Reviewed: OnePlus 3t

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OnePlus is now officially in the country, and the first device they have for the local market is the OnePlus 3t. Every day, the market gets more and more saturated. Does the OnePlus 3t have what it takes to break into a leading position? We find out!

DESIGN 4.5 / 5.0

Metal body? Check. Shiny, beveled edge? Check. Smoothly curved glass? Check. You can tell they put a lot of effort in picking materials, and putting them together in a design that’s as pleasing to look at as to hold. Our demo unit was a nice blueish gray, done in what looks to be a very pleasing anodized finish. The front is protected by sturdy Gorilla glass, and the sides of both the glass and the metal housing are nicely curved. Forget your fidget spinner, I’ll be fiddling with this instead, thank you very much.

The power button is nicely raised off the side of the case, as is the volume rocker, and in addition to those, the phone has a very nicely knurled slider that switches profiles from audible, vibrate, and do not disturb. The knurling serves both to make it easy to manipulate, and simple to tell apart from the other buttons.

HARDWARE 4.5 / 5.0

The OnePlus 3t has some muscle. The Snapdragon 821 Chipset and an absolutely massive 6 GB of RAM make for a device that can handle multiple instances of anything you can throw at it. The large 5.5-inch screen give you plenty of space to move around, and a fingerprint scanner keeps everything secure. The camera is an adequate 12 MP affair, with an 8 MP front-facer, and it has all the connectivity you need to get your work squared away, including the ability to take two SIM cards, so you have one less device to worry about. All told, it’s a very impressive spec sheet.

USER EXPERIENCE 4.0 / 5.0

I am very pleased to say that the 3T might be one of my favorite devices of late. First off, it’s a real looker. The dark grey finish, hefty but not heavy weight, and solid construction all lend themselves to a device that exhude quality. It might not be the first brand on everyone’s mind, which is a real shame, because it might be one of the best-built out there.

One of my absolute favorite things on the phone though, is the impossibly fast fingerprint scanner. This is the fingerprint scanner we hoped to have when they first became a thing. There is no appreciable lag between a tap on the non-tactile button, and the device springing to life. Waking your device from sleep is something you will be doing a lot over the course of however long you will have a phone, so making that happen as quickly as possible is actually quite important in a daily driver. It’s actually so good, I now find the 0.3-second unlock on my personal phone slightly annoying.

The second thing I love about the 3t is the stellar battery life. It seems to go on for a good bit longer than a lot of my devices. While I’m usually tripping over myself for a charger for my older phone by midday, the OnePlus 3t manages to stay alive long enough to see me home. That’s quite a bit of juice. For the duration of the review, I walked around without a powerbank in my pocket. It has been far too long since I have done that on purpose.

If you do find your battery bottomed out, the included charger and cable (the combination is apparently important) can give you upwards of 63 percent charge in half an hour. Amazing and convenient.

The third thing I appreciate is the Oxygen OS. My normal device runs vanilla Android, which is just the flavor I like. Oxygen OS is not that far removed from the stock experience, and doesn’t at all get in the way of me doing what i want to do, or slow the phone down unnecessarily.

There are a few things the phone could do better though.

The camera, while perfectly adequate, and actually noticeably better than many in the price range, has great colors, but suffers from a lack of detail around the edges. The camera app itself launches quickly, and for capturing memories, it’s perfect.

Another thing is the home button. Long presses and double taps have functions, which is great on paper, but the placement means you’ll hit it accidentally a lot of the time, triggering whatever function you’ve got going on. This can fortunately be disabled, so it’s not that big a deal.

The physical notification switch is a bit of a mixed bag. While I do appreciate being able to select do not disturb, silent, or audible, more than once, my pocket decided i shouldn’t be disturbed, flicking the switch, and cutting me off from my notifications. The same knurling that makes the switch easy to identify likely causes this little issue. It’s no deal-breaker by any means, but if you’re waiting for an important notification, it’s something to watch out for.

Overall though, the pros win this comparison. My issues with the phone are exceedingly minor compared to the solid performance it delivers all day.

VALUE 5.0 / 5.0

This is where the phone blows the competition out of the water, current reigning flagships included. Concessions are necessary for a phone like this to hit the right price point, but crucially, OnePlus made the correct ones. This is a phone that’s frankly, overqualified for the segment, but I will be the last to complain. Apart from being an awesome phone at this moment, it should pack enough of a punch to remain viable well beyond the usual yearlong ownership cycle other phones struggle to keep up with. It’s a win in what might be the most important criteria, particularly in our market.

Bottomline:
This is a phone that performs well above its price class.

 

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE June 2017 issue
Words by Ren Alcantara