OnePlus 3 Long Term Review: Six months after launch, we revisit the OnePlus 3, which we’ve used on and off as our full-time handset. Is the OnePlus 3 still a great mobile, worthy of its 4.5 star review score? Here’s our long-term OnePlus 3 re-review.
OnePlus has just launched its latest phone, the OnePlus 3T, which boosts the specs of the OnePlus 3 and makes it even better (see our OnePlus 3T vs OnePlus 3 comparison for full details). But as you’ll know if you’ve followed our OnePlus coverage in 2016, we’re still massive fans of the original phone.
The OnePlus 3 offers incredible value for money, packing the kind of features and performance that you’d expect in a flagship Sony or HTC device, but at half the cost. In fact, check out our many OnePlus 3 comparison reviews to see how well this phone fares against the biggest Android rivals out there.
So, after several months of using the OnePlus 3, are we still infatuated with this 5.5-inch beast? Here’s our full OnePlus 3 re-review.
OnePlus 3 Long Term Re-Review: Design
The OnePlus 3 is of course a serious hand-filler. At 5.5-inches, this isn’t a mobile for anyone who wants a compact, easy-to-handle device. Rather, it’s for more demanding users who crave a big screen for enjoying movies, apps and games on the move.
That said, the OnePlus 3 is still pleasingly slim (if you ignore the jutting camera lens at the rear). It’s also impressively rugged. After six months of abuse, there isn’t a scratch or dent in sight and the phone is still functioning perfectly. It’s not water resistant, but it’ll happily survive a bit of soaking in a rainstorm.
We’re still holding out for a mini OnePlus phone, along the lines of Sony’s Xperia X Compact, but it’s looking unlikely. The new OnePlus 3T is another 5.5-incher, and it seems like big is the way OnePlus will continue to go.
OnePlus 3 Long Term Re-Review: Screen and media
We certainly have no complaints when it comes to that massive screen, which still holds up well against rivals. The Full HD resolution matches even much more expensive handsets like the Huawei Mate 9, producing crisp visuals at all times. And as it’s an AMOLED panel, you can expect bright, vibrant images too.
You can even fiddle around with the colour warmth if you like, until the OnePlus 3’s display is just how you like it.
After six full months, we’re just about filling up that 64GB of storage space, and sadly there’s no way to expand. Thankfully the likes of Google Photos means we can back up pictures and video on the fly, before eventually offloading everything to a computer.
It’s a shame that there’s no microSD memory card support, but if that’s going to be a problem, the new OnePlus 3T comes in a 128GB flavour. It’s more expensive, but it’d take a serious media collection to fill it up.
OnePlus 3 Long Term Re-Review: Features and OS
We’re still big fans of OnePlus’ Oxygen overlay too, which sits neatly on top of Android Marshmallow and adds some bonus custom features. The best addition is the Shelf, which gives you quick and easy shortcuts to your favourite apps, contacts and more besides. And OnePlus hasn’t tinkered much with the rest of Android, so you still get an apps tray (sweet mercy) and there isn’t a ton of crapware to delete.
Budget-friendly phones like the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus and Moto G4 Plus are starting to pack fingerprint sensors now, but the OnePlus 3’s scanner is still one of the best at this price point. Push your fingertip against the home button and the handset unlocks almost instantly, with near perfect accuracy. The only time it really fails is when your hands are wet or mucky, like with every sensor.
OnePlus 3 Long Term Re-Review: Performance and battery life
We’re not too surprised that the OnePlus 3 still offers a silky smooth everyday experience, six months down the line. The Snapdragon 820 processor is backed by a whopping 6GB of RAM, so apps load up the instant you tap them and you’ll pretty much never see a stutter or pause, even when playing the latest games.
Chances are good that you’ll see out the length of a two-year contract before the OnePlus 3 shows any signs of ageing.
Battery life isn’t quite as strong as when we first reviewed the handset, however. Back in the early days we could manage a full day and a half between charges, but after a few months of use this has dropped to roughly a day. That’s a pretty heavy day however, with plenty of messaging, camera use and so on.
And Dash Charge is still as excellent as ever, offering close to a full charge with an hour at the plug. As you’ll see in our in-depth Dash Charge review, it’s a definite improvement on Quick Charge 3.0 (found on devices like the HTC 10) and Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging (featured in the Galaxy S7).
OnePlus 3 Long Term Re-Review: Cameras
The OnePlus 3’s 16-megapixel rear camera is still pretty solid for the price too, although not without its flaws.
For your everyday social snaps and family pics, it’ll definitely do the job. You get plenty of detail captured in each photo, providing lighting conditions are decent. And in low light it’s not too bad at all, although not a match for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel snappers.
We’re still impressed by how quick the OnePlus 3’s lens snaps into action, thanks to the nippy autofocus. Tap the shutter button and your photo is captured pretty much instantly (again, providing the light isn’t too dim). And you can quick-boot the camera with a double-tap of the power button, which is handy if you want to take an impromptu action shot.
You can shoot up to 4K video with the OnePlus 3, but sadly video quality isn’t too strong. Despite the presence of Optical Image Stabilisation, there’s a fair bit of jerky action if you’re shooting and moving around at the same time. And audio quality is also less than amazing.
Check out our full OnePlus 3 camera review for samples.
OnePlus 3 Long Term Re-Review: Verdict
The OnePlus 3 is still one of the best Android blowers of 2016, mostly thanks to the incredible value for money it offers. There are almost no flaws to speak of, although anyone looking for a compact handset should set their sights elsewhere. For everyone else who wants a powerful media machine with a strong set of features for half the price of most flagship phones, welcome to your new phone.
Don’t forget of course that the OnePlus 3T is coming on November 28, packing an even more powerful processor and some updated features. Check out our OnePlus 3T feature for more info.
You can grab the OnePlus 3 from O2 right now, from £28 per month. O2 will also exclusively stock the OnePlus 3T in the UK.