OnePlus has been a unique company in many ways. It was among the first to decide that its single mission would be to offer a smartphone that can take on the flagship devices, but at much lower price points. it has been very successful in this endeavour with the OnePlus One, maybe a bit less so with the OnePlus 2. Now, it’s time for its third marquee device, the OnePlus 3.
Though ideally a one device a year company, OnePlus had to buckle to market pressures and offer a mid-range OnePlus X last year. However, it seems the company has realised that its strength lies in offering a phone that pushes the limits for its price point and has the bigger brands second guessing themselves. Can the OnePlus 3 do this, again?
OnePlus devices have always been about style. In fact, I would have bought the OnePlus One just for the sandstone body. The OnePlus 3 is sure stylish. In fact, it can easily pass off as an HTC flagship, which I think has been the pinnacle of smartphone design. It looks a bit too much like an HTC phone, and resembles some other models we have laid our hands on in the past few months. But that is not essentially bad.
The metallic body of the phone offers sort of assurance a plastic body never can. It is also one of the thinner devices I have used recently, but not one that will push that as its only unique identity.
The square camera module in the rear with the LED flash behind it could end up being an iconic design feature like the home button or camera on the iPhone.
Specs: 5.5-inch full HD display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor | 6GB RAM+64GB storage space | 16 mp rear camera + 8 mp front camera |3000 mAh battery | Oxygen OS
Price: Rs 27,999
What is good?
If you are the sort who likes to flaunt a phone, then the OnePlus 3 could be a really good option. It is stylish, but without being flashy. It is metallic, but without being blingy. This is a phone that understands the value of being subtle. And despite the resemblance to some other devices, it is also unique in more ways than one. That camera module, the notifications toggle, or just the curved edges… there is a lot you will love about this phone.
Flagships these days try and lure you with a 2K screen, and the time is not faraway when even 4K displays will become standard. But do you really need it as a user? No, at least not yet. And that is why the Full HD (480 dpi) display of the OnePlus 3 will keep you more than happy. The screen can be bright enough to work well even under the harsh Delhi sun.
I have used the phone for well over a week and haven’t experienced any stalls or stutters. I have done most things a regular user would from multi-tab browsing to multi-tasking and the OnePlus 3 has been able to handle all of that well. There is a hit of heat at times, especially when you are working online, but the phone has really not heated up. And this is an important point on which I will elaborate later. The 6GB RAM on the phone also comes in handy when you are playing heavy duty games.
For me, the best feature of this phone has to be its camera. OnePlus has always excelled with its cameras, and the third edition takes it to a whole new level. The kind of detail available on this phone is incredible and puts it right there next to the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge or the LG G5. But given that this phone will cost half of its competitors, I am inclined to say this is the best Android camera around.
The phone offers a lot of controls in the manual mode and for those who like to play with settings, especially shutter speeds and ISOs, this phone opens up a whole new world of possibilities. The toggle for macro is something that will let you use this phone to its best. It is a bit hard to figure out, but the phone actually offers 4K recording too.
Since its fiasco with Cyanogen, OnePlus has been working on its own Android-based Oxygen OS. The OnePlus 3 runs Oxygen OS version 3, which is pretty much stock Android, well almost. There are enough tweaks here and there that improve the user experience significantly. I loved the screen to the left of home screen which offers Apple widget-like features with most used apps, favorite contacts and quick notes.
For instance, the physical notifications toggle that lets you filter only important messages is a great feature for those who are inundated my mails and notifications through the day. I love the dark mode too, and given its impact on the battery, I will not be surprised if this becomes a standard option on other Android phones too.
Battery life was an issue with the OnePlus 2, because the phone was prone to random bouts of overheating. The OnePlus 3 has so far managed to keep its cool and hence the battery has been able to last well over 12 hours of active use with 4G SIMs in both slots. That is pretty good given the powerful specs of the phone.
What is not that good?
I don’t want to go around nitpicking and will tell you that in the time I have had the phone, I have noticed no big issues. However, I want to make this statement with a caveat. The OnePlus 2 was a great phone till a software update made it lose whatever was helping keep the thermal footprint of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810.
And the issues with over heating and the results drop in battery life started creeping in only after a month or so. If possible I would like to revisit this phone after a month’s use to tell you if it is actually as flawless as I consider it now.
The 6GB RAM is a great feature to flaunt on the box of a phone, but there is hardly any use for it at the moment. Thank God, you are not really paying a premium for the extra RAM at the moment.
The OnePlus 3, at the moment, appears to be a serious flagship killer as the brand has always intended its smartphones to be. It has at least one feature which even top flagships haven’t offered users at the moment; that is 6GB RAM.
Plus, in my books, it offers the best Android camera, comparable with the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. I would buy the phone just for its camera. The phone also looks like a flagship, which is important when you are talking about this range.
And add on the fact so far the phone has not displayed any serious flaws and the OnePlus 3 could be a winner in a market like India. My only fear though is that the phone is priced in the corridor of uncertainty, where no device has done well in the past year or so. This is the range where people are not really convinced they should be paying this much, or muster the courage to pay more and buy a big brand tag.
Still, if you are looking for flagship features in a stylish body with a superb camera, then go for the OnePlus 3.