OnePlus 3 Review - The Affordable Flagship Killer For 2016?

The prices of flagships have become TOO D*MN HIGH! This year alone, Apple's iPhone 7 starts at PHP 38K while the Galaxy S7 Edge is around PHP 35K! This has has given way to incredibly high value for money phones from China that can compete with the specifications and services that these flagship offer for a fraction of the price. The OnePlus 3 which was announced earlier this year is a good example. We were lucky enough to find a copy of the phone in our hands for review. Here are our thoughts!
OnePlus 3 Review - The Affordable Flagship Killer For 2016?
Our OnePlus 3 review!
When it was announced, the OnePlus 3 had specifications that rivaled the major flagships but was priced at nearly half the competition's price. Let's see if it holds up!

Disclaimer: This OnePlus 3 is a review unit from Digits Trading for an honest review.


OnePlus 3 Specs

Display: 5.5 Inch FHD Optic AMOLED 1920 x 1080 resolution w/ 2.5D curved screen and Gorilla Glass 4 protection at 401 ppi
CPU: 2.15 GHz 64 Bit Snapdragon 820 quad core processor
GPU: Adreno 530
RAM: 6 GB
ROM: 64 GB
Back Camera: 16 MP f/2.0 IMX298 sensor w/ PDAF, OIS, and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 8 MP f/2.0 Sony IMX219
Battery: 3,000 mAh w/ Dash Charge 4A
OS: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow w/ Oxygen OS
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, HSPA+, LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, A GPS, dual SIM
Others: Fingerprint sensor, USB Type C, Colors: gray, black, gold
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, compass
Dimensions: 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4 mm
Weight: 158 g
Price: TBC

Unboxing / Accessories

Everything inside the box!
Everything inside the box!
The outer top cover is almost all white while the inner box is bright RED. The box itself is a step above the competition because aside from the usual sturdy paper box is an inner hard plastic insert that holds the phone and serves as an interior support that further increase the sturdiness of the box. Neatly wrapped underneath are the power plug and the red USB Type C cable.

This cable is absolutely the thickest we've ever seen that is paired with a phone.
We were very confident that this cable won't wear down because of usual use unlike the competition. *cough*APPLE and Samsung*cough* Oh and the thickness of the calbe is just right, it never feels unwieldly thick. Inside the innercompartment under the hard plastic insert are the documentations and the quick start guides.

Build Quality / Design

Main camera and OnePlus logo behind
Main camera and OnePlus logo behind

The OnePlus 3 is as premium as it can get. It is made with beautiful smooth glass with solid brushed aluminum that catches your eye like your old high school crush everytime you see it.
Beautiful Smooth glass and Solid Brushed Aluminum
Even with those sturdy materials, it still remains incredibly lighter than the competion. You will find the speaker, the USB C port and the volume rocker at the bottom. The textured silent switch on the left side. On the right, you will find the sim card tray and the power button.
Single speaker, Type C port, single mic, and 3.5 mm jack below
Single speaker, Type C port, single mic, and 3.5 mm jack below
Silent switch, and volume rocker at left
Silent switch for alerts / notification, and volume rocker at left
Power button and ejectable dual nano SIM card tray at right
Power button and ejectable dual nano SIM card tray at right

We can't stress enough how the curve at the back makes it so easy to hold in our hands. The brushed aluminum also helps add friction to help prevent the phone from slipping through our hands. 
Flagship design, great affordability!
The bezels aren't the thinnest and there's camera protrusion but it never bothered us. We also love the fact that we could customize the back of the phone with the OnePlus backplate accessories.

All its buttons are also easy to reach due to its standard placements. The fingerprint sensor at the home button is capacitive which took a while to get used to. Some people may miss the clicky feedback from a real button.

Display Quality

Sharp and vibrant at the same time
Sharp and vibrant at the same time

The 401 ppi 5.5 inch 1920 by 1080 FHD screen is good but not great. The colors are vibrant but not oversaturated and the images are sharp with great depth rendition and nice viewing angles but the screen is not that bright. 
At max settings, it is difficult to see the items on screen when outside with bright daylight.
10 points of touch!
10 points of touch!

Like any flagship, it has a smooth and responsive 10 point multitouch display that never gave us lag or inaccuracies with our touch experience.

Audio Quality

At first we thought that this device is equipped with dual speakers below. Unforunately, only one of them acts as a speaker and the other one is the microphone. In terms of quality, it can deliver tunes with acceptable clarity and details. It also doesn't sound as muddy and distorted against other lower-end phones. However, but it isn't loud even on a quiet room in our opinion.

It did not come with an earphone in the box. This may have been on of the reasons why the price has reached it's super affordable level. Anyway, audio headphone output quality on this device sounds good enough even for audiophiles and great for casual listeners. It's bass heavy that most will like, but clarity and details are still there. To be precise, mids are thick, but might be too heavy for some. Highs are listenable, airy, and not that peaky. Soundstaging has good depth as well. It's driving power isn't the loudest around though.


For calls, microphone quality did an decent job. We've never had a caller telling us that they had difficulty with calls made to us with the One Plus 3. Audio from our video recordings turned out to be decent as well.


Battery Life

Almost 10 hours!
Almost 10 hours!

Packing a 3,000 mAh of battery on a 5.5 inch screen and these type of configuration, we expected it to be just fine. In our battery test, it got a score of 9 hours and 53 mins which is above average! 
Battery life is better than your average flagship phone!
In real life moderate usage, it lasted from around 6 am to 8 pm only. It gets me through the day but intensive social media and youtube video viewing on 4G will drain it faster.

Charging time from 0 to 100 averages in the 60 minute ranges. What surprised us even more is that it never got hot while fast / dash charging! Crazy! 


Camera

The main camera behind
The main camera behind

Packing a 
16 MP f/2.0 IMX298 sensor w/ PDAF, OIS, and LED flash the camera of OnePlus 3 has three notable modes: HDR, HDR-A and HQ. Then it has panorama, slowmotion, and manual camera settings.
Manual mode!
Manual mode!

Usually with more affordable phones, the camera quality takes a hit to help reduce the price. The OnePlus 3's primary camera is amazing. The pictures are sharp, vibrant and eye catching straight from the camera when in bright conditions. It can even do macro focus pretty close at around 3 inches near. 

You can't however use HDR and HQ at the same time. We generally prefer the output of the HQ settings for the brightly lit situations. We use HDR when when the lighting isn't ideal. The results are pleasing to us but as we said, it's inconsistent in low light.

In low light, the camera is inconsistent. We had times where they were very respectable compared to the competition, but we also had times where it performed below average. For its price, we can't complain.

The LED flash helps but pictures tend to have this harsh light that may turn off some people. Otherwise, it helps immensely with the low light situations.

Rear Camera Samples

HDR on daylight
Cloudy day shot
Macro rocks!
Coffee cropped!
Coffee cropped!
Lowlight test
Lowlight test
Awesome night shot in Dohtonbori
Awesome night shot in Dohtonbori

In front it has a 8 MP f/2.0 Sony IMX219 selfie camera with wide angle lens. However, its settings might be too plain for some as it doesn't have fancy modes such as beautify and filters.
Selfie camera software
Selfie camera software

Fortuantely its quality is very good for a selfie cam! We were surprised at how it handles bright and low light conditions. The pictures are sharp while the colors are accurate and vibrant but to a lesser degree than the main camera. Images are just generally great! Low light pictures are better than  the phones in its price range.

The output from the primary and secondary camera are just stellar and way too good for its price. We admit, that Samsung's S7, S7 Edge and Note 7's cameras are better but you can not beat the price of the One Plus 3!

Selfie Samples

Daylight selfie time!
Indoor selfie!
Selfie in harsh light

For videos, the main camera can record up to 4K with a limit of 10 minutes with electronic Image stabilization! The stabilization is good enough but we would prefer hardware for those silky smooth videos. We understand that this was to help to keep the price down. For selfies, it can do up to great 1080p video recordings. Check the video below and you will see that it is still better than no stabilization and most people would be happy with the results.

Performance

Top notch Antutu benchmark and Geekbench scores!
Top notch Antutu benchmark and Geekbench scores!

Powered by a Snapdragon 820 with Adreno 530 and 6 GB of RAM makes this phone a MONSTER regardless of price. We never experience slow downs or app freezing and everything feels snappy.

Performance is on par if not better than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. In fact, in Antutu, the OnePlus had higher scores than the S7 which surprised us. We ran Chrome with at least 4 tabs and it still was silky smooth!


With heavy 3D gaming, we didn't have problems with Asphalt 8 on HIGH settings. We never experienced lag or heating issues. We would play for continuously and experience no issue except for the battery being drained off course.
Clean looking Oxygen OS is cool!
Clean looking Oxygen OS is cool!

It is loaded with the latest Oxygen OS but is basically a very lightly modified near Android 6.0 meaning that it can give you NEXUS levels of simplicity and speeds. In fact, we find to like this better because of the added features like the ability to choose between on screen buttons and hardware buttons for the back, home and recent app buttons.
The OS itself is pretty light so it makes it feel even faster!
To complete the experience we like thats USB Type C port is OTG ready, Bluetooth works (a little slower though), telephony signal for calls / SMS is strong, and LTE connectivity is stable on places with proper signals.

The Fingerprint scanner however is not as fast as the Nexuses but only a hair faster. Most people won't notice it.

Pros - Beautiful, solid and light weight design, 6 GB of RAM, capable primary camera, USB Type C, LTE connectivity, gyroscope sensor, speaker can get loud with great clarity, 4K video recording is great, Oxygen OS is fast!

Cons - Single Speaker, no stock earphones, low light pictures are inconsistent, display is not that bright, non-expandable storage

Verdict

If you want flagship performance on midrnage budget, this is the phone to get! The build quality, design, and feel are up there with the best. We highly recommend this phone if you want the best in class for price. If you don't mind the less than stellar brightness of the screen, no other phone comes close in terms of price. This is a contender for phone of the year!

GIZ Rating: 4.95/5 Stars
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