OnePlus 3T Review: Still A Flagship Killer in 2017?

by Jamie Inocian  April 1, 2017

Bang for Your Buck, Baby!

The OnePlus 3T has been out in the market since November of 2016, but it’s only been a little over a week since it has seen its official distribution here in the Philippines. Like Xiaomi, the brand has been able to etch a reputation for releasing a bang-for-you-buck smartphone armed with a flagship level processing package. After booking some quality time with OnePlus 3T as our main phone, it’s time to answer the question of whether or not you should spend your hard earned money on this device.

OnePlus 3T Specifications

  • 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 6GB of RAM
  • Adreno 530 GPU
  • 5.5-inch Full HD Optic AMOLED display; 1920×1080 resolution
  • 64GB of Internal Storage
  • 16-megapixel rear camera, PDAF, OIS, f/2.0 aperture, LED flash
  • 16-megapixel front camera, f/2.0 aperture
  • 4G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • USB Type-C
  • 3400mAh Battery with Dash Charge
  • Oxygen OS 4.0.2

Borrowing from Apple

In this point in the game, the OnePlus 3T doesn’t have anything really significantly new to add to the mix in terms of smartphone design. It has chamfered edges on the top and bottom of the device and gentle curves along its sides that make the 5.5-inch rest more comfortably in your hands; certainly nothing new here to separate it from the Android pack.

We’re pretty sure you’ve noticed the camera bump by now and, yes, we absolutely abhor it too! Thankfully though, the camera is protected by a stainless steel frame and sapphire glass for when you accidentally drop the phone or mistakenly put it in your pants pocket with your keys.

For me, personally, It’s actually a feature they borrow from Apple — the toggle to put the phone on silent — that stood out because it’s something were not used to seeing on an Android device and simply because of its convenience. It’s worth mentioning that if you do decide to purchase the device, the toggle has 3 settings that put it on silent, do not disturb, and the regular volume you’ve set your notifications to. I may or may have not freaked out that the phone was always on Do Not Disturb when I got the phone.

You are, of course, missing a few flagship features here and there on 3T, namely IP68 certification, so keep it away from water as best as you can. No biggie.

Great Screen, Bad Speaker Placement

The OnePlus 3T has a 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED display, which was really great for consuming content on the device with great colors and contrast. The sun is beating down on us pretty hard now that it’s summer, but we’re guessing under the usual circumstances legibility is acceptable outdoors. It’s the speaker placement that really irked us though.

Seeing as the speaker grille is located on the left side of the bottom of the device, holding the phone horizontally often meant that you would be muffling the sound with your palm or leaving you to hold the device a little awkwardly when you watch videos or playing games; a problem that a kickstand or one of those rings would probably solve. Otherwise, they sound okay with a little bit of distortion at higher volumes.

2016’s Processing Package of Choice

OnePlus has always released just one smartphone, instead of several SKUs, and we think that its to maintain a certain polish to their devices. Thankfully, that singular smartphone is almost always packed with the top-of-the-line processing package at the time of its release to make it a real attention grabber, especially when you see the accompanying price tag on the device.

This remains true with the OnePlus 3T, which sports a 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage; minus points for not being expandable. It can pretty much do anything you can ask of any flagship level phone; playing graphically intensive games and multitasking was definitely no problem with the device. The device now runs on Oxygen OS, since Cyanogen kicked the bucket, and it’s been smooth sailing with our time with the device so far.

You may want to update the phone as soon as you fire it up though, since the latest update pretty much solved any heating issues that you guys have brought up; it still gets warm, but no threat of the 3T spontaneously combusting at least. Let’s look at the benchmark results.

There was a bit of an issue with OnePlus padding their benchmark results, but they should have done away with that with the latest update as well. We ran AnTuTu benchmarks again and it wasn’t far off from the results we saw in the initial review; scoring a 155k this time around. Firing up Sling Shot Extreme on 3D Mark gave it a score of 2409; once again confirming that it can game.

Cameras that Toe the Line

In terms of camera performance, the OnePlus 3T isn’t up to snuff if we’re talking flagship caliber smartphones but its definitely up there. The f/2.0 aperture on both the rear and front cameras, make for some really decent shots in low light conditions and a decent amount of bokeh too. The colors are a bit on the warm side, but nothing too bad. The rear camera also has pretty good dynamic range as well; all things considered of course. The advertised OIS on its spec sheet is more for taking snaps than taking video, so you may still want to get a gimbal or at least a gorilla pod to steady your footage a tad.

Dash Charge ot the Rescue

The OnePlus 3T may have the top-of-the-line specs from last year, but all that processing power means that it majorly thirst for juice. The 3T got a time of 6 hours and 46 minutes on PCMark’s battery benchmark, which translated to about half a days worth of juice if you’re a heavy user; completely understandable. You’ll definitely want to make room for the Dash Charge USB charger and the Type-C connector in your everyday carry so you can top the phone up quickly; half an hour plugged in gave us around 40% of juice, achieving full charge in a little over an hour.

Verdict: Settle for the OnePlus 3T or Wait it Out?

OnePlus uses the copy “Never Settle” and, honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find a phone that’s brand-spankin-new that offers what the OnePlus 3T does. Now that it’s 2017 and the Samsung S8s are here plus the other brands have released their top offerings for the year, however, we can hardly call it a “flagship killer” but it still provides great value at Php 24,990.

The one thing that has us concerned is the timing of its official release in the Philippines. It’s nearly half a year late and rumors for the OnePlus 5 have its release pegged towards the 3rd quarter of 2017; nothing set in stone, of course. Given that OnePlus has penchant for giving us great value, in terms of price to performance ratio for their devices, should you just wait it out? Should you settle for the OnePlus 3T? Honestly, we’re on the fence as well.

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