The OnePlus 3 set a new standard for reasonably priced smartphones when it was launched in June 2016, and for five months it has ruled the roost. Offering an incredible combination of premium specifications and a ridiculously reasonable price, it carved out a whole new category; it was so good it had no close rivals.
Now, however, the OnePlus is ending the honeymoon with the new OnePlus 3T, a new replacement flagship smartphone with a faster processor, a bigger battery and, on paper, a vastly improved front camera – but also a much higher price.
So what’s new? From a physical perspective, there’s hardly anything new at all. Like the S versions of Apple’s iPhones, all the important improvements have taken place beneath the surface.
I liked the design of the OnePlus 3 when I first saw it and I’m still a fan. The OnePlus 3T is almost identical to its forebear, available in the same range of colours with an attractive anodised metal chassis with grippy, chiselled edges.
This is an area where I feel the OnePlus 3T forges ahead of even more expensive phones such as the Google Pixel XL and the iPhone 7 Plus (although perhaps not the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge). Those chamfered sides create more friction between the skin on your palms and fingers and the phone’s aluminium shell, meaning it’s a less stressful experience wielding the phone one-handed. That’s an important consideration for anyone who’s ever dropped their phone on a hard, unforgiving surface and cracked the screen or worse.
The one external difference between the OnePlus 3T and the original is its slightly flattened out rear panel and a tougher sapphire crystal lens cover for the camera. Otherwise it’s as you were before: a dual-SIM tray resides on the right-hand side, just above the power button, on the left edge lives the phone’s three-way do-not-disturb switch and volume rocker, while adorning the bottom of the phone is a six-pinprick speaker grille, the phone’s USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
I could editorialise about what makes the OnePlus 3T better than the OnePlus 3, at least from a specifications point of view, but I feel a table is the best place to present that sort of information, so here it is: a point-by-point comparison of the two.
|OnePlus 3T||OnePlus 3|
|Screen||5.5in AMOLED, 1,920 x 1,080 (401ppi), Gorilla Glass 4||5.5in AMOLED, 1,920 x 1,080 (401ppi), Gorilla Glass 4|
|Processor||Quad-core 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821||Quad-core 2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820|
|Graphics||Adreno 530||Adreno 530|
|Dimensions||75 x 7.4 x 153mm||75 x 7.4 x 153mm|
|Rear camera||16MP, f/2, phase-detect autofocus, OIS, sapphire crystal glass lens cover||16MP, f/2, phase-detect autofocus, OIS|
|Front camera||16MP, f/2||8MP, f/2|
|Max 4G speed||Cat6 (300Mbits/sec download, 50Mbits/sec upload)||Cat6 (300Mbits/sec download, 50Mbits/sec upload)|
|Price||£400 (64GB); £439 (128GB)||£329|
That’s not an awful lot for your £70, although the new 128GB storage option is pretty tempting. Is it worth the premium? Well, no, but it will soon be a moot point. When stocks run out of the OnePlus 3, you won’t have any choice but to buy a OnePlus 3T.
And, judged on its own merits, this is still an extremely generous specification for the money. There’s no other smartphone at this price that comes close. We currently like the Motorola Moto Z Play for its superlative battery life and clever modular accessories, but it can’t match the OnePlus 3 for power and all-round appeal.
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