OnePlus is back with its third attempt at a flagship killing smartphone, which is rather predictably, and still oddly, named as the OnePlus 3. Priced at just $399, the OnePlus 3’s cost certainly undercuts a lot of the leading handsets out there, but let’s take a closer look at the company’s hardware to see if this phone is really worth stumping up the cash for. In this article, we’ll be comparing the paper specifications of the OnePlus 3 against the new flagship Moto Z Force, the HTC 10, Samsung’s Galaxy S7, and the LG G5.

We’ll start with the nuts and bolts of today’s smartphones – the processing package. After an assortment of processing options last year, Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 processor has once again become the ubiquitous chip of choice among flagship smartphone manufacturers. That said, Samsung’s Exynos 8890 powered Galaxy S7 is available in Europe and Asia.

 OnePlus 3Moto Z ForceGalaxy S7LG G5HTC 10
Display5.5-inch AMOLED
1920x1080, 401ppi
5.5-inch AMOLED
2560x1440, 535ppi
5.1-inch AMOLED
2560x1440, 577ppi
5.3-inch :CD
2560x1440, 554ppi
5.2-inch LCD
2560x1440, 565ppi
SoCSnapdragon 820Snapdragon 820Snapdragon 820Snapdragon 820Snapdragon 820
CPU2x Kryo @ 2.15GHz
2x Kryo @ 1.6GHZ
2x Kryo @ 2.15GHz
2x Kryo @ 1.6GHZ
2x Kryo @ 2.15GHz
2x Kryo @ 1.6GHZ
2x Kryo @ 2.15GHz
2x Kryo @ 1.6GHZ
2x Kryo @ 2.15GHz
2x Kryo @ 1.6GHZ
GPUAdreno 530Adreno 530Adreno 530Adreno 530Adreno 530
[related_videos title=”” align=”right” type=”custom” videos=”697734,686764,684693,679576″]Straight away, we can expect virtually identical CPU performance across all of these smartphones, which will provide silky smooth performance in general day to day tasks and more computationally expensive situations, such as high resolution video streaming and gaming. The Snapdragon 820 also features Qualcomm’s X12 LTE modem, so all of these smartphones can reach peak 4G LTE speeds of 600 Mbps download and pp to 150 Mbps UL, given an equally powered network connection.

Interestingly, OnePlus has decided to also offer 6GB RAM inside its third flagship, which eclipses the 4GB of RAM offered as standard across all of the other of this year’s flagships. However, 4GB of RAM is already plenty for mass multi-tasking in Android, and users are unlikely to notice any major performance enhancements by opting for the 6GB RAM model. Speaking of memory, the OnePlus 3 only comes with one internal memory option, 64GB, which is quite a bit of space. However, the lack of a microSD card slot, a feature included pretty much unanimously across the board of high end handsets this year, is missing from the OnePlus 3, which might be a deal breaker for those who require lots of storage for pictures, movies and music.

The OnePlus 3's display is behind the curve

While the OnePlus 3 might match this year’s flagship handsets in terms of processing power, the display is slightly behind the curve. The OnePlus 3 features a 5.5-inch 1080p display, which doesn’t match the pixel density of the QHD resolution panels found in all of the other smartphones on our list. If you’re looking for the sharpest panels, the OnePlus 3 doesn’t quite match up at 5.5-inches in size, but the differences won’t be hugely noticeable to many.

However, the slightly lower display resolution should mean slightly better battery life and less graphical processing power required to push pixels to the display, resulting improved GPU performance and/or lower power consumption. Given the relatively small differences in image quality between 1080p and QHD displays at this size, this may be a trade-off that some consumers are willing to make, but it will also draw some fair criticisms.

There’s much more to displays than resolutions though, and AMOLED types, once the sole domain of Samsung, have now reached a number of difference manufacturers. The OnePlus 3, Moto Z Force, the Galaxy S7, and even the ZTE Axon 7 all feature AMOLED displays, which boast more vivid colors and superior contrast ratios over LCD panel types. Those who like the look of AMOLED panels now have much more choice, and the OnePlus 3 is one of them.

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Moving on to camera technology, we are seeing a much more diverse range of image sensor setups than ever before. We can’t say a lot about the camera quality verses the opposition without taking the time to go hands on ourselves, but the OnePlus 3 doesn’t look quite as adventurous as some of the other options out there. The G5 remains the only option outside of the Huawei P9 to offer up a dual camera configuration this generation, while Samsung and HTC have opted for larger pixel sizes and better low light performance with their lower resolution 12 megapixel sensors. That being said, the OnePlus 3’s 16 megapixels sit comfortably in the middle of the range, and Sony’s IMX 298 has been put to good use in the Xiaomi Mi5 and Huawei Mate 8 previously, so paper specs seem promising if not bleeding edge.

The OnePlus 3 is a great option for selfie lovers

On the front, the OnePlus 3 boasts a high resolution 8 megapixel sensor that matches the specs of other leading handsets on the market. The larger 1.4um pixel sizes and f/2.0 aperture should also ensure plenty of light capture, making it a compelling option over the 5MP sensors offered by the Moto X Force, Galaxy S7 or the HTC 10, especially for selfie lovers.

Extras are just as important in today’s market for high-end handsets. Optical image stabilization and phase detection or laser autofocus camera technologies have hit the mainstream this generation and it’s very positive to see that the OnePlus has managed to keep up in this regard. Optical image stabilization is certainly a key feature to look out for if you’re into shooting video with your phone, and it can also help to improve the look of low light pictures as well.

 OnePlus 3Moto Z ForceGalaxy S7LG G5HTC 10
Cameras16 MP, 1.12um rear, with PDAF and OIS
8MP, 1.4um front
21MP, 1.12um rear, with PDAF & OIS
5MP 1.4um front
12MP, 1.4um rear with PDAF & OIS
5MP front
16MP + 8MP wide angle rear, with laser AF & OIS
8MP front
12MP, 1.55um rear with laser autofocus & OIS
5MP, 1.34um front with OIS
Fast ChargingDash ChargeYesQuick Charge 2.0Quick Charge 3.0Quick Charge 3.0
Other ExtrasUSB Type-C, 24-bit audioModular, USB Type-C, no 3.5mm audio, 24-bit audioIP68 rating, 24-bit audio, wireless charging, Samsung PayModular design, 24-bit audio, USB Type-C24-bit audio, USB Type-C
Battery3,000mAh3,500mAh3,000mAh2800mAh removable3,000mah
OS6.0 Marshmallow6.0 Marshmallow6.0 Marshmallow6.0 Marshmallow6.0 Marshmallow
Dimensions152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35mm155.9 x 75.8 x 7mm142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm149.4 x 73.9x 7.7mm145.9 x 71.9 x 9mm

So far, there hasn’t been a huge amount to tell a lot of these smartphones apart, and the OnePlus 3 does a good job at matching most of the core flagship features that consumers have come to expect. However, once we begin looking at the extras available with some of these handsets, you can begin to see where the extra money is going in other phones.

OnePlus finally brought back NFC with the OnePlus 3

Fortunately, the OnePlus 3 manages to match many of the most important additional features. Fingerprint scanners can be found across the entire range, allowing for enhanced screen lock security and more secure payments for those using Android Pay. However, out of these handsets, only the LG G5 features a sensor placed conveniently on the back of the phone, all of the others have a sensor on the front at the bottom. Speaking of Android Pay though, OnePlus has finally got around to including NFC technology inside its latest handset, which allows consumers to make contactless payments with the phone via Android Pay, as well as exchange contacts and other bits of data using the short range wireless protocol.

Poll: What would you change about the OnePlus 3?

The OnePlus 3 also comes with a USB Type-C port for those who want to use the latest cables. However, this port has been causing some controversy over charging speeds and support for accessories. This time around, the OnePlus 3 features Dash Charge technology to more quickly charge up the phone as fast as many of its competitors. However, this means that the handset won’t be compatible with the wide range of Quick Charge 3.0 certified accessories already on the market.

oneplus 3 review aa-17

OnePlus has also embraced the push towards higher quality build materials, having ditched the plastics and gone with a metal body, or an anodized aluminum unibody to be more specific. This offers up some serious competition to the HTC 10, the only other metal phone on our list, and the Galaxy S7’s glass back. However, the same sacrifices have been made when it comes to a non-removable battery, leaving LG’s G5 as the only flagship still offering this feature. Still, the 3,000mAh cell is highly competitive with other handsets on the market, and none of these models should leave you wanting for battery life.

While most other flagships come with a bevy of extra hardware features, the OnePlus 3 falls behind on this front

That’s a pretty good tally, but this is where the extras come to an end for the OnePlus 3. If you’re looking for an IP water and dust resistance rating or wireless charging support out of the box, then the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge are the handsets to pick. The Edge version of Samsung’s latest flagship also stands out for some rather useful Edge display software features, and it’s certainly a hard handset to beat for extras. OnePlus made a few mentions of some Smart Capture camera software suite during its announcement, which seems useful, but your pick of the various OEM flavors of Android Marshmallow on offer are most likely going to come down to minor preferences. However, we have already seen a preview build of Android N leaked for the handset, meaning that the OnePlus 3 could be one of the first handsets from this generation to receive the latest version of Android. Certainly something to consider if you’re not picking up a Nexus but like fast Android updates.

If you’re looking for something a little more out there, then the modular designs of the LG G5 and the Moto X Force are certainly worth looking into. Both smartphones boast audio, battery, and camera accessories, among others, for those who want to augment a particular favorite feature of their handset. Although these extras will set you back additional cash, making these setups far more expensive than the OnePlus 3. Similarly, phones like the LG G5 or the Huawei P9 with their dual camera technology are offering something a little more unique for the photography enthusiasts out there. That being said, if none of these additional features appeal or are important to you, then you can certainly save a few pennies by opting for the OnePlus 3.

oneplus 3 review aa-16

The OnePlus 3 doesn’t quite do enough to earn its place right at the cutting edge of smartphone technology. In this sense it’s really not going to challenge today’s very top end flagships for all their features, but that was never going to happen at this $400 price point anyway. However, those looking for a powerful handset without the unnecessary frills will likely find the OnePlus 3 very compelling, especially because of its cheaper price tag. For example, look at competent but relatively safe flagships, such as the HTC 10 or the Xperia X Performance, and the OnePlus 3 certainly seems to offer a tremendous value proposition.

Where do you stand on the OnePlus 3? Does the handset do enough to earn its place among the best of this year’s smartphones, or is it missing out on some key innovations?

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