OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 3T & OnePlus 3: Should you upgrade?

Unlike most manufacturers, OnePlus focuses exclusively on the mid-range segment, preferring to introduce new models once every six months rather than compete across price tiers.

While the strategy has served the manufacturer very well in recent years, the six-month release cycle means a new phone — with upgraded hardware — is always around the corner. The OnePlus 6 is the latest device from the company, coming just six months after the launch of the OnePlus 5T.

The OnePlus 6 introduces several improvements over its predecessor, including a new design, upgraded internals, and a new camera, but there isn't a strong enough reason to upgrade as the 5T is still a very capable device. However, if you're coming from the OnePlus 3 or 3T, the answer isn't as straightforward.

OnePlus' 2016 phones have aged well, but the industry has moved to the 18:9 form factor, and the company has made significant advances in the camera department this year. So should you make the upgrade from the OnePlus 3/3T to the latest flagship? Let's find out.

OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 3T vs. OnePlus 3: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryOnePlus 6OnePlus 3TOnePlus 3
Operating systemAndroid 8.1 OreoOxygenOS 5.1.3Android 8.0 OreoOxygenOS 5.0.2Android 8.0 OreoOxygenOS 5.0.2
Display6.28-inch AMOLED, 2280x1080 (19:9)Gorilla Glass 55.5-inch Optic AMOLED, 1920x1080 (16:9)Gorilla Glass 45.5-inch Optic AMOLED, 1920x1080 (16:9)Gorilla Glass 4
ChipsetOcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8454x2.80GHz Kryo 385 + 4x1.70 Kryo 385Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8212x2.35 Kryo + 2x1.60GHz KryoQuad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8202x2.15 Kryo + 2x1.60GHz Kryo
GPUAdreno 630Adreno 530Adreno 530
Storage64GB/128GB/256GB (UFS 2.1)64/128GB64GB
Rear camera 116MP, 1.22μm, ƒ/1.7OIS, EISDual LED flash4K@60FPS, 720p@480FPS16MP, 1.12μm, ƒ/2.0PDAF, OIS16MP, 1.12μm, ƒ/2.0PDAF, OIS
Rear camera 220MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/1.7NoneNone
Front camera16MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/2.016MP, 1.0μm, ƒ/2.08MP, 1.4μm, ƒ/2.0
ChargingUSB-CDash Charge (5V 4A)USB-CDash Charge (5V 4A)USB-CDash Charge (5V 4A)
Water resistanceSplash resistant (no IP rating)NoNo
SecurityFingerprint sensor (rear)Face unlockFingerprint sensor (front)Fingerprint sensor (front)
Audio3.5mm jack, AptX HDDirac HD Sound, Dirac Power Sound3.5mm jack, AptX HD3.5mm jack, AptX HD
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11ac , 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0USB-C (2.0), NFCGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, GalileoWi-Fi 802.11ac , Bluetooth 4.2USB-C (2.0), NFCGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, GalileoWi-Fi 802.11ac , Bluetooth 4.2USB-C (2.0), NFCGPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo
Dimensions155.7x75.4x7.75mm177g152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4mm158g152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4mm158g
VariantsMirror Black, Midnight Black, Silk WhiteGunmetal, Soft Gold, Midnight BlackGraphite, Soft Gold

What's the same

OnePlus 6 vs OnePlus 3T vs. OnePlus 3

Both the OnePlus 3/3T offered top-notch internals for their time, and they've aged very well on this front. The Snapdragon 820/821 can still handle everyday tasks without breaking a sweat, and the 6GB of RAM is more than sufficient for multitasking.

All three phones also run Oreo, although the OnePlus 6 is on Android 8.1 Oreo while the older OnePlus 3/3T are on the Android 8.0 Oreo build. That said, OxygenOS is just as fluid on all three devices, and you get a similar user experience, although a few features — like the navigation gestures — are missing from the older phones.

No one plays the value game better than OnePlus.

The OnePlus 3/3T offered great value back in 2016, and while the cost of OnePlus devices has gone up over the last 18 months, the OnePlus 6 is still a bargain compared to the likes of the Galaxy S9+ and other flagships. That's particularly true in markets like India, where the OnePlus 6 costs just over half the price of the Galaxy S9+ or the Pixel 2 XL.

While the screen size has changed dramatically over the last two years, the resolution and quality of the AMOLED panel itself is the same. In short, OnePlus continues to offer some of the best displays in its category.

Another area where things haven't changed over the years is battery life; in spite of varying battery capacities — 3000mAh on the OnePlus 3, 3400mAh on the OnePlus 3T, and 3300mAh on the OnePlus 6. All three devices last a day on a full charge, and when you do need to top up your OnePlus phone, there's Dash Charge. OnePlus' proprietary charging standard continues to be one of the best around, allowing your phone to charge up to 60% from zero in just 30 minutes.

What's different

OnePlus 6 vs OnePlus 3T vs. OnePlus 3

The main difference in the OnePlus 6 from its predecessors is the design — both at the front and the back. While the OnePlus 3/3T sported physical home buttons, the OnePlus 6 offers an all-screen front, with a notch at the top to maximize screen space.

The switch to the 19:9 form factor has allowed OnePlus to fit a larger display in roughly the same chassis as the OnePlus 3/3T. The slim bezels on the OnePlus 6 make those on its predecessors look huge by comparison.

As noted above, the panel quality hasn't changed much over the last two years, but the thin bezels lead to a much more immersive experience when interacting with the display. The notch is an ungainly blot on an otherwise sleek front, but you can at least hide it from the settings.

The OnePlus 6 costs $130 more than what the OnePlus 3 launched at just under two years ago, and with the phone breaking the $500 barrier, it needed to look the part. OnePlus switched out the metal design for a Gorilla Glass 5-encased back, and has rolled out new color options.

The OnePlus 6 offers key upgrades in three areas: camera, design, and display.

The OnePlus 6 is available in a piano black finish that's dubbed Mirror Black, as well as a Midnight Black edition and a new Silk White option. The latter two variants have a matte texture at the back, while the Mirror Black edition has a glossy finish.

The new materials combined with rounded corners and the overall fit and finish make the OnePlus 6 feel every bit as premium as other flagships available in the market today, and it justifies the added price tag.

The other notable upgrade is the camera: both the OnePlus 3 and 3T had capable shooters, but they were found to be lacking when it came to low-light shooting conditions. The OnePlus 6 addresses that issue with a larger imaging sensor and better software processing. There's also a secondary sensor that is solely used for adding depth of field information to photos, leading to better background blur in portrait mode shots.

OnePlus 6 on the left, OnePlus 3T on the right.

As you can see from the photos, the OnePlus 6 has much better dynamic range, true-to-life colors, and significantly less grain. The third photo (with the Pacman characters) highlights the differences well — the OnePlus 6 managed to capture the surface's texture as well, whereas the OnePlus 3T smoothed out the finer details.

Should you upgrade?

OnePlus 6 vs OnePlus 3T vs. OnePlus 3

If you're still rocking a OnePlus 3/3T, it's time to upgrade to the OnePlus 6. The phone offers a much more premium design, vastly improved camera, upgraded internals, and an immersive screen.

Furthermore, the OnePlus 3/3T have picked up two platform updates, so it's unlikely either device will make the switch to Android P once it becomes available later this year. So if you're looking for platform updates, you'll have to make the switch to the OnePlus 6.

Overall, the OnePlus 6 is a worthy upgrade over the OnePlus 3 or the 3T. OnePlus devices usually retain their value very well, so you should be able to get a few hundred dollars for the 3 or 3T, which will make upgrading to the OnePlus 6 that much easier.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is Android Central's Senior Editor of Asia. In his current role, he oversees the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, networking products, and AV gear. He has been testing phones for over a decade, and has extensive experience in mobile hardware and the global semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.