The news about the OnePlus 3 has been all the rage the past couple of weeks. It’s true that OnePlus has generated compelling phones over the past couple of years, but is its latest OnePlus 3 truly a flagship killer priced at $399?
The original Oneplus One was without question a phone that got our attention with its incredible price tag at $349 (or $299 for the base model). It was loaded with high end hardware like the Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM, 3100mAh battery, 13MP rear camera, and a 1080p display.
What made this phone so newsworthy at the time was its price that was half the cost of its competition, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 4. The major downside to buying a phone from Oneplus was the goofy invite system that was a massive failure where it took users up to six months to get the device.
Come 2016 and OnePlus released its third iteration of the device that aimed to be a true flagship killer. The only issue is the price is now $399. Sure that is cheaper than a Samsung Galaxy S7 by $200, but the OnePlus 3 does not have specs that can justify its self proclaimed title as the “flagship killer”.
$399 is almost high enough to be considered flagship pricing. The Moto X Pure and Blackberry PRIV can be had for $299 right now, and the Galaxy S7 can be found for as cheap as $450. The NextBit Robin has been selling at $299, and the very popular Nexus 6P has been priced as low as $419. Even if the OP3 is better on paper, the day to day performance is so insignificant these days that most users will not know the difference unless they have all of the devices to test side by side.
If it truly wants to be a flagship killer it needs to be better than the S7 which it is not.
On paper, the OP3 has more RAM, 6GB vs 4GB but in real world tests performs slower than the S7. While the OP3 has a nice camera, it isn’t supplanting the S7 as the best picture snapper. The OP3 also isn’t displacing the S7 in terms of battery life, water resistance, and certainly isn’t going to take the crown over for the best display with its mediocre 1080p display. Lastly, while the OP3 metal build is nice, it does not match the S7 metal and glass build that has set the standard for all other phones.
A real flagship killer would be compatible with the largest network in the US
The OP3 isn’t compatible with the largest network in the U.S., Verizon. If Oneplus truly wants to compete as a “flagship killer” it needs to create a Verizon compatible version. With 141M subscribers, in addition to Sprint’s 59M subscribers, OnePlus is missing out on half of the US market.
Is the OP3 better than the similarly priced Nexus 6P?
The Nexus 6P was released last year which makes it “old”. On paper the 6P lags behind the OP3 with half the RAM at 3GB, has a lesser processor with the Snapdragon 810 vs the 820, but it ends there. The 6P has an all metal body to match, a 2k AMOLED display vs the 1080p display found on the OP3, has USB type-C with fast charging, has a battery that can last all day, and can even be purchased for as low as $419 when it’s on sale. It’s $20 more for the 6P, but you’re guaranteed updates from Google with customer service that OP3 can only dream of matching.
Hardware wise, the only thing the OP3 has going for it is the 6GB of RAM which does not matter, especially when it has issues for many users. When the full 6GB is utilized, it simply puts more stress on the battery. If Oneplus was smart, it would have dialed back the RAM and saved its customers $50 off the MSRP.
Another phone that only appeals to enthusiasts
There are quite a few AndroidGuys writers who couldn’t resist the hype and picked up their own OP3s, but almost all of them are suffering from connection issues. Many are not getting LTE, and one of them has consistent WiFi connection problems which is makes the OP3 a pain to use at home. These issues would be addressed very quickly by Google on its Nexus devices, but OP3 isn’t nearly the size of Google, so it has to scramble to get a fix out. If you have a build defect with your OP3, you have to wait for the device to ship to China and back just to get it fixed. That’s a major problem for most people who only have one phone.
I’m clearly in the minority when it comes to the OP3. I expect to get many comments from readers telling me how inept I am, but that’s okay.
The reality is the OP3 is no better than the S7 in any way. I’d rather pay the extra $200 for a Galaxy S7 that will keep me happy with its superior camera, display, expandable memory, water resistance and dust proofing, wireless charging, and endless third party accessories.
At $399 the OP3 matches up to the Nexus 6P almost head to head. For my money I would buy a Nexus 6P any day of the week over the OP3 because of better customer service from Google, global compatibility with networks including Verizon and Sprint, and quicker updates on Android. You can also use the Nexus 6P on Project Fi which can save you money in a different way.
The way I see it, the OP3 has timing on its side. It was released after all of the major flagships when there is a lull in activity. It bridges the gap between the first half flagship releases with the Galaxy S7, HTC 10, and LG G5 and the second half flagships like the Note, iPhone and Nexus. Other than that and the 6GB which seems cool on paper, the OP3 is a whole lot of hype that I am not settling for. #NeverSettle