OnePlus 3T review 2017: The OnePlus 3T was our favourite smartphone from 2016, winning our best mobile award thanks to its strong specs and impressive value for money. But how does it fare in 2017, after an update to Android Nougat? Here’s our full OnePlus 3T long-term re-review.
The OnePlus 3T is an absolute beast of a phone, and proof that you don’t need to spend £700 to bag yourself a solid all-round handset. With its premium specs that rival pretty much any flagship device out there, this £399 offers excellent value for your hard earned cash. In fact, we loved it so much that we gave this phone the full five stars in our in-depth OnePlus 3T review. Then shortly after, we threw it our ‘best phone of 2016’ award to boot.
Now we’re firmly into 2017 and we’ve seen most mobile manufacturers launch their latest flagship phones, over at MWC. Between the LG G6, Huawei P10 Plus and Sony Xperia XZ Premium, there’s some seriously sexy mobile tech hitting the UK in the coming weeks. And that’s before Samsung even pulls back the curtain on its game-changing Galaxy S8.
So, is the OnePlus 3T still a golden child several months after launch and would we still give it the full five stars? Here’s our in-depth OnePlus 3T 2017 re-review.
OnePlus 3T 2017 Review: Straight-faced design?
One thing we noticed at MWC 2017 was some sexy and rather outlandish smartphone design. From the chunky but attractive LG G6, which boasts a unique screen that fills the front panel, to the super-shiny XZ Premium with its mirror backing, no two mobiles looked alike.
Which further highlights how rather straightforward the OnePlus 3T’s metal finish is. You don’t get the same vibrant colour choice of the P10 Plus here. Rather, you can grab it in gunmetal grey or soft gold (64GB model only). Both finishes look smart of course, while that one-piece metal frame boasts some soft contours and a pleasingly slender finish for a comfortable fit in the palm. But there are more attractive handsets out there.
This minor grumble aside, we can testify to the ruggedness of OnePlus’ design. The OnePlus 3T has been bashed about in backpacks and bags for a few months now and isn’t looking any worse for wear. A quick buffing with a cloth has it looking as shiny as when we first pulled it out of the box. There’s no water resistance, but that’s a pretty rare feature at this price point anyway.
One-handed use can be a bit tricky, but thankfully you can set the physical keys beneath the screen to pull down the notification bar if you double-tap or long-press. You also get a Quick Notifications feature, which allows you to drag down that bar by swiping your finger down the screen at any point. These tools help out quite a bit, in a pinch.
OnePlus 3T 2017 Review: Vibrant visuals
Carrying on from the gorgeous 5.5-inch screen of the OnePlus 3, the OnePlus 3T once again sports a spacious and beautiful 5.5-inch Super AMOLED panel. This vibrant display boasts punchy colour reproduction and an eye-searing top brightness, along with super-wide viewing angles. All things considered, you’ll struggle to find a better-looking screen on any other handset out there.
Sure, the OnePlus 3T doesn’t boast Quad HD visuals like many premium smartphones. But that Full HD screen is still perfectly crisp, pumping out gorgeous high-def images which make it a worthy portable media machine. And while there’s no microSD support to expand the on-board storage, you can at least pick up the phone with either 64GB or 128GB of space for your media collection.
OnePlus 3T 2017 Review: Customisation king
Android Nougat comes pre-installed on most new smartphones launched in 2017 and thankfully the OnePlus 3T has already received an update to version 7.0. No hanging around for an upgrade while making do with old Android.
Nougat adds some great new functionality, most impressively the split-screen mode for running two apps side-by-side. Your notifications bar has also been boosted with an instant reply feature for messages, plus the ability to configure those shortcut icons. You can completely personalise your status bar (up at the top of the screen) and even change the size of your icons and other bits, to fit loads of stuff on that meaty panel at once.
Check out our Android Nougat update on OnePlus 3T review if you want to see all of these new features in action. But in a nutshell, the even greater customisation and that multitasking mode make the handset even more enjoyable and easy to use.
OnePlus 3T 2017 Review: Pocket rocket
We’ve benchmarked quite a few handsets since the OnePlus 3T came in for review and few manage to reach the giddy performance heights of this phone. Qualcomm’s nippy Snapdragon 821 processor is a beast no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, boosted by a whopping 6GB of RAM. In the several months since launch, we’ve certainly seen no signs of slowdown.
The first Snapdragon 835 mobiles will be hitting the UK in a couple of months, in the form of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and Samsung Galaxy S8. However, even with this improved chipset on board, we’re not expecting to see a significant performance gap. And while the 835 is capable of much faster peak download speeds, in practice it remains to be seen what difference this will actually make.
As for the battery life, the OnePlus 3T is still giving us a solid day of use between charges. And we continue to be impressed by Dash Charge, which gives you several hours of life from just 20 minutes at the plug. Other handsets are now offering fast charge that’s just as quick, including the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus, while the likes of the Lenovo P2 gives you much longer battery life. But the 3T more than meets our needs and shows no signs of ageing.
OnePlus 3T 2017 Review: Sharp shooter
Many smartphones in 2017 come with a gajillion bonus camera modes for taking all kinds of funky or bizarre shots. However, the OnePlus 3T prefers to keep things simple and we’re fully on board with that.
On full auto, the OnePlus 3T’s 16-megapixel snapper captures some great-looking shots up close and at a distance. Colour reproduction is accurate and the built-in HDR mode deals well with high contrast scenes. In fact, we’re just as impressed by this mobile shooter as the dual-lens Leica camera on the fresh new Huawei P10.
You can snap RAW images and also shoot up to 4K resolution video, along with the standard Time Lapse and Slow Mo options. And that’s basically all we need from a smartphone snapper. Sure, the likes of the Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel can produce more attractive shots in a more challenging range of conditions, but for everyday photos the OnePlus 3T more than meets expectations.
Check out our in-depth OnePlus 3T camera review for our full thoughts, samples and more.
OnePlus 3T 2017 Review: Verdict
The OnePlus 3T may be meeting some tough competition from the latest series of flagship phones, but this great-value handset can more than hold its own in 2017. That Nougat update adds the best Android features found in the latest phones, while the gorgeous display, dependable and simple-to-use camera and blistering performance simply can’t be beaten at this price point.