3 months ago, I decided to take a leap out of Google Nexus world, and into the OnePlus world. My previous two phones had been Nexuses (Nexii?), and as a vanilla Android fan it was difficult for me to consider any other non-Google phone.
Pixel – Why You So Expensive?
But the Google Pixel changed that. There was no way I was going to shell out that much money for a phone, no matter how great the camera, or experience. But because I am a fan of stock Android, I had to fight the temptation of not buying the 32 GB Pixel, instead of the much desired 128 GB Pixel XL.
OnePlus 3T – The New Nexus
OnePlus has been on my radar since they launched the OnePlus One. The Shenzhen based startup is popular among Android developers, and enthusiasts for its low priced, high spec phones that are close to stock Android. At a similar price to the original Nexus line-up, I naturally began considering the OnePlus as the replacement to my Nexus.
No More Invite System – Thank You!
Previously, even if I wanted to buy a OnePlus phone, the tedious invite system kept me away. For those unaware, one had to possess a highly coveted “invite” to buy a OnePlus phone. The whole invite system was a real world example of Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence”.
But thankfully, OnePlus did away with the invite system when they launched the shortest lived flagship phone – the OnePlus 3. The phone was on the shelf for 4 months before its successor, the OnePlus 3T, replaced it.
Bye, Bye Pixel. Hello, OnePlus 3T
With the renewed specs of the OnePlus 3T, at half the price of the comparable Google Pixel, made the phone a no brainer for me. It perfectly fit into the gaping void that had been left behind by the disappearance of the Nexus line, but in terms of price and performance.
On the morning of the launch, I sat patiently on the OnePlus website. The 3T went on sale at 8 AM, and in less than 10 mins I had checked out with it. The next morning, the OnePlus 3T arrived.
An Unbiased Review Of The OnePlus 3T
Too many reviews spend too much time talking about the tech specs. For my review, I’m going to focus on “how does the phone perform day-to-day?”. In my opinion, that’s what should guide any practical purchase decision. I’m not going to talk about the build quality (which is phenomenal BTW), or the AMOLED screen (why is it only full HD?). So, no tech specs.
Bear in mind that no one is paying me to write this. This is my personal experience of using the Gunmetal 128 GB OnePlus 3T as my daily driver for the past 3 months. These are the things that I love, dislike about the OnePlus 3T, and their daily implications.
What Makes The OnePlus 3T Awesome
Dash Charge has to be, by far, the BEST feature of the OnePlus 3T. Seriously, it is INCREDIBLE! With my OnePlus 3T, I don’t fret any longer over low battery warnings! I know I can juice up my phone in literally an hour. Check out these screenshots below to see what I mean.
Dash Charge, or rather the technology behind it, is unique to the OnePlus 3T (and a few Oppo phones). It uses a proprietary charging brick and cable to charge your phone at lightening speed. Watch this video as it does an amazing job at explaining how Dash Charging works (Emily Ratajkowski just happens to be a bonus).
Daily Implication: I don’t have to worry about low battery warnings even if I have limited time to charge my phone.
Great Battery Life
OnePlus upgraded the OnePlus 3T battery to 3,400mAh over the 3,000mAh in the OnePlus 3. That’s a 13% increase.
I find that battery life is something very subjective, and totally depends on how much I use my phone (duh!). But here’s the deal – on weekdays, I find myself charging my OnePlus 3T once in almost 24 hours. I use my phone mostly for checking emails, browsing, listening to my music or podcasts. No gaming or heavy use.
But on weekends, I end up charging my phone once every 10-15 hours. Especially on days when I head out exploring the city, and wilderness. That’s when I’m constantly on Google Maps or using the camera, reading news/articles/Pocket.
For me, this is phenomenal battery life. Couple that with Dash Charge, and I never worry about my OnePlus 3T dying at any point in time.Daily Implication: For my mild, and moderate usage, this phone can easily last 24 hours on a single charge.
Android 7.0 Nougat Support
One of the biggest reasons for loving stock Android is the constant updates. With my previous Nexuses, I was always guaranteed the latest and greatest Google had to offer. I’d be first in line for OS, and security updates. Leaving the Nexus world meant, leaving stock Android with its regular updates.
3 months later, and I can honestly say that I haven’t missed stock Android even once. Oxygen OS, OnePlus 3T’s operating system, comes as close to stock Android as any OS can (with a few additional useful features). The OS is as smooth as smooth can be, and it just flies – no lags, no stutters.
In early January, OnePlus kept to their promise and released Android 7.0 Nougat on the OnePlus 3T & 3. Since Nougat, OnePlus has released several updates, patches, and bug fixes. That makes me happy, and not miss the upgrades of Pixel/Nexus too much.
Update: As of March 2017, the OnePlus 3T has been upgraded to Nougat 7.1.1. Win!Daily Implication: Constant updates and security patches keep your phone snappy, and less prone to bugs.
Fast and Accurate Fingerprint Sensor
Although not unique to the OnePlus 3T, the fast and accurate fingerprint scanner makes everything from unlocking the device, to using apps that require the scanner a breeze. And having it on the front of the phone (as opposed to the back) means that I can use the fingerprint scanner even when the phone is lying flat.
Daily Implication: A fast and accurate fingerprint scanner adds a convenient, and much needed security measure.
OnePlus 3T Flaws
The OnePlus 3T is not without its flaws. These are the things that bother me about the phone.
The Vibration Motor
The vibration motor on the OnePlus 3T is relatively weak. I can hardly tell when my phone is buzzing in my pocket. If it wasn’t for my fitness band that vibrates on my wrist when I get a call, I would always miss calls.
I’m not a big fan of keeping my ringer volume high. But even if I did, in crowded noisy places a good vibration motor is your best bet on noticing phone alerts. Also, the motor also fails to provide any discernible feedback when typing, which kind of sucks.
Daily Implication: Because of a weak vibration motor, I end up missing phone calls.
Dash Charging is the greatest thing about this phone. Sadly, it’s also a drawback. To enjoy the benefits of Dash Charging you need the proprietary brick and cable. When you buy the phone, you only get one pair. Beyond that, you need to either invest in multiple Dash Chargers, or carry your Dash Charger everywhere you go.
Sure you can charge your OnePlus 3T with an ordinary brick and cable, but that’s no fun. That’s how ordinary people charge their phones. Also, a 3400 mAh battery without Dash or Quick Charge, takes a reasonable amount of time to refuel.
Daily Implication: Dash Charge spoils you. Without it, I get frustrated at how slow my OnePlus 3T charges.
Lack of Accessories
This isn’t something specific to the OnePlus 3T, it concerns all phones that have small, niche markets. When it comes to buying accessories for the OnePlus 3T, I’m often faced with limited choices.
People who own iPhones or Samsungs never face this issue because there is a plethora of accessories for their smartphones. Most of the shops don’t even know about the OnePlus 3T, let alone carry accessories for it.
My only hope is to shop for cases and covers online. Even then, options are minuscule when compared to those available for iPhone or Samsung phones.Daily Implication: OnePlus 3T has limited options for phone accessories.
Front Facing Camera
I often hear that you’re not buying a phone for its camera. But it would be nice if it took good pictures. I’m on the fence about the OnePlus 3T’s camera performance. The rear facing camera takes some great photos. But maybe not as good as photos taken by the iPhone, Google Pixel, or the Samsung Galaxy S7. In struggles in low light conditions.
I wouldn’t say it’s a negative per se. In fact, you can be the judge. These are some sample full size images taken from my OnePlus 3T. They haven’t been touched or edited, they’re real sample images.
OnePlus 3T Photo Samples
WARNING: Images may take a while to load due to their large size.
The reason I’d mark this as a negative is the front facing camera. On paper, a 16 megapixel front facing camera sounds awesome, but in reality it’s far from one.Daily Implication: Rear facing camera is great. Selfie camera (even though it’s 16 megapixels) is so-so.
Final Verdict On The OnePlus 3T
There’s a fantastic, in-depth article on the XDA website that highlights features which make the OnePlus 3T an excellent real world performer. It explains some of the other under-the-hood features that make this phone awesome. I highly recommend that you read it.
The OnePlus 3T really has no match when it comes to value for money. It’s a premium phone, at a budget price. It’s features make it one of the most practical smartphones out there. Quite frankly, there is nothing really lacking in the OnePlus 3T. Even its flaws, in my opinion, are not deal-breakers.
So to sum up, for those who want
- the best value for money pratical smartphone,
- that is premium in build, and quality, and
- has all the bells and whistles of a $600+ phone
If you have any questions, concerns, or doubts about the OnePlus 3T, leave them in the comments below or contact me directly. I’ll be happy to answer.