The OnePlus 3T is something of a surprise offering.
It’s a phone we didn’t expect the Chinese startup to launch when it unveiled its 2016 flagship, the OnePlus 3, just six months prior to the 3T’s arrival. But here we are.
The OnePlus 3T has killed off the OnePlus 3 after half a year, and it’s now the only handset you can purchase from the firm.
This isn’t a completely new phone – even OnePlus admits that, instead billing the 3T as new variant of the 3, and too right - the OnePlus 3T has the same design, screen, RAM, rear camera and fingerprint scanner as the phone it’s shoving out of the limelight.
It’s not like the OnePlus 3 had any major flaws either – it scored a highly respectable 4.5 stars in our in-depth review, and comfortably made it into our list of the top 10 best phones in the world.
So why the new model? OnePlus tells us its engineers found solutions to some nagging issues on the 3, and they didn’t want to wait another six months for the OnePlus 4 (we now know it'll be called the OnePlus 5) launch on June 20, 2017.
That means you’re getting slicker performance, longer battery life, a punchier selfie snapper and a new storage option – at a slightly higher price.
It’s a move that’s likely to frustrate early adopters of the OnePlus 3, as the company they’ve put their faith in has suddenly relegated their handset to a second-class citizen, and relatively soon after its launch.
All that aside though, the OnePlus 3T is another stellar offering, with super performance, a strong feature set and a still-reasonable price tag.
In a rush? Check out our OnePlus 3T video review below!
OnePlus 3T price
64GB: $439 (£399, around AU$580)
128GB: $479 (£439, around AU$630)
Update: The OnePlus 3T is no longer on sale. OnePlus has ceased production and removed it from its website. This is so it can prepare for the launch of the OnePlus 5 on June 20.
You had to pay more to own a OnePlus handset with the 3T. The firm’s cheaper OnePlus X had been dead for a while, and the OnePlus 3T price started at $439 (£399, around AU$580) for the 64GB model.
That’s up from the $399 (£329, around AU$450) for the OnePlus 3 – but there was another storage/price option with the OnePlus 3T.
OnePlus introduced a new 128GB storage option for its fourth generation flagship, which set you back $479, (£439, around AU$630) – it's a move that will likely delight some users, with the firm continuing to shun expandable memory features such as a microSD slot.
The OnePlus 3T went on sale in the US on November 22, while Europe had to wait a few more days for its OnePlus 3T release date of November 28.
Premium metal unibody looks and feels great
Exactly the same design as OnePlus 3
We’re not going to spend too much time talking about the design of the OnePlus 3T. Why? Because it’s identical to the OnePlus 3, and we mean identical.
Same weight (158g), same size (152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35mm), same aluminum uni-body, same rear camera protrusion, same factory fitted (but removable) screen protector…. you get the picture.
In fact, the only new feature design-wise is the addition of a new color variant for the 64GB version: gunmetal. This is a darker grey than the silver which adorned the OnePlus 3, and joins ‘soft gold’ to offer two shade choices. The 128GB OnePlus 3T only comes in gunmetal though.
OnePlus introduced a limited edition color for the 128GB model more recently, but the Midnight Black hue has sold out is most regions - so you'll be lucky to get hold of it now.
However there are newer flagships on the market, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6 push the design envelope even further - the OnePlus 3T hasn't been left behind, but it doesn't look quite so good next to 2017's Android flagships.
Considering the OnePlus 3T is comfortably cheaper than all of these handsets though, it’s still rather impressive.
5.5-inch full HD AMOLED display
Great for everything from emails to gaming
In the run-up to the OnePlus 3T launch there were several reports suggesting the new phone would drop the AMOLED screen technology used on the OnePlus 3 in favor of a LCD screen – luckily that didn’t happen.
This allowed the OnePlus 3T to maintain the same slim profile and bright, vibrant display. The AMOLED panel on the 3T also features the same Full HD resolution, resulting in a 401ppi pixel density.
What that means is text, images and video are clear and smooth – although the display lacks the supreme clarity of the QHD-toting LG G6 and Galaxy S8.
It’s not quite stock Android on the 3T though, with OnePlus’ own Oxygen OS running over the top of Google’s software, giving you additional features and customization options.
Day-to-day, though, it’s very much Android, with a clear, fuss-free interface. Swipe down from the top of the display and the notification panel offers a range of editable quick settings and a screen brightness slider.
Tap the app drawer icon in the dock at the bottom of the display and you’ll find a vertically scrolling list of all your installed applications – of which very few come preinstalled.
Other than the stock apps and Google’s suite, OnePlus has ensured the 3T is kept lean, allowing you to put your own stamp on your phone via the Play Store.
While on paper the OnePlus 3T and 3 have the same software, the newer handset does have a few subtle changes.
There’s a new wallpaper, the 'clear all' button in the multi-tasking menu is bigger, circular and centralized, and the screen brightness slider in the notification bar now has a toggle for auto-brightness.
The interface is easy to navigate, and flows well between menus and screens with no sign of lag.
Music, movies and gaming
3.5mm headphone jack means you can use wired headphones
128GB model gives you more space (there’s no microSD support)
With a heap of power under the hood, a full HD AMOLED display, a larger 128GB storage option and a headphone jack, the OnePlus 3T comes well equipped for music, movies and gaming.
The main preinstalled media apps are Google’s offerings, with Play Music enabling you to access your own songs that you've transferred onto the OnePlus 3T, as well as giving you the option to use the firm’s own pay-monthly streaming service.
Yet OnePlus has seen fit to include its own, simpler music player app as well – as it did on the OnePlus 3 – giving you a cleaner, fuss-free offering if you so wish.
Both options are perfectly serviceable – and connect a set of headphones to the OnePlus 3T and the sound output is more than reasonable.
The built-in speaker on the base of the OnePlus 3T kicks out a decent volume, with the ability to fill a room for casual listening (or watching the latest YouTube craze) in relative comfort; just don’t expect solid bass or exceptional clarity.
Video playback is also great on the OnePlus 3T, with the Full HD display providing clear visuals and bright colors – although it doesn’t have quite the same clarity as the QHD resolution displays of the Galaxy S7 Edge, HTC 10 and LG G5.
The file explorer app is a handy addition when it comes to easily locating video files transferred onto the handset, while Google’s Play Movies application gives you access to a wide range of films and TV shows to rent and buy.
Gaming is another highly enjoyable feature of the OnePlus 3T, with the punchier chipset providing faster load times and smoother gameplay. The phone also doesn’t get too hot during extending periods of play, making it comfortable to hold during epic battles and races.
Performance and benchmarks
Quick app load times and multi-tasking
Faster performance over the OnePlus 3
The OnePlus 3T sports Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 chipset – that’s the same chip you’ll find in the Google Pixel and Pixel XL – and with 6GB of RAM providing ample support this is a serious power player.
OnePlus reckons the 3T can topple the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 in terms of speed, with the new chipset coupled with a new file system making everything slicker than on the OnePlus 3.
Running the Geekbench 4 CPU benchmark on the Android 6 software, the OnePlus 3T managed an average multi-core score of 4,313, putting it above the Sony Xperia X and Google Pixel XL.
However, running the same test after upgrading the OnePlus 3T to Android 7 Nougat and the results are quite so impressive. It now averages 3,894, which is still a strong showing, but it brings it much closer in line with its predecessor.
Performing the same benchmark on the OnePlus 3, running Android 6 and connected to the same Wi-Fi network, we achieved a multi-core score of 3,898.
What does that mean for day-to-day use? A super-slick smartphone, with apps loading promptly and effortless multi-tasking as you jump between different applications.
Load times for games such as Real Racing 3, Boom Beach and Animation Throwdown are improved over the OnePlus 3, and it feels like the 3T is a top flagship phone.
And it's all the more impressive when you remember the price. In short, you can throw anything at the OnePlus 3T and it’ll gobble it up with ease.
See how the OnePlus 3T compares to the iPhone 7 in our high intensity speed test.
Bigger, 3,400mAh battery is a great addition
Comfortably lasts a full day on a single charge
The most welcome addition to the OnePlus 3T over the OnePlus 3 is the bigger battery. The firm has managed to squeeze in a larger power pack into exactly the same frame – a feat which in itself should be applauded.
It means battery capacity has increased from 3,000mAh in the OnePlus 3 to 3,400mAh in the 3T – and it shows.
The OnePlus 3T now comfortably lasts a whole day (from 7am to 11pm) on a single charge, and we usually had at least 10% left in the tank at bedtime.
Our typical usage included a couple of hours of Spotify streaming, many WhatsApp messages, a few calls, two hours of gaming, a range of email activity and a healthy slug of web browser and other app activity (news, sport, etc).
With the OnePlus 3 that sort of usage required us to top up before leaving the office each evening, but with the OnePlus 3T it's not necessary.
If you’re a more casual smartphone user you may even get a day and a half from the OnePlus 3T – and this sort of performance puts it on a par with the likes of the .
We ran the TechRadar 90-minute Full HD video test on the OnePlus 3T, with screen brightness at max, Wi-Fi connected and accounts syncing in the background. When the hour and a half was up the OnePlus 3T had lost just 14% of its 100% charge.
That’s an excellent result – the OnePlus 3 lost 23% in the same test – and the 3T's showing matches the Galaxy S7 (13%) and S7 Edge (14%).
If you do find yourself running low you can use the Dash charging feature to quickly top up. A Dash charging block is included in the box, and you’ll need this to charge the OnePlus 3T quickly.
We plugged in at 12.18 with the battery at 65% to see just how fast Dash charging is. OnePlus claims a 30-minute blast is enough to give you a full day of use – although that of course depends on how much you use your handset.
After five minutes the 3T had already regained 8%, getting up to 73%, and after 10 minutes it had hit 80%. At the 15-minute mark we were up to 86%, which was swiftly followed by 90% after 20 minutes; 25% percent in 20 minutes is a good enough blast for a night out.
After half an hour we were up to 95% – a gain of 40% in 30 minutes. That’s not bad, but it does mean OnePlus’ half hour for a full day claim looks a little ropey.
Turn the OnePlus 3T off and then plug in the Dash charger, though, and you’ll get a faster top-up, which just about gets the firm out of the hole it's dug for itself.
16MP rear camera is a solid flagship snapper
New 16MP front camera is perfect for selfies and Snapchat
On the rear of the OnePlus 3T nothing has changed over the OnePlus 3, with the same Sony-made 16MP rear camera protruding from the metal uni-body, and a single LED flash sitting below it.
Fire up the camera app and it’s more of the same from OnePlus, with a relatively clean interface giving you control over HDR (high dynamic range) and HQ (high quality) modes.
HDR helps to brighten darker areas in your photos, while HQ mode captures more detail – although you can’t use both modes together. In our time with the OnePlus 3T we found there wasn’t a huge difference between the two modes, and we tended to opt for auto HDR as default.
For those who want greater control over their snaps the OnePlus 3T offers a pretty comprehensive manual mode, accessed by tapping the menu icon in the top-left corner, enabling you to tweak various settings such as ISO, white balance, contrast and shutter speed.
There’s also the option to save images as RAW files, which will please the more serious photographers among you.
The OnePlus 3T's camera provides a solid showing in most situations; while it’s not quite up there with the newest iPhones or Samsungs you could do a lot worse than this snapper.
Images can look a little darker – especially in low light – compared to those from the competition, but OnePlus says it’s engineered its camera this way to give a result that's truer to what your eyes see in the same scenario, instead of brightening up dark areas artificially. It’s a matter of personal preference which results you prefer.
The big difference in the camera department here is round the front. The OnePlus 3T boasts a 16MP front snapper – matching the megapixels you get on the rear. Unlike on the rear it isn’t a Sony lens, so the quality isn’t quite as good, but compared to the 8MP offering on the OnePlus 3 (or most other selfie cams on flagship phones) and it’s excellent.
OnePlus’ reasoning for bumping up this camera is to appeal to the Facebook Live/Snapchat/selfie generation – and if you fall into this category you’ll likely be impressed.
Our selfies came out bright, clear and full of detail – and if you aren’t looking your best you can enhance yourself with beauty mode.
The OnePlus 3T is perhaps a smartphone the firm didn’t need to make, but it did so because it wanted to give users an improved experience without having to wait until 2017 to get their hands on an all-new handset.
For those who've already purchased a OnePlus 3 the 3T launch may be viewed as irritating rather than exciting, but the Chinese startup has another excellent handset on its books.
The OnePlus 3T improves on the OnePlus 3 in several key areas, notably improved battery life and slicker performance. It’s a shame the design hasn’t been tweaked in a more noticeable way to signal that you have a new phone in your hands, but other than that it’s difficult to find fault.
Some will point to the lack of expandable storage as a stumbling block, while its larger size rules it out for those wanting something a little more manageable in the hand.
It does everything really, really well, and while it may not truly excel in areas such as screen resolution and camera quality, the OnePlus 3T is still astonishingly good value for what is a serious flagship contender.
Who's it for?
The OnePlus 3T has the same target market as the OnePlus 3 – fans of the brand, those looking for something a little bit different and people on the hunt for a bargain.
At $439 (£399, around AU$580) for the 64GB model the OnePlus 3T is still much cheaper than its flagship rivals while offering an almost comparable experience.
It won’t have the wide appeal as the likes of Apple or Samsung, but for those in the know – and willing to give OnePlus a go – the 3T is a real gem.
Should I buy it?
You can't! Well, it's highly unlikely you can. OnePlus has stopped making the 3T and no longer sells it through its website. There may be some stock knocking around at a handful or retailers, but once it's gone, it's gone. Don't fear though, the OnePlus 5 arrives on June 20.
If you’re looking for a flagship smartphone but don’t want to break the bank on the latest Samsung or iPhone the answer here is simple: yes, buy the OnePlus 3T – you won’t be disappointed.
Hell, even if your budget can stretch to the handsets from the bigger names we urge you to at least consider the OnePlus 3T.
For those who committed to the OnePlus 3 just six months ago, however, the arrival of the 3T is a little harder to swallow.
While the OnePlus 3T is an improvement over the handset you're holding in your hand right now – the battery life is the standout upgrade – it's difficult to justify trading in for the newer model.
The OnePlus 3T is an excellent phone, but the flagship mobile market is a busy place right now, and there are plenty of options to consider.
Here are our top picks for the OnePlus’ competition – all of which are easier to come by, as the 3T is only available via the OnePlus website (and carrier O2 in the UK).
Samsung Galaxy S8
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best phone in the world right now, and if you're looking for the best money can buy then you'll want this rather than the OnePlus 3T.
The thing is, both the S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are extremely expensive - you're basically looking at double the price of the 3T.
With the price taken into consideration, the OnePlus 3T compares pretty favorably and you’d be hard pushed to work out how it’s that much cheaper.
The S8 has a superior camera, and its QHD display combined with the curved screen presents a sleeker, even more premium finish than that of the OnePlus 3T – plus it offers a microSD slot for bumping up your storage.
The Galaxy S8 offers the complete smartphone package – for a price – but the 3T gets pretty close for a decent amount less.
The OnePlus 3T rubs shoulders with the best larger-screened flagships on the market and the iPhone 7 Plus is another handset it’s contending with.
The 7 Plus again trumps the 3T in the camera department, but it’s far more expensive and also fails to offer an expandable storage option.
Then there’s the old Android vs iOS argument, and many people are firmly in one camp or the other – but if you’re considering a switch to Android the 3T does offer an affordable option without skimping on features.
The 5.5-inch Moto Z is a phone which is slightly closer to the price of the OnePlus 3T, but offers something unique that the rest of the competition doesn’t – Moto Mods.
These are basically cases than magnetically cling to the rear of the handset, which options such as a optical zoom camera lens, stereo speakers and even a projector to choose from (although all at extra cost).
It does have a couple of shortcomings though, with a small battery impacting on time between chargers and the removal of the headphone jack – it’s not only Apple doing it!