OnePlus 3T Review
The OnePlus 3T we have is from Widget City for Php20,500 (see listing here).
OnePlus’ third generation flagship was already an exceptional smartphone, especially for its asking price. You get the same caliber of other Android OEM’s top offering but for a fraction of the price. Since Qualcomm released an updated Snapdragon 821 chipset, OnePlus released a refreshed flagship with more than just a newer processor. Here’s our review of the OnePlus 3T.
Design and Construction
The OnePlus 3T is completely identical to its predecessor. We still have a 5.5-inch AMOLED display topped with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. We do have the earpiece, front sensors, and the selfie camera up top. There’s also a soft LED light for notification.
The rounded rectangular fingerprint scanner sits just below the panel and is flanked by hidden capacitive keys. A screen protector is already applied out of the box. You can take it off if you want to as the display’s glass is already scratch-resistant. The scanner also acts as a home button when enabled.
The right-hand side of the phone has the power/lock button and the Dual-SIM card tray. There’s no hope for a microSD card here as this is not a hybrid slot and OnePlus doesn’t want to deal with slow memory cards.
On the left we the alert slider and volume rocker. The buttons on the handset sport the same aluminum material as the main body to keep the premium build consistent throughout.
The top end is completely empty leaving the bottom quite busy. First off we have 5 drilled holes for the loudspeaker, the USB Type-C port for charging and connectivity, main microphone, and the 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s also a pair of screws for the maintenance of the device.
The rear of the OnePlus 3T is, again, completely clean and industrial. The phone has an aluminum unibody with a couple of plastic strips for the internal radios. Here we have the rear camera beside a single LED flash. A tiny hole is hiding in the upper strip which is for the noise-cancelling microphone and a shiny OnePlus logo sits in the middle.
For reference, what happened here is similar to how an iPhone gets an upgrade internally with an “S” but OnePlus goes with a “T”. Same dimensions as with the predecessor but it’s got more oomph. The 3T has 400mAh more battery capacity than the 3 without the added waistline.
Display and Multimedia
As mentioned earlier, the handset sports a 5.5-inch Full HD display using an Optic AMOLED panel. It’s made by Samsung but OnePlus claims they did some tweaking themselves with the Gamma and added a dual-polarizing layer for improved sunlight legibility. Our naked eyes appreciate how the screen just works for us. Whenever we’re outside, the ambient light sensors works fine and automatically adjusts the brightness. There’s also noticeably less glare too. Our only gripe about it is that it’ll not be an ideal device for VR since it’s not as dense as Quad HD panels.
The loudspeaker is positioned at the bottom which is not exactly the best placement but still better than having it on the back. It’s mono and fires from the left group of hole drills. It can get loud and clear without much distortion but as with any similar setup, it’s not as immersive as front-facing or at least stereo speakers. We often find ourselves blocking it when playing games.
OS, Apps, and UI
Out of the box, it has Oxygen OS that’s still based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow although the Nougat update is coming very soon. Oxygen OS is not that different with stock Android. It offers more than stock though with lots of customization not only in theme but also in overall UX. For example, you can set a system-wide dark mode, edit quick toggles and choose status bar icons. You can also customize the 8-color LED notification light for global notification, battery status indicator, and individual apps.
You can also set on-screen or capacitive navigation buttons, and change the layout of the recent and back buttons based on your preference. There’s also a feature called Shelf which basically replaces Google Now and it gives you access to your frequent apps and contacts. It can also be customized by adding widgets of different applications. There’s no bloatware here as everything serves a purpose. Of course, it’s got a few Google apps pre-installed as the core services like email and calendar relies on it.
We find OxygenOS to be on the verge of stock and a heavily-skinned Android. Why? Because OnePlus still can’t push the latest version quickly. It could have been one of the core strengths of having a OnePlus handset. Still, they give you features that are yet to come to other phones.
OnePlus 3T has 16-megapixel shooters on both its front and back. Its camera launcher is straightforward with multiple shooting modes. You can enable a few manual controls if you’d like to go pro as well. For this review, we’ll let the camera do the work for us in auto mode.
Obviously, the rear gets the most attention since it’s a bigger and better sensor all-around. It has optical image stabilization (OIS) plus electronic image stabilization (EIS). Both the hardware and software work together to give blur-free shots as much as possible. Apart from stable shots, the OnePlus 3T also captures detailed and pleasing images. Close-up shots are pretty powerful thanks to its f/2.0 aperture. Indoor shots, on the other hand, are still usable but we find it struggling with white balance. As for low-light, there’s a reasonable amount of noise and moving subjects can be tricky to capture.
As for the front camera, the upgrade to a 16-megapixel sensor from 8-megapixel is very welcome. For selfie standards, this is more than enough. It’s easily one of the detailed self-portraits you can take and it also has a subtle skin softening feature if that’s your thing. It’s still fixed-focus but has a wide-angle lens, so try to take the shot at an arm’s length for sharper captures.
When it comes to videos, it can do 4K but it seems choppy whether played on the device or PC. Perhaps it’s a software issue which can be easily fixed with a patch. Toning it down to 1080p will give you the option to record in smoother 60fps. This is ideal for recording games and fast moving subjects. It can also do 720p @ 120fps for the slow-motion effect you wanted.
Spending a whole week taking snapshots of everything made us feel that the OnePlus 3T is a capable contender among the best smartphone cameras. Although, it doesn’t let you play around that much. You may download a number of camera apps on the Play Store if you wish.
Performance and Benchmarks
The handset is powered by the most powerful mobile processor available, Snapdragon 821, and has the Adreno 530 GPU. Not only that, it’s got a whopping 6GB of RAM to keep up with your tasks. With this setup, there’s nothing that should be able to slow down the OnePlus 3T unless the app itself is the culprit. The issue of closing apps in the background is no longer present even with intensive games like Bully or NBA 2K17. Speaking of, every game we played on the phone can be set on max or high settings throughout. But, there’s a noticeable heating issue and throttling after playing for about 30mins straight.
OxygenOS is lag-free and switching apps is a breeze. The fingerprint scanner is accurate and swift even with the slightest touch. Although, it doesn’t play well with wet and greasy fingers.
Here are the benchmark scores of the OnePlus 3T:
- AnTuTu Benchmark v — 162,101
- PCMark — 7,155 (Work 1.0), 5,600 (Work 2.0), 2,395 (Storage)
- Quadrant Standard — 33,827
- Vellamo — 5,474 (Chrome), 3,957 (Metal), 3,533 (Multicore)
- 3DMark — 2,264 (Slingshot Extreme)
Call Quality and Connectivity
Calling is not a concern thanks to its audible earpiece and noise-cancelling microphones. One can make phone calls even in loud environments without the need to shout. You can plug in two Nano SIMs into the handset.
As for connectivity, it’s got everything covered from LTE, Bluetooth, dual-band Wi-Fi, and even NFC. No IR blaster but that’s not as useful as before. What bothers us with the 3T is the limited number of LTE bands supported, at least if you’re using Globe. Upon checking, it supports all the current LTE frequencies of Smart aside from the latest 700MHz Band 28 but it only supports one band (1800MHz Band 3) of Globe. This explains why we’re not getting blazing speeds even in Metro Manila.
One of the upgrades OnePlus 3T has is the increase battery capacity. From 3000mAh, it’s now 3400mAh without any additional heft and that’s really impressive. For a 5.5-inch phone using an AMOLED panel, its battery is enough to last you for a full day or two with light to moderate usage.
With our own real world test, the phone stayed with us from 8 AM until 8 PM with a screen on time of nearly 4 hours. That’s with mixed use of call, text, light gaming, and consistent data connection either Wi-Fi or LTE. When it comes to the PCMark battery test (Work 1.0), it posted an endurance score of 8 hours and 31 mins which are not that bad.
Should you get the OnePlus 3T instead of its similarly priced midrange smartphones? Yes. But when compared to flagships, we can’t help but think long term. Software-wise, there’s nothing to worry about as the dev community of OnePlus is very much alive and supportive but when it comes to hardware, it’ll be tough since the phone is not officially available in the country. The device is more suited for those who needs a phone to support their hunger for power and speed within the Android realm, but for casual users, it could be mixed-bag.
The OnePlus 3T we have is from Widget City for Php20,500 (see listing here).
OnePlus 3T specs:
5.5-inch Full HD Optic AMOLED display, 401ppi
2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core CPU
Adreno 530 GPU
6GB LPDDR4 RAM
64GB / 128GB UFS 2.0
16MP Sony IMX298 PDAF rear camera w/ OIS, LED flash
16MP front-facing camera
4G LTE Cat.6
GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou
USB 2.0 Type-C
Dirac HD Sound
OxygenOS (Android 6.0 Marshmallow)
3,400mAh battery w/ Dash Charge (5V, 4A)
152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm
- Amazing build quality
- AMOLED display
- Outstanding performance
- Capable cameras
- Heats up quickly
- Select LTE bands
- No support for LTE 700MHz Band 28