There are other phones, and then there are OnePlus phones. Over the years, these devices have managed to triumph over big leaguers by offering specs equaling those of high-end flagships at a fraction of their costs. The OnePlus 3 is the third iteration of this concept; and it seems hell-bent on proving its excellence. This is evident not only from its specs which include a Snapdragon 820 chipset and a whopping 6GB of RAM, but also from its other additions like the superfast Dash Charging technology. It was preceded by the OnePlus 2 which although a good phone, had its own issues to deal with. One can hence hope that the Chinese company has learned from the experience, and has put it more effort in creating its newest hardware. Let’s find out how that has worked out.
– Display: 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED, 1080p full HD resolution
– OS: Android Marshmallow-based Oxygen OS 3.0
– Processor: 2.2GHz quad core Snapdragon 820
– GPU: Adreno 530
– Memory: 6GB RAM, 64GB storage
– Cameras: 16MP rear, 8MP front
– Battery: 3000mAh
– Dimensions: 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35mm
– Weight: 158gms
Let us first address the elephant in the room! Yes, the OnePlus 3’s back looks strikingly similar to the HTC One series phones. The camera placement and the thin antenna lines unmistakably echo this familiar look. The phone has been built with a single slab of aluminum which gives it a robust appearance. At 158 grams, it’s neither too heavy nor too light. The curved edges combined with the unchamfered side surfaces help it fit into your hands with ease. A thing that’s unique to OnePlus phones is the Alert Slider button that lets you switch notification profiles. It’s something that very few people actually demand, but is really nice to have for those who use the feature.
After a no show on the OnePlus 2, NFC has made its way into the OnePlus 3 mainly due to the fan backlash that followed the launch of the former phone. This should definitely please people living in countries that have Android Pay support. The device gets dual SIM slots, but there is still no microSD card slot which leaves us with 64GB of storage at hand. The near perfect design of this handset gets a small blemish in the form of a camera bump. This again begs the question of why manufacturers are still not comfortable with creating overall fatter bodies and filling them up with extra battery. In the case of the OnePlus 3, a battery more powerful than 3000mAh could have turned out great. Those who despise camera bumps can take note of the fact that attaching a Style Swap cover completely evens out the rear surface.
At the bottom end, things are pretty crowded, with a headphone jack, a USB Type-C port as well as a speaker grill fighting for space. Towards the front we have an improved fingerprint scanner, an RGB LED light and invisible capacitive buttons which light up only when you press them. A Gorilla Glass 4 coating lets you rest assured that your screen is protected from scratches and scrapes. What’s more important is that the OnePlus 3 feels good in the hands, and lets out a premium vibe due to its metal construction.
1080p resolution on a 5.5-inch display is a standard that has crept into budget Android phones now. It is hence a surprise that OnePlus still hasn’t taken the Quad HD leap. But this does not hurt the case of the OnePlus 3 in any way. You get pretty sharp visuals overall thanks to the 401ppi pixel density. Plus, it’s an AMOLED panel, the company-end color optimizations to which turn it into an ‘Optic AMOLED’ display. It’s this particular experiment that has visibly bombed. At all times, there’s a slight bluish tint on the entire panel, and this has nothing to do with the color balance tweaking available in the settings menu. As if that wasn’t enough, tilting the screen for different viewing angles gives the display a very visible color changeover. In terms of brightness, the OnePlus 3 is good enough for daily use, and there are some regular advantages of the display being AMOLED. But the color rendering issues hurt the display a great deal.
The speaker at the bottom end of the OnePlus 3 delivers crisp sound even at full volume. And it’s got a big volume range as well. Watching music videos or any other videos for that matter is a great experience on the device. Audio coming through the headphone jack is also top-notch to say the least.
Oxygen OS started off as a slightly enhanced version of stock Android, and has now become a full-fledged user experience of sorts. And the best part is that it is doing all this while keeping the look and feel of stock Android untouched. The software on the OnePlus 3 is of course based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, so you’re getting goodies like Now on Tap, Doze and more. Additionally, there’s the iOS-like Night Mode for night-time viewing. You can activate it right from quick settings, but there’s no option for automating it, which is sad. The Shelf which is nothing but a quick access panel on the homescreen has been updated with new features that include the ability to set reminders.
There are a number of other nifty tweaks you can make to the user interface. Right from the homescreen, you can select two new icon packs, choose the kind of Google Search bar you want, decide the app drawer layout and more. And you get even more customizations in the Settings menu, like changing the accent color, toggling a night-friendly Dark Mode and gesture controls. A great feature that has been retained from the OnePlus 2 is the ability to switch between on-screen and off-screen buttons. Oxygen OS stands among the best third-party ROMs available out there, and that makes the OnePlus 3’s software a huge winner.
Phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 6S have set really high standards for mobile cameras. At a much lower price than those, the OnePlus 3 offers similar camera results, which is extremely impressive. The 16MP f/2.0 camera on the back of this device will leave you amazed by its results, especially in adequately lit environments. Your pictures will come out exceptionally sharp. Although they won’t be as detailed as the ones on the Samsung Galaxy S7, you will indeed find a healthy amount of clarity in them. Low light shots from the OnePlus 3 are admirable. Grain does make its presence felt a lot, but using the HQ option surprisingly takes a lot of it away from your pictures. The OnePlus 3 comes with a combination of OIS and EIS, but when clicking pictures with wobbly hands, this system is not able to salvage details in your shots. However it is quite effective while shooting videos, especially those which are shot at 1080p. Slow motion videos are beautifully shot at 120fps, but they don’t have any speed ramping controls unfortunately.
As for normal 4K videos, they are sharp and well detailed. The focus and exposure shifts are pretty smooth, but with shots that have a lot of movement, you will be forced to lock the focus in order to get a smooth video. The 8-megapixel selfie camera on the OnePlus 3 returns incredible results. Low light shots are grainy as expected. The bottom line is that the OnePlus 3’s camera despite a few limitations offers flagship-grade performance at an incredible price tag. It’s really a no-brainer that it’s one of the best smartphone cameras out there right now.
Performance and battery: 4.5/5
Now things can seldom go wrong when you have the latest Qualcomm processor onboard along with the highest amount of RAM ever to have been crammed inside a phone. And that’s quite true for the OnePlus 3. Throughout our time with it, we experienced top-notch performance not only in terms of app management but also overall speed. And yes, RAM usage never really reached 6GB for us, but that in no way affected the blazing fast performance of this device. Benchmark scores were highly impressive, with most of them beating the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and other high-end smartphones. On AnTuTu, it scored 134701 which is considerably more than the Exynos model of the S7 Edge which had managed 128106 during our time it. Its Quadrant Standard result is 41649, while its Geekbench 3 test offered a single core score of 2290 and a multi-core score of 5290.
And now for the battery life of the OnePlus 3. If you’re surprised with the choice of a 3000mAh battery, welcome to the club. It’s a small power pack for the kind of hardware which is inside the device. Hence the battery life of the OnePlus 3 is by no means impressive or even admirable. With heavy usage, we weren’t even able to get a day’s worth of juice out of it. But there’s something about this phone that royally turns the tables in the battery department. We’re talking of course about the Dash Charger. This incredible accessory charges your device from 0 to 60 in just half an hour. This is the fastest charging phone we’ve ever seen. Plus it keeps charging at the same pace even when you’re using it. Even a 15-minute short burst of Dash Charging can keep you keep going for half a day. This in our opinion nullifies the average battery life of this smartphone.
– Unbeatable performance
– Ultra-fast Dash Charging technology
– Superb camera results
– Oxygen OS goodies
– Color rendering issues on the display
– No microSD card slot
The OnePlus 3 is a serious competitor for being the best smartphone of this year. It gets its design right, it gets its camera right, it even gets its software right and kills it in the performance department. If you ignore the slightly flawed display, it’s one of the most perfect high-end smartphones. OnePlus 3 is available on Amazon for Rs 27999 or $399 it really can’t get better than this. We’re giving it 4.5 stars.