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I’d buy the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition just for the box

If I had the money, I’d buy the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition just so that I can keep it mint and sealed in the box.

On the skin of it, the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition is not much different from the standard OnePlus 6T save for some useful upgrades like the larger RAM and the new Warp 30W fast charging. There are some cosmetic tweaks as well, like that delicious carbon fibre effect back panel with the very tasteful yet subtle orange outline.

But what sets the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition from the standard OnePlus 6T and every other smartphone out there is the box. While the OnePlus 6T would not be my first pick when it comes to a flagship smartphone (I’ll get to why a little later), I will say that if I had the money, I’d buy the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition just so that I can keep it mint and sealed in the box.

You have smartphone boxes and then you have the box for the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition.

The box itself is the most intricate I’ve ever seen. The striking yet tasteful orange calls out to you. Then you come closer and you discover the many little details like the texture of the sleeve and the carbon-effect with a McLaren logo understatedly embossed on it.

The box itself is the most intricate I’ve ever seen. The striking yet tasteful orange calls out to you.

The box tells you a lot of thought has gone into not only the design of the packaging but also the experience of opening it. It’s like being told a story where at the end you find this exquisitely built device. You want to take your time opening this box. I did.

As you open the lid, the words “Fast and Smooth” and “Salute to Speed” is presented to you. Inside, you find a booklet that contains the device. Underneath that you find the many included accessories arranged neatly. There’s a carbon-effect rubber case, a Warp fast-charging power adapter and a Warp fast-charging braided cable. The orange theme and McLaren logo continues.

The Warp fast-charge cable is braided in tough, high-quality nylon. It looks and feel expensive. While some brands choose to skimp on the things they include with their phones, it’s certainly a great gesture from OnePlus to include top-notch accessories right out of the box.

A little piece of McLaren’s Formula 1 heritage in each box

Each OnePlus 6T McLaren edition comes with a plaque containing a piece of carbon fibre similar to the one used in the McLaren MCL33 2018 Formula 1 car. OnePlus and McLaren didn’t have to include this in the box but they did. The presentation is simple, but it is special. Special because you own a piece of McLaren’s Formula 1 heritage even if it is just a sliver of carbon fibre.

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The OnePlus 6T is already a quality design to begin with and it is easy to go overboard with the automotive performance theme but I’m glad to see that the OnePlus designers chose restraint rather than go all out gaudy.

There’s a subtle carbon fibre pattern under the rear glass panel but it’s only noticeable when you hold the phone at just the right angle. Tilt the phone again and that striking orange outline reveals itself to you.

My words really don’t do justice as to how well built and designed the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition is. Even if the phone is essentially identical to the standard OnePlus 6T, the McLaren edition is appreciably special.

What’s inside the book?

Included in the box is this booklet. The OnePlus 6T McLaren edition sits inside a cut out within. Once again, OnePlus and McLaren didn’t have to go into great lengths to curate a whole book containing the history and milestones of both companies, but they did. To me, this speaks volumes about how highly the two companies regard its customers and that is the main appeal of this device. There are other better flagship phones out there, but I dare say that none is this special.

While the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition is special, it is not much different from the standard OnePlus 6T. You still get the same high-end Snapdragon 845 processor, the same bright and clear 6.41-inch FullHD+ AMOLED waterdrop notch display with a 16MP (f/2.0) front camera, the same 16MP (f/1.7 Sony IMX 519) + 20MP (f/1.7 Sony IMX 376K) dual-rear camera and the same 3,700mAh battery.

The McLaren edition gets 10GB of RAM instead of 8GB and there’s 256GB of on-board storage. The other big difference is the newly develop Warp fast-charging that pushes 30W of power capable of charging the 3,700mAh battery from zero to 50% in just 20 minutes. This is a big bump over the standard 5V/4A fast-charger from the OnePlus 6T.

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In terms of pricing, the standard OnePlus 6T with 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage retails for RM3,188 while the McLaren edition sells for RM3,388. You can also get an import set for RM2,899 from Mobile2Go. RM3,388 mark is a fair asking price for a flagship device. The bump in RAM and the 30W fast charging alone is enough to entice buyers to go for the special edition instead of the normal version. For that extra RM200 you get a whole lot of McLaren special-ness as well. I can say that it is a reasonable asking price considering the things that you get with the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition.

The box alone would make me want to get one just to keep as a collector’s item, but would I use the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition as a daily driver?

And here’s my conundrum, I find myself wanting to use the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition because it’s special.

In some respects, the OnePlus 6T is a great device and the McLaren edition is indeed very special but when compared to other flagship phones, the shortcomings are obvious.

I’m not faulting the hardware here, let’s be clear about that. The Snapdragon 845 processor is top-drawer, that 10GB of RAM may be overkill but I’m not complaining, OxygenOS is one of the best out there, and it’s great that the 3,700mAh battery now supports even faster fast-charging. When compared on these factors alone, the OnePlus 6T is right up there with the best of them but there’s a lot more to a phone than just its specs.

I have two phones that I use as my daily driver – a Note 8 and a P20 Pro. The Note 8 is my workhorse, my work machine when I don’t have my laptop with me. Even over a year after I got it, the Note 8 delivers all I ask of it thanks to its reliable and very functional multi-window capabilities and the S-Pen. Samsung Pay is widely accepted in Malaysia and everywhere else that I often find myself going about my day without needing to take my wallet out to make payments.

The P20 Pro I use mainly for taking pictures. In fact, all the pictures you see here are taken using the P20 Pro. When it comes to taking pictures, nothing comes close to the P20 Pro, all I need to do is point and shoot, and the P20 Pro does the rest for me. The battery life is great too thanks to the 4,000mAh battery.

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And here’s my conundrum, I find myself wanting to use the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition because it’s special. It makes my Note 8 look boring and my P20 Pro, plain but the OnePlus lacks the productivity tools I use in the Note 8, there’s no payment option as well. I was thinking of replacing my P20 Pro with the OnePlus 6T but that means trading off the stellar camera performance of the P20 Pro for the so-so camera of the OnePlus 6T.

And then there are the other things: The OnePlus 6T is not IP-rated, it doesn’t have a headphone jack and there’s no wireless charging. The single speaker on the OnePlus 6T is loud but with most other flagship phones sporting stereo speakers, watching video on the 6T is not as ‘syiok’ because of the one-sided sound.

I’ll admit, in some areas I’m nit-picking, I can do without wireless charging and if I really must, I’ll forgo the headphone jack as well. But I need my phones to be water-resistant (when you have four small kids, all of them boys, you’ll understand). If I replace either one of my daily drivers for the OnePlus 6T, I’m trading-off a lot in the name of special. I’m not ready for that right now.

For now, the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition sits in its wonderful box on the display shelf at the office like a trophy. It serves as a reminder that we have something really special. Occasionally, I’ll open the box and read the carefully curated book. I’ll admire the exquisite fit and finish of the device and that mesmerising orange colour. I’ll think about how much I want to use it as my daily driver but can’t because it’s just not practical for me.

Maybe, like a McLaren supercar, I’ll take the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition out for a spin on special occasions, when I don’t have to edit documents and spreadsheets with my Note 8 or take pictures using my P20 Pro, when all I need is a phone I can enjoy.

Thanks to Mobile2Go for providing the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition. You can get the OnePlus 6T McLaren edition for RM2,988 (import set).

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Amin Ashaari