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OnePlus 3 camera review: Premium snapper for mid-range money?

OnePlus 3 camera review: We test the 16-megapixel OnePlus 3 camera, which can shoot RAW images as well as 4K video, plus the 8-megapixel selfie camera. Check out our OnePlus 3 camera review with photo and video samples.

The OnePlus 3 packs some serious specs considering the £309 UK asking price, and one of its biggest features is the 16-megapixel Sony IMX camera jutting out of the rear end. We took the OnePlus 3’s snapper for a test drive and here’s our full camera review.

For our full phone verdict, check out our in-depth OnePlus 3 review

OnePlus 3 camera review: Ease of use and features

First of all, it’s good to see that the OnePlus 3’s camera app can be quickly opened with a double-tap of the phone’s power button. This works when the mobile is hibernating and also when you’re messing around in another app entirely.

The OnePlus 3 camera app is reasonably streamlined, although not quite as user-friendly as the likes of the Moto G4 and LG G5’s camera app. Boot it up and you’ll be in auto photo mode, with a handful of settings on display. As well as the usual controls (a decent-sized shutter button and a button to swap between the front and rear camera), you get toggles for the flash, HD mode (‘increases image clarity’) and HDR mode at the top of the screen.

To add a bit of clutter, there are also two settings buttons. One can be used to toggle the timer mode, aspect ratio and on-screen grid, which will almost certainly never be touched by most users (shame they weren’t buried further away) while the other is used to switch between different modes, including video, manual mode, slow motion and time lapse.

Thankfully you can also quickly switch to video mode by swiping up or down the screen, which is nice.

Of course, you can always replace the OnePlus 3 camera app with one of your own choosing, if desired.

OnePlus 3 camera review: Camera performance

Still, the OnePlus 3’s camera lens is super-fast once you get snapping, with a nippy autofocus that can be overridden with a tap of the screen. Hit the shutter button and your photo takes pretty much instantaneously. And if your subject is in motion, the OnePlus 3 still does a bang-up job of keeping them sharp and in focus, unless they just happen to be a manic kitty.

After extensive testing, I was definitely pleased with the album of photos I managed to shoot with the OnePlus 3. On full auto mode with HDR also on auto, you get good-looking pics pretty much every time.

Every snap is rammed with tiny details, as you’d expect from a flagship phone. Colours stand out nicely but hues are also realistically reproduced, rather than boosted artificially. Contrast is also well handled; shoot against a bright sky, for instance, and you’ll still get a crisp, clear shot with very little oversaturation (overly bright areas). Macro snaps are particularly impressive, with sharp results from a very short distance.

When the lighting conditions drop, the OnePlus 3’s f/2.0 sensor still holds up well. Images are dark but not too grainy, with some impressive detail captured in evening shots, while the LED flash does a fantastic job of lighting up a scene. The OnePlus 3’s camera can’t quite match the Galaxy S7 for low-light performance, but it’s really not far off.

Check out these OnePlus 3 photo samples captured on full auto mode (click for a full-sized image).

You can also dive into the simple manual mode in the OnePlus 3’s camera app if you want a little more control (although you do at least get brightness adjustment in the auto mode when manually focusing, like on the Moto G4). This gives control over ISO levels and so on, if you need to capture a very specific shot.

And if you’re keen to get the post possible results, the OnePlus 3 also offers RAW image shooting, something found on few full-priced mobiles.

OnePlus 3 camera review: Video performance

The OnePlus 3 can shoot Full HD and 4K video footage (4K video is restricted to ten minutes), and results are once again fine but flawed.

Focus stays sharp when you’re flicking between near and distant points and harsh light is handled well. You get built-in Image Stabilisation to cut down on judder when shooting video, handy if you’re moving and filming at the same time. However it’s not as effective as the stabilisation on some rivals such as the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, with some significant shake as you take each step.

Audio quality is also poor. Outside there’s clear distortion, possibly a case of wind infecting the mic, and even inside it can be quite tinny at times (especially when recording music and anything with bass).

Here’s some Full HD and 4K video samples shot with the OnePlus 3.

OnePlus 3 camera review: Selfie camera

The OnePlus 3’s 8-megapixel selfie camera is a respectable snapper, with a wide-angle lens so you can cram in lots of heads. As you’d expect, the lens picks up plenty of detail, which isn’t great news if you look as tired as I do in these test shots.

In low light, there’s quite a lot of grain sadly. Rival phones like the Xperia X, Galaxy S7 and Moto G4 perform more strongly, capturing cleaner, more attractive shots.

Check out our OnePlus 3 hub for more OnePlus 3 features including our OnePlus 3 review, OnePlus 3 tips and tricks and more.

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