OnePlus seem to have been in the news quite a lot recently, and this time it seems to be for all the right reasons. No over the top, morally and ethically questionable campaigns or events this time. It’s all about the OnePlus 3, the third flagship from the relatively new kid on the block of the smartphone makers. Their motto is “Never Settle”, so let’s see how the OnePlus 3 does in the Coolsmartphone review.
The device reviewed is a 64GB graphite model. At time of writing it is the only one available on oneplus.net/uk. This OnePlus 3 was purchased with my own pocket money for £309 which could also buy you a couple of goats and a pat on the back after the brexit vote.
OK, so let’s start off with the specification sheet:
- 5.5” 1920×1080 Optic AMOLED display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core chipset (2 x Kryo 2.15 GHz + 2x Kryo 1.6 GHz)
- Adreno 530 GPU
- Oxygen OS based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
- 6GB RAM and 64GB storage (no microSD expansion slot)
- 4G (All UK carriers) – Dual SIM support
- WiFi a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC
- GPS/GLONASS/BDS positioning systems
- 16MP f/2.0 camera with optical image stabilisation, phase detection auto-focus and single LED flash
- 8MP f/2.0 front-facing selfie camera
- 3000 mAh battery (non removable)
- Full metal body construction and 2.5D glass screen
At launch the OnePlus 3 was available for purchase immediately, with no invite, no queue and no hassle. Oneplus.net/uk just took my money and within three days a parcel was delivered with my device. This was a breath of fresh air compared to the tortuous hoops I had to jump through to purchase the previous two models (the OnePlus One and the OnePlus 2).
My first impression was overly positive: the OnePlus 3 is lovely to hold. The full metal body is slightly arched on the back. The 2.5D panel on the front is slightly curved on the edges and it is ergonomically ideal for my hand size.
As mentioned previously, the front panel is 2.5D and is where you’ll find the 5.5” Optic AMOLED fullHD screen. The screen is crisp and packs plenty of punch for the colours. Sunlight usability is good. Under the display panel position you’ll find the oval fingerprint scanner which also acts as a capacitive home button. At either side of the fingerprint scanner there are capacitive buttons which are for multitasking and back. These button’s functionality can be customised in Oxygen OS settings. Above the screen there is the phone speaker and the 8MP selfie camera.
The bottom of the device has a dotted grille for the loudspeaker, USB Type-C port (for data and charging), the microphone hole and the 3.5mm audiojack.
The top of the device is smooth and curved. Nothing to report here, move along…
The right side of the OnePlus 3 is home to the dual nano SIM tray and the power button.
The left side has the volume rocker and the three-position notification switch.
The back of the OnePlus 3 is smooth and arched, with a protruding camera module (which houses the NFC antenna) and a OnePlus logo. Darker plastic bands for antennas are visible in the top and bottom of the back panel. The NFC works great with Android Pay and Greggs rewards. This is a massive plus for the OnePlus 3 over the OnePlus 2.
The OnePlus 3 runs Oxygen OS version 3.1.2 out of the box. Oxygen OS is OnePlus’ own OS based on Android 6.0.1 and is pretty close to Google’s own Android experience.
The OnePlus Launcher is very, very similar to the Google Now Launcher, with a couple of main differences: firstly the swipe action which would take you to Google Now goes to Shelf (a repository for your most used contacts apps and services). The other big difference is that the OnePlus Launcher adapts to customisation settings in the rest of the OS so that it implements dark mode and light mode. I’ve been running the device in dark mode since purchase.
Customisation options in Oxygen OS abound: you can customise screen gestures, dark/light modes, functionality of buttons and status bar. This customisation choice is, in my view, one of the reasons to purchase a OnePlus 3 over many of its direct competitors.
The OnePlus 3 does have a few other bespoke apps built into Oxygen OS. Gallery is the local photo manager which allows you to view your photos through two tabs: Photos and Collections. Files is the Oxygen OS default file manager, which has a great implementation of Material design.
The task switching in Oxygen OS also offers a clean memory and clear all option as well as a app settings shortcut.
Overall the combination of impressive hardware specifications and a tightly optimised and integrated operating system give a fluid and reliable user experience. The OnePlus 3 is a pleasure to use and it wasn’t long until I had moved my main SIM card into the device.
The OnePlus 3’s main snapper is a 16MP unit with f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus and optical image stabilisation. The sensor behind the glass lenses is a SONY IMX298 one and the OnePlus camera app runs the show for those using the camera on the device.
The OnePlus camera app has a simple and easy to use UI: press the big button on screen or the volume rocker to snap a picture. Swipe to the right to get to the gallery and swipe to the left for the camera modes and settings.
Modes available include Time-lapse, Slow motion, Photo, Video, Manual photo, and panorama.
If you want to make the most of all the manual settings you have options to do that, but my experience with the device has all been in the Auto and AutoHDR modes. Snap and shoot with everything set to Auto is reliable and consistent. I have really enjoyed using the OnePlus 3 camera and you can see the results at #ShotOnOnePlus3.
The OnePlus 3 selfie camera is pretty good and catches plenty of detail. Just look at the reflection in that handsome chap’s sunglasses…
The 3000 mAh battery powering the OnePlus 3 gives me excellent yield in day to day use. Unplug in the morning and even with heavy use makes it through to the evening. This may be also due to me using dark mode from customisations which may make the Optic AMOLED screen sip power even more efficiently, or it may be for the finely tuned Oxygen OS tandeming with the impressive specs. Whatever the reason the battery punches well above it’s mAh capacity when compared to the competition.
Do you have battery anxiety? Luckily the OnePlus 3 also has the OnePlus version of Quickcharge called Dash Charge. Dash Charge is capable of charging the OnePlus 3 from empty to 63% in 30 minutes. I’ve pretty much confirmed that, and I’m extremely impressed.
As we discussed in the Coolsmartphone.com Podcast last week, the OnePlus 3 signals to the world that OnePlus has come of age. Ready availability, great value hardware, well tuned software and no gimmicky marketing. It’s like OnePlus has grown up.
For £309 you get a true falgship in the OnePlus 3, it even has NFC, and there is very little compromise in the overall experience compared to an LG G5 or Samsung S7. While technically not as good cameras, in everyday human use the OnePlus 3 camera is great, and well suited for social media and sharing on the interwebs.
If you are in the market for a great phone and don’t want to over spend, this one is a no-brainer: buy it.