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OnePlus 3 Review – Beauty And The Beast

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OnePlus 3 is the successor to the last year’s flagship OnePlus 2. Among the several high-end smartphones having immense price tags, OnePlus 3 remains to be on the lower-price flagship costing ₹27,999. This long been described as a flagship killer could be a real deal for the peeps who are seeking a gorgeous looking premium smartphone with the best specs available in the market. Launched recently in India, here’s our OnePlus 3 review.

OnePlus 3 review

What’s in the Box?

  • OnePlus 3 with built-in battery
  • USB Cable (Type-C)
  • Dash Charger (5V, 4A)
  • SIM Tray Ejector
  • User Guide and Quick Start Guide
  • OnePlus Brand Decals

oneplus 3 review

OnePlus 3 Specifications

  • Display: 5.5-inch Full HD Optic AMOLED Display (1920 x 1080 pixels resolution | 401 ppi pixel density) protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Software: OxygenOS 3.1.2 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, at the Home button
  • CPU: Up to 2.15 GHz quad-core Kyro processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (MSM8996) SoC
  • GPU: Adreno 530 (624 MHz)
  • Memory: 6 GB LPDDR4
  • Storage: 64 GB internal storage, No MicroSD slot
  • Main Camera: 16 MP (Sony IMX298) autofocus camera, f/2.0 aperture, OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) support, LED flash, RAW support, 4K Video @30fps
  • Front Camera: 8 MP (Sony IMX179), f/2.0 aperture, fixed focus, EIS, 1080p video @30fps
  • Connectivity: 1x USB Type-C 1.0, 3.5 mm audio jack, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
  • Cellular: 4G LTE support, Dual nano-SIM cards (GSM + GSM)
  • SAR Value: 0.784 W/Kg @1g (Head), 0.581 W/Kg @1g (Body)
  • Battery: 3000 mAh (non-removable)
  • Power Adapter: Dash Charger (Output 5V, 4A)
  • Dimensions: 152.7 mm x 74.7 mm x 7.4 mm
  • Weight: 158 grams
  • Colors: Graphite, Soft Gold
  • Price: ₹27,999
  • Warranty: 1 Year Warranty

Design and Build

OnePlus says goodbye to the Sandstone back cover and picks up a new metallic unibody design. The gorgeous looking thin charmer fits perfectly in one hand. Feels light weight (158 grams) despite being a 5.5-inch handset. Compared to its predecessor OnePlus 2, it is thinner (7.4 mm vs 9.9 mm). OnePlus applied a sleek finishing touch to the case giving it an elegant appearance.

oneplus 3 review

oneplus 3 review
Metallic Unibody

The build quality is robust, no gaps to be found, OnePlus 3 comes with a premium build. I dropped it on the floor with a OnePlus back cover aligned and nothing happened to the phone, no dents at all. OnePlus can suffer moderate impacts if you use a OnePlus case. But what happened to the Sandstone cover? OnePlus fans needs it right? The company still provides 5 different interchangeable cases that include a Sandstone which isn’t bundled with the phone.

oneplus 3 review

The 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED display on the OnePlus 3 is protected with 2.5D curved glass from the Corning Gorilla Glass 4. It also comes with the latest flagship chip from Qualcomm. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 6 GB LPDDR4 RAM, and 64 GB internal storage makes it stand among the other flagship rivals.

On paper, a 16 MP rear camera and an 8 MP front camera properly fits for this price segment. The 16 MP snapper uses a Sony IMX298 sensor and supports Optical Image Stabilization. The front 8 MP camera also uses a Sony sensor (IMX179). Though there is a small camera hump on the back which can be troublesome for some people but applying a OnePlus case could solve the issue.

oneplus 3 review

oneplus 3 review
Brilliant Workmanship
OnePlus 3 review
Fingerprint Scanner On Capacitive Touch Ceramic-Coated Home Button

oneplus 3 review

The internal storage of the device is 64 GB and cannot be expanded any further. It might be a small disappointment for the people who have a MicroSD card with them. Nevertheless, I think 64 GB storage is by far good for an average user. In return, you’ll find a dual SIM tray on the right supporting two nano SIM cards. The handset supports 4G LTE network. While the power button is on the right, volume control is on the left along with a silent/mute switch. The keys have a very pleasingly tactile feedback.

OnePlus 3 Review
As Thin As 7.4 MM

OnePlus 3 Review

OnePlus 3 Review
Not A Hybrid SIM Tray

OnePlus 3 Review

OnePlus 3 Review
Silent/Mute Button Is Legend

OnePlus still uses the new USB Type-C port while many manufacturers are stuck with the old Micro USB port. What else you find is a 3.5 mm audio jack for headphones, a microphone, and loudspeakers at the bottom. The second microphone is located above the main camera.

OnePlus 3 Review
Has A USB Type-C

OnePlus 3 Review

Display

OnePlus 3 ditched the IPS screen and incorporated an AMOLED screen instead. OnePlus 3 didn’t boast a 2K resolution display but offered a high-quality 1080p Optic AMOLED display (1920 x 1080 pixels resolution). 1080p displays turn out to be good for 5.5 inchers and anything larger than that should use a higher resolution display. I believe the 2K display is just a marketing gimmick and does nothing great instead consuming a chunk of battery percentage. You won’t figure out any huge differences between those displays on smaller-sized screens. If you remember what Sony did back there with their 5.5-inch Xperia Z5 Premium attaching a 4K display module which is almost insane for a compact smartphone. A 1080p display also acts as a battery saving trait in this regard.

OnePlus 3’s crisp and tempting display could be the best display at this price. The black levels are too good and colors appear to be very rich and natural. I certainly don’t want to compare it with those brilliant 2K AMOLED displays on Samsung Galaxy lineups. With its thin bezels, OnePlus 3 display really surprised us a lot and it could be a tough spot for the competitors to knock OnePlus 3 in the display area. The brightness levels are high enough and viewing angles are excellent. The visibility under sunlight shade is exceptionally good.

With the AMOLED display, OnePlus can use the Motorola’s alternative Ambient Display by Google. It shows battery-friendly notifications without unlocking the device.

Software and User Interface

The software on OnePlus 3 hasn’t changed much. Based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, the OxygenOS is so far the best stock Android interface you can get. It has several features to customize the software experience the way you want. After all, that’s what geeks like to do, tweaking the software for their convenience. The User Interface is pretty straight-forward, no bloatware, no-frills, no heavy customized skins on top.

OnePlus 3 Review

The User Interface is pretty straight-forward, no bloatware, no-frills, no heavy customized skins on top. The homescreen feels buttery smooth, didn’t face any lags. Swiping to left homescreen will get you a bunch of shortcuts and other widgets for an ease access.

OnePlus 3 Review
Clean Interface

OnePlus 3 Review

The OxygenOS support some gesture-based functions like drawing V on the screen for toggling the flashlight, O to open the camera, drawing || with two fingers to pause or play the music, double tap to wake, and others. Since the home button is capacitive, you can apply touch gestures to it like double-tap on the home button to turn off the screen. Swapping of the navigation buttons is available and can be used for other gesture-based operations. On swiping the notification bar, you get the night mode shortcut, which can be as useful for the people who like to read stuff when lights are off. It also has the ability to apply any custom icon packs if you prefer a new look.

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As the handset uses a 6 GB RAM, it doesn’t completely utilize the full 6 GB RAM. The upcoming software updates will address the issues. OnePlus has rolled out an update OxygenOS 3.2.1. We are yet to receive this version of the software update from OnePlus.

Fingerprint Scanner

The flagship killer, OnePlus 3, priced at ₹27,999, boasts a fast fingerprint scanner. The fast fingerprint scanner on OnePlus 3 is embedded in the capacitive home button. Fashioned out of ceramic for a premium touch, the scans are more precise over time. The home button actually covered with a ceramic coating. The ceramic coating can improve the overall accuracy of the fingerprint scanner.

OnePlus 3 Review
Fingerprint Scanner Works Amazing

The scanner is highly sensitive and works very fast, unlocks the phone in 0.2 seconds. The scanner also works when the phone is under sleep mode i.e. you don’t have to press any buttons prior unlocking the device. Several smartphones like Samsung, Gionee and others still need to wake up from sleep mode to let the fingerprint scanner work. The scanner also works in all directions (360 degrees), it unlocks easily no matter how you put your finger. Either you put your finger upside down or in any other way, the phone unlocks quickly, hence, less cumbersome.

OnePlus 3 Review

The scanner can hold up to 5 fingerprints at a time. You can add a maximum of 5 different fingerprints on OnePlus 3. Setting up the fingerprint scanner is a tad boring, you have to verify your finger about 19 times to add a fingerprint and that’s quite a bit of a long process. We saw similar setup in Sony Xperia Z5, however, some phones like Honor 7 does it in 6 attempts.

OnePlus 3 Review

The fingerprint scanner doesn’t work with wet fingers. You’ve to keep your fingers dry to use the scanner. See OnePlus 3 fingerprint scanner overview to know more about it.

Hardware, Performance, and Gaming

OnePlus 3 ships with a high-performance 2.15 GHz quad-core processor from Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. But why quad-core? Many other smartphones have octa-core CPU, right? When we talk about the performance, quad-core processors can outperform octa-core processors in certain cases. Being a top-line CPU, it has 4 kyro cores in which 2 of them are clocked at 2.15 GHz for heavy usage and the other 2 are clocked at 1.59 GHz for less power consumption. Moreover, it has a whopping 6 GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 GPU for high-end gaming.

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Talking about the benchmarks, the AnTuTu scored an amazing 140692 points which topped the chart and exceeded Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge score as shown in the AnTuTu comparison chart. The Geekbench scored shocking results 2331 points on single-core performance and 5442 points on multi-core performance.

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We never got to utilize the full 6 GB RAM, perhaps the system kills the background apps at certain limit before it reaches to the 6 GB to save the battery. Nevertheless, upcoming updates try to address the issues and you can utilize the full 6 GB RAM.

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Gaming, to be honest, is the best experience so far on OnePlus 3. If you love graphics-intensive games, then OnePlus 3 steals the competition. We have tested the games on the handset and it turns out that the gaming experience is among the best. Games like Real Racing 3, Asphalt 8: Airborne, Angry Birds Rio, Traffic Rider, Shadow Fight 2, Asphalt Nitro, and 8 Ball Pool were some of the games we tested on OnePlus 3. All the games can run fluently.

Games Tested on OnePlus 3:

  • Angry Birds Rio
  • Real Racing 3
  • Asphalt 8: Airborne
  • Traffic Rider
  • Shadow Fight 2
  • Asphalt Nitro
  • 8 Ball Pool

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Storage and Connectivity

The phone comes with a large 64 GB internal storage from which 52.66 GB of free space is available for the use. OnePlus 3 didn’t give the option to expand the storage with MicroSD but 64 GB storage sounds more than enough, at least for me. I could use a cloud storage here if required.

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Surprisingly, the storage performance turns out to be excellent, we have benchmarked it using AndroBench and the results are impressive. We got 414.3 MB/s sequential read and 152.17 MB/s sequential write speed. The random read speed is 140.36 MB/s and write speed is 18.21 MB/s. The storage performance is fast indeed.

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Finally, OnePlus 3 supports NFC connectivity. We faced minor issues with the Wi-Fi reception, the range seems to be quite low if not too low. It disconnected a couple of times when I was on the edge of the Wi-Fi range. We haven’t got any problems with other smartphones especially Zenfones from ASUS, Galaxy S7 from Samsung, and Honor devices. While this isn’t a major issue for people who are in a good range but using it from a corner where the signal gets distorted might give you some hiccups in the connectivity and you have to manually open the Wi-Fi settings to connect to your SSID again.

Cameras

Not just the hardware, the cameras are also a great bunch. They have a solid performance in its price range.  OnePlus 3’s brilliant 16 MP rear camera employs a Sony Exmor IMX298 sensor also employed in the various well-known flagships like Mi5 from Xiaomi. Further, it supports PDAF, OIS, EIS, 4K video recording. In addition, the camera supports RAW format for the photos and slow motion videos at 720p@120fps. On the front head, there is another 8 MP camera for selfie needs. It also employs a Sony Exmor sensor(Sony IMX179).

OnePlus 3 Camera Specifications

  • Camera: 16 MP PDAF, f/2.0 aperture, single LED flash
  • Sensor: Sony Exmor IMX298
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS): Yes
  • Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS): Yes
  • Features: Geo-tagging, Tap to Focus, HDR, Manual, Panorama, Slow Motion, Time Lapse, Continuous Shot
  • Video Recording: Up to 4K video recording, 2160p@30 FPS, Slow Motion 720p@120 FPS, HDR Support
  • Front Camera: 8 MP, fixed focus, f/2.0 aperture, EIS
  • Front Camera Sensor: Sony Exmor IMX179
  • Video Recording: Up to 1080p video @30fps

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The camera interface you see is plain and simple. It supports Tap to Focus, Geo-tagging, HDR mode, Manual mode, Panorama, Slow Motion videos, Time Lapse, and Continuous Shot. If you want to bring the hidden capabilities of this shooter, try and replace it with an app that gives you more options. You may find third party camera apps on Google Play Store.

Here are some camera samples captured using OnePlus 3 cameras.

The camera performs very well, the daylight shots give you the best results if not as good as Samsung Galaxy S7’s camera. The photos came out to be of true colors, thanks to its AMOLED display. We haven’t had any issues with the daylight shots, however, the Low light performance is good if not great and satisfactory. The shutter speed seems to be a little bit slow and thus getting a few images blurry when the object isn’t motionless. Sometimes, the images get blurred, but the overall package is very good at this price point.

To sprinkle icing on the cake, the camera has two options where it gets interesting, HD image and HDR image. The front camera was literally surprising, got the best selfies and videos. A cool gesture feature found on the front camera will surely amaze you. The moment you smile at the camera, it instantly triggers a 3 seconds countdown to capture the selfie. That means you are free from pressing any buttons to snap a picture. It gets even more exciting when you take group selfies.

For people who love to tweak the camera, the interface supports a manual mode. We captured a sample video from OnePlus 3 rear camera in 4K resolution, check it out.

Call Quality and Audio

Making calls on OnePlus 3 sound way good. Voices come out nice and clear while using the phone albeit they aren’t too loud around noisy places at full volumes but enough for an average user. The network reception is great, we’ve also used 3G data on continuous usage without any issues. We got satisfying experience from the loudspeakers, they sound quite decent.

Battery Runtime

OnePlus 3 is powered by a 3000 mAh battery. The battery is slightly degraded as compared to the previous OnePlus 2 and OnePlus One. Since the processor demands resources, the battery runtime is average.

The battery life isn’t surprising, the OnePlus 3 on moderate use lasts a little more than a day. Although using it on 3G data and Wi-Fi, the battery could be somewhat better, as we have seen other flagships performing better at the battery.

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1st Day Moderate Usage

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If you believe like I do, flagships aren’t that good when we talk about battery-friendly stuff. OnePlus 3 on heavy usage with 3G Data, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth kept turned on, you need to pop out the dash charger on the same day. The dash charger can really charge the device fast and you may even forget about the battery life since the charger is pretty fast charging the device up to 65% in 30 minutes. You can expect around 60-70 minutes to fully charge from 0% to 100%.

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Heavy Usage

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Take a look at the battery test table below showing you how much battery percentage is consumed by the apps or tasks performed.

OnePlus 3 Battery Test Results

Apps/GamesBattery usedRuntimeBrightnessWireless
1080p Video3%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
4K Video3%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
YouTube (1080p)3%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Asphalt 812%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Real Racing 39%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Shadow Fight 24%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Music (Offline)2%1 HourAutoOn (3G Data)
Music (Online) - SoundCloud4%30 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G Data)
Facebook5%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)

Pricing, Variants, and Accessories

OnePlus 3 is available at a retail price of ₹27,999 on Amazon India exclusively without any invites. There are two variants of OnePlus 3:

  • OnePlus 3 (Graphite)
  • OnePlus 3 (Soft Gold)

OnePlus 3 Soft Gold variant to be available in late July.

In addition to the smartphone itself, there are various cover accessories for OnePlus 3. There are total 5 protective cases for OnePlus 3 each costing about ₹1,499.

  • OnePlus 3 Sandstone Case
  • OnePlus 3 Bamboo Case
  • OnePlus 3 Black Apricot Case
  • OnePlus 3 Karbon Case
  • OnePlus 3 Rosewood Case
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Left To Right: Karbon, Bamboo Case, Sandstone, Rosewood, Black Apricot

Another mind-blowing accessory OnePlus launched with OnePlus 3 is the OnePlus Loop VR Headset. OnePlus wants you to buy the OnePlus 3 in virtual reality, so they first started to give free VR Headsets before the launch on the OnePlus 3. It is currently out of stock. We recently did a Loop VR giveaway for those who have missed all those chances to get the Loop VR Headset.

OnePlus Loop VR Headset is powered by ANTVR. ANTVR is an open-source cross-platform virtual reality kit for gamers similar to the OCULUS. The Loop VR Headset works identically to the existing VR headsets that use Google Cardboard system. However, the material is sturdy offering plastics instead of actual cardboard, covered with a rubber flange and a foam padding to get you a grip when you wear it. The three-point stretchable straps will hold it tightly on your head.

oneplus 3 review

The headset seem to be a tad heavy if not too heavy (weighs about 366 grams) and the dimensions measure 189 mm x 103 mm x 133 mm. Although, the overall burden on your head with the phone makes it around 500 grams give or take.

The two magnifying lens are able to adjust according to the need. The Loop VR headset supports from 5-inch to 6-inch devices. We tested it using 5.5-inch OnePlus 3 and a 4.7-inch Moto X 1st generation. It is recommended to use a headphone along with the VR headset for a better experience. if you are using it for other devices, make sure that it supports a gyroscope sensor for a full-fledged VR experience.

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Verdict – Final Thoughts

OnePlus seems matured enough to steal the flagship market and OnePlus 3 will be the only flagship you will ever need if you’re planning to buy a great phone under ₹30,000 budget. The invite system has also been dropped for an hassle-free buy. It happens to be that OnePlus fans could get that expensive-feeling from the phone’s aggressive pricing ₹27,999, but the handset did update itself from its predecessors in few areas let’s say the Optic-AMOLED screen, the larger 6 GB RAM and no doubt this is the best-looking phone as far as I know, hence cannot argue with the pricing. Keeping all the things into consideration, OnePlus 3 is a complete winner, hands down!

oneplus 3 review

Strength

  • Gorgeous Design and Stellar Build Quality
  • Top-Level Performance
  • Plenty Amount of RAM and Storage
  • Fast Storage Performance
  • Very Good Camera
  • Decent AMOLED display
  • Dash Charge – High-Speed Charging

Weakness

  • Average Battery Life
  • Lacks MicroSD Support
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