What is the OnePlus 3T?
The fact that OnePlus opted to call its new phone the OnePlus 3T, and not the OnePlus 4, immediately makes it clear this an evolution of the existing OnePlus 3, not a true sequel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In a similar manner to how Apple’s S series has refined iPhones between complete refreshes, the OnePlus 3T is an important under the hood re-tooling. Key changes include a faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, 13% larger battery capacity and improved front-facing camera. But, with the pricing now starting at £399, do the changes justify 3T’s increased upfront cost? Fortunately for OnePlus, the answer is largely yes, which is doubly good news as the OnePlus 3 is being discontinued.
OnePlus 3T – Design
Not a great deal has changed here. There are now two colour options, a new Gunmetal finish or Soft Gold, although if you want the new larger 128GB capacity option you’re limited to only Gunmetal. The Gunmetal option replaces the previous Graphite finish available with the OnePlus 3 and is a little darker in shade.
Outside of this, the OnePlus 3T remains 7.4mm thick and is made from a single slab of aluminium alloy that feels lovely in hand. OnePlus made a big deal about how the top of the frame curves differently from the rest of the edges. It’s not something you’re going to notice unless you go looking for it, but it’s still a nice touch.
WATCH: OnePlus 3T video review
Look to the bottom of the phone and you’ll find a neatly drilled speaker grille, a USB-C port and a headphone jack. The latter is worth drawing attention to as, despite Apple’s efforts to kill the 3.5mm jack, no one seems to be in a great rush to make USB-C headphones over Lightning headphones.
I’m actually all for moving away from the 3.5mm jack and use Bluetooth headphones more often than not, but there are still times when I want to use a wired connection beyond headphones. Too often I went to plug the jack-less Moto Z into my car radio only to remember I’d left the adaptor connected to my wired headphones back home. It’s a frustration I can do without.
Along the left edge is a three-level Alert Slider to toggle between notification profiles. You can either have them all, priority or none, just like the OnePlus 3. It’s a useful addition you don’t see often. Below this is the volume rocker, and on the opposite side the power button.
There’s a front fingerprint sensor, which I’ve always stated is my preferred position over a rear placement. The fingerprint sensor also doubles as the Home button, flanked by capacitive Back and Recent keys that are only marked by a backlit dot, rather than their standard icons. This is because you can swap their positions in the OnePlus 3T’s settings.
The button setup is similar to the Samsung Galaxy S7’s, and means you can do away with Android’s on-screen navigation buttons, freeing up more of the display. You can still turn on the on-screen navigation in the settings if you want.
Having a choice is great and the customisation options don’t end there, on the 3T you can also choose different shortcut actions for double-press and hold inputs for any of the capacitive buttons.
The fingerprint sensor feels responsive and on a par with other great fingerprint sensors, such as the Huawei P9’s, when it comes to swiftness. It does fall afoul of the same pitfalls as all other fingerprint sensors I’ve used though, so wet hands will still see you resorting to more traditional unlock methods.
Turn the OnePlus 3T over and you’ll see a moderate camera bump from the protruding rear camera. It’s not as pronounced as on certain other phones though and OnePlus has also made improvements here by coating the sensor in sapphire glass, for an extra level of resilience.
The OnePlus 3T supports dual SIMs, useful if you have a personal and work number and don’t want to carry multiple devices. The second SIM slot does not double as a microSD card slot, as is the case with certain other phones, so there’s no expandable storage, just like the OnePlus 3.
But as mentioned, there is now 64GB (£399) and 128GB (£439) capacity options. The extra for 128GB isn’t a complete rip-off compared to what others have charged for extra storage, either. Otherwise, NFC makes a welcome return so you can use Android Pay.
OnePlus 3T – Display
The 3T’s 5.5-inch screen is on paper identical to the OnePlus 3’s. It has the same 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and uses the same Optic AMOLED technology. That’s not going to amount to the highest pixels-per-inch density in the world, but with general use it’s not something you’re going to notice.
The Optic AMOLED tech means black levels are superb and the display still looks super sharp, regardless of its comparably low pixels-per-inch count. Viewing angles are also excellent, with limited brightness drop-off when viewed off-centre.
I was also impressed with the reserved auto brightness adjustment. Too many of the phones I’ve tested have had very aggressive automatic adjustment settings that kick in even when ambient light levels haven’t changed. Brightness on the OnePlus 3T is also more than adequate for outdoor use.
One of the chief complaints when the OnePlus 3 launched was its unflattering and unnatural colour calibration. This was something that eventually got fixed through software updates, which is at least a testament to OnePlus listening to its customers.
Luckily, some of these learnings have been applied to the OnePlus 3T. Out of the box colours are a little oversaturated but the display looks great and in truth, this is how I left the display during most of my testing.
If you want more natural, representative colours, an sRGB calibration profile is also an option, which makes the colours look considerably more muted. Another custom option lets you manually adjust the colour temperature to your liking.
From the Quick Toggle menu you can also turn on a Night mode, which knocks down the blue light part of the colour spectrum. This makes the display a little less harsh on your eyes in the dark as well as supposedly reducing the impact on your circadian rhythm.
Like the Moto Z, there’s also an Ambient Display that turns the display on in a low-power mode when notifications come in, as well as Proximity Wake that turns on the display when you wave your hand over the camera. The latter doesn’t work as well as the Moto Z’s dedicated proximity sensors, however.