OnePlus has been on the market since 2013, and they have been popular not in China but in many global markets. In such a short span of time, they’ve become a household name in India. OnePlus’s every release in India has been off the charts and went on to become the top-selling smartphone on Amazon India.
We write most of the reviews after 3 to 7 days of using a device and sometimes even faster, so is the nature of the competitive internet. But sometimes when you use a device for very long you experience some of the smaller plus and minus points, which are easily missed in early reviews. Here is my experience with OnePlus 3 after using it for 6 months.
The OnePlus 3 is a great update over the OnePlus 2 in terms of design as well as performance. I’m now well versed with its shortcomings and strengths which have certainly become more apparent to me after using it as my daily driver.
OnePlus 3T is already out and also bring some more improvements to the OnePlus 3 and this review will also give you a fair bit of idea about the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T – What to expect when you are looking for the best smartphone in the 20K to 30K price range.
Before starting with the review, let’s have a quick look on the Key Specifications of OnePlus 3.
Build and Design
The first two iterations of OnePlus came with the unique textured back made of Sandstone. It was one of the easy to grip back cover, but things changed with the OnePlus 3. The OP3 (One Plus 3) is made of aluminum alloy and has a uni-body design, which is a first for the company.
- The back feels smooth and slippery at the same time, but it’s on par in terms of build quality when compared to its competitors. The subtly tapered edges and a flat back with only 7.3 mm thickness, gives it a very sleek feel overhaul. The only setback with such thinness is the presence of a small camera bump at the back.
- The front has a minimal look with no branding or logo. It looks premium due to the 2.5 D curved glass on top which seamlessly meets the aluminum sides. The power button is placed on the right side and volume rockers at the left accompanied by the textured alert slider. The buttons feel tactile and don’t wobble or make any quirky sounds.
I’ve been using the alert slider a lot; it’s a useful feature to which the iPhone users can easily connect. I have realized that many more OEMs should adapt to this feature. It’s been really convenient for me to change to silent mode during my lectures or movies. While the bottom carries a USB type-C port flanked between the equally drilled microphone and the speaker.
OnePlus 3 comes with a 5.5-inch FHD (1920×1080) Optic AMOLED display, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on top. I own the Graphite variant which has a black front and the bezels at the sides look minimalist. The top and bottom bezels are not as thick as the bezels found on the iPhone.
Unfortunately, the display only hits up to 413 nits which is significantly lower than the 554 nits on One Plus 2 and 440 nits on One Plus One. Screen legibility in bright sunlight is slightly on the lower side and one has to crank up the screen brightness above 50%. There’s also an inbuilt option of Night Mode and System-wide Dark Mode which clearly compliments the AMOLED display.
Speaking of the display, it has a new PenTile display opted by OnePlus in OP3. The diamond-like pattern of the sub-pixels makes the pixels per inch lower in the overall resolution. Although this is all in the technical spectrum of the phone, while a normal user won’t face any problems and will instead find the texts sharp and colors vibrant.
Like its predecessors, the One Plus 3 is also powered by one of the fastest processors on the block. It runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 SOC clocked at 2.15 GHz, coupled with Adreno 530 GPU. Now the 6 GB of RAM capacity may be a gimmick or just a marketing strategy, but in the end, it makes the OP3 a future proof phone.
The capable SOC and GPU can handle everything you throw at it, be it normal web browsing, playing heavy games, watching videos on YouTube. 2. There’s hardly any lag experienced in my usage of 6 months.
The fingerprint sensor is near perfect and works 9 out of 10 times. It’s significantly fast and accurate compared to the sensor found on One Plus 2.
UI Software and OS
The OnePlus 3 is shipped with Android Marshmallow v6.0.1 and Oxygen OS v3.1.3 skin on top. OnePlus has done an amazing job of keeping the whole experience near to stock android with some useful features built right in. Like, the option of choosing
- Off-screen navigation or On-screen navigation buttons,
- The ability to assign shortcuts on the home, back and recent apps button
- Inbuilt gestures for music, open camera, lock screen and double tap feature
All the features mentioned above are subtle and doesn’t get in the way of smoother pure Android experience. It’s clearly optional and does not harm the performance with some overwhelming features usually found on many Chinese UIs.
It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve received the Android N update with Oxygen OS v4.0.2 on the OP3. This update brought a noteworthy change in the overall look of the phone.
The shelf has also received a revamped look to it along with the messages and dialer app.
Unfortunately, the update has also brought OnePlus’s own messaging and calculator app. Luckily; one can easily remove the Google apps and use OnePlus’s applications in order to avoid bloatware. The usual N features have also been integrated into the phone along with the Doze On-The-GO. The performance has improved after the Nougat update and animations and app opening are smoother than ever before.
Gaming & Benchmark Performance
The high-end Adreno 530 GPU is a direct indication of lag free and powerful GPU performance. Since the OP3 uses a 1080p display, the processor and the GPU has to push fewer pixels which in return gives a fluid gaming experience.
We played Games- Asphalt 8, Sniper 3D, some low-intensity games like Jetpack Joyride, Jelly Jump.
Asphalt 8 and Sniper 3D both are demanding games which ran smoothly without any frame drops. Since its predecessor Snapdragon 810 was notorious for overheating, the all-new Snapdragon 820 is an improvement in every way. It not only controls the heat dissipation but also doesn’t let the phone bog down when heavily used. It certainly doesn’t affect the battery life dramatically like it used to in OP2. The overall performance is sleeker and faster; the high-end internals makes OnePlus 3 on par, if not better than the expensive phones.
The OP3 is a dual sim phone and doesn’t support storage expansion. Although it might not be a big deal as the phone is equipped with 64 GB of storage which is plenty for many users out there. The overall connectivity performance was sufficiently good.
There were times when it changed the signal from 3G to 2G in some areas. Sometimes, it just doesn’t catch signals and go out of network. I would either turn on/off the airplane mode or reboot the phone completely. Fortunately, this happened very rarely and a majority of the times it was decent in catching Wi-Fi signals and 4G network.
Front Camera Review
The front houses an 8 MP f/2.0 aperture selfie shooter. It gives plenty of details in broad daylight and also does an amazing job in artificial light. The camera app also has features called Beauty Mode, Smile feature for the front camera.
It is ridiculously easy while taking group selfies one must turn on smile mode and just smile, to get the shot clicked. The camera will do its own job in a countdown of 3/5/10 sec, depending on what you’ve chosen. The front camera is also capable of recording videos up to 1080p.
Although, it misses out on a feature like screen flash which might upset selfie enthusiasts. Selfie camera is decent but the new OnePlus 3T comes with even better 16 Mega Pixel front camera which rivals the likes of Oppo F1s and the Vivo V5.
Rear Camera Review
The rear camera is above average and does well for its price; it doesn’t compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7, iPhone 7 or Google Pixel. I have used all of the above phones and found the One Plus 3 camera struggle in many scenarios.
The One Plus 3 comes with 16 MP f/2.0 aperture camera with PDAF, OIS, EIS, Dynamic De-Noise, Auto HDR, HQ modes.
The overall camera app interface is clean and easy to use, although it does pack some useful features and settings option in the app itself. Unlike the camera app found on iPhone which strangely has the camera settings placed in the usual settings.
The performance in daylight is excellent and worthy enough to be shared on social media platforms. Although, there were some shots where the highlights were blown out in order to focus on the subject.
The pictures managed to create bokeh effect which was blurry enough to give a nice depth of field.
While one can easily use the Manual-Mode and tune it to their taste. This mode allows one to change the focus, ISO, shutter speed and white balance.
In low light situations, the phone tries to crank up the ISO which results in slightly bright shots with lower details. That’s when the Dynamic De-Noise comes in the picture and manages to reduce the noise to some extent in the pictures. It also doesn’t suffer from Lens Flare which is found on the Google Pixel.
As far as videos are concerned the OIS and EIS manage to give less shaky videos, though it isn’t as smooth as the one found on iPhone 7 or S7 Edge. There’s very little focusing issue during the videos, the PDAF does its job and is able to focus on subjects reliably.
It has a good camera but not the best in the market, though in it’s price range it is a top shot.
Unlike their first iteration, the OnePlus One which had a stereo bottom facing speakers. The One Plus 3 is accompanied by a single speaker at the bottom. It’s loud to hear the notifications, calls or even YouTube videos.
Also, the vibration motor in this phone is average when compared to the haptic feedback in iPhone or HTC 10.
Fortunately, it still retains the 3.5 mm audio jack and the inbuilt AMP is more powerful than the setup found in much expensive Samsung S7. It could easily handle my Beats Mixr on-ear headphones and gave a balanced output with punchy bass. Most of the songs sound loud enough even at 50% volume with enough bass to it. It’s a relief as some phones like Honor 8, Honor 7, Nexus 6P, Letv Le 1S needs to be cranked up much higher.
OnePlus 3 is packed with 3000 mAH battery which is certainly the least compared to the 3100 mAh in OPO and 3300 mAh in OP2 and 3400 on the One Plus 3T. Though, the stable and reliable Operating system surely helps in giving a day’s worth of battery life on moderate-heavy usage. I would easily get 3 hours SOT (screen on time) with 50% of battery still left.
On average I’d get 5h 30 m of SOT when on Wi-Fi. The SOT would see a slight drop when used completely on 3G/4G. Although, your mileage may vary.
After the Android N update, I haven’t seen any major improvements as such in the already above average battery life. It certainly has similar capacity when compared to HTC 10, Samsung S7, Xiaomi Mi5. Although, the light oxygen OS with 1080p FHD display helps.
Complementing the stellar battery life is one of the fastest charging systems found in the market. OnePlus’s Dash charging, it’s just another fancy name for the similar VOOC charging technology from OPPO.
The charger has 5V/4A of output which offers slightly higher current, but at the same time is able to control the heat dissipation caused due to fast charging. This smart technology allows it to rapidly charge without getting very hot, even when we’re using the phone.
When charged from a mere 2%, it could easily charge up to 71% in 30 min, pretty impressive. While a top-up to 100% would take little more than an hour. It clearly justifies their tagline, “A day’s power in half an hour.”
Overall it’s easily one of the best buys at a price point of RS 30,000. Yes, I said, “One of the best buys” simply because it’s competing with its own breed aka OnePlus 3T. The 3T is equipped with 10% faster Snapdragon 821 SOC and 13% more 3400mAh battery power compared to the OP3.
The front camera has also seen a bump from 8MP to 16MP with same f/2.0 aperture. While it’s just a souped up version of OnePlus 3, it packs great hardware which is on par with the Pixel phones. Although, my usage has been amazing and the spec sheet with reliable software made it even more easy for me to recommend it to anybody with a budget of Rs30-40k.
- Sleek metallic body
- Reliable software
- High-end performance
- Above average battery life
- Fast charging
- Fast and accurate Fingerprint Sensor
- Good Daylight photography
- Must use OnePlus’s own charger and wire in order to get dash charging
- Video recording can still be improved
- Camera is good, can be improved
- No Expandable storage
- Huawei Honor 8
- Xiaomi Mi 5
- LeEco Le 2 Max
- Vivo V5 Plus
- Motorola Moto Z Play
Should You Buy It?
YES, one can easily opt for OnePlus 3 or better go with the OnePlus 3T as both the variants give an excellent experience for their price and are worth your money.