OnePlus 3 Review: In-Depth Analysis of the $400 Flagship Phone

Whenever OnePlus launches a new smartphone, it follows the ‘Never Settle’ slogan. The OnePlus One, which was launched two years back created a lot of whirl in the smartphone arena. The device came with top-end specifications at an affordable price. But, it falls behind in terms of camera and battery life.

oneplus 3 review

The second flagship from the company, the OnePlus Two which was launched a year back gained attention from a lot of people, but unfortunately did not reach the expectations. However, the fall out with Cyanogen made things even worst as the device always riddled with software issues.

Deviating from the thought of flagship killer, the company launched a mid-range smartphone, the OnePlus X in 2015. But, many claimed issues with the design and poor battery life. This year, the company launched their third flagship smartphone dubbed as the OnePlus 3.

The OnePlus 3 follows the same suite of bringing impressive specs for a low price. The company is absolutely back at it again with the OnePlus 3, but this time with a non-invite basis system. We got our hands on a Graphite coloured variant, thus giving us a chance to do a much-awaited OnePlus 3 review. Here’s what we think of the phone after using it extensively for more than a week. 

Design:  (9/10)

The first thing you notice once after picking the OnePlus 3 is that the device now comes with a metal back instead of the company’s famous sandstone back cover. This is a big change from the company as the OnePlus One came with a sandstone and impressed many, but the OnePlus Two failed to appeal many in terms of design, despite featuring the same sandstone back finish.

oneplus 3 review

OnePlus has answered all the fans with the design of OnePlus 3. The device now looks more premium and sturdy when taken into hands, which is a great achievement. Lauding aside, the OnePlus 3 comes with an all-metal unibody design and carries some design elements from the HTC 10.

The device has a thickness of 7.3mm, but do note that there is a camera bump on the rear, which may cause some inconvenience while placing the device. In India, the phone is sold in only one variant- the Graphite colored variant, which looks really good. There are antenna bands which are colored in black on top and bottom. On the front, you can see the 5.5-inch display which is a 2.5D curved glass and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 Technology. The device comes with a home button, which is rather similar to the home button which we have seen in Samsung devices. The home button itself integrates the fingerprint sensor which is further flanked by back and recent apps button on either side.

oneplus 3 review

The power button rests on the right side of the handset, whereas the left side comes with the volume rocker and the famous alert slider. We, kind of liked the alert slider on the OnePlus 2 and it continues the same, but the company should have added the functionality to change the alert slider actions. The USB Type-C port, speaker grille, and the 3.5mm jack are rested on the bottom of the phone.

On the rear, there is a 16-megapixel camera located below the antenna band and an LED flash located below the camera. The OnePlus logo sits in the middle of the rear, which now looks far better than what it looks like on its predecessor. On the whole, the OnePlus has borrowed some design tweaks from both HTC 10 and iPhone 6S, but it looks more refined. 

Display: (7/10)

We are in the age of quad-HD resolution displays where the companies such as Samsung and LG battling with each other for bringing the best QHD display to the market. But, the Chinese company stick to the basics and added a 5.5-inch fullHD display on the OnePlus 3. Though the display is upgraded from its predecessor and has an AMOLED panel for punchier colors, but it falls behind its competitors for being considering the device as a flagship. That said, OnePlus has added some new technology, namely Optic AMOLED, to further tune the display.

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OnePlus always concentrated on providing deep blacks and reds, which according to them provides the best viewing experience. But, the OnePlus 3 achieves producing deep blacks but fails to produce the same on reds. As usual with the AMOLED panel, the display produces true and vivid colors. The one flaw with the display is it is reflective and as a result, the viewing angles are affected, which is a bit of letdown. That being said and done, the display on OnePlus 3 is far better from its predecessor but needs much more refinement to produce better results and appeal customers.

Hardware: (10/10)

Big Specs, Low Price; This is what OnePlus is best at. The company released their first device- the OnePlus One with impressive specs for an astonishing price. And, the OnePlus Two and OnePlus X did that same. But, they failed to achieve the heights of what their predecessor did. Now, the OnePlus 3 came out with impressive and whopping specs on paper.

oneplus 3 review

Under the hood, is an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset clocked at 2.2GHz and 1.6GHz, coupled with Adreno 530 GPU to take up the graphic intensive tasks. Furthermore, the major attraction of the smartphone is the whopping 6GB of RAM. There is 64GB of flash storage with no support for the expansion of storage via a microSD card slot.

The dedicated home button rests below the display and is really fast and accurate to unlock your device screen.

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There is a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front facing camera. And, the device comes with hefty of connectivity options such as Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, aided GPS chip for locking the GPS. The phone comes with a 3,000mAh battery, but the most important feature of this smartphone is the Dash Charge technology, which charges your device from 0 to 60 in 30 minutes, as per the company claims. We will discuss this in brief in our battery life section below.

Software and apps: (9/10)

The OnePlus One came with the Cyanogen OS, which was a huge hit because it was preferred by many people for its customisations. After falling out with Cyanogen OS, the OnePlus started shipping their devices with its own operating system-Oxygen OS. The OnePlus 3 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with skinned Oxygen OS 3.1.2 on top it. The Oxygen OS doesn’t offer many customisations, but it has enough which will be loved by everyone.

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In terms of features, the Oxygen OS comes with a dedicated shelf which can be accessed by swiping to left on the home screen. The shelf has improved a lot when compared to its initial launch. You can add several widgets such as Memo pad, Notes App, Play Music widget, etc of your choice. Same as in Cyanogen OS, the Oxygen OS also allows you to choose between on-screen navigation buttons or capacitive buttons. 

Features such as Double tap to wake, Draw some letters to open specific apps such as: Drawing ‘O’ opens up the camera. That said, the famous Ambient display feature is also present in the OnePlus 3 with which you can wave your hand over the display to display received and unread notifications. The Oxygen OS in the OnePlus 3 looks polished and well optimised as the OS in OnePlus 2 has many issues which made many users disappointed.

Camera:  (7.5/10)

2015 is the year which saw major improvements in smartphone cameras. Devices such as Galaxy S7, Note 5, Nexus 6P offer great smartphone camera experience till date. The OnePlus 3 is the company’s flagship device and the expectations will be high considering the fact that both the previous OnePlus flagships disappointed in terms of camera performance.

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The OnePlus 3 now comes with a 16-megapixel rear camera with Sony IMX298 sensor. The OnePlus 2 used an OmniVision sensor which rather failed to appeal many. However, the new camera on the OnePlus 3 impressed many in good light conditions but failed to achieve the same success in low-light conditions. This has been a problem with the smartphone cameras these days.

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The rear camera now has Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) which adds up in taking good shots while moving. As mentioned earlier, the camera captures some good looking shots in bright light conditions. But, fails to appeal in low-light situations. Images captured in low-light conditions always looks faded with the decent amount of noise. The single tone LED flash helped in some situations, but not in all cases.

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There is an 8-megapixel front facing shooter which takes care of the selfies and the images captured are decent enough to post on social networking sites. Coming to the camera app, it has a fairly minimalistic UI with all the settings can be accessed by pressing the settings button beside the shutter button. The camera has the ability to record 4K videos without any issues.

Overall, the camera on the OnePlus 3 has seen an improvement in terms of performance and image quality, but it still needs some refinement in low-light conditions.

Performance: (9.5/10)

Here comes the most important part of the OnePlus 3 review The one important aspect everyone will be looking in a flagship smartphone. OnePlus has a reputation of delivering smartphones that don’t compromise on performance. The OnePlus One was praised by many for its insane performance and the OnePlus Two gained the same reputation. Now, the OnePlus 3 follows the footprints of its predecessors. The smartphone comes with a Snapdragon 820 chipset, coupled with whooping 6GB of RAM.

In our entire review period, we never experienced a single issue while moving between the apps and scrolling through various apps. However, the device failed to hold up the apps in memory as it continuously reloads them if they are open for a long time. But, the company quickly fixed this issue with a software update.

Now, the 64GB flash storage copies the data much faster than other smartphones with eMMC storage. The performance of this device is top-notch and the benchmarks justify the same. In AnTuTu benchmark test, the device scored a whopping 1,42,590, which tests the overall performance of a smartphone. And, the GFXBenchmark scored an astonishing 59fps, which justifies the device’s gaming potential. That said, gaming is insanely smooth, we did not face a single issue and the smartphone doesn’t heat up much with intensive gaming as well.

Coming to the loudspeaker department, the device houses a single loudspeaker which is rested aside to the USB Type-C port and it is adequately loud as well. OnePlus smartphones always deliver great call quality. We never faced a single call drop in our complete review period. Therefore, the OnePlus 3 clearly is one of the smartphone offering insane performance till date.

Battery life: (8/10)

Many smartphone manufacturers will be increasing the battery capacities with each iteration of their smartphones. However, OnePlus did something different and cut down the battery capacity in OnePlus 3. The OnePlus 2 came with a 3,400mAh battery capacity and the OnePlus 3 houses 3,000mAh battery inside. This is clearly because of the smartphone’s slim profile.

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In terms of battery life, the device lasted for one day with a screen-on time between five hours to six hours, when connected to Wi-Fi. Do make a note that the battery life drastically decreases whenever we turned on the mobile data. We tested the device on 4G Bharti Airtel network for a day and ended up with a screen-on time of four hours and 30 minutes, which is decent enough for a smartphone with 3000mAh capacity.

The company has added a new quick changing technology dubbed as ‘Dash Charge’. As per the company, the device gets charged from 0 to 60 percent in 30 minutes, which is a brilliant achievement. And, the company touted it perfectly, the device was kept to charge at 0 percent and it was around 62 percent in nearly 30 minutes. And, to completely charge the device, it takes nearly one hour and 15 minutes. It is worth noticing that the Dash Charging takes effect only with the bundled charger.

Conclusion:

With the OnePlus 3, the company ticked all the right boxes, minus the poor low-light camera issues and a barely acceptable display. The device is priced at Rs. 27,999 which is an extra-ordinary pricing considering the fact that the device has 6GB of RAM and Snapdragon 820 chipset. We assure you that the device has improved a lot from its predecessor and directly competes with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, Nexus 6P in terms of everything.

However, you need to pay some extra money for the other offerings, but the closest competitor for the device will be the Xiaomi Mi5. Furthermore, the recently launched LeEco Le Max 2 also has a 6GB of RAM variant, which is also a true competitor. That said, we can easily say that the OnePlus 3 is the best smartphone available in the market right now and the hateful invite system is now gone which means that you can purchase the device at any time.

Pros:

  • Sleek and beautiful design
  • Affordable pricing
  • Fast and lag-free performance
  • Dash Charging
  • Fingerprint sensor is fast and reliable
  • NFC makes a comeback

Cons: 

  • Display could have been better
  • Still, no expandable storage
  • Low light photography doesn’t inspire confidence

Did you like this OnePlus 3 review? Have any doubts? Comment below.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design
9
Display
7
Hardware
10
Software and apps
9
Camera
7.5
Performance
9.5
Battery life
8
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