OnePlus describes its main smartphones as “flagship killers”, a moniker which has helped the manufacturer attract a significant following, despite its age and size. The Galaxy S7 is one of the best Android smartphones we've ever seen, but it should be – it's the flagship phone of one of the biggest electronics companies in the world. So can underdog OnePlus topple the giant? Here are my current thoughts.
A sleek, metal machine, sandwiched between Gorilla Glass: Samsung really delivered the design goods with the Galaxy S7. It's gorgeous, and the best a Galaxy S device has looked for years.
The brushed metal sides are silky, and the curved glass back, soft and sweet. Holding the S7 is what I imagine holding Audrey Hepburn’s hand would have been like. It just makes you glad.
Last year’s OnePlus 2 design, by contrast, was divisive. Many appreciated the grip and shape – indeed, I did. It’s a big square with metal edges and has this '90’s TV remote' charm about it. Unfortunately, the paper-thin sandstone backplate grated on me after a while (though it did keep my skin soft). If the recent leaks are accurate, however, the OnePlus 3 represents a significant redesign.
The OnePlus 3 looks like it would feature a one-piece metal body, which would retain the angular aesthetic of its predecessor: I think it will be a tangible improvement on the OnePlus 2. It also appears to keep the physical 'Alert Slider', which allows users to quickly switch between their notification profiles.
Holding the S7 is what I think holding Audrey Hepburn’s hand would have been like. It just makes you glad.
The OnePlus 3 will likely be slightly larger than the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7, and thicker, but it’s yet to be seen if it will be water-resistant like the S7 (doubtful, though, as it increases manufacturing costs, which OnePlus has to keep at an absolute minimum).
It would almost certainly arrive with a fingerprint scanner, however, ensuring it could compete with the S7 on that front. Furthermore, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei told AndroidPIT that dropping NFC from the OnePlus 2 was a misstep. Perhaps this will also make a comeback.
The OnePlus 3 may not include water-resistance, microSD card support, or a heart-rate monitor, like the S7, but you might not require them. Deciding which is best of these device designs could simply come down to size and shape. Do you prefer holding big, metal squares or small, glass ovals?
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 comparison: Display
Samsung’s displays are rarely anything less than crisp, bright and saturated, and the S7 maintains this good form. Watching videos on this phone is like watching a dream of your high school crush knitting tiny socks in a meadow filled with sparkles. It’s bold, it's detailed, it's sublime, and individual pixels are basically invisible to the naked eye.
The OnePlus 3 is unlikely to surpass this but it will almost certainly be cheaper than the S7. What this means is that you may end up paying a lot less for a device with a display that isn’t all that different and I’d be surprised if this didn’t end up being the reality. The S7's display is great, but it's not like it's a completely different entity from the next QHD smartphone display.
I also like the cooler color palette found in OnePlus' smartphone screens. Samsung's S7 houses that classic Super AMOLED warmth but I find colder LCD blues more appealing (it's rumored that the OnePlus 3 will come with another IPS LCD display).
Watching videos on the Galaxy S7 is like watching a dream of your high school crush knitting tiny socks in a meadow filled with sparkles
As for resolution, the OnePlus 2 has a Full HD screen, but with OnePlus making a bigger push into VR territory (it just recently revealed a VR headset, the OnePlus Loop VR), it may upgrade the display resolution to QHD to make the up-close effect more impressive. Reputation on the line here, but that's my prediction.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 comparison: Software and performance
The Galaxy S7 uses TouchWiz UI while OnePlus uses ColorOS, which is much more akin to the stock Android interface. Both interfaces have strengths and weaknesses.
Notable strengths of Samsung's software include download booster and its power-saving modes. OnePlus' Color OS has some cool features also, like its gestures and its dark mode (which should be an option on every phone). You can learn more about individual software features at the links below.
We don’t yet know which direction OnePlus is going to take the OnePlus 3 software. The company is more experienced now, the OnePlus 2 was the first time it implemented its own software after splitting with CyanogenMod following the release of the OnePlus One. Thus, it will undoubtedly look and feel better.
Ultimately, the similarities between the OnePlus 2 software and stock Android tend to make this device preferred among the 'hardcore' Android following but software updates are likely to hit the S7 before the OnePlus 3.
As for hardware, rumors suggest the OnePlus 3 will make use of a Snapdragon 820 processor and 4 GB of RAM, meaning performance shouldn't be widely different between this and the speedy Galaxy S7, which houses the same processor and RAM amount (in some regions).
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 comparison: Camera
The OnePlus 2 camera is acceptable. It’s not awful, but it has neither a standout feature nor basic shooting prowess of its competitors. Sony, LG and Samsung are the big boys in this area and I don’t know how OnePlus could challenge them without seriously increasing the cost of the handset.
The OnePlus 2 has a 13 MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, OIS, laser autofocus, and a dual-LED. It's not yet clear where OnePlus will try to improve upon these for the OnePlus 3, though speculation suggests it will house a 16 MP rear camera and 8 MP front camera.
Using high-quality camera components and then building the integration is a costly business; the quality here probably won’t be as good as on the Samsung S7. If it was, OnePlus would have an incredible product on its hands. Right now we'd just be happy with better autofocus.
Audio quality is rarely the strength of smartphones. HTC’s Boomsound technology delivered the best experience in this regard so far while dual-stereo speakers – as found on the likes of the Sony Xperia Z5 – are a close second.
If the OnePlus 3 could compete with Samsung in camera quality, it would have an incredible product on its hands.
The Galaxy S7 has a bottom-mounted mono speaker, which isn't ideal for audio playback. The OnePlus 3 will, in all likelihood, have a mono speaker on the bottom of the handset also.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 comparison: Battery
The battery of the Galaxy S7 was a big improvement for Samsung compared to the Galaxy S6. It’s a decent size and, despite Samsung’s own software skin and bright high-res display, it provides strong results.
The S7 battery isn’t removable and it’s expected that the OnePlus 3 battery won’t be either. The OnePlus 3 could compete with the S7 on fast charging, however, even though it wasn't present on the OnePlus 2.
The OnePlus 3 should come with at least the same size battery as the OnePlus 2, meaning a 10 percent larger capacity compared to the 3,000 mAh battery in the Galaxy S7. It's tough to say who will win in this category but perhaps differences will be slight.
OnePlus 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 comparison: Price and conclusion
And here we arrive at possibly the most significant and important difference between these handsets. OnePlus has made a name for itself by delivering smartphones at extremely attractive prices.
These are the Labrador Retrievers of smartphone prices: beautiful and reliable. The OnePlus 2 launched at $329 for the 16 GB version and held its own against handsets $300 dollars more expensive. And it's now at an even more fetching price.
With the Galaxy S7 currently costing around $600, we're all going to have to ask ourselves some serious questions with regards to which will offer the most value.
Which phone will end up being the best overall? Let’s put it this way, the Galaxy S7 probably won't be knocked off its perch as the number one Android phone by the OnePlus 3. Instead of trying to fight the S7 on specs and power, I suspect OnePlus will just aim to provide better value for the money. And, right now, I believe it will.
Which phone would you prefer? Let us know in the comments.