OnePlus 3T Review

10 January, 2017, 17:06:24

Whenever OnePlus is about to release a device, the whole smartphone community is stirred up as this manufacturer, originating from China, has always offered the best price/quality ratio in its devices and has always tried to offer additional value to the fans of the brand. After OnePlus 3, which is still a big hit, the company was quick to announce the OnePlus 3T. The first questions that come to mind are: 1) What's the difference between the two models? 2) Does the 3T offer any added value compared to the previous model? While a quick reference of the main specs of both models (see the table below and here's a detailed comparison between the OnePlus 3 and 3T) answers the first question, the second requires a more thorough knowledge of both models in order to be answered. We hope that this detailed review of OnePlus 3T will give you a straightforward answer backed by solid arguments.
The review unit has been provided by GearBest.com

Specifications

OnePlus 3T shares a lot of common specifications and features with the previous model and the 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED display with an FHD resolution is one of them. It uses a 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for protection. In addition, the device has an identical design to that of OnePlus 3. This fact wouldn't be so important, if the manufacturer didn't manage to pack a larger 3400 mAh battery inside a 7.35 mm thin body, which previously had a 3000 mAh accumulator. The most important difference between the two models is the chipset. The 3T houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 MSM8996 Pro system-on-chip, which has the same architecture as the Snapdragon 820, but the CPU and GPU are clocked at higher rates. More specifically, there are two 2.35GHz Kryo cores and another pair of those, clocked at 1.6GHz. At the same time the most powerful Adreno GPU to date - 530 is overclocked to 653MHz. The RAM and storage are the same as those in OnePlus 3 - 6GB of LPDDR4, dual-channel RAM, clocked at 1866MHz and 64GB of UFS 2.0 internal memory. However, this time OnePlus also offers a 128GB version of the model. Based on the advanced chipset, the 3T supports a plethora of network bands. Actually there are a North American, European/Asian, and Chinese variants in terms of network support. In general the device works with 4G LTE Cat. 6 networks with VoLTE and supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, Cast display, NFC, GPS, Glonass, BeiDou. It also packs a number of sensors, including a fingerprint one, embedded in the home button. The audio setup of the 3T is identical to that of OnePlus 3 and includes Dirac Power Sound technology for speaker optimization, OnePlus Music technology, and a dual-microphone with noise cancellation. The primary camera is the same as well, featuring a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 Exmor RS sensor, an f/2.0 lens, EIS, OIS, and PDAF. For the front-facing camera, however, the manufacturer has opted this time for a 16-megapixel Samsung 3P8SP sensor, compared to the 8-megapixel Sony IMX179 sensor in the previous model. Finally, OnePlus 3T arrives with OxygenOS 3.5.3 and Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, which are immediately updated to OxygenOS 4.0.1 and Android 7.0 Nougat. At the time of writing this review, this update is yet about to hit its older sibling. If you're interested in further details, here are the full OnePlus 3T (A3010) specifications.

OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T differences

Parameter OnePlus 3 OnePlus 3T
System-on-chip Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM8996, 2 x 2.15GHz + 2 x 1.6GHz Kryo CPU cores, 624MHz Adreno 530 GPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 MSM8996 Pro, 2 x 2.35GHz + 2 x 1.6GHz Kryo CPU cores, 653MHz Adreno 530 GPU
Front-camera sensor 8MP Sony IMX179 sensor, 1.4µm pixel size 16MP Samsung 3P8SP sensor, 1.0µm pixel size
Battery capacity 3000 mAh 3400 mAh
Color Graphite grey, Soft gold Gunmetal, Soft gold
Available storage 64GB 64GB, 128GB
Average 4K video bit rate ~42Mbps ~55Mbps
Rear camera module protection - Sapphire glass
In the table above we reveal the main differences in specifications between the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T. These include not only very basic parameters, but also some details we discovered during the making of this review. The difference in software versions is not included in the table, because OnePlus 3 will soon be updated to OxygenOS 4.0.1 with Android 7.0 Nougat. Naturally, there are differences in the SAR values and you can check them in the full comparison page mentioned at the beginning of this review.

What's in the box

The 3T arrives in the signature OnePlus box with a red body and a white lid, which has the brand logo and model name printed on top. Inside, the phone snugly lies in a red compartment, carefully packaged. It has a pre-applied screen protector. Below it, there's a red envelope with a warranty card, safety information, quick start guide and a SIM tray pin inside. The white compartment below carries a white Dash charger with two flat pins as per the US standard for electric sockets. If you live outside the USA, Canada and some Latin American countries, you will need a socket adapter. Next to the charger the Dash USB to Type-C cable is placed. It is thick and red, held in circular position by convenient clips.

Design, build and controls

OnePlus 3T has an identical design to the previous model, which happens to be the first OnePlus smartphone with a unibody design. Each device is crafted from a single piece of premium, aircraft-grade anodized aluminum alloy. It has undergone special sandblasting that gives the surface a fine grained matte finish. The antenna bands are thin and beautifully colored, so they perform equally well as a design element and actual antenna bands. The vertical sides of the back plate are gently curved for improved handling experience and steady grip. The back plate flows into sharp rear edges, while the front ones are gently chamfered in such an angle that they almost merge with the curve of the 2.5D glass covering the display unit. The contrast between gentle curves and stark edges is deliberate and one of the model's signature design elements. There's no need to mention that the build is premium and even the smallest element is crafted to perfection. OnePlus 3T exudes subtle elegance, while being tough as well. We have spent quite some time with it and the smartphone still amazes us how thin and lightweight it looks and feels. It truly covers, what the guys from OnePlus aspire to: "Impressive specs mean nothing if you don't have a great experience every time you pick up your phone." They have totally succeeded in achieving this.
The slightly curved vertical sides of the back plate end up creating this very thin profile of the smartphone, which with a waistline of 7.35 mm is one of the thinnest smartphones with a 5.5-inch display and a 3400 mAh battery in the market today. It is quite compact as its width measures 74.7 mm, the height is 152.7 mm and the weight - 158 grams. The only other smartphone that can actually compete with it in being very compact for this size class is the Huawei P9 Plus. It is 0.4 mm thinner and 0.4 mm shorter, but 0.6 mm wider and heavier with 4 grams, compared to the OnePlus 3T. More impressively, OnePlus 3 has exactly the same measurements as the 3T, but houses a smaller battery - 3000 mAh. For the 3T OnePlus has chosen a gunmetal color, instead of the graphite gray found on the previous model. It has preserved the soft gold color variant, however, it is available only in the 64GB version of the device. The 128GB one arrives only in gunmetal. We are reviewing a 64GB gunmetal unit. As usual, the manufacturer has created a large choice of optional back cases for the 3T, including such with wood texture, carbon fibers, sandstone finish, etc.
As long as it concerns the controls layout, there are no surprises. On the left frame you will see the Alert Slider button, which has a different texture than that of the volume and power buttons, and can be moved in three possible positions. Each corresponds to three levels of alerts - all notifications allowed, only priority ones are admitted, and silent mode. It will suit those of you who need quick access to such settings without the need to unlock the smartphone and search for the corresponding options. Below the Alert Slider the volume rocker is positioned, while the power button can be found on the opposite, right frame, just below the dual-SIM card tray. We have always deemed this layout being practical and convenient. All buttons are made of metal and fit perfectly in their places. While not protruding much, they provide an excellent tactile experience. The top frame of the smartphone is literally pristine, not a single hole, even for a mic, can be found there. At the same time the bottom frame contains a centrally positioned USB Type-C 2.0 one, a 3.5 mm jack, a microphone hole and a grille to the left of the USB port that covers a single speaker. Above the display, from the left to the right you will see the RGB LED notification light, front-facing camera, proximity/light sensor and earpiece. Below the display the navigation bar is positioned. It consists of a ceramics-covered capacitive home button, which has an embedded fingerprint sensor and two capacitive backlit dots. From the Customization menu in the Settings you can manage the navigation bar and change its functions to a large extent, so it fits your idea of comfortable navigation to the maximum. There's even an option for an on-screen navigation bar. On the back of the smartphone, right below the top antenna band is the square camera module with rounded corners. It protrudes very slightly from the body and is housed in stainless steel, while the top layer of the lens is covered with sapphire glass as a protection against drops and scratches. Below it is the single LED flash, and further below near the center the OnePlus logo is imprinted.

Display

OnePlus 3T arrives with exactly the same display unit as its previous sibling. It packs a 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED display with an FHD resolution (1080 x 1920) and a 401 ppi pixel density. Besides having an extremely thin bezel of 0.755 mm, the screen provides a peak brightness of 430 cd/m2 and is protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 with 2.5D curved edges. "Optic" stands for custom-engineered gamma corrections made by OnePlus, so the displayed content looks more natural. There's also a dual-polarizing layer that reduces light reflections and makes the content more visible even under direct sunlight despite the not so high peak brightness. Active Matrix Organic LED displays work in such a way as to reduce power consumption, while at the same time provide faster pixel switching response times. As a result you get a thinner display with deeper blacks and brighter whites that consumes very little power. AMOLED displays achieve pure black colors by simply switching off the pixels needed to display the black color, hence, it is difficult to measure the contrast ratio as the black values are equal to zero. At the same time, if such a screen has to display a white color, it provides less power to each pixel with the increase of the white area that has to be displayed. These facts only lead to the conclusion that in order to make a correct measurement, especially of the white values, we must use the Average Picture Level (APL), which demonstrates the correlation between a part of the display area that shows white and the whole display surface showing white. This means that with the increase of the APL percentage the white value drops. We have measured the white values in both default and sRGB color modes, the green and red lines, respectively. Besides all else, the graph below also shows that along with the color correction the sRGB mode also brings reduced peak brightness at all brightness levels. The AMOLED display panel of OnePlus 3T is made by Samsung as expected and incorporates its proprietary Diamond PenTile architecture (see the micrograph below). This sub-pixel structure has a specific arrangement, in which the number of green sub-pixels is the same as in a classic RGB stripe architecture, but the number of red and blue sub-pixels is twice as less. That is why it uses sub-pixel rendering to preserve the number of pixels as in classic RGB stripe displays with only 2/3rds of the number of dots. This might affect only text rendering in lower resolutions, but the 1080p one on a 5.5-inch unit is just fine. OnePlus 3 and 3T displays offer the best viewing angles we have seen on a smartphone with the colors preserved from all angles and almost no loss in brightness whatsoever.

Default color mode

In the default color mode, the OnePlus 3T shows a peak brightness of 425 cd/m2, which corresponds to the one specified. The white values normally drop with the decrease of the brightness level. Without being able to measure the black values, we cannot give a final contrast ratio as well. The temperature of the white point gravitates in the 7700-7900 K range, which is an OK value for a smartphone display. All these measurements are slightly lower than those of the OnePlus 3. The CIE diagram clearly demonstrates strong deviations in the green color area as well as deviations in the red and blue areas.
Brightness White luminance Black luminance Contrast Color temperature
100 % 425.272 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 7980 K
75 % 285.936 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 7957 K
50 % 197.688 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 7812 K
25 % 117.23 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 7752 K
0 % 19.227 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 7774 K

sRGB color mode

In response to the OnePlus community after the launch of the OnePlus 3, the manufacturer has released an sRGB mode for the display, which calibrates it to fit 100% of the sRGB color mode and provides accurate color reproduction. At first, this option was placed in the Developer Options, but after the OxygenOS 3.5.1 release it can be found as Screen calibration in the Display menu. When activated, it allows you to switch between the default and sRGB mode as well as customize the color temperature further and make it warmer or colder. In the sRGB mode the display demonstrates a slightly lower peak brightness at all brightness levels, compared to the one of the default color mode. The temperature of the white point is nailed at the perfect 6600 K and the CIE diagram shows an almost perfect sRGB color space match. So, if color accuracy on a smartphone display is of utmost importance to you, you have a handy sRGB mode to use.
Brightness White luminance Black luminance Contrast Color temperature
100 % 415.331 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 6641 K
75 % 278.305 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 6655 K
50 % 192.823 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 6630 K
25 % 114.015 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 6672 K
0 % 18.689 cd/m2 0.000 cd/m2 - 6857 K

OxygenOS 3.5.3 and Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow

We have received our OnePlus 3T unit running OxygenOS 3.5.3 based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. We examined it as it immediately received an update to the next OxygenOS version based on Android 7.0 Nougat. OxygenOS 3.5.3 offers a major overhaul of the previous 3.1.3 version, but here we will discuss only the differences with the following 4.0.1 version. As you can see from the screenshots below the main differences are in the Notifications and Quick Settings design, the proprietary Shelf function, and in the restructuring of several Settings menus such as the Display, Storage & memory, Gestures and Advanced. Of course the main difference is that it is based on Android M, and the latest Nougat version of the OS offers a lot of improvement in design and functionality.
After the latest update OnePlus 3T now runs OxygenOS 4.0.1 based on Android 7.0 Nougat. So there are two new things to discuss and we will make references to the differences compared to the older versions of both, where applicable. In general, OxygenOS 4.0.1 is a more refined version of OxygenOS 3.5.3. The big update of OnePlus' proprietary UI was made with the 3.5.1 over the 3.1.3. At the same time Android N is an entire new version of the OS, with which it evidently enters Android's mature phase. Even an inexperienced user will spot the differences over previous versions and we will pinpoint them along with our overview of OnePlus 3T's OS, UI and software.

OxygenOS 4.0.1 and Android 7.0 Nougat

Similar to its previous iterations, the new OxygenOS 4.0.1 highlights the best of what Android 7.0 Nougat offers, and adds small touches in terms of design and functionality to improve your interaction with the smartphone and make the most of your experience with it. This is a well-balanced mix of familiar looks and improved features. The Lock screen is the same as in previous versions, with shortcuts to the Voice search and Camera apps. Swiping on it unlocks the device by default and you land on the Home screen, which is familiar as well - with the Voice search bar on top, Clock widget, Google apps folder and Play Store, docked row of apps with Phone, Messages, App Tray, Chrome, and Camera. All available applications are accessed by the App Tray and are listed in alphabetical order in one screen that can be scrolled. Alternatively, you can place apps on screens that are successive to the Home one and are accessible by swiping to the left. The most noteworthy and entirely new feature in Android so far is the split-screen function, which makes multi-tasking easier and brings interaction with the smartphone up to a whole new level. In OnePlus 3T you can activate this function in three ways: 1) Open the apps you want to view on the screen. Open the Task Manager and drag one of the apps to the top of the screen. It will automatically take the first half of it. The other apps will tile below it and you can open whichever you want and switch in between them for more effective multi-tasking. 2) From the Buttons menu in the Settings, you have to activate the option that a double tap on the Recents (Menu) button activates/deactivates the split-screen mode. Once this is done you can activate/deactivate the split-screen, no matter the number and type of apps you have open. 3) Activate the System UI Tuner from the Quick Settings. Go to this menu and from Other check the Enable split-screen swipe-up gesture. This means that if you swipe up from the Overview button, this will activate the split-screen mode. There are a few things to now about this mode. It works both in portrait and landscape and not all applications support it, those that don't yield a message. Furthermore, you can drag and drop text and images from one app to another, while in split-screen mode. If you have to use the keyboard, the windows are resized automatically. If you have to exit this mode, simply drag the split line or tap the Recents (Menu) button. If you're in split mode and you hit the Home button, the windows will spread out, but the mode stays activated and if you hit the Recents (Menu) button they will appear again. Actually, the split-screen mode is new only to pure Android as such a feature has already been used in the UIs developed by some Chinese smartphone manufacturers.
The Clear All icon in the Task Manager is redesigned as well and as a new feature - Android will automatically remove from the list applications, which have not been used for a long time. The Notifications are now completely flat, take up the whole width of the display and are even more interactive. There are three ways a notification can look like: compact, slightly more expanded with information, and full-blown view with quick actions. These include replying to messages, sharing or deleting content, cancelling a download, etc. directly from the notification area. We have actually spotted similar features in the UIs of some smartphone manufacturers from China as well. In addition, tapping on a notification opens its priority settings with an option to open more settings that are notification-specific. Above the list with notifications appears a quick shortcuts list with icons for Wi-Fi, network signal, battery, Bluetooth, and screen rotation. You can edit this list to include the five toggles you find most useful to you. A simple second swipe downwards opens the complete Quick Settings, which have undergone complete overhaul as well, at least in Oxygen 4.0.1. The design is simplified. The user accounts icon is moved to the far left, but opens the same old menu and options for managing user accounts, if your smartphone is to be used by other people. The brightness level bar is placed below the list of toggles and goes along with an ambient light toggle. The pen icon on the right of the Settings cog opens the Edit mode, from where you can re-arrange and/or add toggles in the Quick Settings shade. A new Android feature is that while some toggles trigger direct action - the flashlight turns on/off, for example, others open a menu inside the Quick Settings with more options. The Bluetooth one, for example offers an on/off toggle, a list of paired devices and a shortcut to more settings.
As usual, a swipe to the right opens the Shelf. Its big redesign happened in OxygenOS 3.5.1 and in 4.0.1 it is just optimized. Conceived as a tool for quick access to the most used contacts, apps and convenient tools, it has gone a long way and is now as simple as ever without sacrificing functionality. Just like before, you can add, remove, rearrange and resize the four main boards. The first one is for memos with an option to set priority for each one you create, if desired. The second is for the recent contacts and the third - for the recent apps. The fourth is called Manage center and provides quick information about the status of data usage, battery capacity, and available storage. The Plus button brings up a Widgets one, which, if pressed, opens a list of widgets to choose from and add to your Shelf. A tap and hold on an empty space on the Home screen opens the Widgets menu, which is slightly changed in OxygenOS 4.0.1. Though being a new feature in Android 7.0, the option to choose wallpapers for the Lock screen and Home screen separately has already been existing in OxygenOS for some time as well as in other UIs from Chinese smartphone manufacturers. The list of Widgets does not offer surprises, but the Customization group of options now lacks the Voice search ones and contains only the three gesture toggles and icon size/style options you're familiar with from OxygenOS 3.5.1. By default, a tap and hold on the Home button opens the Screen Search function (Google starts an internet search based on the data on your screen), but you can always disable it or choose another function for this action. Since 3.5.1, the Volume shade has been changed to include information from the Alert Slider with a Settings cog to each corresponding feature. This is retained in OxygenOS 4.0.1. It is the same with the Power off menu, which in 3.1.3 was the traditional Android M one, but in 3.5.1 changed to a more stylish shade with Power off and Reboot options. This feature is retained in 4.0.1 as well.
In Android N, the Settings menu has undergone not only cosmetic changes, but some structural ones as well, and this is quite obvious even under the OxygenOS skin. The first thing that makes impression are the snippets of information below the menu titles. This does not expand the sheer volume of the Settings list and at the same time is quite useful because you know straight away what's the condition of important elements - adaptive brightness is off (under Display), all apps allowed to send (under Notifications), and so on. The second most noteworthy change in this area is the addition of a hamburger icon placed in the top left corner of most of the sub-menus in the Settings. It opens the top level list of settings to provide a quicker access to them, instead of going back a step, two or more. There are occasions, in which we found it useful, and in others - not. Originally, Android 7.0 features a Suggestions area above the list of Settings, but this one is omitted in OxygenOS 4.0.1. Some things, however, would probably never change, such as the main order of the Settings groups. The first, as usual, is Wireless & networks. It offers some minor changes available since OxygenOS 3.5.1 and combines the SIM cards and Cellular networks options into one menu. However, version 4.0.1 offers a refinement by placing the Alert Slider, Buttons, Gestures, and Status bar settings in a separate group, called Customization. In the previous versions they were listed in various groups and, logically, are now into one. The Alert Slider and Buttons largely stay the same, only the various options for button functions have been increased. It is the same for the Gestures. From the whole list only the Pocket mode toggle has been removed and placed in a different menu. The Status bar is something new and offers you to choose the battery icon and time style as well as a list of selected toggles, with which you can choose which icon should appear or not on the status bar.
The third group of Settings is the Device one and it starts off with the Display menu. Since version 3.5.1 OnePlus has removed the sRGB mode for the screen from the Developers options to the Display menu under the name Screen calibration. This feature remains the same in 4.0.1. It lets you choose between the default and sRGB color mode as well as customize the color temperature manually. You get the usual OxygenOS display themes: dark, light, and default, a Night Mode toggle, LED notification light settings and all the usual stuff here, but there's one noticeable difference. In Android 7.0 Nougat the Daydream function has been renamed to what it actually is: Screen saver. The Daydream name in this latest OS is now reserved for another feature - that of VR (virtual reality) support and will be applicable only for compatible devices. Under Display you may also change the font size, but this time the way this menu looks is changed. Android 7.0 also allows you to change how things look on the screen with Display size - smaller or larger, thus if you choose smaller, you can preview more content, for example. This feature also appears for the first time on a OnePlus smartphone. However, since OxygenOS 3.5.3 (Android 6.0) there are separate menus for the Sounds and Notifications, which arrives as a feature to Android with its 7th version. The Sounds menu offers only one new feature - Audio Tuner. This menu is activated only if you plug in earphones to the smartphone and includes a toggle for Audio Switch, a choice of earphone types for optimum audio experience and an equalizer. The Notifications menu contains settings for all applications available on the device and has an expansive choice of ways to show and sort them for more convenient preview and management. Of course, you can still choose whether to show notifications on the lock screen or not. The Battery menu has been revamped as well, but will be discussed in the Battery section of this review together with the new Doze mode. Storage & memory have become a single sub-group since 3.5.1, but the OTG toggle is gone from the menu in 4.0.1. The Explore option under Storage has a tiled layout, but you can change it to a simple list, if you prefer so.The last sub-group under Device is Users. It contains the usual You (admin), Guest and Add user settings, but includes two new features - a toggle for the Users icon whether you should be able to add users when the device is locked and Emergency information. The latter is a new Android 7.0 Nougat feature and you can add any information you might want to be available to people who react first to your emergency.
The fourth main Settings group is named Personal and starts with the Apps menu. It is placed there probably because it has to do mainly with your (personal) device's security. In Android 7.0 Nougat the Configure apps section is quite expansive compared to the one in Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It contains the usual list with all applications installed on the device and the usual App permissions list. The App links has been renamed to Opening links, but is actually the same list of which applications are allowed to open links. However, the Default Apps are not hidden behind a menu, but are listed directly, and there are many additional functions accompanying the Draw over other apps and Modify system settings ones. The first is Assist & voice input, which can help you based on the information displayed on your screen (text or image). It has some additional Voice settings, such as language, speech output, type of hands-free, etc. The Special access features is entirely new in Android. It contains a list of "sensitive" parts in your system like Device administrators, Draw over other apps, Modify system settings, Premium SMS access, Usage and Unrestricted data access, and many others. For each you can see which applications have requested to access them and if access is granted you can choose to switch it off. This is just a small part of the overall aim to increase security and make security management more flexible. Though the Location sub-group looks unchanged, it is. Android N allows you to set not only a primary language, but also several secondary ones. It is followed by the Security & Fingerprint sub-group. It contains an improved App Locker that allows you to manage what your apps have access to and what they're allowed to do. As usual, once you setup a screen lock different from swipe, you activate the Smart Lock function, which in OxygenOS lets your smartphone remain unlocked, if it is near a trusted device, place, voice, face, or your body. Setting up and managing fingerprint IDs remains almost unchanged. Only the Rename/Delete fingerprint option is a separate screen, not a pop-up dialog box. The Accounts sub-group is intact and so seems the Google sub-group of settings, in which the various menus only seem to have changed places. The fifth and last group of settings is the System one and it contains the usual Date & time, and Backup & reset menus. The Languages & input sub-group introduces options not only for a virtual, but also for a physical keyboard. The Advanced sub-group contains the Accessibility, Printing, Schedule power on & off, Recent app management and the Pocket mode toggle originally found under Gestures in previous OxygenOS versions. While these haven't been changed much, we've noticed that the Accessibility menu contains the Font and Display size features, found in the Display menu. This duplication can be omitted in future versions of the software. There is also a mono audio and large mouse pointer toggles in the Accessibility menu for visually impaired users. The Recent app management is a new feature and lets you decide whether when you click on the Clear All icon in the Task Manager, it should clear the list of apps and cache without clearing background processes or it should clear background process, too (deep clean). The System UI Tuner contains different options compared to what we've seen up to now. These include two additional Do Not Disturb mode toggles and Other settings. We have already explained the first one from the Other options. This is the toggle that switches on a swipe gesture for activating the split-screen mode. The second option is called Power notification controls, with which you can set importance levels for app notifications from 0 to 5. The very last menu from the settings is the Phone status (About phone) one. It contains basic specifications data about the model, its software, legal and authentication information.
In terms of pre-installed applications, with the 3T, OnePlus continues with its policy for minimum clutter and clean Android experience. On the Home screen you get the usual folder with Google apps (Google, Chrome, Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Drive, PlayMusic, Hangouts, Photos) and as a separate icon - PlayStore. The three main apps - Phone, Contacts, and Messenger are unchanged, only the latter has been renamed to Messages. The Calculator and Calendar remain the same, while the Clock application has been changed. For starters, its background color has been muted and some elements have been redesigned to be more stylish and eye-pleasing. The Downloads app has been redesigned, but retains its functionality. The File Manager and Gallery app provide improved ways of sorting and managing all sorts of files. The first works with the FileDash functionality for convenient file transferring, introduced for the first time with OxygenOS 3.5.5. There's a totally new Weather app on board together with Google's Duo application for video calling. The Sound recorder is as simple as it can be, still maintaining recording in AAC and WAV formats, but it has been linked to Android 7.0's new permission rules and it actually asks you for permission to modify system settings before starting the app and if you do not grant them, the app crashes. Probably this is an issue that needs to be addressed in a future update.

Networks, calls and connectivity

In terms of network support, OnePlus 3T has three variants: 1) North American, supporting WCDMA bands 1/2/4/5/8, FDD-LTE bands 1/2/4/5/7/12/17/30, and CDMA EVDO BC0; 2) European/Asian, supporting WCDMA bands 1/2/5/8, FDD-LTE bands 1/3/5/7/8/20, and TDD-LTE bands 38/40; 3) Chinese, supporting WCDMA bands 1/2/5/8, FDD-LTE bands 1/3/7, TDD-LTE bands 38/39/40/41, TD-SCDMA bands 34/39, and CDMA EVDO BC0. All three work with the four bands of 2G GSM networks. Our review unit is the European/Asian variant. The dual-SIM card tray works with nano-SIM cards, no option for storage extension. Just like its 6-month older sibling, the OnePlus 3T offers exceptional call quality. The advanced chipset powering the device makes sure that you get all the latest options for wireless connectivity. The model supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Cast display, Bluetooth 4.2. It also works with NFC and Android Beam, and via Android Pay offers the Tap & Pay feature. The USB Type-C port works fine and its OTG functions as well. The device works with all three satellite positioning systems and during our test it quickly detected a good number of satellites from all three (GPS, Glonass, BeiDou) with an accuracy of up to 5 meters.

Performance

OnePlus 3T is the fourth smartphone we review based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 MSM8996 Pro chipset, which is manufactured after the 14nm process. The other three are all Xiaomi devices: the Mi MIX, Mi 5s Plus, and the Mi 5s. This is actually the most significant difference between OnePlus 3 and the 3T. SD 821 is currently the top performing system-on-chip, available on the market today. The Snapdragon 835, manufactured after the 10nm process, has already been announced earlier this month, but the first smartphones based on it are not commercially available, yet. The Snapdragon 821 is an overclocked version of the 820. It has the same CPU architecture with two pairs of custom Kryo cores, but the first pair has an increased clock rate of 2.35GHz compared to 2.15GHz in the Snapdragon 820 and the second pair ticks at 1.6GHz. The graphics department relies on the most powerful Adreno GPU to date - 530, which in this case is overclocked to 653MHz compared to 624MHz in the SD 820. All this provides a 10% increase in performance over the Snapdragon 820 CPU and 5% increase in performance of the GPU. Further improvement in power efficiency is due to the Qualcomm Hexagon 680 DSP on board. OnePlus 3T's AnTuTu score is 163234, which is only marginally higher than the AnTuTu score of the Mi MIX - 162521 points. For comparison, OnePlus 3 has scored 144140 points in AnTuTu, which is quite a significant difference. These are real performance beasts that will top Antutu's charts for quite some time till the new smartphones based on the SD 835 appear. In the Sling Shot tests (think gaming), based on OpenGL ES 3.0 and ES 3.1, the Mi MIX outperforms the OnePlus 3T, but again - only marginally. In the Ice Storm Extreme test the results of the Mi MIX and the OnePlus 3T are almost on par, while the 3T slightly outperforms the Mi MIX in the Ice Storm Unlimited test. As these benchmark tests stress both the CPU and the GPU such a result is expected. As long as it concerns Geekbench 4 results, those of OnePlus 3T are only very slightly higher than those of the Mi MIX and Mi 5s Plus. This is a test that stresses the CPU mainly, but has added new GPU Compute workloads that estimate the processing power of the GPU as well.
As usual, we have also Rightware's Basemark OS II and Basemark X test. While the first is focused on measuring the overall performance of the smartphone, the second is concentrated on evaluating gaming and graphics performance. In the Basemark OS II test the OnePlus 3T scores higher than the other smartphones based on the same chipset that we have tested. At the same time the Basemak X results are almost on par across all devices. All in all, this comes to show that the GPU performs the way it would on other devices, but OnePlus has managed to squeeze out more juice from the CPU compared to its competitors, hence the higher overall performance scores across all tests. We couldn't run any of the PCMark tests on our review unit as each crashed and failed to continue, so we've included some additional benchmark tests such as the GFXBench based on multiple tests for complete graphics performance evaluation. We have also added an Epic Citadel's benchmark test, which is focused on gaming and is based on the Unreal Engine 3, and the result is "High Quality". As long as it concerns browsing, the Vellamo tests, which check scrolling and zooming, 3D graphics, video performance and memory read/write, peak bandwidth performance and many other parameters, show that the OnePlus 3T is outperformed in the Browser part, but scores better in the Metal and Multicore sub-tests.
OnePlus 3T arrives with 6GB of LPDDR4, dual-channel RAM, clocked at 1866MHz - the same amount and type found on the previous version of the model. For sure, even with current trends 6GB is a lot, but with Android 7.0 Nougat's multi-tasking capabilities, you will now be able to enjoy the generous RAM more fully. You can also shift swiftly from a heavy graphics game to shooting 4K video and generally enjoy switching between heavy apps without any lag for more streamlined performance. The internal storage is the current fastest UFS 2.0 type and measures either 64GB, or 128GB. Non-expandable. Reading from and writing to the memory happens with speeds that are typical for this type of storage. We are reviewing a 64GB of unit. Of those, 53.49GB are available to the user. If we have to compare them with the user-available gigabytes, when the device was running OxygenOS 3.5.3 and Android 6.0.1, we must say that the number is exactly the same - 53.49GB. The manufacturer says it has "implemented a new file system that accelerates transfer and boot speeds", which is most probably a reference to the FileDash file transfer technology, introduced for the first time in OxygenOS 3.5.5. Indeed, when you start using the 3T you will be amazed how quickly files are transferred. The advanced chipset means that there's a myriad of sensors on board, including, but not limited to accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, light, proximity, rotation vectors, step counters, etc. The ceramic fingerprint sensor is the same one used in the OnePlus 3. It is made by Fingerprint Cards (model FPC1245) and is embedded in the Home button. It is highly sensitive, extremely fast and unlocks the device in a blink of an eye. Moreover, it "actively learns and progressively improves over time."

Cameras

The camera app is exactly the same as in the previous version of OxygenOS. The top left corner is taken by a hamburger menu, which opens the various shooting modes menu. It includes time lapse, slow motion and video shooting, photo snapping (selected by default), manual, and panorama. Activating the manual mode lets you change the ISO, white balance, shutter speed, etc. In the right corner are the flash and HDR shortcuts. There's a large circular button centrally positioned at the bottom with a camera switch shortcut to its right and a settings one to its left. The settings open various options that appear above the shutter button prior to shooting. They include a choice of aspect ratios, self-timer (up to 10 seconds), and an on/off grid. Other settings, accessed from the modes menu, include toggles for save location, shutter sound, and save RAW image. Sliding around the focus circle on the screen also lets you change the exposure and a long press on a spot on the screen enables focus lock.

Primary camera

OnePlus 3T features the same primary camera as the OP3. It is equipped with a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 Exmor RS sensor with a 1.12 µm pixel size. The sensor is aided by optical image stabilization (OIS), while snapping photos, and by electronic image stabilization (the new EIS 2.0), while shooting video. Sharp focus and clarity are achieved by using phase-detection auto-focus coupled with Dynamic Denoise. The lens has an f/2.0 aperture. The hole camera module is in a stainless steel casing for protection against drops, and the unit is covered with sapphire glass for protection against scratches. The camera can make 4K at 30 fps, slow-motion, and time lapse videos. In regards to the 4K video, the one we shot with the OnePlus 3T has a bit rate of 55Mbps, which is higher than the 42Mbps bit rate of the video we made with the OnePlus 3. The camera makes photos with a resolution of 4640 x 3480 pixels and supports the RAW image format. In the panorama photos though, we've noticed that there are some defects in certain areas and we hope that this can be fixed with an upcoming update. The zero shutter lag is achieved via the 14-bit Qualcomm Spectra Image Signal Processor (ISP) built in the chipset. Besides the OnePlus 3, which has an identical camera setup, other smartphones that we have reviewed and utilize the same camera sensor are the Asus ZenFone 3 ZE522KL, the nubia Z11, and the Xiaomi Mi 5 Standard Edition, so you can check how these sensors perform in other models with different lens setups.
ISO 6400, 1/17 sec, f/2, Auto (very low light conditions)
ISO 4000, 1/10 sec, f/2, Auto + HQ (very low light conditions)
ISO 3200, 1/4 sec, f/2, Manual (very low light conditions)
ISO 1600, 1/2 sec, f/2, Manual (very low light conditions)
ISO 800, 1 sec, f/2, Manual (very low light conditions)
ISO 100, 10 sec, f/2, Manual (very low light conditions)
HDR Off
HDR On
HDR Off
HDR On
ISO 12233 resolution test chart (310 mm x 225 mm)

Secondary camera

Another major difference with the OnePlus 3 is the change in the sensor of the front-facing camera. Instead of continuing with the 8-megapixel Sony IMX179 sensor from the previous model, the manufacturer has opted for a 16-megapixel Samsung 3P8SP sensor with a 1.0 µm pixel size. This sensor is completely new and this is its debut in a smartphone. Despite the widely spread news that it is coupled with phase-detection AF, this is not the case and OnePlus explicitly states on the 3T page that the front-facing camera has a fixed focus. It is coupled with an f/2.0 lens and EIS for videos. This camera makes photos with a resolution of 4608 x 3456 pixels and captures 1080p videos at 30 fps. It features a Beauty Mode and offers a Smile Capture functionality. Such a camera would be perfect for live streaming in HD and for video calling via Skype, Google's Duo, included in the pre-installed apps, or any other similar application.

Audio

OnePlus 3T arrives with two music apps - the proprietary OxygenOS one, which has not been updated, and the default Google Play Music one. No matter that they look different, both provide almost one and the same basic functionalities of a music app - various types of sorting the audio files (song name, artist, album, the OnePlus app also offers sorting by tags), shuffle files and loop the playlist. Neither contains the Audio Tuner options found in the Sound menu from the Settings. If they did, it would be quite convenient. Obviously, OnePlus has chosen to go with media apps slowly.
OnePlus 3T is equipped with a single, bottom-facing speaker with the Dirac Power Sound technology for its optimization. There's a dual-microphone with noise cancellation on board as well. Even though no special audio chips and amplifiers are detailed, the audio quality, provided by this model is higher than average. Our review unit excels in frequency response and IMD + Noise. It scores Good in THD + Noise, the rest of the parameters are assessed as being Very good. So is the overall result from the audio measurements. We perform our audio test by using the RightMark Audio Analyzer software and the TASCAM US-2x2 audio interface. The speaker itself provides impressive sound quality, but this is a subjective assessment.
Test Value RMAA rating
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB -0.05, -0.14 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -94.0 Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A) 94.0 Very good
THD, % 0.0067 Very good
THD + Noise, dB (A) -80.2 Good
IMD + Noise, % 0.0079 Excellent
Stereo crosstalk, dB -81.8 Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.015 Very good
General performance   Very good
Frequency response
Noise level
Dynamic range
THD + Noise (at -3 dB FS)
Intermodulation distortion
Stereo crosstalk

Battery

The Battery settings are redesigned in Android 7.0 Nougat. They start off with the Battery Saver options and continue with the monitor graph and usage data. The latter two provide more information in the form of history details. What's new here is the "Aggressive doze & app hibernation" toggle, which is switched off by default. If you enable it, the Doze mode, which is integrated in Android and introduced for the first time with 6.0 Marshmallow, will become more aggressive and all background apps will hibernate. Actually, in Android 7.0 Nougat the Doze Mode works not only when the device stands still, but also when it is on the move. While the screen is off and the device is on the move, the Doze Mode is moderate and network access will be shut down with data syncing happening once in a while. When the device is stationary for quite some time, the Doze Mode goes deeper - data syncing, Wi-Fi and GPS scanning are shut down. From the Battery settings you can also access another new feature - the option to automatically close all apps that consume a lot of power. Of course the Battery Optimization and Schedulе power on & off functions are on board as well. There's a further possibility for battery optimization, while in the Location settings by choosing the type of accuracy you'd want - the higher it is, the more power is consumed.
The third major difference between the OnePlus 3T and 3, after the chipset and the front-camera sensor, is the battery capacity. Within the same body as the one of OP3, the manufacturer has managed to squeeze a larger battery - 3400 mAh compared to the 3000 mAh one in the previous model. This is a non-removable, Li-Pol accumulator that arrives with OnePlus' proprietary Dash charger with 5V/4A output power. It employs an in-house developed technology that reduces the heat generated in the device, while charging. This is achieved by moving the power management system and heat dispersion elements to the charger. The high output power of the latter (20W) allows you to get a whole day of battery life after only 30 minutes of charging. The technology is known to keep one and the same charging rate, even while you watch videos or play heavy games, because it produces a larger electric current instead of increasing pressure. The graph above generated from our battery charging test demonstrates the rate, with which the battery charges (yellow line), and the battery temperature fluctuations during the process (red line). The Dash charger does keep a steady pace from 0% to 80% of the battery's capacity. 50% are reached in 25 minutes and 80% - in 42 minutes. After that the charging speed slows down and the next 10% to reach 90% need another 10 minutes. Then the speed slows down even more and the last 10% of the capacity are filled in 25 minutes. The whole process of charging from 0% to 100% took 1 hour and 17 minutes. At the same time the battery temperature at the start measured 30°C and immediately increased to 34°C. Then it continued to rise till it reached 39°C at 75% of the charge. After that point it started dropping down and at the end of the process measured 28°C. This second graph shows discharge time and battery temperature during intensive internet browsing. We wanted to include a test, which would represent how long the battery would last when the user does some real operations with the mobile device, like browsing on the Internet. We were motivated to do this because the PCMark Battery Test runs until the battery level reaches 20% and then calculates the score, which is fine when the discharge rate is linear through 100% - 0%. But in reality many devices do not operate like this. For example, from our experience we've noticed that some devices reach 1% of battery level and maintain that percentage for half an hour under full load and max screen brightness. In cases like this, it's obvious that the reported test result by PCMark does not reflect the real battery performance of some devices and it would be much more correct to test the battery from full load until it depletes completely. So we decided to develop an application, which simulates real user interaction with the browser - tapping, swiping/scrolling, zooming in/out, etc. The main goal is to reproduce how users browse in reality by using real Wi-Fi connections and some of the most popular websites at the moment, such as various social networks, video sharing, news, technology/mobile industry related websites, etc. In this case, OnePlus 3T shows that its battery lasts 6 hours and 26 minutes from 100% to 0%, while browsing on the internet using Wi-Fi connection. The screen has been calibrated to 200 cd/m2. The battery temperature starts off at 30°C and after half an hour increases to 35°C. The battery maintains this temperature till the very end with slight fluctuations (with 1°C up and down). The video playback battery life test of OnePlus 3T shows 10 hours and 20 minutes. We have used a 4K video (3840 x 2160) at 30 fps, shot by us with the device, looped in VLC Media Player. The video format is H.264 and its bitrate is ~55 Mbps. The discharging pattern resembles the one of the browsing test, but discharging is slower at the beginning. The first 1% from 100 to 99% has taken 20 minutes. Afterwards the discharging speed increases and is maintained till the very end with each percent of the charge needing 6-7 minutes to be depleted. The battery temperature, reported by the device during the process, starts off at 30°C and gradually increases to 33°C. This temperature level is preserved till the end.

Final thoughts

We have posed two questions at the beginning of our review, and while the first one received a straightforward and immediate answer, the second needed a more in-depth look into the specifications and capabilities of the OnePlus 3T and its previous model. While both devices share many common specifications and features, they differ in three basic areas - the chipset, on which the whole hardware is based, the front-camera sensor, and the battery capacity. We will not take into account the difference in software versions, because OnePlus 3 will be updated to OxygenOS 4.0.1 and Android 7.0 Nougat, too, but only later. These three differences are actually capable of changing your whole experience with the smartphone, so yes, the 3T does offer more value than the OP3. If significantly improved performance, longer battery life and improved front-camera are important to you, you should go for the OnePlus 3T. If not, you can opt for the OnePlus 3 and still enjoy a marvelous piece of smartphone art. As a conclusion, we'd say that the OnePlus 3T is among the devices that offer top price/quality/performance ratio in the smartphone market.