A phone as good as the OnePlus 3 should really cost more than $399. They've nailed it this time around. Now they just have to keep the software up to date.
There's not a whole lot to say about the OnePlus 3 that we haven't already said. (You've read our official OnePlus 3 review already, right?) This phone is legit. It hits a price point that's not inexpensive, but doesn't break the bank. And on paper, the OnePlus 3 probably should cost more than the $399 asking price.
It ticks all the boxes. It's nicely designed and built just as well as anything else out there.
So is there any reason to not recommend this phone?
Let's take another quick spin around the OnePlus 3 and see what's what.
Your basic metal phone
OnePlus 3 Hardware
I've used quite a few metal phones from China. (I've also used quite a few metal phones that we don't typically label as being "from China.") And there's absolutely this prototypical design that's taken over. Thin. Sleek. Sloped edges tapering off at the sides. Antenna lines where we're used to seeing antenna lines.
It's your basic metal phone, sure. But it's also beautifully done.
The OnePlus 3 has all this. There's nothing inherently interesting about the look and feel of the phone. Manufacturers have gotten really good at this sort of thing, and OnePlus pretty much nails it here.
Power button on the right. Volume rocker on the left, with a dedicated three-way switch for notifications — all, priority and none — just above it.
I'm not 100 percent sold on this notifications switch (others disagree with me) if only because I've found myself too often slipping it to "None" by mistake. Is that any worse than being annoyed by too many notifications, though? Maybe not. I love the idea. I think maybe it's just that Android's notifications are still a little more complicated than I like. This isn't a must-have feature for me. But neither is it a bad one. So maybe it's better to have it than not.
The fingerprint sensor on the front of the phone is perfect. It's very much reminiscent of the HTC 10, and that's a very good thing. It works the first time, every time, just as you'd expect from that sort of feature at this point.
The 5.5-inch AMOLED display has been fine for me. It's maybe on the upper end for size at this point. But while it makes the phone a little larger than what I'm used to right now (I've been using an HTC 10 and Galaxy S7 a lot), the whole thing is still plenty manageable. It's maybe just a little bit on the slippery side.
And one reason I'd definitely continue to use the OnePlus 3 over the HTC 10? None of those annoying polarization issues with the display.
Elsewhere: the speaker isn't bad. It's not great, but better than I expected. USB-C is fine, and my port of choice at this point. And the headphone jack is there, and works as headphone jacks work.
This isn't a small phone. And at 158 grams it's not a light phone. But it's a damned solid one, hardware-wise.
With 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, the spec-conscious just got excited.
Dual SIM cards are interesting, but not something I've ever really wanted. Nor am I using them.
Maybe the most important thing for me is under the hood, with 64 gigabytes of storage standard, and no mucking about with SD cards. About 53GB of that is actually available, and of that I've used 13GB so far — that's with a ton of music downloaded locally for flying. For my money, this should be the standard.
And that extra storage is what gives otherwise simple and normal hardware a leg up.
(What about the 6GB of RAM, though? It's cool. But I've never been one to worry too much about RAM management. Life's too short, and these phones generally handle that sort of thing on their own just fine now.)
Stay out of the way
OnePlus 3 Software
I've used a lot of phones with software that, to put it mildly, just isn't good. And generally when a manufacturer gives its software a name we expect an experience that's full of things we don't want.
OnePlus' 'Oxygen OS' has gotten really good, and it doesn't over exert itself anymore.
And that's not to say the "OxygenOS" OnePlus is using is devoid of features. It's not. (Hell, you still have the option whether to use on-screen buttons, or capacitive hardware buttons. I'm actually using the latter.)
OnePlus sticks with Google-like launcher by default (I'm still using Action Launcher 3, though). And it's got all the other Google apps you'd expect. (I've recently switched to Google Keyboard, too, though SwiftKey is also preloaded.) But mostly things just stay out of the way.
Go explore the settings menu. There's a lot going on in there. I'm using a dark theme. I've probably flipped a few other switches I forgot about. (I did turn off VOLTE, though, which was causing calls to fail on T-Mobile.) I'm using some of the gestures, but not all, and I've got a few other things tweaked. It's not quite as insane as, say the latest EMUI from Huawei, but there's still a good bit to play with.
The only question here is on software updates — OnePlus hasn't excelled in this area in the past, and that has me worried.
Fast enough, long enough
OnePlus 3 Battery & Performance
Snapdragon 820 (that's the processor from Qualcomm if you're versed in such nerdery) pretty much means not having to say you're sorry these days. Same for that 6GB of RAM. So things have been running snappily enough for me.
Dash Charge means not having to say you're sorry.
The 3,000 mAh battery is pretty standard at this point, and so I was pretty sure of what I'd get here as well. And that is generally a full day of use. Sometimes I'd need to charge up a little bit in the late afternoon, sometimes not. Just depends on how hard I'm pushing things, and whether I plug in in the car on my way home.
OnePlus has this "Dash Charge" thing that Andrew explained in great detail in his full review. For me? Call it what you want. If it gets me something like 55 percentage points back in about 20 or 25 minutes, that's great. The plug itself is a bit beefy, but not insurmountable. OnePlus also offers a Dash Charge car charger as well. (And I like how OnePlus puts a little effort into the design of the charger and its USB A-to-C cable.)
But the bottom line is this thing performs just as well as all the other 820 phones I've used this year. Maybe even a little better since the software load is pretty light.
It's a camera, Jim
OnePlus 3 Camera
There's no smartphone camera as good as the Galaxy S7. That's the benchmark for me. Everything else (except maybe the LG G5) comes in second. That rings true for the OnePlus 3.
I didn't use the OnePlus One or OnePlus 2 at all, so I don't have any baggage on that front. The OnePlus 3 has a pretty good camera. Not outstanding. The front-facing shooter isn't all that great. But the rear camera definitely gets the job done.
The camera app isn't really anything special. I've left HDR on the entire time, and there doesn't seem to be that much of a difference if you do toggle it.
Samples, because that's all that matters:
A really good phone at a really good price
OnePlus 3 The bottom line
You're hard-pressed to find a real reason to not recommend this phone.
I generally don't review a phone with its price in mind, because prices tend to vary a little bit, and can change over time.
But you can't ignore that this is one hell of a phone being sold for just $399. That's a full $200 less than the HTC 10, which is right up there in my list of favorite phones for the year. It's a good $300 or so less than the Samsung Galaxy S7. And while that's almost a different a caliber of phone, I wouldn't fault anyone for not wanting to spend that much money and instead opting for the OnePlus 3.
It's one hell of a phone on paper. It's a really good phone in practical use. And I'm having a really hard time finding a reason to not say "Stop thinking and buy it."
The concern over software updates is real. But with OnePlus doing so much else right these days, perhaps we have reason to be optimistic.
- OnePlus 3 review: Finally, all grown up
- OnePlus 3 specs
- OnePlus 3 vs. the flagship competition
- Latest OnePlus 3 news
- Discuss OnePlus 3 in the forums