When OnePlus launched its flagship phone, the OnePlus 3, earlier this year, the company was forced to suspend sales in Europe for five weeks because the product was selling so well.
Rather than ride this wave of success until next year when cycles dictate OnePlus should bring out its next smartphone, it has decided to jump ahead and release an upgrade: the OnePlus 3T. Unfortunately, the phone seems exactly like the OnePlus 3 with only minor upgrades that don’t appear to justify the new device’s price increase – certainly not if you’re already a OnePlus 3 owner.
In what appears to be a direct nod to Apple and its own incremental ‘S’ updates, can the OnePlus 3T stand out in its own right and take on its major rivals?
The first and most striking similarity between the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T is its design. You’d be forgiven for not being able to instantly distinguish between the two phones in the same way you can’t with Apple’s incremental updates, for instance.
OnePlus launches its flagship phone upgrade, the OnePlus 3T
The latest, OnePlus 3T model is available in a darker colour than the original 3, named ‘gunmetal’ as well as a ‘soft gold’ colour, but the body is still made of the same aluminium alloy as its predecessor.
Elsewhere, both devices are 7.35mm thick and have 5.5-inch 1080p Optic Amoled displays. The screen benefits from the phone’s thin bezel, though again, this is no different to the OnePlus 3.
It appears OnePlus hasn’t upgraded its cases since the OnePlus 3, either. The downside is that the case provided with the OnePlus 3T feels cheap when compared to the phone itself, and it isn’t easy to add or remove from the phone. On the plus side though, if you have a favourite OnePlus 3 case, you will be able to use this on the OnePlus 3T as the phone hasn’t changed in size.
As the OnePlus 3T has the same screen as the OnePlus 3, there is no deviance here from the earlier device. The device is bright and has vivid colours, and like the OnePlus 3, has a dual polarizing layer designed to make the phone’s screen easier to see in the brightest daylight. Unfortunately, the dark winter weather means it hasn’t been possible to fully test this out but as it worked well on the 3, it would stand to reason this is the same on the OnePlus 3T.
Like the OnePlus 3, the OnePlus 3T ships with a pre-installed Gorilla Glass 4 screen protector which is a welcome addition. When you’re spending a lot of money on a device, sometimes over £700, extra protection for a screen is always a nice perk. Plus it’s nice to have such protection as standard, rather than paying a premium and this is a sign that OnePlus knows what its customers want from a device.
However, this protector smudges very easily, much more so than other smartphone screen protectors we have used, and this can make the phone appear dirty and used even when it’s new.
OxygenOS, OnePlus’s custom operating software, has been revamped for the OnePlus 3T. This does make the device more user-friendly – especially when compared to other Android devices – and has elements such as on-screen buttons to take you back and to the homepage alongside resized app icons to make the phone look cleaner and more uniform.
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OnePlus has also upgraded OxygenOS by increasing the speed and cadence of its software updates, but we have yet to try that out.
One element we liked, in particular, was the ‘Clear All’ mode for recent apps. By pressing the hollow square on the screen, it brings up all the open apps. Instead of going through and individually closing them, it is possible to close them all at once using a single button. This helps keep the phone working efficiently and improved our overall experience.
On our 128GB review device, the software and files occupied around 15GB. Although this left a significant amount of storage for our own apps, pictures and so on, we were staggered at how much the default files took up. Considering some manufacturers, namely Samsung, sell devices where the software occupies around half of and most of that consists of a considerable amount of bloatware, OnePlus disappointed us. That said, when the OnePlus 3T 128GB version costs £439, compared to the 128GB iPhone 7 which costs £699, you still get a lot of storage for you money.
Mid-January, OnePlus released OxygenOS 4.0.2 a continuation of the Android 7.0 Nougat-based OxygenOS 4.0 software for OnePlus phones. It brought the software closer in line with the pure Android software but doesn’t quite offer some of the features in Android 7.1.
More recently, Google rolled out its Google Assistant AI software to the OnePlus 3T. Once the software update has been applied, the smart assistant can be launched simply by pressing down on the homepage.
– Read more: how to get started with Google Assistant
This is finally where the OnePlus 3T starts to stand apart from the previous model. The new phone has 16MP front and back cameras that make your selfies look amazing. As phone owners, we are increasingly using our front cameras more than rear ones: for apps such as Snapchat, FaceTime and Skype, so it makes sense for brands to tap into this. By comparison, the iPhone 7’s front camera is 7MP, with a 12MP back camera while the iPhone 7 Plus has 12MP cameras front and back, meaning the OnePlus 3T stands up against these devices.
An added benefit of the 16MP front camera means it produces clearer photos and video, even in low-light situations. The rear camera uses a 16MP Sony PDAF sensor with f.20 aperture that’s capable of processing 4K video.
The OnePlus 3T additionally has an upgraded Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) algorithm for more stable videos and Optical Image Stabilisation to “mechanically compensate” for unwanted jolts and shakes. This debuted on the OnePlus 3, but it’s good to see this is continuing to be developed by OnePlus
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For budding photographers, the manual mode has been added to the OnePlus 3T to give the phone’s owners access to settings you typically only get on a DSLR. You can change the white balance, ISO, focus and shutter speed to fit specific needs for an image. Most users probably won’t bother with these settings, but it’s features like these that will make the OnePlus 3T stand out in the mid-range smartphone market against devices such as the Huawei P9. In particular, the OnePlus 3T offers fantastic camera options at a cheaper price point than the P9.
Again, like the OnePlus 3, the OnePlus 3T’s rear camera is covered by a protective layer of sapphire glass to prevent it from scratching.
The OnePlus 3T has received an upgrade in terms of performance. The new device uses the latest version of Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processes up to 2.35GHz, whereas the OnePlus 3 was powered by Snapdragon 820. This means the phone has faster processing speeds and greater efficiency but still uses the same battery consumption as Snapdragon 820.
Again, like the OnePlus 3, it features 6GB of LPDDR4 Ram to make the handset function faster. This means elements like unlocking the phone with the fingerprint scanner is much faster compared with say, the iPhone 6, 6S or iPhone 7 range. This definitely appeared true: we hardly ever needed to type in a passcode to access the phone as the fingerprint scanner works so well.
Also, you can see the date and time on the phone by simply holding your hand over the screen. This is slightly gimmicky, but sometimes you may only need your smartphone to check the time and this is an amusing extra feature.
OnePlus has stayed true to the changes it made to the OnePlus 3 and incorporated Dash Charge technology into the OnePlus 3T. The phone receives 60 per cent charge for the 3,400 mAh battery (which is an improvement on the 3’s 3000 mAh) in 30 minutes which is great when you don’t have the time to wait around for you phone to fully charge. The boosted battery has also had its capacity increased by 13 per cent, while keeping the phone the same weight and volume as the 3.
Dash Charge works by shifting the power management processes of the phone to the adapter so the OnePlus 3T doesn’t get hot when charging. Particularly as other brands like Samsung have had significant difficulties with charging phones, it is good to see a brand like OnePlus creating a faster battery whilst also ensuring it is safe for its users.
WIRED gave the OnePlus 3 a 9/10 rating and it appeared the brand lived up to its name as an ‘Apple killer’ with the launch of the flagship device. The OnePlus 3T is merely a continuation of this, with some better features such as the improved front camera and battery, but overall it hasn’t deviated much from the design of the earlier device.
The OnePlus 3T is more expensive too. The 64GB OnePlus 3 was £329 compared to the 64GB OnePlus 3T which retails at £399. This is a large increase for what doesn’t really seem like much. It makes you partly question why OnePlus decided to release a slightly upgraded phone instead of waiting to unveil something different. This would then warrant the different price tag.
It’s worth nothing that OnePlus has said that once the OnePlus 3 is all sold out, the company will not be making anymore and its customers will have to buy the OnePlus 3T instead. This probably won’t go down too well with fans who might not want to pay a higher price for what isn’t a markedly different phone.
Having said this, the OnePlus 3T is a stylish phone and it is one of the few Android devices we would consider ditching iOS for. The size of the screen is great, the improved camera is a plus and compared to other Android devices, it is relatively straightforward to use. Despite the price increase, it still makes the phone one of the most affordable smartphones, in terms of specs, on the market. If OnePlus can continue doing this with its next devices, it will be interesting to watch where this takes the brand.
The OnePlus 3T is available to buy from OnePlus.net or O2. There had been a delay due to shortage of shipments but OnePlus has solved the problem and recently confirmed it’s aiming to have the OnePlus 3T available for “immediate delivery” in Europe and North America. This removed the need for a waiting list.
As of February 10, OnePlus opened pre-orders for the gunmetal version of the 128GB OnePlus 3T. The immediate dispatch of OnePlus 3T 64GB in Soft Gold started on February 3 and the OnePlus 3T 64GB in gunmetal is already on sale. Additionally, on March 15, OnePlus announced it had partnered with colette to release an all-black edition of the phone, the OnePlus 3T colette edition. To mark the concept store’s 20th anniversary, OnePlus announced plans to host a pop-up shop at the colette store in Paris. This limited edition range was later expanded online.
- 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm
- 5.5″ 1080p Full HD
- Operating System
- Android 6 with OxygenOS
- 64GB or 128GB
- 16MP rear cameras, 16MP front camera
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, quad-core up to 2.35GHz
- USB-C, 3.5mm audio, dual-sim