While the OnePlus 5 is the best, fastest, and most expensive phone OnePlus makes, the OnePlus 3T is still a great performer. Aside from the midnight black color and the dual lens camera, the OnePlus 3T is almost every bit the same beast as the OnePlus 5, minus the spec bump. At just $400 from GearBest, it’s both more affordable and more readily available than the OnePlus 5. While it doesn’t have the huge 8GB of RAM like the OnePlus 5, the OnePlus 3T still has a large RAM capacity of 6GB. The version from GearBest is the 6GB|64GB version, the more expensive version at the time of the OnePlus 3T’s debut. The OnePlus 3T is now an ancient nine months old, so it’s no longer the latest and greatest, but let’s see how it does in 2017.
The OnePlus 3T has exactly the same design present on the OnePlus 3. While it’s not a radical new design, it’s still aesthetically pleasing, with an edge-to-edge glass panel covering the front, and metal all around the back. It looks a lot like the HTC One, but manages to keep just enough of the OnePlus 2 look to make it unique. While there’s a new Midnight Black color, the OnePlus 3T currently being sold by GearBest is the Gunmetal color. Across the front of the phone is the large 5.5″ display. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, and the screen-to-body ratio isn’t impressive either, but it’s a solid panel. Below the screen is the home button, which also functions as a fingerprint scanner. It’s one of the fastest fingerprint scanners I’ve ever used, and it’s seriously wowing.
As with all android phones with a hardware home button, the home button is flanked by back and recent apps switcher capacitive buttons, which are interchangeable via the settings app. The 3400mAh battery built into the OnePlus 3T is actually 100mAh larger than the 3300mAh battery inside of the OnePlus 5, but battery life is considerably better on the 5, due to software optimisations and the differing SoCs. As with the OnePlus 2,3, and 5, the OnePlus 3T has the vibrate switcher. This switcher is similar to the switcher on the iPhones, which changes whether notifications make a noise or stay as vibrations. Overall, the OnePlus 3T is a well-designed phone, and while it’s not too out-there, it’s still very good looking.
OnePlus has never had a problem with build quality, and the OnePlus 3T is no exception. It’s well made, and the materials used to make it are premium. It feels good in the hand, and there are no build quality problems. The only problem I have with the OnePlus 3T’s design would be the fact that the metal back is extremely slippery, and it wasn’t uncommon to suddenly lose grip while using it in the rain, or with wet hands. I’d recommend buying a case, such as an Otterbox case, to protect the phone from slips and drops, and to make the phone easier to grip.
The OnePlus 3T largely stayed with the same design philosophy as the OnePlus 1 and 2. It took top-of-the-line hardware, and stuck it in a phone for as low price as possible. However, that does mean that there’s a lack of special features, like Samsung’s eye tracking software, and hovering screen, or Apple’s 3D touch. In my opinion, the most outstanding feature of the OnePlus 3T Dash Charge. Since the phone has such a large battery, at 3400mAh, normal charging would take almost half a day to charge it from 0-100%. Thanks to Dash Charge, the OnePlus 3T is capable of charging from 0-50% in just half an hour. That’s an impressive feat, and faster than even the iPhone 6s and 7, which both have tiny batteries compared to the 3400mAh monster in the OnePlus 3T.
Another standout feature of the OnePlus 3T is the fingerprint scanner. It’s extremely fast, and it’s also very accurate. While you might think that fingerprint scanners are fast enough, the fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 3T is in a league of its own. It’s much quicker than the scanner on the iPhone 7, and also much more accurate, so there are less false negatives. It’s also on the front of the phone, so you can still unlock the phone easily even if it’s facing up on a table. From this lack of features, it’s clear that OnePlus has focused on the internal hardware of the phone, as opposed to the flashy new features, like the ones present on the Samsung Galaxy S8.
As with all of OnePlus’s other phones, the OnePlus 3T has a large 5.5″ AMOLED panel on the front. It’s a fairly large and detailed display, but at 1920×1080, it doesn’t hold up against the 4K displays of today’s flagship phones. Still, at such an affordable price, it’s excusable. Although it’s not the most detailed display, it definitely makes up for it in brightness and viewing angles. As with most AMOLED displays, the display is visible at almost all viewing angles, but it’s also very vibrant and rich, something you don’t always find on non-AMOLED displays. Brightness is also excellent, and it’s easy to read, even outside. Sadly, the phone doesn’t employ the latest bezel-less display technology, like the Samsung Galaxy S8, or the Xiaomi Mi Mix, which has a huge 6.4″ display. Overall, the display on the OnePlus 3T is superb, only lacking the bleeding edge 4K resolution.
Hardware is, and always has been the focus of OnePlus’s phones. From the OnePlus One all the way to the OnePlus 5, they’ve all excelled in the hardware department, and brought about numbers you wouldn’t have dreamed would be on a phone, such as having 3GB of RAM in 2014. The OnePlus 3T is no exception, and it’s even more focused on hardware than all the previous phones, since it’s a similar to an “S” variation of the previous phone, which usually is only hardware differences. The OnePlus 3T is an exceptionally powerful phone, with a powerful SoC and a huge amount of RAM. The Snapdragon 821 chip inside of the OnePlus 3T is paired with a whopping 6GB of RAM. While it’s overshadowed by the OnePlus 5’s 8GB, it’s still an impressive amount.
Keep in mind that 6GB is the same amount as the special variant of the Samsung Galaxy S8, and 2GB more than the 4GB present on the normal Samsung Galaxy S8. The Snapdragon 821 chip itself has a very powerful powerful CPU and GPU, namely the Adreno 530. The CPU is a quad core arrangement with 2×2.35 GHz Kryo and 2×1.6 GHz Kryo cores. Together, they provide good performance while also maintaining good battery life. In benchmarks, the OnePlus 3T performs a little worse than the OnePlus 5, but it’s not noticeable in real life usage. The OnePlus 5 scores 1963|6687 (Single Core | Multi Core), and the OnePlus 3T scored 1890|4364. Most of the difference here is made up by the multi-core score. Overall, even though the OnePlus 3T is an older device, it still performs admirably.
Hardware – Camera
Unlike the OnePlus 5, the OnePlus 3T doesn’t have a dual camera setup. Instead, it has a single 16MP rear-facing camera which does all the shooting. This means that you lose the false bokeh effect of the OnePlus 5, but it’s still almost as good as the camera on raw photo quality. Low light performance is also good, but not quite as good as the low light performance of the OnePlus 5, due to the lower aperture of f/2.0 vs f/1.7. Aside from that, the camera is excellent, and the vivid yet natural colors show brilliantly on the AMOLED display. It’s wonderfully detailed at 16MP, and the autofocus is very fast. While the camera is great at taking photos, if you want the best in mobile phone photography, splash out and buy the OnePlus 5.
The OnePlus 3T also shoots video, and it does it very well. It’s capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps, or 1080p video at 60fps. While it’s standard issue for all flagship phones in 2017, a 4k30fps/1080p30fps camera on a mid-priced phone like this is a refreshing change. Video quality is good overall, with similar properties as the photos taken by the camera. Overall, the camera is excellent, especially in good lighting.
The OnePlus 3T version being sold by Gearbest is the Global version, which has more LTE bands than the local Chinese version. This is very useful, since with older OnePlus devices, it was common to have to fall back on a 3g connection, even if there was 4g available. As well as cellular connection, the OnePlus 3T comes with an array of all the usual connectivity options, including WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS.
It’s nice to see that the OnePlus 3T has USB Type-C, since it’s the latest standard, and it’s reversible. USB Type-C has only recently seen widespread adoption, whereas iPhone users have had reversible connectors since the iPhone 5.
The OnePlus 3T is still in what I call the “flagship speed status”, where the processor and GPU are in front of the performance curve, so they’re more powerful than the OS can demand in terms of visible slowdowns. This means that there’s absolutely no slowdowns whatsoever, and the phone runs perfectly fine. The OnePlus 3 is nearing the end of it’s flagship speed time, so expect the OnePlus 3T to follow suit soon. Even so, the OnePlus 3T is an extremely fast device, with heaps of RAM and power to spare. All manner of 3D games run perfectly fine, and everything from browsing Facebook to playing MC5 is buttery smooth. Multitasking is also a dream, thanks to the huge 6GB of RAM.
All OnePlus devices, since the beta for the OnePlus One, have run Oxygen OS. The OnePlus 3T also runs Oxygen OS, and it’s one of the best custom ROMs out there today. While many Chinese manufacturers design over-the-top UIs around stock android, OnePlus keeps it simple. Unlike the likes of MIUI and Emotion OS, stock android is left mostly untouched, and untainted. That isn’t to say that OnePlus is being lazy – there are a few key features which make Oxygen OS better than stock Android, like the draw. Everything which OnePlus has added follows the same design language that stock Android does, so nothing sticks out. If you’re really not a fan of the draw, you can completely replace the home screen with Google Now Launcher, which will almost return the entire phone to stock, since not much else is touched.
The OnePlus 3T, unlike the iPhone 7, has a headphone jack. Even though the internals are much stronger and faster than many Android phones out there today, the OnePlus 3T still miraculously has space for a headphone jack. It’s not a bad one either, it sounds about on par with most other flagship phone 3.5mm jacks. It’s a real godsend on Android phones, since if you’re against wireless headphones, you’d need to buy a USB-C equipped headphone, or use a finicky dongle. Even so, I’d recommend you buy Bluetooth earphones, since they provide so much freedom over the wired sort, even if it means you have to charge them every night.
While it has a larger battery than the OnePlus 5 at 3400mAh vs 3300mAh, the OnePlus 5 has noticeably better battery life, thanks to an updated chip as well as optimisations. Even so, the OnePlus 3T has very good battery life, and is enough to last someone like me a whole day. I use my phone a lot, with a mixture of Facebook, Snapchat, and Messenger, as well as a bit of gaming and Reddit. If you’re a light user, you could be able to stretch the battery life to between 1.5-2 days, but I wouldn’t depend on it. The battery life on the OnePlus 3T is a considerable upgrade from the OnePlus 3, which had a paltry 3000mAh battery. Sadly, the battery on the OnePlus 3T isn’t user-replaceable, so after a few years, the battery life will worsen, and you may want to get the battery replaced.
The OnePlus 3T comes in a variety of different colors – Gunmetal, Soft Gold, and now Midnight Black. I’d stay away from the Midnight Black color, as it looks like a wannabe OnePlus 5. My favorite is the Gunmetal version – it looks clean and inoffensive. The OnePlus 3T only comes in two RAM|ROM configurations, and that’s 6GB|64GB and 6GB|128GB. I prefer the 6GB|64GB version which should be more than enough storage for any normal user, but if you have a ton of stuff on your phone, you may want to purchase the 128GB version. It’s also a dual SIM phone, so you can use it for both home and work. However, unlike many other dual SIM phones, you can’t use an unused SIM slot as a micro-SD card slot, so there are no expandable storage options.
The OnePlus 3T, though older than the OnePlus 5 is very nearly just as good, and much cheaper too. Even though it’s not quite as fast, it’s still one the fastest devices around. It’s a fast, good looking, cheap phone, and an all around stunner. You won’t get the flashy features of the OnePlus 5, and battery life isn’t the best, but for your money, you couldn’t hope for a better phone than the OnePlus 3T. If you’re looking for a phone around this price range, the OnePlus 3T is a no-brainer – the iPhone SE comes a close second, but it’s a completely different phone, with a screen about half the size.
If you’d like to purchase the OnePlus 3T at just $399.99, purchase it at GearBest.com: