Top-class build, a clean, uncomplicated OS and some serious hardware come together to form a sterling package
I hate reviewing smartphones like the OnePlus 3, because once I get used to their brilliance, it's hard to go back to my personal device. Once you've lived with devices like this one for an extended period of time, returning to your own phone feels like a downgrade.
I know what you're thinking. No, OnePlus hasn't paid me a penny for that opening paragraph. To balance it out, let me start with the negatives. Having lived day in, day out with OnePlus' latest, I can tell you the OP3 is not perfect. Its 5.5-inch optic AMOLED touchscreen is not sufficiently bright even when you crank it up to full, and colours on the screen aren't well-calibrated. But both these issues will be sorted out with an over-the-air software update (OxygenOS 3.1.4), which should arrive soonish. The ambient display doesn't work too well, and you have to manage the battery to make sure it lasts a full day. And while it is good value for your money, at nearly Rs 28,000, OnePlus isn't playing in the budget section any more.
To the good bits. The OP3 is not a design marvel. It's not groundbreaking in any way. It's just a smartphone that's supposed to feel a million bucks in your hand – which it does. It's slim, but not cumbersome to use, that all-metal body gives it the necessary heft, and then there are the nice little touches – like the knurled finish for the Alert Slider – which just make it so much more special. No, there is no sandstone finish to be found here. OP supplies a snap-on cover with that finish, but that messes up the phone's form factor. You could accuse OP of having played it safe with the design. It hasn't tried whipping up a fancy dish. It is sada dosa, but a really well done sada dosa.
Everyone's been talking about the six gigabytes of RAM, and to be honest, there isn't much use for so much RAM. I've always seen over two gigs free at any given point, even with multiple apps running in the background. Performance is, as you'd expect, zippy, the Snapdragon 820 chipset blessing the OP3 with the power to match flagship devices, and the OP3 never feels taxed. Gaming is smooth, the device doesn't heat up much after prolonged use, and overall, its smoothness is one of its strong points.
What is also a strong point is its clean, uncluttered operating system. OxygenOS is basically stock Android with a few useful additions, and it works really well.
OnePlus has nailed it with the the 16MP primary camera as well. This is easily one of the best Android cameras we've tested, and while it can't quite match the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for picture quality, the fact that it comes close enough for this comparison to be made just goes to show how superior this unit is. Even the eight-megapixel front camera captures fine pictures. If you're click-happy and don't want to move from Androids, you will want to consider this phone.
Also, the 360-degree fingerprint sensor on the OP3 is blindingly quick. It works perfectly nine times out of 10. It is the Nissan GT-R of the fingerprint sensor world. Some folks may hate the fact that there's no expandable storage on the OP3, but 64GB (52.6 available to the user), in our opinion, is more than enough.
The 3,000mAh battery is probably a bit too small for my liking. For a device this powerful, the battery is not muscular enough. You have to watch what you're doing, or you'll end up draining it quicker than you'd like. That said, the Dash Charger OnePlus supplies with the phone juices it up in no time at all (0-60 per cent in half an hour, 100 per cent in a little over an hour), so if you remember to carry the charger block along, you'll never run out.
Make no mistake – this is not a flagship-killer. Coming from an S7 Edge, I can assure you that the Samsung is still a cut above all Androids we've dealt with. If you want the absolute best, you still have to shell out the big bucks. And, of course, for not a lot more cash, you can buy a Nexus 6P, which will be the first to receive software updates.
But the fact that the OP3 is being compared with the best in the business goes to show how far OnePlus has come – from being a rank outsider at the start of its journey in 2014, to a serious contender in just two years. I'm sure OnePlus' pace is worrying its rivals more than they'd like to admit.