OnePlus 3 First impressions: Will third time prove lucky?

This is OnePlus’ fourth smartphone since the company was formed back in 2013. Before the launch, as is usually the case with OnePlus’ devices, a lot of the details of the phone had already leaked out. Most of the speculations turned out to be true. So now that we have the actual device in our labs, here is our first impressions of the same.


OnePlus, the Chinese smartphone maker that launched in India in December 2014, has finally released the third generation of its flagship smartphone with the OnePlus 3. This is OnePlus’ fourth smartphone since the company was formed back in 2013. Before the launch, as is usually the case with OnePlus’ devices, a lot of the details of the phone had already leaked out. Most of the speculations turned out to be true. So now that we have the actual device in our labs, here is our first impressions of the same.

Build and Design

One thing that had become a sort of identifier for the last two flagship devices - OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 - was the Sandstone finish cover. This dark gray coloured cover with a soft sandpaper type texture was certainly something new when it first came out, and it has become a hit amongst the consumers. That will change with the OnePlus 3 - with the Sandstone cover traded for an aluminum metallic back. The metallic cover encompasses the rear and the sides. There is chamfering on the top edge, whereas the bottom edge on the sides is comparatively sharper. The phone is slim on the sides, but has a very mild curvature on the rear side. This helps with gripping the otherwise slippery device.

 OnePlus 3 First impressions: Will third time prove lucky?

On the left hand side you have the Alert slider with the three settings - all notifications, priority notifications and silent - which has the familiar textured finish. Below this you have the volume rocker button. The power/standby button is on the right hand side above which is the dual nano SIM card slot. All the buttons are metallic, have great feedback and have fine chamfering around them. The top edge is clean as the 3.5mm audio jack is at the bottom edge beside the USB Type-C charging / data transfer port beside the speaker section. There is a fingerprint scanner just below the display which looks like a button but cannot be pressed.

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On the rear side, you have a gray coloured metallic back with the OnePlus logo placed just below the camera section. The antenna lines are visible on the top and base. The camera module protrudes out significantly and there is a LED flash unit below it.

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The build quality is excellent, but at the same time it also makes the OnePlus 3 look a lot like other flagship phones. The absence of the sandstone back makes the device a bit slippery thanks to the metallic back. Of course, you can buy the Sandstone or textured covers separately if you don’t like the metal back. One issue that immediately crops up is when you place your phone facing upwards, the protruding camera is resting on the table surface. We hope the camera surface is coated with high quality scratch resistant glass, lest you end up ruining the camera.

Display

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OnePlus has stuck with a 5.5-inch full HD Optic AMOLED display for the OnePlus 3. It dosen’t look all that bad and thanks to the 401 ppi pixel density, the text appears sharp. There is a slight blue tinge to the display. We will need to test the sunlight legibility though. On first glance, the display appears bright enough and not very different from the OnePlus 2. Here, some of you might crib about OnePlus' plan to stick with full HD and not going for QuadHD resolution, but honestly it dosen't really matter that much unless you are planning to watch a lot of VR content, as that's where you will start seeing pixillation.

Chipset, RAM, Storage and Connectivity
There has been a major upgrade on the internals. For starters, the OnePlus 3 comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset which has a quad-core processor with two Qualcomm custom Kyro cores clocked at 2.15GHz and two Kyro cores clocked at 1.6GHz. This is paired with Adreno 530 GPU and a whopping 6GB of RAM. Although LeEco Le Max 2 also comes with 6GB of RAM, it will start selling only on 28 June onwards. Thus, for all practical purposes, the OnePlus 3 will be the first 6GB RAM sporting phone to be selling in India. That is a lot of RAM indeed and paired with Snapdragon 820, there is no noticeable lag - well, there better not be any.

We still need to run the test benchmarks to see how the phone fares. Moreover how well does it handle the heat, considering it is a metal body phone. We did not notice the phone heating up while charging though. But when downloading benchmarks, some warmth was felt. But we will be able to give a proper verdict on this front, only after thorough testing.

In terms of storage, you get around 64GB of internal storage - without any expandable storage facility. Out of 64GB, you get access to around 52.6GB. In terms of connectivity, you have two nano SIM card slots, Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, USB Type C for data transfer and charging. It also comes with NFC support and portable hotspot.

OS and Software

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OnePlus 3 comes with Android 6.0.1 OS with the OxygenOS 3.1.2 skin atop it. There hasn’t been much change in terms of the overall design. A good thing about OxygenOS is the fact that it stays quite close to stock Android in terms of design language. Shelf has got some new additions in the form of Adding widgets and an Add Memo tab, which makes it certainly more useful than the previous implementation. Overall the software is quite responsive with quick animations, fast gestures and more.

Camera

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OnePlus 3 comes with a 16MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing camera. The rear camera has a maximum aperture for both the cameras is f/2.0. The camera app, thanks to the OxygenOS, is quite simple but not as limiting as the one we saw on the OnePlus 2. The settings menu brings up options such as Time-lapse, Slow motion, Photo, Video, Manual and Panorama. The Manual mode lets you adjust focus, ISO, white balance and shutter speed, in an interesting sort of layout. There’s a quick button to switch between HDR modes. Overall a pleasant app.

Here are some image samples we shot while trying out the device. We will still reserve our judgement till we review it.

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Battery
The OnePlus 3 comes with a 3000mAh battery which is non removable. The charger comes with a round cable as opposed to the flat cables we have been seeing from OnePlus. It supports Dash charging, which is a quick charging method, which prevents the phone from heating up whilst charging. We can vouch for this. But we will need to see how well it performs in our daily use-case scenario.

Conclusion
OnePlus 3 manages to tick off all the right boxes when it comes to internal specifications and features on offer. The Snapdragon 820 paired with 6GB of RAM, should ideally give you enough horsepower to run anything you throw at the phone, but we will need to check that with some taxing apps and also see how well the heat is managed. The camera output looked quite decent from our sample shots, so we have high expectations from the camera as well. Also the design looks quite good, although dosen't really make the OnePlus 3 stand out from the crowd of other company flagships out there.

The phone has been launched at Rs 27,999 which is the highest price for any OnePlus phones launched to date. There is obviously competition in the form of its Chinese brethen such as Xiaomi Mi 5 (Rs 24,999) and the recently announced LeEco Le Max 2 (Rs 29,999). Both these phones also sport the Snapdragon 820 chipset, although Mi 5 has 4GB of RAM. So we will be running the phone through its paces to see how it will fare against these two.

One great news with regards to OnePlus 3 is that you will not have to wait for an ‘invite’ to buy the phone. After the major blunder committed last year with the invites, we are glad to see the company moving on from that sale model this time around.


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