Bad news! The phone that’s currently second place in Expert Reviews’ best smartphones list is no more. Good news! That’s because it’s being replaced with a new model, but wait – bad news! The replacement phone is £70 more.
To end this emotional rollercoaster with some more good news, you can relax: the OnePlus 3T is still a bargain. It’s just not as much of a bargain as its predecessor, despite a number of small but subtle improvements. In the absence of the OnePlus 3, the OnePlus 3T is an easy recommendation. Read on to find out why.
OnePlus 3T review: What’s new?
The OnePlus 3 was £329. Well, originally it was £309, but then the pound tanked and the price increased. The OnePlus 3T goes in at £399 for the 64GB model, or £439 for the 128GB model – that’s an important distinction, because unlike other Android smartphones, there is no expandable memory here. What you buy is what you’re stuck with.
So, what do you get for the money? There are three main improvements: processor, battery life and camera. I’ll tackle these one by one. Processing duties in the OnePlus 3T are now handled by the 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821. The OnePlus 3 had a 2.15GHz Snapdragon 820 – which was hardly a slowpoke – but this is a welcome upgrade all the same.
Then there’s the battery. The capacity has increased from a 3,000mAh to 3,400mAh, which doesn’t sound a lot, but more significant is how quickly it charges. OnePlus promises a day’s charge in half an hour with the new Dash Charge system – although as this is different from Qualcomm’s Quick Charge feature, you’ll need to use the included plug to benefit.
Finally, there’s the camera, although if you were expecting big improvements to the main camera, you’ll be disappointed. Although the rear camera gets a tougher sapphire lens cover, the main camera improvements I mentioned in the introduction are reserved for the front-facing selfie camera, which captures images now a whopping 16 megapixels in resolution. Impressive, but possibly overkill for most, barring the most vain.
OnePlus 3T review: Performance
Typically, I’d discuss the design and display at this point, but since they’re the same as the OnePlus 3, I’ll cut straight to the chase and get stuck into performance. (Don’t worry completionists, it’s a postponement rather than an omission.)
Update: Some OnePlus 3T owners have reported latency issues with their new handsets. While this is something we didn’t personally come across when writing this review, the touch latency feedback has been noted. The company’s co-founder, Carl Pei tweeted that they will “look at it soon.”
Along with the processor upgrade, the OnePlus 3T inherits its predecessor’s impressive list of core specifications. Namely, that Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 is backed up by 6GB of RAM and includes Qualcomm’s Adreno 530 graphics processing unit. As you’d imagine, these top-of-the-range specifications result in a smartphone that’s an absolute pleasure to use, and one that comfortably handles anything you throw its way.
But then, so did the OnePlus 3. So how does it compare in our more objective benchmark tests? First up is Geekbench 4, which measures a handset’s single- and multi-core processing performance.
In these benchmarks, we see a clear – if moderate – improvement in the OnePlus 3T over the 3. In single-core it’s 1,903 to 1,689, and in multi-core it’s 4,273 to 4,026. However, it’s only in comparing these scores with the flagship smartphone landscape that you see the true triumph here. Despite retailing for between £100 and £150 cheaper than phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel phone, the OnePlus comfortably holds its own:
Or to put that into more stark perspective, here’s that chart again, only with how many points of the Geekbench scale you get per pound (prices correct at the time of writing):
As you might expect, given both handsets use the Adreno 530 graphics chipset, 3D performance is virtually identical. That is to say, very good, but unchanged.
In other words, despite the price increase, the OnePlus 3T is still extremely good value – it’s just not quite the ridiculous bargain that the OnePlus 3 was.
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