The phone of the future is already here; we now have a benchmark for how upcoming smartphones should look; and the world’s third-ranked smartphone manufacturer refined its already great handset. But, I still recommend the OnePlus 3T to all my friends.
We aren’t hiding our admiration for OnePlus’ latest flagship smartphone: It was part of our most recent list of best premium smartphones, and its near-identical sibling won our hearts in 2016. In spite of the incredible phones we’ve been seeing since MWC last February, we can’t help but crown the OnePlus 3T as the best bang for anyone’s buck.
You don’t have to be an Android purist or specs nerd to see how great it is. For only $439 — or up to $300 cheaper than the newest premium phones — you get a timeless design, incredibly solid metal build, one of the fastest processors in the market in the Snapdragon 821, and more than enough memory, internal storage, and battery capacity to satisfy all your needs.
The 16-megapixel cameras on the front and back are pretty good too, and we can say with certainty they keep up with the best of them. Here are some samples:
Without a doubt, you can’t find a better deal at this price point right now. There’s nothing stopping you from going out and choosing this over the rest, unless you’re totally mesmerized by the fanciness of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6, or the camera quality of the Google Pixel and Huawei P10.
Well, there are a few things you must know before buying a OnePlus 3T. These are some quirks we found, which involve the original OnePlus 3, as well.
The camera bump is a sore spot
This didn’t matter as much when the OnePlus 3 first came out, but it’s a lot more glaring now. The OnePlus 3T’s camera hump sticks out without a care in the world, forcing you to either lay it down gently on rough surfaces every single time or just buy a case to even out the back. It also causes the phone to wobble a bit while on a flat table.
Its fingerprint scanner feels slow now
Call this being spoiled, but OnePlus’ Chinese counterparts are doing a better job at speeding up their fingerprint scanners. Even OPPO and Vivo’s entry-level phones beat the OnePlus 3T at fingerprint recognition from a cold start. Don’t worry, though; being half a second slower won’t ruin your day.
Our favorite hybrid smartwatch doesn’t sync with it
We bring our Fossil Q Hybrid wherever we go and sync it with whatever phone we’re using. Sadly, the OnePlus 3T and its modified Android operating system don’t sync with the hybrid smartwatch. Fossil itself confirmed its watch platform doesn’t play nice with this phone’s OxygenOS, even though it’s based on the most recent builds of Android.
Cellular signal lags behind
I’ve had better-than-usual cellular reception on all the Snapdragon 820- and 821-powered phones I’ve used, but the OnePlus 3T’s isn’t on par for some reason. Areas where I’d normally get 4G+ or HSPA+ turn into just 4G and 3G, respectively. It might be the all-metal build blocking some of the signal or compatibility issues with my network carrier’s frequency bands.
No waterproofing or storage expansion to speak of
While I didn’t complain about this last year, it’s gradually turning into a fault for the OnePlus 3T. It seems like water- and dustproofing are becoming must-haves in every phone deemed a flagship, and consumers are growing accustomed to demanding them now. At the same time, storage expansion through a microSD card would’ve been nice, although the dual-SIM tray makes up for it.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
We spent the entire intro praising the OnePlus 3T and practically calling it the best buy in recent memory, only to list a bunch of cons right after. You’re probably thinking: Are you backtracking on your claims, GadgetMatch? or Did OnePlus stop paying you, GadgetMatch?
The answer is no for both. For us to keep this review as unbiased as possible, we had to nitpick every flaw we’ve discovered since the original OnePlus 3 launched. That said, these are so minor we can’t consider them deal-breakers. In fact, most casual users won’t even notice these weaknesses, which happen to be fewer than those we’ve found on other flagship gadgets.
As long as you’re game for a high-end 5.5-inch Android smartphone without extra camera lenses or a curvy display, it doesn’t get much better than this. Until, of course, OnePlus’ next “flagship killer” launches later this year and we have to do these comparisons all over again.