OnePlus Three unwrapped to battle Koreans

by Goh De No
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Time flies when I thought I had written the OnePlus Three review last month, but in actual fact, I was thinking about the OnePlus Two write-up in August last year.

The Chinese start-up, famed for their cheap flagships and hard-to-get “marketing strategy”, has come up with the third instalment for the OnePlus series.

After the initial “One” from OnePlus, the follow up model seemed lacklustre, with many not seeing the difference between the two devices. Now, OnePlus is hoping that the third one’s a charm.

The best part of OnePlus Three is the re-designed exterior. It’s done away with the plastic backs, but it’s moved towards a brushed aluminium finished that looks really like the HTC One M9. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, seeing how pretty the phone looks on the back. It finally has that real premium feel to it, not a plastic or soft-touch back like it used to have. Those were three years ago, but expectations have started to rise over the years as to what a smartphone should be like.

On the front, it looks more OnePlus-y with the oblong home button and now, very minimal bezels. Below, you get the speakers, which look very much like the iPhone and a headphone jack along with the USB-C port.

The One Plus 3 is the new budget king of smartphones. Image courtesy of One Plus.

The unibody phone is cut from a single slab of aluminium, again giving that premium-finish feel.

The 5.5-inch AMOLED screen is covered by Gorilla Glass 4 up front, however, only on a full high definition resolution, so 1920×1080. The finger print scanner is located below the screen on the Home button, and is very responsive. On the sides you get touch capacitative buttons that are similar to Samsung devices. This is the part of new smartphones that I really dislike, firstly because the physical home button takes up space, and secondly, it makes the smartphone larger than it needs to be. A small on screen set of keys is all I’m looking for. Triangle, square and circle from Android.

On the left of the device, is the volume rocker and notification slider, two handy physical keys to have on the side. So you can have it on all notifications, prioritised notifications or have it completely silent.

There is no microSD slot though, so you’ll have to make do with the only available option: 64GB.

The innards of the OnePlus Three has the Snapdragon 820 processor, 6GB of RAM, a 16-megapixel camera.

With the 3,000 mAh battery, OnePlus has an excellent Dash Charge feature that gives you 60 per cent of your battery in just 30 minutes. That’s some decent charging numbers, and good enough for me to forego the power bank.

The camera has a bump up from the 13 megapixel its predecessor was equipped with. This new 16-megapixel has auto HDR (not something that I enjoy), Phase Detection AutoFocus and Dynamic De-noising, which is nice to have.

Pictures are available in RAW format, another nice thing to have especially with manual mode on hand that lets you take over ISO, white balance, and shutter speed. By the way, the rear camera is also equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation and Electronic Image Stabilisation. It’ll be pretty hard to take a shaky photo with this thing!

On the front, its camera is supposed to be the same as the rear camera of the iPhone 5S, and that is certainly something impressive. The iPhone 5S rear camera is actual quite decent, as compared to some of the camera phones I have seen.

In short, the OnePlus 3 is everything you will want for US$399 ($540). The OnePlus models are what I like to call “flagships with no frills”. If you want a phone with super specs, can take pictures, browse Facebook and Instagram, has WhatsApp and do all of that really smooth, then this is it without breaking the bank.

If you want something that is fancier, or has modules like the Moto Z and G5, this is definitely not for you.

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