The OnePlus 3T, an affordable 5.5" phone selling for nearly half the price of devices with similar hardware like the Google Pixel XL and Apple iPhone 7 Plus, is here.
But before even considering buying it, you should know a few things. First, you should know about the OnePlus brand, a new start-up that began as an off-shoot of Chinese phone maker Oppo, but focused on delivering a great phone that works well in the United States in Europe. The OnePlus 3T is fully equipped with the necessary 4G LTE bands and while it is designed and made in China, it feels like a device that is tailor made for Western markets.
So what is special about it? We've been using the OnePlus 3T in the past couple of weeks and we've already published our full review here, but if you want the 10 most important facts about the 3T and don't feel like reading through the full review, just check out the slides right below.
1. We see more than a 10% improvement in real-life battery life
This is the biggest perceivable improvement in the OnePlus 3T. The OnePlus 3 averaged around between 5 and 5 and a half hours of on-screen time, while we get 6 or even 6 and a half hours of on-screen time with the new OnePlus 3T. This does not sound like a big deal, but it could be the difference between your phone lasting you the full day and dying on your way back home.
2. OnePlus 3T features improved interface that feels better
While it retains the overall look and feel of the OnePlus 3, the 3T interface is refined at a few important places: we love the new look of the Shelf, a home panel that now looks more like Google Now with useful card-like widgets, and is more useful with weather, battery and available storage information. You can also customize it with additional widgets. We also dig the new notification shade that is inspired by Android Nougat: it looks sleeker and just better optimized with the 'auto' brightness toggle within easy reach (it was hidden in the settings menus before). There is a neat option to disable the hardware buttons, particularly useful for gamers, where an accidental push of a button could take you out of your game in a heated moment. There are also small things: the clear all button for notifications is now in the bottom of the screen, so you don't have to reach out for it in one of the top corners.
3. New 16MP selfie camera is not a huge upgrade
The OnePlus 3 featured an 8-megapixel front camera, while the 3T comes with a 16MP front cam. Does this result in sharper images? Not really. In fact, in low light settings, we saw more blurry pictures. What is improved, though, is that the background in selfies is now more blurred, so your subject stands out more and face detection is a bit faster on the 3T. Overall, though, the changes are very minimal: this was a very good selfie camera in the OnePlus 3 and it's about as good on the 3T.
4. The new Snapdragon 821 processor is slightly faster
We took the Snapdragon 821 to our test lab and it performed slightly better than the Snapdragon 820, but does this really translate to an improvement in your daily grind? We don't know if the new processor is to blame, but while the OnePlus 3 was fast, the 3T feels just a bit better to use, smoother, more fluid, while the 3 was fast, but now appears to have been a bit janky at times.
5. Design-wise the OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3 are the same
Sure, you have the new darker, Gunmetal Grey color on the OnePlus 3T, but apart from that these are two identical twins: the size of the phones, the thickness, everything is exactly the same, and you can even fit OnePlus 3 cases on the 3T. It's a great design, so we don't complain: the phone is just 7.3mm thick and with a slight ergonomic curve on the back, it fits in the hand nicely. There is no water-protection and while that's not an essential feature on our list, it would be nice to have it in a future OnePlus flagship.
6. Awesome display with great colors
The OnePlus 3T features a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1080 x 1920-pixel resolution. Unless you use it for virtual reality, chances that at regular viewing distance you won't notice a difference in sharpness with a 1440 x 2560-pixel QHD screen. It's sharp enough. It also features great colors: by default it features vivid, slightly oversaturated colors and whites that appear slightly blue, an effect that many users like. If you want accurate color that abide by a universal professional standard, though, you can also have that: go into Settings > Display > Screen calibration, and change it to sRGB and you get more balanced and accurate tones. Wait a bit for your eyes to adjust and you will probably like it better, that's what we use.
7. Dash Charge on the OnePlus 3T is faster than charging on Google Pixel XL and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Dash Charge is one of the fastest ways to charge your phone. It takes just 1 hour and 25 minutes to fully recharge the battery of the OnePlus 3T, faster than charging times on other major phones. What's great is that Dash Charge will charge the OnePlus 3T just as fast if you use the phone, a feature that is not supported by other devices. It is a proprietary standard, though: it will only work with the stock wall charger and red cable that OnePlus provides in the box (and if you lose them, Dash Charge replacements can only be ordered from OnePlus and are a bit costly).
8. Full support for AT&T and T-Mobile, won't work on Verizon or Sprint
The OnePlus 3T is optimized to work in the United States, with full support for AT&T and T-Mobile. Yes, this means you will get all the necessary bands to enjoy full 4G LTE speeds. Unfortunately, the OnePlus 3T is not compatible with CDMA carriers, so it will not work on Verizon Wireless or Sprint.
9. It's not as good of a value as OnePlus 3
But it's still one of the best value-for-money offers you can get at just $440 for the 64GB model and $480 for the 128 gig version. Compare this with $870 for a 128GB Pixel XL or iPhone 7 Plus (which, of course, have their advantages).
10. OnePlus 3T shipping times are currently long
While we all want a great deal, we also want it fast. Currently, OnePlus is struggling to meet demand: it takes a whopping 2 to 3 weeks to ship the phone in the United States, and even longer in other parts of the globe. And the second, gold color option is not even available yet. Hopefully, those times will improve in the future, but now getting the OnePlus 3T is a long wait.