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ONEPLUS 3T REVIEW
OnePlus is a company that doesn’t much like its reputation in the smartphone business as a plucky upstart. Yet that’s what it is, competing as it must with the likes of Apple, Samsung and Google for the crown of best smartphone in the world. The OnePlus 3, launched in June 2016, was a sublime blend of design and performance for just over £300 but nevertheless, here’s our OnePlus 3T review. See also: Best phones 2016.
So it’s odd that just five months later OnePlus has ended production of that handset, sticking to it’s motto of ‘never settle’ and released this upgraded version of the same phone, the OnePlus 3T. The company that prides itself on listening to its fans’ reaction to its products has boldly dared to update a handset that people have had for less than half a year. Will the move gain new fans while annoying existing ones, or both?
It’s hard not to compare this phone, when reviewing it, to the OnePlus 3. Since there’s only five months between iterative updates to a high-end phone, we have to compare the two to fully understand the reasons why.
Update 2 February 2017: OnePlus has been caught cheating popular benchmarks such as Geekbench and GFXBench with its OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T. XDA-Developers accuses OnePlus of having configured the processor to automatically switch into overdrive mode when a popular benchmark is detected (you can read the full story here). OnePlus has confirmed the practice and apologised, stating that “In order to give users a better user experience in resource intensive apps and games, especially graphically intensive ones, we implemented certain mechanisms in the community and Nougat builds to trigger the processor to run more aggressively. The trigger process for benchmarking apps will not be present in upcoming OxygenOS builds on the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T.” For now you should ignore our benchmark results below, but note that with the flagship-level hardware onboard both phones should be decent performers, and behaved as such during real-world testing.
ONEPLUS 3T REVIEW: PRICE AND WHERE TO BUY
The OnePlus 3T is on sale SIM-free and unlocked directly from OnePlus. Click here to view it – it’ll cost you £399 for the 64GB version and just £40 more for the £439 128GB version. Both are currently available in the Gunmetal colour, which is slightly darker than the Graphite version of the OnePlus 3.
There will be a Soft Gold version of the 64GB OnePlus 3T out in the next few weeks.
In the UK you can get the OnePlus 3T from O2 on a 24-month contract deal. Bear in mind that it’s only available on O2’s Refresh tariff that allows you to upgrade your handset more regularly.
ONEPLUS 3T REVIEW: DESIGN AND BUILD
Even the ‘s’ iterations of iPhones have an ‘s’ stamped on the back, but in this case there is absolutely no design change from the OnePlus 3 to the OnePlus 3T. The only change is in the darker colour option, the grey of which on the rear is a tad darker than the old model. The forthcoming Soft Gold option is exactly the same, and visually indistinguishable from its five month old brother.
This reinforces that OnePlus sees the 3T as a small tweak for the line, hoping as it does to not frustrate loyal fans that shelled out for a 3. The 3T happily retains an outstanding design, with build quality to rival any premium smartphone maker in the land. It does what Apple has still failed to do and made a 5.5in screen phone slim, svelte and usable with one hand (just).
Apparently carved out of one piece of space-grade aluminium alloy the OnePlus 3T measures 153 x 75 x 7.4mm and weighs 158g. The frame of the handset houses a power/lock button on the right edge, a USB-C port, speaker, mic and 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom and a volume rocker and OnePlus’ excellent Alert Slider on the left, leaving the top edge flat, curved and smooth. With a front facing fingerprint scanner that relies on haptic feedback as opposed to a physical button, this is a phone that screams ‘use me’ from the second you take it out the box.
In that box it also already comes with a screen protector pre-applied, handy if you want to use it with one. The only lines that break the dark gunmetal of our review unit are the aerial lines and the OnePlus logo that sits beneath a 16Mp camera that protrudes ever so slightly from the casing. The front facing camera sits next to the earpiece and is also an amazing 16Mp, something we’ll explore later.