch via software updates. The most prominent example is the OnePlus 5T, which initially went on sale with 4K videos without EIS and was disappointing. Later OnePlus sent an update including EIS with the video recording and suddenly the OnePlus 5T was quite good in this field. 

Seen in this light, the OnePlus 6 has a good smartphone camera that will hopefully be able to close the gap to the top models of other manufacturers in the course of time via software updates.

Have you tried the OnePlus 6 camera? What do you think of the company's history with photographic software?

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  • storm Jun 4, 2018 Link to comment

    I hear that with every one plus release. Yet they never seem to figure it out and get it right. You simply can't guarantee that or speak for them with any authority. It's wishful thinking at best.

    • Rusty H. Jun 5, 2018 Link to comment

      EXACTLY! Out of the box, too many "we'll fix it with an update". Some get fixed, some do not. They rush everything out the door, use viral marketing to sell, and the end users to do the beta testing, report the bugs instead of spending the time to get it right.