Elias Pelcastre

OnePlus 3: Third time’s the charm

With the release of the OnePlus 3 just a little bit more than three weeks ago, the device has already proved out to be a major upgrade to last years release. The release of the OnePlus 3 happened seamlessly through the VR application OnePlus published in collaboration with Ant VR to create the first ever explorable VR launch. In addition to the unique launch OnePlus put up, they also decided against the use of invitations this time around making the OnePlus 3 available to everyone, anytime, from select countries around the world. The removal of the invite system marks a milestone for OnePlus since it means that they are finally entering the mainstream market, and doing it with a huge boom.

Specifications

The OnePlus 3 packs a real bang for your buck with the inclusion of high-end components for a low price:

Internals

Connectivity

Display

If you were disappointed by last year device’s lack of UHD display, then you won’t be very happy this year since that hasn’t changed. Though, OnePlus has surprised us by using a Full HD, Optic AMOLED screen to provide the user with richer blacks, more accurate colors, and longer battery life throughout the day. You’ll also find it pleasing that the ambient display function to keep you updated even without unlocking your phone will not drain your battery since only the amount of pixels needed light up thanks to the OPTIC AMOLED screen.

Only the required amount of pixels light up when using the ambient display function

Optics

The OnePlus 3 packs a 4k capable, 16 MP Sony IMX 298 rear sensor with optical and electronic image stabilization, the ability to record slow motion at 120 fps at 720p, and of course capacity to save RAW images.

The front side camera is a great upgrade from the 720p camera the OnePlus 2 had. The third iteration packs a Full HD, 8 MP camera, capable of 1080p video at 30fps, which looks a lot smoother and more fluid than one would expect.

Fingerprint scanner

At launch last year, the Oneplus 2 had one of the most disappointing and inaccurate fingerprint scanners on the market giving the user one and only one thing to do with it: unlock the phone. Later on, though, when Marshmallow came to the device, we saw a lot more functionality opening up thanks to OnePlus using Google’s standard sources instead of proprietary ones. This time, OnePlus decided to open up their sources to developers at launch so as to facilitate custom ROM making and completely remove the hassle of “Frankensteining” drivers for devices as we’ve seen developers like @Grarak do. In addition to the source code, the scanner is extremely fast and also useful this time enabling users to verify Android Pay payments (or similar services) thanks to the inclusion of NFC.

Dash charge

OnePlus disappointed a huge amount of fans last year due to various reasons, one of the biggest being the lack of fast charging capabilities. The OnePlus 2, was in my opinion, one of the slowest and most annoying devices to charge becoming hot for no apparent reason. This time, though, OnePlus didn’t feel like being criticized for lack of fast charge and decided actually to create their technology that is faster than any other technology in the market right now. OnePlus’ Dash charge manages to give you a full day’s charge in just 30 minutes without overheating your device and causing thermal throttling. I find this feature amazingly useful, and as a power-user, I appreciate being able to get a charge in just minutes.

Speaker grill, USB-C 2.0 port, microphone, and headphone jack

Physical aspects

Design

The OnePlus 3 is built with simplicity in mind, though we do see a lot of resemblance to devices like the iPhone 6 and the HTC One M9. With its all aluminium unibody, the device accomplishes to be slim, lightweight, and comfortable in the hand all while maintaining a beautiful look. I don’t mind the change from the previous design standard “Sandstone black”, I do feel like it will be missed by many since it created an iconic design feature in previous iterations and since it gave devices a bit more of a grip when holding with one hand.

Although OnePlus’ slogan is “Never Settle”, they obviously need to settle in some aspects so as to keep the price to a OnePlus standard. I feel like the area where they might have sacrificed something just for the sheer bragging right is the thickness of the phone. At 7.3mm or 0.287 inches in thickness, the device is surely one of the thinnest out there but there is a catch to that, we now have a protruding camera sensor at the back of the device just like we’ve seen in the iPhone 6. I do admit that it isn’t a big deal at all, it’s bearly noticeable, but I do feel like OnePlus should have kept the thickness of the previous device to squeeze more juice into the smaller battery they packed to get more out of the device’s battery life.

Feel

The OnePlus 3 has impressed me like the OnePlus 2 just couldn’t. The OnePlus 2 became a disappointment for me pretty quickly because of the lack of developer support it got, fast charging capabilities, NFC, the incredibly horrible heating issues leading to minutes of unusability and horrible performance drops,  and most importantly for me an annoying buzzing sound I’d hear every time I’d use earphones.

My experience with the OnePlus 3 has been more pleasant in just 3 days than with the OnePlus 2 in 9 months, thanks to its cooler internals (thermally speaking), better cameras, comfortable design, accurate fingerprint reader recognising my finger 10/10 times, and most importantly the ironed out speed impediments Oxygen has on the OnePlus 2.

Bumpy start

Everything I’ve said about the OnePlus 3 so far has been relatively positive, but my experience hasn’t been completely what I expected:

Conclusion

The OnePlus 3 is a nice device; it packs a punch in all the right places for a very affordable price. I think I can finally say that OnePlus has once again followed through their slogan “Never Settle” since they managed to pull themselves out of the grave they dug with the release of the most disappointing OnePlus device; the OnePlus 2. They have managed to create high expectations from die-hard fans wanting only the best, and this time, they actually might surpass those expectations if they keep the device updated with the most recent bug fixes, security patches, and improvements. We’ve at least been impressed with the hardware part of the device, now we’ll just have to keep an eye for the software part!

We definitely recommend this device if you are in the market for a new device, or simply if you are curious and want to experience the OnePlus 3 in all its glory in person.

What do you think of the OnePlus 3? Will you be buying one yourself? Do you think the #hype will last? Tell us in the comments and keep an eye for upcoming articles on the OnePlus 3!