6GB RAM, 16MP camera, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor... Himanshu Juneja reviews the OnePlus 3
OnePlus has been able to capture public's attention within short time. The start up company has been able to achieve this feat by providing a great bang for buck, while making the other accomplished phone makers feel hot under the collar.
There were quirks though. The flash sale model being the biggest one. Combine that with the iffy operating system, and no clear policy on Android updates, the prospective customers had enough to hold back.
With the release of their fourth model, OnePlus plans to take a huge step forward. Not only are they stepping into the big league, they are also trying to end the confusion surrounding their image.
How much is this move going to pay, only the future can tell. For now, we can definitely take a closer look at the very impressive looking OnePlus 3.
Ditching the usual, OnePlus has gone with a metal and glass construction. The sandstone back panel is gone as well.
This has its advantages, as well as slip ups. The glass on the handset curves ever so slightly near the sides to give it a nice classy look. The side bezels have been kept slim, but the top and bottom bezels take up a decent size. So while it maybe easy to wrap one's hands around the handset easily, reaching out to every corner may not be that easy. The back panel is slippery.
The fingerprint scanner sits right below the screen, and is flanked by two capacitive buttons. Users can choose to reassign their functions, and the dot shape helps in avoiding confusion. As for the other buttons, one finds the volume rocker and the signature alert slider on the left side. The right edge carries the SIM card tray and the power button. The bottom edge has been kept real busy with the 3.5 mm audio jack, the USB Type C port, and the grill for the loudspeaker.
The OnePlus 3 is lighter than its predecessor, and weighs a simple 158 gms. Turn the handset over, and one finds the antenna lines lending their own touch to the design. One might get the flashbacks from HTC M9 days, and understandably so. The camera module juts out a tad bit, and this is enough to get it scratched over a period of time. OnePlus has launched select few cases for the handset, and the customers can choose from a range of Apricot, Rosewood, Bamboo, Karbon, or the nostalgic Sandstone case.
There is nothing very distinguishing with the way OnePlus 3 has been constructed, but there is nothing to really dislike about it too.
A 5.5-inch screen with full HD display is what the OnePlus 3 has to offer. The AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1080x1920p is not meant to compete with the reigning flagships, but definitely should induce confidence for the buyers in the sub Rs 30,000 budget. Gorilla glass 4 protection gives a boost to the screen's robustness.
Characteristically, the screen carries deep blacks and vivid colours. There is also a slider in the settings menu to adjust the colour balance according to the user's liking. The viewing angles are good, and so is the sunlight visibility when taken out in the open.
OnePlus has included the option to initiate the ambient display by moving the hand closely to the proximity sensor. There is also the night mode included for the nocturnals, and things like these enhance the user experience by a good deal. The display is more than acceptable for the price bracket.
There is no dearth of power underneath the hood of the OnePlus 3. The handset is clearly geared to take on the flagships in this department, and has enough muscle to be future proof for quite some time to come.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC is a great inclusion. A dual core Kryo (2.1 Ghz) and another dual core (1.6 Ghz) along with a whopping 6GB of RAM should make the users feel less itchy to upgrade sooner. Adreno 530 handling the graphics is again a good inclusion and makes up for a good configuration.
Sadly, there is no memory card slot, but users should find 64 GB of storage memory to be quite handy.
The dual SIM handset is a 4G enabled devices, and comes with connectivity options like WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth (ver 4.2), GPS, and NFC. The missing FM radio option could have given a huge leg up to the handset, but OnePlus think tank differs with us.
OnePlus surprised many by opting for a USB Type C connector, giving further boost to the future proofing chances of OnePlus 3.
The patchy software performance coupled with uncertainty over the updates have been a big hindrance with the OnePlus. With the scene getting more competitive, fans and prospective buyers can expect better OS experience with the 2016 marquee product of the company. OnePlus 3 comes with a vanilla looking built of Android's Marshmallow (ver 6.0.1), while their own Oxygen OS adds a little bit of its own touch to the overall flavour.
One is greeted with the stock Android launcher, and the ability to assign four different gesture for the screen to make life easier. OnePlus also allows the users to customise elements like theme colour, notification light, status bar icons, and of course tweaking around the quick setting toggle options. If one has the urge, more icon packs can be downloaded and used as well. The option to go for either the on screen buttons, or the capacitive ones provided can prove to be exciting for some users.
Android's Doze mode is a good addition to have for the battery performance, while Google Now On Tap is another vital add on which has been cheered widely, and still holds potential.
One of the highlight is the unlockable bootloader. So should the users be unhappy with OnePlus's way of things, they can get their own choice of OS going on the handset. A clever and thoughtful touch. Going yet another step in this direction, the dark interface has been thrown in to further enhance the user satisfaction level. This mode is not included in the Android N's beta preview, even after creating a lot of buzz about it.
Last, but not the least, the 'Shelf' makes an appearance. It is basically a launchpad of sorts for the instant memos, frequently used apps and widgets. The weather information is a nice inclusion, but maybe, it could have been slotted in a more appropriate section.
The Operating system keeps the spirit of Google intact to a good degree, while adding some really good features. The scope for raising complains has been kept slim by OnePlus.
Stacked up with oodles of power, there was absolute conviction that the OnePlus 3 will have no issues handling the tasks thrown its way. Much as expected, the handset passed the tests with aplomb. This includes keeping the temperatures under check.
There were no stuttering while launching or exiting the apps. Multitasking was easy as well, and while one can go berserk opening the tabs and allowing other apps to operate in the background, the mammoth 6GB of RAM made sure that there were no apps kicked out from the memory to avoid the crunch situation.
The fingerprint scanner is fast and accurate. One only needs to place the finger on it to unlock the device. As for the speaker, it is loud, but lacks fidelity. The haptic feedback motor felt weak, and a direct casualty of cost cutting measures.
The phone comes with 16 MP camera at the rear, equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation, and its own LED flash. The front snapper is an 8 MP unit. OnePlus went with a µm pixel for the front camera, while the rear camera features 1.12 micron pixel, and an f.2.0 camera.
Users can quick launch the camera by double tapping on the power button. The app has been equipped with enough settings to keep the user busy, including a manual mode, allowing tweaks to parameters like ISO, shutter speed, white balance and focusing. HDR mode is accessible at the top for convenience. There is the RAW support as well, which is a good option for the prosumers.
The performance is fairly positive here. OnePlus 3 improves upon its predecessor. In good light conditions, the pics came out with good details, and natural looking colours on them. The time taken to snap the pictures were not bothersome either.
The issue arises with some inconsistencies shown by the phone. Some of the times the colours will be too natural even in abundantly vibrant scenes. Then there is the limitation of a small aperture coupled with lack of µm pixels. While flagships have this luxury, relatively economical OnePlus 3 suffers during low light photography as the noise and grains make their presence felt.
Thankfully, HDR comes out to the rescue during many situations, but even here it can be a bit moody. The shots do not disappoint, but few tweaking here or there maybe needed.
The videography fares similarly. Capable of capturing 4K videos at 30 fps, 1080 at 60 fps, and 720 at 120 fps, the shots are detailed, but extra zip with colour saturation may go missing at times. OIS does a pretty good job and the jaggedness is kept fairly low.
The front camera is pretty good. It captures some good selfies and has the feature of triggering the timer upon detection of a smile by a subject. Results can be easily shared across social media platform.
The OnePlus 3 carries a 3000 mAh non removable battery inside. The battery performs pretty impressively as one can expect to be able to carry the phone through the day, with about 20 per cent charge left in the tank on a moderate to heavy usage pattern. As per the company claims, the phone can be charged to approximately 60 per cent in about half an hour.
There is a neat trick up OnePlus 3's sleeve here as well, and it is the Dash charger. OPPO developed this technology, where the charging chips are moved to the adapter instead of the phone. The result is that one can use the phone while it is charging without hampering the charging process. Also, the phone enjoys cooler temperatures while getting charged.
Should the need arise, there is also the battery saving mode from Marshmallow, which automatically kicks in. Downside is, that the phone turns into absolutely vanilla mode, but that is understandable. Judicious use should not see the need for battery saving mode to kick in.
OnePlus has taken a number of steps to keep things interesting for the prospective buyer. Not only has the problems from the days of OnePlus 2 been addressed to a good degree, they have also taken away the dreaded invite system. Interested buyers can purchase the handset from Amazon India. The handset comes with a price tag of Rs 27,999.
After looking at what is on offer here, it seems like that OnePlus finally has got the equation right with their fourth mobile phone.
A well built handset with oodles of power, future proofed with the addition of USB Type C, very impressive battery performance, and a crisp display. All the goodness is marred slightly by a moody camera. The lack of expandable storage memory can be overlooked due to ample on board storage capacity, while the speaker system definitely could have been better.
Only apathy from OnePlus vis a vis the Android update can sour the taste for the buyers. Otherwise, OnePlus 3 indeed is a very good phone for the asking price.