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Review: OnePlus 3 is a flagship phone for careful spenders

Dan Rosenbaum | July 7, 2016
This Android smartphone offers great performance and high-end features for far less than its competitors.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

The OnePlus 3 smartphone raises two difficult questions: Just what is a flagship product? And why should you care?

Flagship phones -- the ones with the fastest processors, best screens and slimmest profiles -- tend to cost about $800 and often still tie you to carriers. The OnePlus 3 costs just $399 (vendor price) and packs tech that's as powerful as any of them. It gets you 95% of the way to a deluxe smartphone for half the price. And it comes unlocked and without bloatware.

Physically, the phone isn't particularly appealing. It comes in gray (gold is promised Real Soon Now). It's 6 x 3 x 0.25 in. and weighs 5.5 oz. That's about a quarter-inch taller and wider than the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the HTC 10, and the same width but a quarter-inch shorter than the iPhone 6S Plus. (Thicknesses differ by a matter of a millimeter or two.)

The OnePlus 3 weighs 5.57 oz. compared to 6.77 oz. for the iPhone 6S Plus, 5.68 for the HTC 10, and 5.36 for the Galaxy S7. It feels a little flatter and thinner than most and while it's a bit more sculpted than an iPhone, it is lacking the solidity and heft of the HTC 10.

One big difference between the OnePlus 3 and previous OnePlus models is that you can actually get one. OnePlus was legendary for a purchase process that felt like getting tickets to a secret concert by Kanye West: Would-be customers had to jump through hoops and apply online for invitations that then let people place orders -- that were slow in getting filled. Now, you can order a phone online quickly and simply through OnePlus.

For the most part, you'd be hard-pressed to find the compromises. Like most other high-end phones, the OnePlus 3 runs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. It's got 6GB of RAM -- half again as much as other top-of-line phones, which tend to come with 4GB -- and a hefty 64GB of onboard storage. There's certainly no sense of hesitance or slack in normal operation, and the AnTuTu Benchmark put performance at better than the Samsung Galaxy S7 and its peers. (For a comparison: the OnePlus 3 benchmarks at 140208; the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge at 134599 and the Apple iPhone 6S at 133781. Higher is better.)

The screen is a 5.5-in. AMOLED with 1080 x 1920 resolution, same as the iPhone 6S Plus but short of the 1440 x 2560 sported by the HTC 10 and the Galaxy S7. It's not gorgeous, but it'll do just fine. No claims are made about water resistance.


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