China woos Pacific islands with loans, showcase projects

In this Nov. 15, 2018, photo, a woman crosses the street near a billboard commemorating the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. As world leaders arrive in Papua New Guinea for a Pacific Rim summit, the welcome mat is especially big for China’s President Xi Jinping. With both actions and words, Xi has a compelling message for the South Pacific’s fragile island states, long both propped up and pushed around by U.S. ally Australia: they now have a choice of benefactors. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

As world leaders land in Papua New Guinea for a Pacific Rim summit, the welcome mat is especially big for China’s president.

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A huge sign in the capital, Port Moresby, welcomes Xi Jinping, picturing him gazing beneficently at Papua New Guinea’s leader, and his hotel is decked out with red Chinese lanterns. China’s footprint is everywhere, from a showpiece boulevard and international convention center built with Chinese help to bus stop shelters that announce their origins with “China Aid” plaques.

On the eve of Xi’s arrival for a state visit and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, newspapers in the country ran a full-page statement from the Chinese leader. It exhorted Pacific island nations to “set sail on a new voyage” of relations with China, which in the space of a generation has transformed from the world’s most populous backwater into a major economic power.

With both actions and words, Xi has a compelling message for the South Pacific’s fragile island states, long both propped up and pushed around by U.S. ally Australia: they now have a choice of benefactors. With the exception of Papua New Guinea, those island nations are not part of APEC, but the leaders of many of them have traveled to Port Moresby and will meet with Xi.

The APEC meeting, meanwhile, is Xi’s to dominate. Headline-hogging leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are not attending. Trump’s stand-in, Vice President Mike Pence, is staying in Cairns in Australia’s north and flying into Papua New Guinea each day. Australia’s new prime minister, Scott Morrison, the country’s fifth leader in five years, is barely known abroad.

“President Xi Jinping is a good friend of Papua New Guinea,” its prime minister, Peter O’Neill, told reporters. “He has had a lot of engagement with Papua New Guinea and I’ve visited China 12 times in the last seven years.”

Pacific island nations, mostly tiny, remote and poor, rarely figure prominently on the world stage but have for several years been diligently courted by Beijing as part of its global effort to finance infrastructure that advances its economic and diplomatic interests. Papua New Guinea with about 8 million people is by far the most populous, and with its extensive tropical forests and oil and gas reserves is an obvious target for economic exploitation.

Six of the 16 Pacific island states still have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a sizeable bloc within the rapidly dwindling number of nations that recognize the island regarded as a renegade province by Beijing. Chinese aid and loans could flip those six into its camp. A military foothold in the region would be an important geostrategic boost for China, though its purported desire for a base has so far been thwarted.

Beijing’s assistance comes without the oversight and conditions that Western nations and organizations such as the World Bank or International Monetary Fund impose. It is promising $4 billion of finance to build the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, which could be transformative for the mountainous nation. But experts warn there could also be big costs later on: unsustainable debt, white elephant showpieces and social tensions from a growing Chinese diaspora.

“China’s engagement in infrastructure in PNG shouldn’t be discounted. It should be encouraged but it needs to be closely monitored by the PNG government to make sure it’s effective over the long term,” said Jonathan Pryke, a Papua New Guinea expert at the Lowy Institute, a think tank in Sydney.

“The benefits of these projects, because a lot of them are financed by loans, only come from enhanced economic output over a long time to be able to justify paying back these loans,” he said.

“The history of infrastructure investment in PNG shows that too often there is not enough maintenance going on,” Pryke said. “There’s a build, neglect, rebuild paradigm in PNG as opposed to build and maintain which is far more efficient.”

Some high-profile Chinese projects in Papua New Guinea have already run into problems. A promised fish cannery hasn’t materialized after several years and expansion of a port in Lae, the major commercial center, was botched and required significant rectification work. Two of the Chinese state companies working in the country, including the company responsible for the port expansion, were until recently blacklisted from World Bank-financed projects because of fraud or corruption.

Xi’s newspaper column asserted China is the biggest foreign investor in Papua New Guinea, a statement more aspirational than actual. Its involvement is currently dwarfed by the investment of a single company— ExxonMobil’s $19 billion natural gas extraction and processing facility.

Australia, the former colonial power in Papua New Guinea, remains its largest donor of conventional foreign aid. Its assistance, spread across the country and aimed at improving bare bones public services and the capacity of government, is less visible.

But its approach is shifting in response to China’s moves.

In September, the Australian government announced it would pay for what is typically a commercial venture — a high-speed undersea cable linking Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands that promises to make the internet and telecommunications in the two island countries faster, more reliable and less expensive.

Earlier this month, Australia announced more than $2 billion of funding for infrastructure and trade finance aimed at Pacific island nations and also agreed to joint development of a naval base in Papua New Guinea, heading off feared Chinese involvement. It is also boosting its diplomatic presence, opening more embassies to be represented in every Pacific island state.

“The APEC meeting is shaping up to be a faceoff between China and Australia for influence in the Pacific,” said Elaine Pearson, the Australia director of Human Rights Watch.

That might seem a positive development for the region, but Pearson cautioned that competition for Papua New Guinea’s vast natural resources has in the past had little positive impact on the lives of its people.

“Sadly exploitation of resources in PNG has fueled violent conflict, abuse and environmental devastation,” she said.

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Associated Press writer Jim Gomez contributed to this report.

Veterans Affairs reverses decision, opens beds for Allied war vets

Veterans Affairs Canada says it will expand access to Halifax’s Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Hospital by making more than two dozen beds available for Allied and modern-day veterans.

The decision comes in the wake of widespread outrage over news that a veteran was denied access because his wartime service wasn’t with the Canadian military.

Gordon Smith’s family said Veterans Affairs denied him access to Camp Hill because he served in the Second World War with the British Royal Navy. After the war, he immigrated to Canada and served nearly two decades with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He went on to volunteer for another 20 years with the Royal Canadian Legion, visiting veterans in long-term care.

The majority of beds at Camp Hill are set aside for Canadian war veterans. CBC News learned 29 of those beds are empty.  

Now, Minister of Veterans Affairs Seamus O’Regan says 25 of them will be opened to Allied veterans, like Smith, and modern-day veterans. The remaining four will continue to be reserved for Second World War and Korean War veterans who served with the Canadian military.

Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan says the focus needs to turn to more community long-term care beds for Allied and modern-day veterans as the population of WW II and Korean War vets decreases. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

“As the population of Second World and Korean War veterans who are eligible for a contract bed in these former Veterans facilities decreases, we need to turn our focus to more community long-term care beds for Allied and modern-day Veterans,” O’Regan said in a statement released Wednesday evening.

In 2016, after another veteran struggled to gain access, 25 beds were set aside for any veteran who is eligible for care, including Allied veterans. The government’s latest move will bring that number to 50. O’Regan said it will immediately reduce the wait list.

Wait list reduced

“I think that’s great news,” said Gordon Smith’s granddaughter, Sabrina Smith. “I think that’s great news for everybody who is on the wait list.”

There were 30 people already waiting, so it doesn’t mean Smith will automatically get a bed at Camp Hill, but his chances have significantly improved.   

His granddaughter says that when his story went public, she heard from people across the country expressing their support, some who said they were contacting their members of Parliament to demand change, and others who provided contact information for people they thought could help.  

“I think it just goes to speak to the value that Canadians put on veterans,” said Sabrina Smith.

“To see that [support] coming from all corners of Canada, from all political stripes, was really heartening.”

Plane with landing gear issue makes emergency landing in N.L. town, no one hurt

A plane headed for Deer Lake in western Newfoundland made an emergency landing at Stephenville airport today because of an issue with its landing gear.

The Provincial Airlines Flight 1922 plane tried to land in Deer Lake when it encountered the problem, the airline said in a news release.

Given adverse weather conditions in Deer Lake, the pilot circled around before heading to Stephenville, where an emergency landing was necessary.

It was nothing like I was expecting. I was expecting more of a grind coming to a halt, but you didn’t even feel it.– Passenger Gene Babb

There were 47 passengers and four crew aboard the Dash 8 aircraft, the airline said, and no injuries.

Gene Babb, who was on the flight, said the pilot and crew did a “phenomenal job” under the circumstances.

“I survived a plane crash. It’s something to say. It’s not often or not many people who get to be involved in that,” Babb told CBC News.

“Not that you would want to, but no, I just look back and think it’s cool. Great job. I was more impressed with the pilot and the crew. They were phenomenal, I gotta say.”

Babb said the flight was originally scheduled to land in Deer Lake before carrying on to St. John’s, but the pilot found the landing-gear issue.

‘Everything will be OK’

They circled around for another hour and eventually the plane made its way to Stephenville.

The pilot came on the announcement system to tell people to prepare for an emergency landing, and Babb said that’s when people got nervous.

“When they announced that we had to be in cross position for landing, to put your head down or your hands across the back of your chair, that’s when people started getting a little bit worried and panicked,” he said.

“You had kids crying. Some of the guys were nervous and stuff like that. That’s when I guess it got real.”

Babb himself has put some hours in flying an aircraft. His father was a pilot and his sister-in-law is a pilot for Air Canada, so he wasn’t nervous.

“I was trying to calm the passengers around me down, let them know everything will be OK,” said Babb.

“The landing was actually extremely smooth, and the plane came to a stop and had a bit of a jolt, and no more to it than that.”

Some people were crying when they got off the plane, but more out of relief than out of fear, he said.

“More excitement of course when the plane stopped and all was good,” Babb said.

“It was nothing like I was expecting. I was expecting more of a grind coming to a halt, but you didn’t even feel it.”

‘Shaken and scared’

Dana Kelly-Martin, who was also on the flight, said everyone remained calm when the pilot announced the emergency landing.

But just as the plane was descending, she said, flight attendants started shouting at passengers to get down.

“That’s when it hits, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “It was kind of surreal.”

She says she instinctively pulled out her phone to text her daughter and husband, telling them she loved them.

Kelly-Martin said passengers are waiting at the airport and eating “a load of pizza,” brought by Stephenville residents, while they await the arrival of PAL staff, who are en route to Stephenville, according to a release from the airline.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Why Theresa May may not be able to recover from government ‘falling apart before our eyes’

For more than two years, Prime Minister Theresa May has had to navigate the disunion that plagues not just the U.K. over Brexit, but also her party — even her own cabinet.

On Thursday, May took the full force of it.

By the time she was speaking in Parliament to defend the draft deal she agreed with Brussels negotiators on the terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union, there were five more resignations from among her ministers, two from her cabinet, including Dominic Raab, the minister responsible for Brexit.

A further threat to her leadership also emerged as a prominent Tory Brexiteer submitted a letter asking for a vote of no-confidence, leading to speculation it could prompt others to do the same.

All of it leaves Theresa May in a precarious position.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab announced his resignation on Thursday. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

Selling any deal to such a fractious crowd was always going to be a challenge for May. But it’s hard to imagine how she can recover from the biggest blow so far: losing her second Brexit minister since the position was created.

“I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election,” Raab wrote in a letter Thursday.

But at a press conference later in the day, May said she’s not going to back down despite the challenges to her approach.

“I understand fully that there are some who are unhappy with those compromises,” May said. “But this deal delivers what people voted for and it is in the national interest.”

Like any divorce settlement, the Brexit deal was bound to be a grudging, imperfect compromise.

Watch as Theresa May defends draft Brexit agreement 

But in the unusual breakup between Great Britain and the European Union, there was the added challenge of trying to please multiple sides. Now that a draft compromise is on the table, most of those sides in Britain are up in arms.

“We’re in the Brexs*it,” screamed the Sun newspaper. “May’s soft Brexit deal blasted by all sides.”

Raab, along with Northern Ireland Minister Shailesh Vara, Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey, Junior Brexit Minister Suella Braverman and Junior Education Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan, all resigned from May’s government Thursday.

“The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time, the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan,” said Jon Trickett, a member of opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s senior team.

“Theresa May has no authority left and is clearly incapable of delivering a Brexit deal that commands even the support of her cabinet — let alone Parliament and the people of our country.”

Fraught road ahead for May

At this late stage in a negotiation process that’s lasted more than two years, May had hoped an ultimatum would save her and the draft she painstakingly reached with the EU: it’s either this deal, or chaos.

Beyond walking away, it was the only tactic she had left.

Both Wednesday and Thursday, May outlined the choices available: a deal “which brings back control of our money, laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our union; or leave with no deal, or no Brexit at all.”

Watch May’s full statement:

Surviving the grilling in Parliament on Thursday is just one part of a still fraught road to getting her way. But even that doesn’t guarantee success.

In her opening statement, May paid tribute to Raab and other ministers for the work they had done on the deal. “Delivering Brexit involves difficult choices for all of us,” she said.

“I do not pretend that this has been a comfortable process — or that either we or the EU are entirely happy with all of the arrangements that have been included within it.”

The deal as it stands sets out the terms of the divorce, which is set to happen on March 29: the $67-billion bill, and the protection of the rights of each other’s citizens once the breakup happens. It would end free movement that is possible under the current relationship.

The most controversial are provisions that would temporarily keep the United Kingdom aligned with EU rules as long as necessary to avoid border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The deal also allows for the extension of the transition period as the two sides work out a new trading arrangement. The transition period is currently set for 21 months.

In the Commons on Thursday, she again warned of the consequences of voting against the deal.

“Voting against a deal would take us all back to Square 1,” she said. “It would mean more uncertainty, more division, and a failure to deliver on the decision of the British people that we should leave the EU.”

Anti-Brexit demonstrators protest outside Parliament on Wednesday. May has been adamant there won’t another referendum on leaving the European Union. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

Full-blown criticism came from all sides of a packed house. Some of the most devastating came from her own side. In a question, Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg threatened to pen a letter adding his voice to the call for a no-confidence vote.

Later he did submit it, according to the British Press Association, saying that May’s deal “has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the prime minister.”

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party “will not accept a false choice between this bad deal and no deal.”

In an ominous sign for May, Nigel Dodds, an MP from the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist party (DUP), which is propping up May’s government, called on MPs to vote against the deal that amounts to a “vassal state.”

Some suggested it was time to plan in earnest for a no-deal scenario.

Such arguments were heard on all sides of the House, strongly indicating Britain could be heading toward yet another political correction, one that the prime minister and her government may not survive.

With both the Labour Party and the DUP unhappy with the deal, an eventual vote in the Commons — if it even comes to that — could bring the entire thing down, taking May’s premiership with it.

Earlier, a former May chief of staff outlined his concerns in the Daily Telegraph.

“British compromises were inevitable,” Nick Timothy wrote. “But the proposal presented to cabinet is a capitulation … not only to Brussels, but to the fears of the British negotiators themselves.”

Government in jeopardy?

With just weeks left before the Brexit date, May still managed to get the 585-page compromise past her divided cabinet on Wednesday, clearing just one of several hurdles before it can be approved.

Even so, the threat remained that more of her cabinet members will walk in protest, jeopardizing her government. Then the resignations started, first with Vara, who argued the deal puts the U.K. in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation.”

In between the two came the blow about Raab. In his letter to May, he said he was unhappy with provisions that singled out Northern Ireland, because they present a “very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.” He also wrote that leaving the U.K. in line with EU rules, even temporarily, allows the EU to hold “a veto over our ability to exit.”

The most immediate threat to May and her plan remains in her own Conservative Party, where the foaming discontent quickly turned Wednesday into open rebellion.

Even before the angry airing in the Commons on Thursday, unhappy Tory MPs took to the airwaves and social media with expressions of disappointment and rancour — accusing May of failing to deliver the Brexit voters had envisioned.

Brexiteers challenged her Wednesday in the Commons, in letters and in the mounting likelihood of a no-confidence vote.

“I do feel that we are getting … at the point where there’s going to be a confidence vote on the prime minister given the controversy around the Brexit proposals,” said Tory MP Andrew Bridgen.

Downing Street appears to be hoping that the looming uncertainty from a leadership contest or a general election this far down the Brexit road might persuade just enough MPs on all sides to accept the deal and move on.

With opposition among both remainers and Brexiteers, the math suggests otherwise.

Meanwhile, a date has been set for an EU summit to consider the deal: Nov. 25. The U.K. House of Commons would then have to ratify it.

As the great unravelling continues, this is a union far more disunited over Brexit than the one it seeks to leave.

Firefighters make progress in California Camp Fire as search continues for missing

Cool weather helped fire crews gain ground Thursday against the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in a century, as the search went on for more bodies in the ashes of Paradise and surrounding communities in Northern California.

At least 56 people have been killed and 130 others missing a week after the flames swept through.

The nearly 570-square-kilometre blaze was 40 per cent contained, the state fire agency said.

More than 450 searchers were assigned to look for remains in Paradise, which was all but destroyed from the so-called Camp Fire, and outlying areas such as Magalia, a forested Northern California town of about 11,000. Many of the missing were elderly and from Magalia.

“If this town does recover, it’s going to take many, many years,” said Johnny Pohmagevich, an 18-year Magalia resident who lives up the road from many burned homes.

Police drove around town, searching for those still in their homes and checking if they needed food and water.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Wednesday night that 130 people were on the missing list.

At the other end of the state, crews continued to battle wildfires in Southern California, including a blaze of more than 396 square kilometres that destroyed over 500 structures in Malibu and nearby communities. At least three deaths were reported.

A Butte County sheriff’s deputy makes a note while recovering the body of a Camp Fire victim at the Holly Hills Mobile Estates on Wednesday in Paradise. (Noah Berger/Associated Press)

Officials in Northern California put the number of homes lost there at nearly 8,800, and the sheriff said the task of recovering remains had become so vast that his office brought in 287 more searchers Wednesday, including National Guard troops. The searchers used 22 cadaver dogs.

‘Not the time to point fingers’

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined California Gov. Jerry Brown on a visit to Paradise on Wednesday, saying it was the worst fire devastation he had ever seen.

“Now is not the time to point fingers,” Zinke said. “There are lots of reasons these catastrophic fires are happening.”

He cited higher temperatures, dead trees and the poor forest management.

The governor said officials would need to learn how to better prevent fires from becoming so deadly.

It will take years to rebuild, if people decide that’s what should be done, said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “The infrastructure is basically a total rebuild at this point.”

While most of Paradise was wiped out, in Magalia, a sharp dividing line marked those who survived and those who did not.

“Magalia has so many trees. I honestly can’t believe it just didn’t get levelled,” said Sheri Palade, an area real estate agent.

Tom Driver, the office manager and elder at Magalia Community Church, said he heard the church made it through the blaze, though he did not know whether his own home did.

“I’ve been able to account for all of the congregation,” said Driver, who is staying with family in Oakland. “They’re all over the place, but they got out in pretty good time.”

Kim Bonini, one of those who got out safely Nov. 8, left after hearing someone on a bullhorn two blocks over urging people to leave. The power in her home had gone out that morning, leaving her with only her car radio.

“My cell didn’t work, my house phone didn’t work, nothing. Nothing except for me crawling into my car,” Bonini said from her daughter’s home in Chico.

“If I wouldn’t have heard them two blocks down, I wouldn’t have known I had to evacuate.”

Ontario PCs slash spending, unveil tax cut and lengthen LCBO hours in 1st economic plan

Months after Ontario’s finance minister said finding fiscal balance will “require everyone to make sacrifices without exception,” the public got its first glance at how the government will try to do it.

Details were laid out in the Progressive Conservative government’s fall economic outlook released on Thursday. The strategy that includes spending cuts, some tax relief and a number of steps aimed at boosting affordability.

“The fiscal hole is deep,” Vic Fedeli said in presenting the document to the legislature.

“The road ahead is not an easy one and will require difficult decisions. Everyone across the province will be required to make sacrifices, without exception.”

Some of the new measures included in the province’s plan are:

  • Tax credit, known as LIFT, for low-income workers earning around $30,000 per year. According to the government, a full-time minimum wage worker would pay no provincial income tax and save as much as $850 each year for a single person or $1,250 for households with two eligible workers. Approximately 1.1 million people will see the benefit, the government said. It is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
  • Exempting new rental units from rent control, which the government says will encourage developers to build more affordable housing.
  • Cutting the number of legislative officers from nine to six. CBC Toronto previously reported that would include the environmental commissioner, child and youth advocate and French language commissioner positions. 
  • Cancelling a planned surtax on some of the highest earning Ontarians proposed by the previous Liberal government in its last budget that would have generated $275 million in revenue.
  • Cancelling a proposed French-language university.

Some critics of the PCs move to freeze minimum wage at $14 per hour have said low-income workers would benefit more financially from a wage boost than a tax cut. An independent financial analysis also came to a similar conclusion. Criticisms were amplified by the province’s promise and subsequent effort to rollback a suite of labour reforms enacted by the previous regime. 

As for the legislative watchdog positions to be cut, their mandates will now be folded into other departments. The attorney general’s office and the Ontario ombudsman’s office will be granted expanded mandates and more resources to carry them out. The current environmental commissioner, Dianne Saxe, has been a vocal critic of the PCs actions on climate change, particularly their vow to fight a federal carbon tax, pulling out of more than 700 renewable energy contracts and moving to end the Ontario Green Energy Act. 

The economic outlook also indicates that the PCs want to increase the threshold to maintain official party status in Ontario’s legislature from eight at 12. In a similar vein, the province plans to end public subsidies for political parties by 2022 — a move that could have severe financial consequences for parties with only a small presence at Queen’s Park. 

The PC’s economic outlook also included several signature populist commitments.

The government intends to extend hours of LCBO stores, allowing them to sell alcohol between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. every day of the week. It also committed to developing a plan to bring beer and wine sales to convenience and big box stores.

According to the PCs, Ontario currently faces a $14.5-billion deficit, a figure considerably larger than that reported by the previous Liberal government in its spring budget. 

Though it is spending less, the government said it is also taking in $2.7 billion less in revenue in the fiscal year — including $1.5 billion attributed to the cancellation of the province’s cap-and-trade program.

OnePlus 6T review: Outstanding reception, solid battery life, and extremely fast performance make this one to buy

Major flagship smartphones have now set an entry level price of $1,000 or more, but you can still find phones that more than satisfy your needs for much less. OnePlus continues to release compelling smartphones with flagship specs at prices hundreds less than phones from Samsung, Apple, LG, Huawei, and others.

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After nearly two weeks with the new OnePlus 6T I purchased for only $280 from T-Mobile, after $300 for an old phone trade-in, I am not sure I can ever justify paying $1,000 or more for a smartphone again. There is so much to like in the OnePlus 6T that I haven’t been able to take out my primary T-Mobile SIM even though I still have a Galaxy Note 9 and other flagships on hand.

CNET: OnePlus 6T review: A hero phone without the sky-high price

While I’ve been very pleased with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, other recent phones have disappointed me in various ways. The new iPhone models have rather terrible cellular reception, the LG V40 battery is a bit lacking, and the Huawei Mate 20 devices are not available in the US. This is a great time for OnePlus to step up with the OnePlus 6T and its first time launching with a US carrier should lead to more awareness of the brand. We’ll see if the OnePlus 6T lives up to its potential.

After two weeks, I was very impressed to find the OnePlus 6T has the best cellular reception I have recorded on a phone in the past year, has a battery life that gets me through a full 18 hour day, has a small notch with a large display and minimal bezels, and is extremely responsive. It’s not perfect, but it’s close and for just $580 there isn’t another phone out there that offers as much at this price.

Specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Display: 6.41 inch 19.5:9 2340 x 1080 pixels resolution (402 ppi) Optic AMOLED, Gorilla Glass 6
  • Operating system: Oxygen OS 9 based on Android 9 Pie
  • RAM: 6GB/8GB
  • Storage: 128GB and 256GB options
  • Cameras: 16-megapixel standard f/1.1 and 20-megapixel f/1.7 dual rear cameras. 16-megapixel f/2.0 front-facing camera.
  • Wireless technology: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
  • Battery: 3,700mAh battery with fast charging capability
  • Dimensions: 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm and 185 grams
  • Colors: Mirror Black (only color for T-Mobile) and Midnight Black

One feature missing on the OnePlus 6T that may disappoint longtime OnePlus fans is the 3.5mm headset jack. Very few manufacturers include a headphone jack today so it isn’t much of a surprise it is not there and OnePlus includes a USB-C headset dongle in the box to help the transition.

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Other Android flagships have a certified water and dust resistant rating, but the OnePlus 6T has no official rating. OnePlus states it should be fine if it slips and falls in a puddle or something, but there is no official IP rating. Given the significantly lower cost of the OnePlus 6T, it is understandable that there had to be some compromises made to keep the price in the $549 to $629 range.

Hardware

The front of the OnePlus 6T is dominated by the 86 percent screen-to-body ratio AMOLED display that looks great to me. It isn’t as high of a resolution as we see on a Samsung Galaxy Note 9, but it’s nearly half the price too. There is a small notch, but it’s more like what we see on an Essential Phone rather than a Pixel 3 XL. You can use software in the settings to hide it too.

We also see the use of Gorilla Glass 6 on the OnePlus 6T and I have yet to see this on any other phone released to date. According to Corning, subjected to a new and rigorous test methodology in its labs, on average, Gorilla Glass 6 survived 15 consecutive drops from 1 meter onto rough surfaces and is up to twice as better than Gorilla Glass 5.

The first thing I wanted to check out is the new in-display fingerprint sensor and after a couple of weeks of use with hundreds of unlock actions, it has been performing well for me. Sometimes it takes a second or two to recognize my thumb, but the face unlock kicks in fast so the balance of face unlock and the in-display sensor works well. I have also used the in-display sensor to access my bank account securely on the phone and am pleased with this new technological feat.

Also: This company just sold one million phones in 22 days

The right side has the traditional three-way switch that is one of the most useful features on the phone and sets the OnePlus line apart from others. The power button is below this on the right side. The USB-C port is on the bottom, along with a very loud single speaker. The left side houses the volume buttons and SIM card slot with a mic opening up top. There is no longer a 3.5mm headset jack.

Dual cameras are arranged vertically on the back with a flash light below the cameras. There is no telephoto or wide-angle capability, but there is a new Nightscape mode for advanced low-light photography. It would be great to see telephoto and/or wide-angle support on the second rear camera, but the camera is one area of compromise at this price. Maybe with the US carrier release of the OnePlus 6T, we will see Moment release a case that fits this phone so we could use all of its fantastic lenses with it.


















The camera results are not as good as what I’ve seen from the Pixel 3 XL, Mate 20 Pro, or other much more expensive smartphones, but you definitely can take some compelling shots with the OnePlus 6T. I love that I can double press on the well-positioned right side power button to launch right into the camera whether or not the display is on or off. The ability to jump right into the camera from within an active app has resulted in me not missing photos that I might have on many other phones that do not support this quick launch capability. The retail package includes the fast charging adapter, a USB-C to 3.5mm headset jack dongle, a decent silicone case, and a screen protector that is already applied to the phone in the box.

OnePlus 6T official case options

While I purchased my own OnePlus 6T directly from T-Mobile, OnePlus also sent along three of its new cases for me to test out. These include the red silicone protective case ($20.95), black nylone bumper case ($25.95), and the sandstone protective case ($20.95). The prices are very reasonable for these cases and there are other color/style variations available too. You can also purchase bundles and save 5 to 15 percent off the separate regular prices.

The red silicone case stands out with a vibrant color while offering serious grip with the matte finish and soft silicone material. The inside is lined with red microfiber material so your phone will remain free from scratches in this case. The raised buttons are easy to press and the case adequately protects the corners of your phone.

The bumper case is available with a carbon fiber finish, an ebony wood finish, and a nylon material. The nylon one arrived for testing and is the case I used most of the time while testing the OnePlus 6T. This case provides a bit more protection than the other two with material along the bottom and openings for the USB-C and speaker. The nylon covers most of the back with a TPU shell around all four edges.

The protective case is a nice option for those who want a minimal case to primarily protect the four corners and back of your phone. It is available in sandstone and carbon fiber. The sandstone one has a bit of a rough finish so it doesn’t slide around on a tabletop. The top, bottom, and button areas are all open on this case so it barely adds any weight or bulk to your phone. Sandstone is a popular finish for OnePlus and this case is great.

Software

OnePlus builds upon Android with its OxygenOS and it is honestly one of my favorites on Android. OxygenOS adds enhancements that help you improve your productivity and efficiency on OnePlus devices. The OnePlus 6T launches with OxygenOS 9.0 built upon Android 9 Pie.

OnePlus has also shown an ability to release monthly Android security updates on a timely basis. The September 5, 2018 update is present on the OnePlus 6T out of the box.

It is great to see the option to have your Google feed shown on the left panel, much like what we now see with LG too, since I personally never used the Shelf. You can choose to enable the Shelf, or completely turn off this left home screen panel too.

Also: Android Pie: Cheat sheet TechRepublic

The camera UI has some swipe elements from side-to-side (video, photo, portrait, night) but swiping up from the capture button gets you to all of the modes and settings quicker. Modes include video, photo, portrait, night, pro mode, time-lapse, panorama, and slow motion. 240 and 480 fps slow motion options are available with video editing software provided as well. Video resolution options include 720p, 1080p, 1080p at 60fps, 4K, and 4K at 60fps.

Above the mode designation on the viewfinder you will find a round button in video and photo that toggles between 1x and 2x. This is not an optical zoom button, but a digital zoom one so don’t forget this dual camera setup is the same hardware as the OnePlus 6 with no telephoto camera lens.

OnePlus includes many of the great features found in stock Android Pixel devices, such as adaptive battery, night mode, and more, while also adding other enhancements to your experience. These enhancements include the alert slider settings, navigation bar options (you can completely hide it and just use gestures too), quick gestures, and more. I’m a huge fan of dark themes so I am pleased to see you can change the entire device theme to dark and then select a custom accent color.

There are a ton of customization features available while also providing you with a light and very stock Android experience. The phone flies and you won’t see any lagging in Oxygen OS.

Price, availability, and competition

The OnePlus 6T starts at $549 for the model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. For just $30 more you can get 8GB of RAM with the most expensive 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage model at $629. I bought mine from T-Mobile at the $579 price with a special early launch $300 trade-in deal. The T-Mobile one is only available with 8GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage and a Mirror Black finish.

The least expensive one is available in Mirror Black and the mid-range model can be purchased in Mirror Black, Midnight Black, and soon Thunder Purple. The highest capacity model is available only in Midnight Black. Midnight Black is a matte finish glass that looks similar to the Silk White OnePlus 6 I bought last year.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus ($840), the Google Pixel 3XL ($899), Samsung Galaxy Note 9 ($900), LG V40 ThinQ ($920), and Apple iPhone XS Max ($1,099) are the primary competitors to the OnePlus 6T. As you can see, these phones are $260 to $500+ more than the 8GB/128GB OnePlus 6T.

Daily usage experiences and conclusions

As a smartphone reviewer, I get the opportunity to test out all of the latest and greatest smartphones. Today’s modern smartphones are fantastic, but the flagships are also ridiculously priced. The masses appear to be cooling on iPhone purchases as most are priced in the $1,000+ range.

There hasn’t been much missing on the OnePlus 6T. With T-Mobile carrying the OnePlus 6T in stores, I look forward to hearing of broader name recognition of OnePlus since the phone is extremely competitive and much more affordable than high-end flagships.

The innovative in-screen fingerprint sensor is fun to use, the alert slider rocks, reception cannot be beat, battery life is excellent, and the camera works quite well. I give the OnePlus 6T a very high recommendation and once you give it a try you may not go back to paying nearly twice as much for your next smartphone.

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