OnePlus 3 review: Soon to be outpaced by the OnePlus 5

Price when reviewed

OnePlus 3 review: Performance and battery life

Enough of the shallow frippery, however, and onto the meat of the subject. How does the OnePlus 3 compare with its rivals when it comes to raw performance?

First of all, let’s pick out those rivals. At £329 SIM-free (and remember, there’s no invite system this year, so you can buy one outright now), it’s up against a number of strong alternatives. There’s the Nexus 5X, which retails at £299; the pricier, but incredibly good-value Nexus 6P, currently on sale for £379; the cheaper Motorola Moto G4, which at £169 gives many a more expensive smartphone a run for its money; and the OnePlus 3’s own stablemate the OnePlus 2, which is down to £249.

That’s a pretty strong selection of smartphones, and yet the OnePlus 3 batters them all on the performance front. Just check out these graphs:



The OnePlus 3 gains average frame rates double that of its nearest competitors in the graphics-heavy GFXBench GL tests. (Its native resolution is 1080p, which explains why the frame rate is the same for both tests.)

The Geekbench results are equally impressive, with the OnePlus 3 holding a huge advantage over the rest of the pack. Its Snapdragon 820 processor, backed here by an enormous 6GB of RAM, is a beast and kills the competition stone-dead. In fact, you have to move up to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s Plus before you find a smartphone that can compete.

As you might expect, the phone feels ultra-responsive, and there’s pretty much nothing I’ve found that fazes it. The big question is, how does all this power affect battery life? The answer is, as long as you’re not playing hardcore 3D games all day, not at all.

In our video-rundown battery-life tests, the OnePlus 3 outlasted every one of its mid-price rivals once again, sailing on past the Moto G4’s time of 13hrs 39mins by an impressive margin of 3hrs 17mins, even challenging the all-conquering Samsung Galaxy S7 for stamina. For reference, the Samsung lasted 17hrs 48mins in this test.


After a month of day-to-day use, I can confirm that the OnePlus 3’s battery is comfortably up to a day of moderate use. It will stretch even further if you’re careful, but don’t be encouraged to neglect your overnight charging routine. I haven’t had the phone last anywhere close to two days yet. It’s good, but not that good.

It’s quick to charge, though. The OnePlus 3 doesn’t support Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3, instead preferring its own “Dash Charge” technology, which is new to the OnePlus range with the OnePlus 3. I tested it out using the charger supplied in the box, and found that the OnePlus 3 reached 50% in 23 minutes, 75% in 35 minutes and 100% in 1hr 14mins.

That’s impressive, but not significantly faster than other phones I’ve tested that use Qualcomm’s open-standard Quick Charge tech. So why has OnePlus opted for something different? The answer is that there’s another, less well publicised benefit to the technology aside from the speed of charging: it doesn’t overheat as readily while connected to the mains, which means if you want to use it to play demanding games while charging it’s less likely to throttle and slow down – and it’ll be more comfortable to hold.

The caveat is that you need to use OnePlus’ own adapter (supplied in the box, fortunately) to get the full benefit, and with replacements costing north of £25, you don’t want to be losing it. OnePlus isn’t opening up Dash Charge to third parties, either, so don’t expect to see cheap alternatives on ebay any time soon.

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