OnePlus 3T review: The best midprice phone

On paper, the 3T (left) is faster than the 3 (right) when it comes to benchmark scores.

James Martin/CNET

It takes better selfies

The front-facing camera on the OnePlus 3T jumps from 8 to 16 megapixels, and it's supposed to perform better in low light too. The selfies I took looked smoother and sharper than the ones on the 3, and this was extra noticeable when I zoomed in or cropped the photo. Though neither OnePlus phone nails it in dimmer lighting, I did notice less graininess and digital artifacts on the 3T compared to the 3. You can check out the differences in the images below. (Both photos are unedited, but the 3T on the left had to be resized to fit.)

The 3T's front-facing camera (left) takes higher resolution photos than the 3 (right).

Lynn La/CNET

As for the rear camera, it's pretty much unchanged as far as photo quality is concerned. OnePlus said it improved its image stabilization capabilities for video, but when I tested it out and watched videos side-by-side, I didn't see any big difference between the two as far as "steadiness" goes.

Software tweaks for everybody

OnePlus wanted to give the 3T a little something more in the software department, so we get more gesture controls. You can now turn the phone over to mute a call and take screenshots by sliding three fingers downward. You can also change the shape of your icons and assign a password to individual apps for extra security. The file manager app, usually a clumsy app on Android phones, got a facelift and it's easier to navigate. All these changes will soon come to the OnePlus 3 too.

OnePlus diehards will notice that the Shelf page for quick-access apps and contacts got a makeover too. There's no more banner image and it now reminds me of Apple's iOS 10 widget panel with its white background widgets. I'm not a fan of either look, but the change won't slow you down.

The phone's Shelf home screen page (left) and the file manager (right) get a facelift.

Lynn La/CNET

The 3T runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but OnePlus said that both the 3 and 3T will upgrade to 7.0 Nougat in the near future.

There's one other feature that isn't out yet, but will be coming soon. It's called "extended screenshots" and it lets you capture a full-page screenshot of webpages or text messages, even if you only see a portion of that on the screen. I'll be excited to see this when it launches.

You can now switch up the shape of your icons in OnePlus' OxygenOS.

James Martin/CNET

Should I get the OnePlus 3T if I...?

  • Already own the OnePlus 3: No. Aside from the battery boost and some slightly better selfies, the 3T isn't a phenomenal upgrade. And remember, you're going to get those software updates too. Rest assured, the 3 isn't an obsolete device that you need to run out and replace.
  • Already wanted to buy the OnePlus 3: Yes. Its updates are worth the extra money. And if you have room in the budget, go with the 128GB variant.
  • Didn't want to buy either, but want a phone in this price range: Yes. The 3T has all the things we already love about the 3, plus all those goodies I mentioned. I strongly recommended the 3 when it came out and feel the same way about this iteration. Compared to other $400 phones that have been recently released, it has a better user experience and camera than the LePro 3, and it's faster than both the Motorola Moto Z Play and Alcatel Idol 4S.
  • Didn't want to buy either, but can spend a bit more: Depends. Even if money's no object, you really wouldn't be "compromising" much if you got the 3T. That said, the Google Pixel has a way better camera. It's deeply integrated with Google's ecosystem too, so you'll get faster Android updates and Google's nifty Assistant AI. But again, it's pricey. The Pixel XL (which has a 5.5-inch display like the 3T) with 128GB costs $869 or £819 -- that's almost twice as much as the 3T.

OnePlus 3T Spec Comparison

OnePlus 3T OnePlus 3 LeEco LePro 3 Motorola Moto Z Play Alcatel Idol 4S Google Pixel XL
Display size, resolution 5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels 5.5-inch; 1,920X1,080 pixels 5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels 5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 401ppi 401ppi 403 ppi 403 ppi 534 ppi 534 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.01x2.94x0.29 in 6.01x2.94x0.29 in 5.96x2.90x0.29 in 6.16x3x0.28 in 6.06x2.97x0.28 in 6.1x2.98x0.34 in (at its thickest)
Dimensions (Millimeters) 152.7x74.7x7.35 mm 152.7x74.7x7.35 mm 151.4x73.9x7.5 mm 156.4x76.4x6.99 mm 153.9x75.4x6.99 mm 154.7x75.74x8.58 mm (at its thickest)
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.57 oz; 158 g 5.57 oz; 158 g 6.24 oz; 177 g 5.82 oz; 165 g 5.26 oz; 149 g 5.92 oz; 168 g
Mobile software Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 7.1 Nougat
Camera 16-megapixel 16-megapixel 16-megapixel 16-megapixel 16-megapixel 12.3-megapixel
Front-facing camera 16-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel 5-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor 2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 1.8GHz + 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 2.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Storage 64GB, 128GB 64GB 64GB 32GB 32GB 32GB, 128GB
Expandable storage None None None Up to 2TB Up to 200GB None
Battery 3,400mAh (nonremovable) 3,000mAh (nonremovable) 4,070mAh (nonremovable) 3,510 mAh (nonremovable) 3,000mAh (nonremovable) 3,450mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Home button Home button Back cover Home button Back cover Back cover
Special features Notifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging Notifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging Access to LeEco's streaming platform with Live button Moto Mods connector, NFC, Turbo Charging Boom Key (programable key), reversible OS, dual-SIM Google Assistant built-in, unlimited cloud storage, Daydream VR ready
Price off-contract (USD) $439 (64GB), $479 (128GB) $399 $399 $450 $400 $769 (32GB), $869 (128GB)
Price (GBP) £399 (64GB), £439 (128GB) £329 Converts to £325 £344 £385 £719 (32GB), £819 (128GB)
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$590 (64GB), AU$652 (128GB) Converts to AU$530 Converts to AU$520 AU$594 AU$470 AU$1,269 (32GB), AU$1,419 (128GB)

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