The OnePlus 3 would be a great smartphone at any price, without doubt, one of 2016’s very best smartphones because it offers true flagship performance at half the price of most rivals. But just five months after release OnePlus has controversially announced an upgraded version called the ‘OnePlus 3T’.
So what are the differences between the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T and should you be angry or excited and eager to upgrade? Let’s take a look…
Performance – Cutting Edge Upgrade
The headline addition to the OnePlus 3T is its improved performance thanks to an upgraded chipset:
- OnePlus 3 – Qualcomm QCOM +1.27% Snapdragon 820 chipset: Quad-core Kryo CPU, Adreno 530 CPU, 6GB RAM
- OnePlus 3T – Qualcomm Snapdragon 821: Quad-core Kyro CPU, Adreno 530 CPU, 6GB RAM
Yes on paper this doesn’t look a major change and synthetic benchmarks don’t show a major difference between the 821 and the 821 – but the key here is efficiency. The Snapdragon 821 runs must cooler than the 820 so it doesn’t throttle as much and can consistently run at full speed when needed. It also uses less power helping to preserve battery life and has specific optimisation for traditional Android weak spots like web browsing scrolling.
How the OnePlus 3T performance compares to the lightning fast Snapdragon 821-equipped Google Pixel will be fascinating to see since many of the Pixel’s improvements were claimed to stem from Android 7.1 when the 3T will (disappointingly) ship with Android 6.0.1.
Camera – Love Thy Selfie
The OnePlus 3T also features an enhanced camera over the OnePlus 3, but not where you might expect.
While the decent 16MP and 4K video capable rear shooter of the OnePlus 3T adds ‘Intelligent Pixel Technology’ which reduces noise in low light, plus a sapphire lens and improved EIS (electronic image stabilisation) the core Sony sensor with f/2.0 aperture remain the same.
Instead the bigger change is to the front camera which makes the jump from 8MP to 16MP and adds ‘smile capture’ for automated snap taking when you grin. OnePlus promises a major advance in image quality here which could be a big hit with the selfie obsessed, as long as it bears out.
Battery Life & Charging – A Welcome Bump
The OnePlus 3T also ups the ante on its older brother with a welcome 13% increase in battery capacity that sees it now close on rivals like the Galaxy S7 Edge (3600 mAh) and Google Pixel XL (3450 mAh):
- OnePlus 3 – 3000 mAh
- OnePlus 3T – 3400 mAh
More frustrating, however, is OnePlus continues with its proprietary ‘Dash Charge’ technology which is incompatible with Qualcomm’s popular Quick Charge alternative and the native USB 3.1 standard Google is starting to push handset makers to adopt on all Android phones going forward. This fracturing of standards (and therefore chargers) hurts what should be one of Android’s biggest advantages over the iPhone.
That said where Dash Charge excels is the speed of its charging while using the phone. Most Android fast charging options are extremely quick while the phone is inactive, but slow significantly when the phone is in use. Dash Charge doesn’t.
Design & Size – Eerily Familiar
OnePlus has chosen not to change the external design of the OnePlus 3 with the OnePlus 3T by even millimetre or gram:
- OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T – 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4 mm (6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 in) and 158 g (5.57 oz)
While perhaps dull, I’d argue this is a good thing since you’ll find the same high quality aluminium chassis on the 3T which feels good in hand and provides a more tactile grip than the competition. The colours have been tweaked slightly so you’ll now have ‘gunmetal’ replacing ‘graphite’ (it’s a darker grey) while the soft gold option remains.
Displays – Same Old, Same Old
The OnePlus 3 doesn’t have the best display on the market (it’s perhaps one area where its budget roots start to show) and this also hasn’t been changed with the OnePlus 3T:
- OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T – 5.5-inch, Optic AMOLED panel, 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 ppi pixel density) and Corning Gorilla Glass 4
OnePlus did issue a firmware update shortly after the OnePlus 3 was released to address inaccurate colours and this panel is unlikely disappoint in isolation. Especially when considering the biggest selling point for both phones…
Storage & Price – Justifiable Rise
- OnePlus 3 – $570 (64GB)
- OnePlus 3T – from $620 (64GB, 128GB)
Yes the OnePlus 3T is more expensive than its predecessor, but not by much considering the core improvements to speed, camera and battery life. Power users will also find a new 128GB option.
The OnePlus 3T will go on sale in the US on November 22nd and in the SG on November 30th.
OnePlus is likely to be both criticised for upgrading a five month old phone and praised for committing to the bleeding edge for only a moderate price rise. I can see both sides to this, but I lean towards the latter.
As such if you have a OnePlus 3 there’s not enough reason to upgrade to a OnePlus 3T, but if you’re on the lookout for a new phone and are targeting a bargain then the OnePlus 3T looks set to be the best of them all.
|Network||Technology||GSM / HSPA / EVDO / LTE|
|Status||Available. Released 2016, June|
|Body||Dimensions||152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4 mm (6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 in)|
|Weight||158 g (5.57 oz)|
|SIM||Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)|
|Display||Type||Optic AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors|
|Size||5.5 inches (~73.1% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||1080 x 1920 pixels (~401 ppi pixel density)|
|Protection||Corning Gorilla Glass 4|
|– Oxygen OS 3.2.4|
|Platform||OS||Android OS, v6.0.1 (Marshmallow)|
|Chipset||Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820|
|CPU||Quad-core (2×2.15 GHz Kryo & 2×1.6 GHz Kryo)|
|Internal||64 GB, 6 GB RAM|
|Camera||Primary||16 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash, check quality|
|Features||1/2.8″ sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR|
|Video||2160p@30fps, 720p@120fps, Auto HDR, check quality|
|Secondary||8 MP, f/2.0, 1/3.2″ sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, 1080p|
|Sound||Alert types||Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones|
|– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic|
|Comms||WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot|
|Bluetooth||v4.2, A2DP, LE|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS|
|USB||v2.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector|
|Features||Sensors||Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass|
|Messaging||SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, IM, Push Email|
|– Fast battery charging: 60% in 30 min (Dash Charge)
– DivX/Xvid/MP4/H.265 player
– MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV/FLAC player
– Document viewer
– Photo/video editor
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery|
|Misc||Colors||Graphite, soft gold|
|SAR EU||0.39 W/kg (head) 0.32 W/kg (body)|