OnePlus 3 Review


Update: Read our OnePlus 3T review!


OnePlus has never shied away from bold marketing: known for its “flagship killers” that “never settle”, and for throwing marketing cliches and ‘firsts’ at customers salivating at the prospect of a phone selling for half the price of Samsung Galaxies and Apple iPhones, yet with similar performance.

For a brand that was starting from (almost) zero, though, that kind of noise was necessary. Living through its rebellious teenage years, OnePlus had to deny everything and try it all before finally settling for a product that does away with a lot of the immaturity of earlier launches: the OnePlus 3.

Gone is the extremely annoying invite system that resulted in weeks of waiting and a lot of broken hopes, gone are the bold, but also outrageous marketing claims. Is it time to start taking OnePlus seriously? With a massive launch on day one with availability in 31 countries across the globe and fast shipping, the OnePlus 3 means business. Let’s see what it’s all about.

In the box:

  • OnePlus 3
  • Wall charger (5V - 4A)
  • USB-C to USB cable
  • User manual
  • Sim ejector


A grown-up, solid design with a comfortable, ergonomic in-hand feel.

The OnePlus 3 is a grown-up, solid design: with a body carved out of a single piece of aluminum, it has that substantial feel that you get from high-end devices. The design is not something new or original per se: the body looks a lot like that of an HTC phone, the camera hump seems to be very similar to that of many Huawei phones, but we don’t get a feel that OnePlus tried to clone a particular device, and it all comes together well.

First, let’s talk physical size. The OnePlus 3 is a 5.5-inch phone, and while it’s not as thin and compact as a Galaxy S7 Edge, it still feels fairly thin and compact for its size. The OnePlus 3 sits in your palm very comfortably and ergonomically with its nicely curved back. The device is also remarkably thin at 7.3mm, and at 158 g (5.57oz) – it feels relatively lightweight for a phone this size.

It’s worth saying that the OnePlus 3 team spared no effort and even the buttons on this phone feel well made. The rather large physical keys (a power/lock key on the right and a volume rocker on the left) are easy to press and respond with a pleasant click. And yes, there is a mute switch! Located right above the volume keys on the left, the three-step mute switch is a great time saver and comes particularly handy when you need to quickly mute your phone. We wish more Android phone makers would incorporate such a handy switch in their phones.

Up front, there is what appears like a physical home key. It’s not a button that you can press, though, but just a touch-sensitive area that you can tap on to go back to your home screen or to unlock the OnePlus 3 with your fingerprint. There are two invisible capacitive keys around the home key: you can actually customize them (you can set which of them to be the back and which - the multitasking key). We love that freedom of choice: we know plenty of people who are allergic to phones where the right key serves as a multitasking button, but we also know a ton of people who prefer it that way. Then, you can even disable those two keys completely and rely instead on on-screen buttons a la Nexus. The OnePlus 3 satisfies all those different tastes in a very elegant way.

There is no water resistance or any other protection from the elements, just in case you’re wondering.

OnePlus 3

6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches

152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm


5.57 oz (158 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm


5.54 oz (157 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm


6.77 oz (192 g)


5.88 x 2.91 x 0.29 inches

149.4 x 73.9 x 7.3 mm


5.61 oz (159 g)

OnePlus 3

6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches

152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm


5.57 oz (158 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm


5.54 oz (157 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm


6.77 oz (192 g)


5.88 x 2.91 x 0.29 inches

149.4 x 73.9 x 7.3 mm


5.61 oz (159 g)

Compare these and other phones using our Size Comparison tool.


The 5.5” AMOLED display with a 1080 x 1920-pixel resolution could use some more accurate colors for a more natural look

The OnePlus 3 features a 5.5-inch “Optic” AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. From a pure numbers perspective, the OnePlus 3 screen is not quite as sharp as those of some other high-end Androids, however, we find this 1080 x 1920 resolution to be sufficient for this screen size, delivering a sharp and clean image that's easy to read.

But what is this strange new Optic AMOLED screen technology, you might wonder? Don’t worry, you haven’t missed the next revolution in display manufacturing. Optic AMOLED seems to be no more than a marketing term that OnePlus uses to describe its specific calibrations and adjustments done for an otherwise regular AMOLED panel. The company says it performed some specific gamma corrections. However, we see nothing impressive on this front – just a boosted contrast level, which isn't necessarily a good thing.

This brings us to the actual colors. Put simply: this is one of the worst displays on a phone that has some serious ambitions.

Colors on the OnePlus 3 looks unnaturally bluish, and are way overblown, resulting in nearly neon-like nuances. Such bluish displays were often seen on cheaper Android phones a couple of years ago, but it’s quite a shock to see such poor color rendition on a modern, presumably high-end phone.

Getting a bit more technical, it seems that OnePlus is targeting the NTSC color gamut, which is a bad practice given that most (if not all) content on the web including photographs, video and the whole Android system is made for the sRGB color standard. OnePlus is now promising that it will introduce an sRGB color mode via a software update soon, so needless to say, we're looking forward to that.

The screen is also not very bright, and you might have a bit of a trouble making out what’s on it on a sunny day. Another notable issue we have is that auto-brightness works surprisingly slowly. We noticed this when starting the camera: it takes the screen a few long seconds to adjust to bright light, and those could result in a missed shot. But it’s also just plain annoying: while other phones adjust their brightness almost instantaneously, the OnePlus 3 always takes a few seconds for such a simple operation.

Interestingly, there is a pre-applied screen protector on the OnePlus 3, but while we do appreciate this, the protector itself seems to be a bit too narrow, not quite covering fully the screen, so that your finger - rather than gliding smoothly across the glass surface - constantly bumps against the edge of that screen protector.

Interface and Functionality

Nearly stock Android experience with a few additions and quite a few nice customization options. Other Android phone makers can borrow a few of these.

While we had a lot to criticize about the display of the OnePlus 3, the clean interface and fast performance of the phone left us impressed.

The OnePlus 3 comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow pre-installed and on top of that is the light Oxygen OS interface. For the most part, it feels like using a Nexus-like, stock Android phone. We have the same Material Design all throughout, with quick, to-the-point animations.

There are some key additions here: customization options are absolutely amazing on the OnePlus 3. You can set quick shortcuts to open particular actions when you double press or long press the home, recents and back button (go into Settings > Buttons for that). For instance, we’ve now set our OnePlus 3 to quickly launch the camera when you double tap on the Home button, and open Voice Search when you long press the home button. This is a level of customization that we would love to see on other Android phones.

The OnePlus 3 is also encrypted by default, which is nice.

You can also use and set gestures, so that a double tap can wake the phone, for instance. You have to manually enable these. To do this, go into Settings > Gestures > enable Double tap to wake. You need to have gestures enabled, in order to allow custom shortcuts like waving your hand over the screen to take a look at the time, for instance.

There is also the Dark mode (go into Settings > Customizations to enable it). It turns all the backgrounds in settings and the app drawer dark, which is easier on the eyes at night, but also helps save battery life.

Processor, Performance and Memory

All-out Snapdragon 820 guarantees solid, smooth performance throughout.

Part of OnePlus’ reputation is that the company manages to build phones with the most powerful system chip available on the market and sell them at very low prices. It did it once again with the OnePlus 3: the phone has the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 system chip, and it performs admirably. Apps load very quickly, navigating around the menus is a breeze, and the phone just feels fast.

Technically, the Snapdragon 820 is a quad-core chip with custom Qualcomm Kryo cores (not your off-the-shelf Cortex A series) that perform very well in terms of single-core power, but also in multi-core applications.

Then, there is the 6GB of RAM situation. This has a lot to do with marketing: having the first mass-market phone with 6 gigs of RAM gives it a lot of publicity, but in real-life, OnePlus is killing apps just as it would do with its OnePlus 2 that had 4GB RAM. We do hope that RAM management is improved in a future software update, but so far, the benefit of 6GB of RAM is limited by OnePlus’ own software.

Gamers should also know that this phone comes with the Adreno 530 GPU, which is one of the fastest graphics solutions on mobile, and it performs on par with other flagships. Yes, this means that it should be able to handle even the most demanding games with a consistent frame-rate, and also be future-proof. Take a look at the benchmark scores to see how it fares against the competition.

We’re also tremendously happy to see a plentiful 64GB of storage as the base and only option for the OnePlus 3. While Apple is still insulting users with 16GB of storage for base models on the twice as expensive iPhone 6s Plus, and Samsung offers good-but-not-great 32GB of storage on the S7 series, the OnePlus 3 outdoes them all.

With 4K video on board, an ever-growing collection of music and a ton of heavy Live/Motion photo solutions on other phones, it feels like we rely on our phones more and more, and insufficient storage is one area that can often ruin the experience. The OnePlus 3 not only has a lot of storage, but it uses the fast UFS 2.0 storage that allows for apps to install and start much faster.

Unfortunately, there is no support for expandable storage. Rather than using a hybrid tray, the OnePlus 3 is a dual nano SIM phone and has no microSD card slot. For those few people that need more than 64 gigs, this would be a problem.

AnTuTuHigher is better
OnePlus 3140007.66
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge128191
Apple iPhone 6s Plus58664
LG G5134074
Vellamo MetalHigher is better
OnePlus 33678.66
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge3198
LG G53515
Vellamo BrowserHigher is better
OnePlus 34936.66
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge4840
LG G54498
JetStreamHigher is better
OnePlus 346.685
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge60.315
Apple iPhone 6s Plus120.14
LG G552.218
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screenHigher is better
OnePlus 359
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge52
Apple iPhone 6s Plus59
LG G554.33
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screenHigher is better
OnePlus 330
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge28
Apple iPhone 6s Plus38.4
LG G517
Basemark OS IIHigher is better
OnePlus 32118
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge1761
Apple iPhone 6s Plus2032
LG G51913
Geekbench 3 single-coreHigher is better
OnePlus 32306.33
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge2318
Apple iPhone 6s Plus2526
LG G52344
Geekbench 3 multi-coreHigher is better
OnePlus 35368
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge5433
Apple iPhone 6s Plus4404
LG G55442

Internet and Connectivity

4G LTE works on AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States, but not on Verizon and Sprint. The European version works well across the Old continent.

Unlike many other Android phones, OnePlus does not have such a huge problem with app duplicates. Yes, there are two gallery apps pre-installed (Google Photos and OnePlus’ own gallery app), but - blissfully - there is one browser (Google Chrome), one calendar (Google Calendar), and one mail app (Gmail).

Chrome is a fast and smooth-performing browser that syncs all its bookmarks and history across all sorts of devices - from desktop and laptop, to mobile - and that makes it very convenient. Surfing the web was fast and pages rendered quickly, so we had no issues here.

What about 4G LTE connectivity? The OnePlus 3 comes in three models: one aimed at the North American market in general, another one for Europe, and a third one for the Chinese market. In North America, the OnePlus 3 will support bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, and 17. This means that OnePlus 3 will work on AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as on their related MVNOs in the United States, but does not support 4G LTE band 13, the main band for Verizon Wireless, so you won't be able to use the LTE network with it. Sprint 4G LTE bands are also not supported. The European version of the phone supports all major carriers in the Old Continent, and it also supports the crucial band 20, which is good news. There is also a dedicated model for China with support for its specific TDD-LTE bands 38-41.

In terms of other connectivity options, you also have Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC support.


Fast and clean camera app. Excellent image quality, but video could be better.

The OnePlus 3 comes with a very noticeable camera unit that protrudes out the back of the phone. You would think that this means that it uses a larger sensor, but the truth is that it’s one of the smaller sensors among mainstream Android phones.

The OnePlus 3 uses a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298, a 1/2.8” sensor, which works out to a pixel size of 1.12 micron. It also features phase-detection pixels for faster auto-focus, which is a nice touch, but nothing new (the Galaxy S5 had it years ago). On top of the sensor is an f/2.0 lens with an effective focal distance of 29mm. Up front, there is an 8MP selfie shooter.

The camera app on the OnePlus 3 is clean, fast and simple. Double click the lock key to start it, and it launches in a split second (but not as fast as the one on the Galaxy S7, if you’re wondering). You swipe up and down on the viewfinder/screen to change between photo and video, and you can also select to shoot time-lapse, slow motion, manual mode and panorama via the hamburger button on the top left.

On the camera app main screen, you have three buttons for one-tap access: flash toggle, HDR mode, and a mysterious HD mode. In theory, HD mode should improve sharpness and detail in a picture, but we found that it captures practically identical images to the non-HD versions. In the very few cases where it made a difference, it actually smudged and destroyed detail for a ‘beauty’-like effect. We don’t recommend using it.

It’s worth noting that by default the phone captures images in 4:3 aspect ratio and a 16-megapixel resolution, but you can also shoot 16:9 images in 12 megapixels.

Image Quality

Image quality on the OnePlus 3 is great.

We have no major complaints: the dynamic range is there, exposure is good, colors are represented very well in most conditions and images turn out quite sharp even in low light.

Sure, there is the usual slight oversaturation, so colors look a bit exaggerated, not perfectly realistic, but it’s the same thing that iPhones and Galaxies have been doing for years now. We looked for particular issues around the edges of the image, but detail remains fairly sharp there as well, and even in low light the phone manages to capture sharp shots.

The built-in single LED flash is strong, but sneaks in a cold, green-ish cast to images that ruins the colors, so we’d rather not use it at all.

When it comes to the front camera, we’re also very pleased with it. In the right conditions, it captures great-looking selfies, with outstanding detail and sharpness, really a class above even when compared to the selfie cameras on the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s Plus. Indoors and in dim light, though, images often turn out slightly blurry and don’t look nearly as impressive.

Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
OnePlus 31.7
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge1.5
Apple iPhone 6s Plus1.6
LG G52.2

Video quality

You can record 4K UHD video at 30 frames per second on the OnePlus 3, and the recordings turn out good, but not exceptional.

While focus and exposure adjustments work well, we find that stabilization is lacking. The phone does have optical image stabilization (OIS), as well as electronic one, but there is a very noticeable jerkiness to videos, especially when you’re walking around – videos end up on the shaky side. Detail is also not as perfectly clear as we’re used to from other high-end phone cameras, and some artifacts are present, as well as a noticeable moire effect.


In a time of YouTube and Facebook for videos, as well as Spotify and Apple Music for our music needs, the default music and video players on our phones are getting less and less use. Still, those with sentiment for offline music would still use the built-in apps. There are two music apps on the OnePlus 3, the Google Play one, and a custom-made application that has a clean, straight-forward interface and provides the option to tag your songs, which is nice.

Audio via the loudspeaker is definitely on the quiet side, and does not stand out by any means. It lacks depths, and sounds a bit tinny. There is no special DAC hardware here, in case you’re wondering, OnePlus is using the default audio hardware coming with the Snapdragon 820, which should be perfectly sufficient for most people.

The photo gallery on the phone is quite bare-bones. We’d rather use the excellent Google Photos app that comes in pre-installed as well and allows you to easily resize thumbs of your images and jump between your pictures with ease. It also provides a few basic editing options.

Headphones output power(Volts)Higher is better
OnePlus 30.82
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge0.707
Apple iPhone 6s Plus0.986
LG G50.29
Loudspeaker loudness(dB)Higher is better
OnePlus 374
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge72.9
Apple iPhone 6s Plus69.1
LG G573

Call Quality

Call quality on the OnePlus 3 is above average, but not great. Through the earpiece, voices sound sufficiently loud, but lack in clarity as the tonality is slightly distorted. On the other end of the line, we’re experiencing the same issues with slightly muffled voices and a slight digital distortion.

Battery life

The OnePlus 3 will barely last a full day and that’s a disappointment, but Dash charge is a big relief.

The OnePlus 3 features a 3,000mAh, non-removable battery that powers a 5.5" handset running the Snapdragon 820 system chip. It's also notable that the OnePlus 3 has a 1080 x 1920-pixel AMOLED display, a lower resolution than most current, Quad HD flagships and that is supposed to have a positive effect on battery longevity.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in real life.

The OnePlus 3 scored poorly on our battery test: just 5 hours and 53 minutes. That puts it among the worst performers this year, on par with the rather weak in terms of battery life LG G5. Yes, with moderate use, the OnePlus 3 should be able to last a whole day, but we still find it odd that the new OnePlus 3 actually has a slightly, but noticeably lower battery life than its predecessor, the OnePlus 2.

While that's a disappointment, we were not at all disappointed by the new Dash charge technology used in the OnePlus 3. OnePlus says that it only works with a OnePlus wall charger and a OnePlus cable (which is annoying, but probably not a huge problem for many people), and it lives up to the promise: it recharges the OnePlus 3 from 0% to 63% in half an hour, exactly as promised by the company. In fact, it takes just 1 hour and 13 minutes to fully recharge the phone! Impressive! At this pace, we could easily recharge it during our lunch break and not have to worry about night charges.

Battery life(hours)Higher is better
OnePlus 35h 53 min(Poor)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge7h 18 min(Average)
Apple iPhone 6s Plus9h 11 min(Good)
LG G55h 51 min(Poor)
Full Charge(hours)Lower is better
OnePlus 31h 14 min
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge1h 39 min
Apple iPhone 6s Plus2h 45 min
LG G51h 16 min


Some two years after launching with a loud bang, the OnePlus company is still going strong. It has done away with the invite shenanigans, and it allows consumers to buy the new OnePlus 3 right away.

The price of $400 for this unlocked phone with Snapdragon 820 chip is simply great. It’s one of the best deals you can get, period.

However, you should also know that this is not exactly a ‘flagship killer’. The OnePlus 3 strong points are performance, which feels fast and fluid; the plentiful 64 gigs of storage, and the fast and well-performing camera.

It does fall short in two key areas. Display quality is sub-par, as this is one of the worse displays we’ve seen on a major phone launched in the last year or two, though we're hoping the upcoming update by OnePlus will fix this. Then, there's battery life which also leaves something to be desired.

What are your alternatives? If you’re looking for an all-out great phone of a similar caliber, no matter the price, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the most obvious choice. At $800, it starts at double the OnePlus 3’s price, but offers a better display, one of the best cameras on a phone ever, and a more unique design.

If you want something in the same price range, $400 buys you a Nexus 6P these days. It features a slower processor, and the phone would be just too large for many, but it comes with the promise for quick Android updates and has similarly good looks with a nice metal build.

$400 is also the cost of the new iPhone SE, a 4-inch munchkin of a phone with Apple’s latest A9 chip that is as fast as the Snapdragon 820. The camera experience is also great on the iPhone SE and it features the rich and extremely smooth iOS platform, plus great battery life. The downsides are that tiny size and depressingly low, 16GB of storage for the base model.

At the end of the day, OnePlus does seem to have nailed it. The OnePlus 3 is in many ways like an HTC phone - great design without much going on in terms of special features. It works well. And at that $400 price, it’s definitely something special.

Video Thumbnail

Update: Read our OnePlus 3T review!


  • Hard-to-beat price
  • Great design: solid build, thin and lightweight, comfortable to hold
  • Very fast and smooth performance
  • Excellent image quality
  • One of the best selfie cameras we’ve seen on a phone
  • Dash charging is extremely fast (you can charge your phone in your lunch break, no need for overnight charges)
  • 64GB of internal storage is plentiful
  • Mute switch is a neat addition
  • NFC is back, supports Android Pay


  • Colors on the display are not properly balanced, whites appear blue
  • Battery life is below expectations
  • Super slow adaptive brightness
  • Loudspeaker is not loud enough, lacks a bit in clarity

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