The OnePlus 3 is one of the most highly anticipated smartphones of 2016 so far, and it has a lot to live up to. Its predecessor, the OnePlus 2, has been my pick of the sub-£300 smartphones ever since it launched last year, and is still on sale at £249. The new model is £60 more expensive, so is the OnePlus 3 worth the price hike?
Immediate impressions are positive. Although the phone has the same 5.5in-sized screen as the OnePlus 2, elsewhere, it’s all change. The headline specifications see the new phone move to the faster, more efficient Snapdragon 820 processor, with twice the amount of RAM. The OnePlus 3 has NFC in addition to a front-mounted fingerprint reader, allowing it to be used for contactless payments via Android Pay. Although the screen is the same size, OnePlus now employs AMOLED tech where its predecessor had an IPS display. And the camera sees an upgrade in resolution and features.
I wasn’t quite as bowled over with the design when I first clapped eyes on it. It looks bland from a distance; a design that’s indistinct, that looks eerily like the long-lost love child of the HTC One M9 and Honor 5X, that simply doesn’t make a statement.
Get it in your hand, however, and it’s a different story. The OnePlus feels robust and refined in all the right ways. In fact, you know what? It’s great. Really great. Forget about the bland looks – the OnePlus 3 is fabulous value.
In fact, if you gave this to me and blanked out the logo, I’d guess it was a far more expensive handset, closer to £600 than £309. It’s lighter and slimmer than the OnePlus 2, shaving 17g off that phone’s weight and 1.5mm off its thickness, despite having the same-size screen, and it’s packed with lovely little details. The edges of the screen are slightly rounded, the buttons have a solid, positive click, and the do-not-disturb slider on the left edge has a lovely mechanical snick to it.
That slider was one of my favourite features on the OnePlus 2, and it’s great to see it here as well. Being able to put the phone into silent mode at the flick of a switch is so useful you have to wonder why more Android manufacturers haven’t done it before.
And it’s combined here with other practical features as well. The fingerprint reader sits below the screen in the middle, and it’s as responsive and reliable as you’d hope it to be. There’s also a dual SIM slot on the left-hand edge, although you don’t get a microSD slot to expand the phone’s 64GB of internal storage.
One thing fans of the OnePlus 2 might bemoan is the fact that you can’t remove the backplate and replace it with a finish of your choosing any more. However, OnePlus’ selection of official cases makes up for this, with a choice of five different options, with mixture of natural and man-made materials to select from.
The “black apricot” wood case is my favourite (pictured above on the far left), but if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can have bamboo, black “sandstone”, carbon fibre and rosewood as well. The cases cost £20 each and you can order them on the OnePlus website.
If one of them takes your fancy at all, it’s well worth ordering when you buy your phone, as OnePlus doesn’t offer free shipping below £60.
^ Carbon Fibre
^ Black apricot
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