OnePlus is celebrating its third year of existence and its fourth smartphone, already. After the OnePlus 2 which didn’t bring something really genius to the market and a good OnePlus X, the young Chinese brand returns with a new high-end device, plainly called OnePlus 3. A smartphone that once again presents itself as a flagship-killer – it has all the features of a large device, not its price though- and without screaming it on all the roofs this time. That said; it is frankly a huge success since the compromises were few and almost all the specifications of the good high-end devices are present in this new model.
OnePlus stands out in the crowd as the Chinese brand that would like to deviate from the obsolete image of the “made in China”, low-cost and copy-paste, by introducing a phone that is original. Although that doesn’t stop the creators to fairly draw inspiration from others and to create something phenomenal with the least costs possible. At the end of the day, what matters is a satisfied customer, isn’t it?
This is clearly not the most original phone of the year, but one feels that design was not the last thing OnePlus looked at when designing its phone. The designers didn’t really bother to invent a unique look for the 3rd generation of the OnePlus. They only focused on what was selling well in the market. Therefore they imitated the design of the iPhone 6 and the latest HTC smartphones (HTC 10, HTC One M9) with some slight changes. The metal unibody shell remains unchanged and the visible antennas are placed on the top and the bottom in the back of the carcass.
Although compared to the previous models, I feel like this one is finally meeting the preferences of the customers. It looks elegant and reflects professionalism and simplicity. We feel that with this third test, OnePlus tried to erase the massive aspect of its old devices and make it more compact and therefore more pleasing to the eye.
While looking at the device, at the bottom you can clearly see a speaker grid, a Type-C (2.0) USB port and the headphone jack. The metal start button is on the right side and the volume is adjusted on the left side. Finally, just like the OnePlus 2, you can find above the sound adjustment buttons. By sliding it, you can switch the phone into normal, priority and silent notification mode. Its behavior is identical to that of the OnePlus X and the OnePlus 2, one does not simply forget about that. It is an extra button that you appreciate a lot, although, for iPhone users might find it old-fashioned.
The OnePlus 3 is still an imposing device – it is a 5.5 inch device after all – it is much slimmer (7.35 mm thick) and much lighter than its predecessor (158 grams) plus the full HD screen. These reasonable dimensions combined with a body that has a pleasant feel, rounded corners and a 2.5 D screen (Gorilla Glass 4) with very thin screen borders that make the grip very comfortable.
Like the OnePlus 2, the OnePlus 3 has a fingerprint sensor located on the front of the screen. It is a recess, not a button, which acts like a Home button. They can actually be barely seen, but on each side of the fingerprint sensor are two capacitive buttons that act as Return button and multitasking button. They are (very) weakly backlit to be truly visible. There’s also a possibility to have the navigation keys integrated into the screen, via an option in the parameters.
On the other hand, the configuration is classic, aside from one element, this year OnePlus has opted for an AMOLED display. And just like three-quarters of the manufacturers who use such displays, the color rendering is missed. Not only the screen looks basically blueish, but the colors are extremely saturated and the colors of the icons are frankly flashy. That’s why in terms of colorimetry, it will be necessary to activate the sRGB mode of the screen to obtain good colors and reduce excessive saturation of the slab. As for the maximum brightness, it is a small disappointment since it peaks at a small 339 cd / m². The average is generally around 400 cd / m².
We remember that the OnePlus One was, by far, the best smartphone under Snapdragon 801 on different benchmarks. The OnePlus 2, with a little more difficulty, managed to get out of the game among all the mobiles under Snapdragon 810.
And once again OnePlus 3 has one of the best SoC of the moment, the Snapdragon 820. A chip that we already met on the LG G5 or the HTC 10 and which is also on the American version of the Galaxy S7. This SoC is backed up by an unbelievable amount of RAM: 6 GB of RAM and with a battery of 3000 mAh. Therefore the performance and the autonomy of the smartphone are improved by keeping the same configurations without considering the technical adjustments that can be made.
Like its two predecessors, the flagship killer is a true portable console for those who manage to find their happiness in the Google application store. It has offered a fluid, qualitative, no-fault gaming experience to its users. The speed of the system, the contrast and colors of the AMOLED, the gliding of the glass Gorilla 4, are all elements that sublimate the smartphone. No game obviously resists him. And this should be the case for several years. On another note, not everybody seems to be satisfied by the media player but that can be solved with some updates in the system.
As for photos, the OnePlus 3 camera is rather successful. When the light is good, the shots are detailed and the color rendering is overall very good. The automatic HDR mode also performs small miracles and manages to recover clichés which would have given nothing. The sensor however finds its limitations inside, where the photos tend to miss a bit of dive. In macro mode, colors also tend to be saturated.
The second good news is the result. From a 13 megapixel Sony sensor, OnePlus switches to a 16-megapixel sensor, still Sony. Always stabilized, the IMX 298 photo sensor abandons the autofocus laser to opt for a hybrid autofocus with phase detection, an optical stabilization, a single tone flash as well as a lighter lens, opening at f / 2.0. The result is much more balanced than that of OnePlus 2. The clouds are well drawn. The streets are visible. There are many details in every picture, even zooming. Only small concern: a lack of contrast with respected colors, but a little dark. However, we see a steady improvement in OnePlus. We look forward to seeing the evolution with the next generation.
OnePlus has not trampled, they simply added more manual modes to the Google Camera app to. The application is therefore not very ergonomic, but it allows displaying a grid, has an automatic HDR mode, and allows adjusting the brightness during the focus also playing with the opening or ISO. OnePlus even incorporates an ingenious focusing system that allows you to play with the depth of field to either focus on the foremost object or the back.
The OnePlus 3 camera is very good and with correct lighting conditions; the result is more than satisfactory. It is accurate, has good color rendering and has a good photo application. It’s a very honorable camera for photo enthusiasts especially for instagrammers.
In conclusion, the OnePlus 3 is a very good smartphone. The brand clearly lost a bit of its character, but also its originality, either in comparison to OnePlus One and OnePlus 2. It has become more accurate, more mature, and perhaps also a little more passe-partout with its metallic unibody that reminds the flagships of HTC and even some models at Huawei. While the OnePlus One has inspired other brands with its previous model, the OnePlus 3 has obviously been inspired by others as well as by its predecessors
With a Snapdragon 820 and 6 GB of RAM, the OnePlus 3 has an outstanding performance comparable to all other high-end smartphones this year. It’s a fact that the OnePlus 3 is one of the most successful devices encountered in 2016.
Nevertheless, this smartphone, with its performance, its construction quality and its proposal, is one of the best deals of the moment: less than 400 euros, against 700 euros for a G5 or HTC 10 and a little more to purchase a Galaxy S7 Edge. Normally, these three products offer interfaces, applications, services and even some additional features. Can we talk about flagship killer, as was the case for the first model of the brand? Yes and no. Because even if it is today one of the best deal in the market, it didn’t crush numbers in the competition. While his illustrious predecessor succeeded by being much cheaper perhaps.