OnePlus 3T Review: This one is a serious flagship killer

OnePlus 3t Review

oneplus-3t-review

One Plus 3 mobile came barely six months ago. It was the best mobile you could get for $400. It’s about to be replaced by a faster, slightly more expensive version of itself. The company calls the OnePlus 3T. The T doesn’t stand for anything. It’s a cheeky take on the typical “S” suffix denoting many flagship sequels.

The new $439 device uses the latest Snapdragon 821 processor for achieving even faster speeds and packs sharper front camera and a beefier battery. The improvements  in areas where the original sort of fell short. I say “sort of” because other than battery life, the OnePlus 3 didn’t need much improving. On concord, OnePlus made it better anyway and now it’s one of the best phones on the market, especially at this price.

Pros
  • It consists of extremely long battery life
  • Front camera performs well in low light
  • Excellent performance
Cons
  • It has no microSD card slot
  • Only compatible with GSM carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T
  • Dash charger doesn’t work with all cables

After just  months the OnePlus 3 came out. It’s being replaced with an updated model that offers better performance. The OnePlus 3T is one of the fastest phones on the market, for starters. Thanks to its zippy new Snapdragon 821 processor. Now, Post-update, it’s also one of the longest-lasting. In addition to this, the phone’s new 16-megapixel front camera takes great portraits in low light. For expandable storage, you still won’t find a microSD. You’ll have to settle for a full HD display instead of a quad HD panel if it means the lower price. Still, for $440 the OnePlus 3T delivers excellent value.

Hardware

hardware

At least externally, there isn’t much of a difference between the OnePlus 3T and its predecessor. Covered in greater detail in our review of the original is a lot of what I’m going to describe here. Obviously, the most physical change is the new “gunmetal” color. As that is the slightly darker shade of gray-silver than the OnePlus 3. A “soft gold” option is also available such as with the original.

The 3T looks exactly the same as its predecessor, color aside. It itself is impressive. Given that, it has a larger battery. It sports the same 5.5-inch full HD Optic AMOLED display. It is bright and sharp enough to watch videos on indoors and outdoors. It also has the same single speaker at the bottom. As it is loud enough to fill my living room with sound, although it got tinny at top volume.

Gallery: OnePlus 3T review 12 Photos

gallery

You will find the same USB-C charging port, physical mute switch, and fingerprint sensor as on the OnePlus 3. The OnePlus 3T has a dual nano SIM card slot such as the previous version. But there is no room for a microSD reader. Who require more storage will have to opt for a new 128GB option that costs $479.

Neither phone meets widely accepted water-resistance standards. Though the company says the handset will survive wet weather. During my review period, it didn’t rain. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test that claim.

Software

Gallery: OnePlus 3T OxygenOS screenshots

oneplus-3t-oxygenos-screenshots

Probably, you won’t notice many differences between the OnePlus 3’s version of OxygenOS and its successor’s. The changes are subtle. The app icons are consistent across the home as the company resized them. All Shelf pages and apps and added some new gestures, just like flip-to-mute and three-finger screenshots. As they make the phone more convenient to use.

The OnePlus 3T also gets new apps for weather and voice recording. It allows you to lock specific apps with your fingerprint. It also features a quick-settings panel that’s more similar to what you’ll find on Android Nougat. The changes aren’t major. On concord, they do make getting around the system slightly easier.

Cameras

cameras

Generally, I don’t need an excuse to go on a selfie-taking binge. But I did appreciate having “testing the OnePlus 3T’s 16-megapixel front camera” as a reason to do so. The new setup is much sharper than the one on the OnePlus 3. The company says makes for better low-light performance.

This was indeed true when I casually snapped dozens of portraits while traipsing around Manhattan one night.Despite all the motion, the camera delivered several crisp images. Not only they were sharp, but the pictures were also relatively noise-free and bright. I had to take an image in a dark. Poorly lit warehouse before I started to see any graininess. I wish the OnePlus 3T’s front camera had was some form of flash is the main thing. For taking clear shots in near-darkness.

OnePlus 3T camera samples

oneplus-3t-camera-samples

Because they have the same megapixel count. Though, they don’t mean that the front and rear cameras are the same. They differ quite vastly on color quality. Thanks to their different pixel size and sensors. With the front camera, the same scenes shot looked washed-out and pale compared with those taken with the rear camera. Generally, captured vibrant, richly colored images. OnePlus 3T also added a layer of sapphire glass to the back camera to protect it from scratches that could forever mar your shots. As we mentioned in our review of the OnePlus 3. The rear camera is capable in most lighting conditions. But won’t impress the way the iPhone 7 Plus or many other smartphone cameras would. It delivered sharply. Accurately colored exterior shots on sunny days. And rendered a respectable amount of detail in low light. But images looked flat indoors. Still, it’s perfectly adequate, and that front camera will please selfie fans just like me.

Performance and battery life

Most flagship phones released this year use the Snapdragon 820 processor, rather than the newer 821 chip that Qualcomm started offering later in the year. So, only the LeEco Le Pro3 and Google Pixel have it. It makes the OnePlus 3 slightly less competitive on specs. The LePro 3 costs the same as the OnePlus 3. I imagine this is one of the biggest reasons OnePlus decided to drop a new flagship so soon after unveiling its previous one. But still, it’s a smart move.

ONEPLUS 3T ONEPLUS 3 LEECO LE PRO3 GOOGLE PIXEL
AndEBench Pro 14,399 13,841 13,354 14,941
Vellamo 3.0 6,144 5,202 6,559 5,343
3DMark IS Unlimited 31,691 30,058 31,753 28,645
GFXBench 3.0 1080p Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 50 48 30 46
CF-Bench 51,262 41,653 42,572 30,997

The Snapdragon 821 processor makes the OnePlus 3T faster than the original. It already pretty speedy. This is hard to tell the difference in day-to-day performance. Because I’m not a robot and can’t detect minute differences in app launch times. On concord, overall the 3T was very responsive. Its Vellamo score of 6,144 beat the OnePlus 3. The Samsung Galaxy S7, The Google Pixel and Pixel XL, the HTC 10, while its AndEBench result trumped the OnePlus 3 and the Galaxy S7. But fell short of the Pixel mobiles and HTC 10. The OnePlus 3T also bested the field in graphics performance tests.

That means you are going to see similar speeds across these mobiles. Considering the pixels use the same chip albeit with less RAM. On concord, cost hundreds of dollars more. The OnePlus 3T really delivers on value here.

The OnePlus 3T has the same 6GB of RAM as the original. This makes for swift multitasking. It also improved the launch speed for large games and apps said by OnePlus. So you won’t have to wait quite as long to open these programs. I also found call quality to be perfectly adequate. I made a call to a friend who was in Queens on T-Mobile’s network. He was able to accurately repeat a string of numbers that I recited. Despite his dog barking in the background which I heard as well. Unfortunately, as with previous OnePlus handsets, the 3T works only on GSM carriers just like T and AT&T mobile.

The most negative feedback about the OnePlus 3 is one area the company itself says that is battery life. Additionally to simply bumping up the battery capacity to 3,400mAh from 3,000mAh. OnePlus tuned the power efficiency of the CPU so that despite its faster speed. It sips power at the same rate as the previous handset.

previous-handset

A slight increment on endurance and was not quite prepared for the 3T’s epic stamina was expected by me. It lasted 16 hours and seven minutes on battery test. It involves looping an HD video with the screen set to 50 percent brightness until the device conks out. This is almost six hours more than the OnePlus 3’s runtime. Two hours longer than the Google Pixel XL which has a 3,450mAh bank.

If the mobile does eventually run out of juice. It charges back up to offer what the company says is a day’s worth of power in half-an-hour. After the OnePlus 3T finally died on Battery test, I plugged it in and was able to take it for a quick video shoot just 15  minutes after. Because it already got back up to 20 percent in that time. Not only is this fast. But that’s enough juice to last at least two hours.

The competition

The OnePlus 3T faces direct competition from the LeEco Le Pro3. This uses the same processor with less RAM for $400. On concord, the Le Pro3 suffers from unintuitive software. It has a less vibrant display and doesn’t last as long as the 3T.

Google’s Pixel phones also use the same processors offering similar if not better performance in a premium frame. These handsets have better cameras. They run the latest version of Android (7.0 Nougat). It offers a  cleaner interface and helpful new features such as Google Assistant. But the Pixel lineup starts at $800, which is near twice the OnePlus 3T’s asking price. Indeed, the latest OnePlus handset is  probably the best handset you are going to find for around $440.

Wrap-up

wrap-up

The OnePlua 3T improves things about the original that were slightly lacking just like battery life and amps up on performance and software. It makes a strong option for power users. Particularly love the sharper front camera for its solid performance in low light.

I would also argue that the boost in endurance alone is worth the $39 price hike. But the previous iteration offered enough stamina for the average user who may not want to shell out for a few extra hours of juice. As a replacement of an existing flagship. The OnePlus 3T is a refinement that not only feels timely. On concord, this is also well-planned and executed. You’d have a hard time finding a better phone for the price.


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