OnePlus3 and why you should NOT get one


This is my criticism towards the self-claimed “flagship-killer”.

If you have any questions about the phone, I’ll be happy to present my view in this thread.

I promised our community to write a review of my OP3 when I had the time. Now that the chinese are on a holiday, I do. Additionally I feel its much better to write a review after you have fully used the device, because first impressions never reveal the full truth.

I got the OP3 after my Xiaomi started to deteriorate. For your information: this “age effect” in consumer hardware is caused by sub-par components, mainly transistors, sensors and so on. The PCB quality simply cannot handle time as well as the other marketed specs (like the display, CPU and so on). Typical tablet or a phone has 2000-3000 components, so when cents are cut on each part, the manufacturers can save up to tens of dollars per unit. You on the other hand, have to purchase a new device after a couple of years.

Let’s start with the good.

OP3 is quick. 6GB of RAM and a snappy CPU make sure everything happens in a blink. Even when doing video conversion, I could not feel a noticeable difference in speed. Later I disabled the animations to make it look quicker. It seemed so quick we laughed at it. Having a lot of RAM the phone seemingly never hibernates tabs in browsers: GREAT.

Battery life is good. I have been able to get a real full day of semi-heavy using most of the time. What’s even better is the quick charge. From 5% to 80% takes 20-30mins. Full capacity is reached roughly in an hour. I don’t need a power bank with me, I only need the charger which is pretty small and light. GREAT.

Camera is good. Auto-focus doesn’t work as well as in the highest end phones, but the quality of pictures is great in well lit conditions. What’s also nice is that 64GB of storage doesn’t dry out your wallet totally, but is instead available for a reasonable price.

Fingerprint reader is super fast but either I configured it incorrectly (tried really hard) or the sensor’s software is not able to ask or learn the shape of the finger good enough. Apple and Samsung win here (except for speed). With OP3 users have to configure the fingeprint really carefully, unless they want the phone to accept the fingerprint only in a certain position.

Speaker of the phone is very loud compared to many phones and this is great. That’s only though if you look at the speaker in “speaker” sandbox. You can’t use it as speaker in voice calls because the mics noise cancel is not configured and the mics don’t record any voice from more than 20cm away. Ridiculous.

What’s decent:

Display. The resolution is standard FullHD, which is good enough for the large display. To my personal taste, the phone / display is too big. A smaller display would have done just fine. Display is not characterized here as good or great because of a couple of things.

Maximum brightness available is not quite enough for bright outdoors use. Sometimes it has been a challenge to enjoy content indoors, under bright lighting. On the other hand the minimum brightness is also too bright. One is just simply not able to achieve the right brightness in edge-scenarios (night / bright day). What helps a bit with the night scenarios, is the “night mode” that balances colors to reduce the amount of blue light. The colors of this display are decent, but I’ve seen better. Not seeing much difference here vs. a 200 usd cheaper chinese phone. Of course this display has nothing vs. Meizu Pro 5 or Samsung sAMOLED.

Build quality.

Not the highest end aluminum, but good for a phone of this price. Finish on top of the metal drops points here, as it scratches way too easily. The finish and paint is also very slippery. Meizu Pro 6 offers more friction, but still feels premium. OP3 scores points of heat dissipation design, even under the most demanding uses like video conversion, the phone didn’t heat overly much.

The rest:
Good antennas, signal strength, call quality and all the other normal phone stuff is decent or good. (except what is bad, and there is a lot of it).

The bad:

Overall non-functional design
The phone is too big and too heavy. The design doesn’t make sense as a hole. Its pretty thick too; our Pyramid Flipper will only be 1,5mm thicker than this, and its a friggin computer.

Because of the thickness and weight, using the phone one handed makes my wrists tire after a while. Fitting a case around it would make it even thicker and bigger = no way.

What worse, is that the paint finish is slippery. So now we have a big, thick, heavy and slippery object that you are supposed to use in one hand?

The software.
OMG. Why. Where is stock android? OP has spent huge amount of money to create a custom ROM that doesn’t bring any advantages versus stock android. This money is not well spent. The software sucks long and hard.
Incompatibility issues with apps, check.
Microphones noise cancellation configured so you can’t have voice calls in speaker mode, check.
Entering to speaker-mode in Skype, Wechat, Whatsapp or in a regular phone call randomly mutes the mics completely, check.

I mean seriously. It should be a phone. People should be able to talk in phones, right? Well with OP3 you sometimes can, sometimes you don’t.

Light sensor. Its bad. It works so slow that I have disabled it. Its also poorly factory configured and offers stupid brightness in different environments. What’s worse is that the display doesn’t adjust the brightness smoothly, but with big leaps. Combine that to the poor range of brightness adjustability, and you have a looser combo.

The real death blow to this “nice try” object is the glass. You’re already an elephant in a porcelain store with the big slippery block, so as a designer you’d think putting in gorilla glass 5 would make customers happy. OnePlus designers don’t agree. When I’ve had the phone for less than a week, I noticed the first scratch. I never kept the phone in the same pocket as the keys, so I was WTF. Then I realized and almost wet myself: it doesn’t have gorilla glass.

I knew the glass was shitty from the moment I noticed the first scratches deriving from the phone being only in my pocket. More and more scratches kept coming no matter what clothing the phone was in.

The shitty glass gave up yesterday, after dropping to SOFT WOOD floor. No other gadget has ever broken of that. Eve the 159 usd T1 had much higher end glass 2 years ago.

OFC it was me who dropped the phone but when your handing over a 400 eur phone with CNC aluminum housing to customers, you just don’t put some IKEA kitchen item grade glass on top of the display.

I am going to repair this phone but right after I will sell it. I pity the one who buys it from me.

After two tryouts of Chinese brands, I’ll stick with the premium ones in the future, until we make a phone ourselves.


Nice effort and nice try. Good base for a great phone ruined by software and few fatal errors in design and neglected testing. Not worth the 400 eur asking price because of that.


Hi @Mike!

Thanks for a great review of the OP3.
I appreciate your review and can agree on the most part, but I still disagree on a few points.

First of all, I can’t see why you would buy a large 5,5" phone and then complain it’s too big. The weight I can understand as it sure is a bit on the heavier side, but I would actually have liked it more if it was thicker with bigger battery. I also don’t agree that it’s too thick with a case on, but I guess I’m still used to the thickness of the OnePlus One :smile:

Software-wise I can understand your criticizm, but I still feel it’s decent and that they are constantly working on improving it. You can also install whatever custom ROM you like to improve your experience, without voiding warranty.

As for the glass I can’t say anything about the scratch sensitivity as I’m still using the factory installed plastic screen cover until I find a curved tempered glass one that actually fits :sweat_smile:
I would never even think about using a phone without any screen cover (even if I’m currently using a flip cover which also protects the screen some), but that’s just me.

I have never owned any real flagship-phone as I have felt the price is always way too high, so perhaps that’s the reason why I accept some flaws and drawbacks. I really do hope EVE makes a killer phone someday, hopefully with stock android.

Not meant to criticize your opinion in any way, just wanted to give my side of it too :slight_smile:


Thanks for the comment!

Yeah I guess us Finns really have high requirements. The software issues are simply unacceptable for me because they could just slap a stock android on the hardware and it would work as intended.

When I buy a phone it needs to work out of the box. Most people feel the same, i think. It doesn’t matter to me that they are “working hard” (as all companies say) if I have paid full price for the features advertised - they need to work.

I guess I will go for the cases from now on as well. I never have before and IMO to call a phone flagship it should have a durable glass that can take a beating. I just never saw a case that would not ruin the design. Also I’d appreciate if I was told that it is recommended to get a case, either by OnePlus or by the retailer. But of course that would require them to disclose the quality of the glass.

As for the size, my whine is based on the design as a whole and of course, on my personal feelings about it. I had a 5.5" before, but OP3 feels much bigger than that xiaomi. Its how they made it big (slippery finish on the aluminium and the shape + weight) that makes me criticize the size. Ofc if you have a case, things change; its no longer slippey and as such even as a bigger object sticks to your hands better.

On the other hand if you make a design that pretty much requires using a case, what’s the point of that design in the first place? Beats me…

My main point is that for the price they are asking, you can find something that works better in what a smartphone needs to do or then

The sad thing is that most things are really great in the phone, but in my eyes the whole is ruined by a few critical flaws, that are there “for a few dollars sake”.

I’m saddened because I know how small amount of money they saved in not making these things right.


I totally get what you’re saying and I agree that the design don’t make much sense if you still have to hide it in a case :smile:

I would have really liked if they would have made it sligthly thicker and integrated their sandstone texture to the back of it. But sure it looks and perhaps feels a little more “premium” to the general audience this way.

We will have to see how it holds up after a year or two, but I hope it won’t let me down before I feel like buying a new one. As of now I can live with the few drawbacks :slight_smile:

Actually, I wouldn’t mind it being thick. I mean come on, 5.5" is already impossible to use in one hand, even if it’s just 1mm thick :smiley:
Software might suck, but I’d pay some $100 extra to root the device and still have my warranty, haha :smiley: and these specs for just $400 are a miracle… I would have bought it myself - I don’t care if I need a screen protector or a thick protective case to use it, or if I can’t place calls on speaker (would probably be fixed by installing Cyanogenmod) - but I just can’t stand it being so huge. I feel your pain about the finish and screen glass, but those could be fixed by adding a case and a screen protector. Actually, I would add a protective case to anything I get, except rugged phones. I mean, replacing a broken case is so much cheaper than replacing a broken phone :slight_smile:

If you think that the OnePlus 3 provides great value, check out Lenovo’s ZUK Z2 Plus. It’s mind blowing, and costs 280$.
I think it’s only available in India and China though…

Well, I don’t live in India or China so…

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For 400$ one can get a brand new 950XL, continuum dock included…


Well, you can also get a feature phone. Smaller, more convenient (hardware keypad), cheap… and the battery lasts a week :slight_smile: but we’re comparing Android smartphones here :stuck_out_tongue:

And 950XL is NOT a better alternative, even if you could get Android to run on it. It doesn’t have this awesome root-warranty policy :stuck_out_tongue: or that endless customization. It’s a totally different category of phones here. Oh, and that price is bullshit xD 950XL costs $500 without the dock

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Price varies from country to country.
In UAE, I can get a brand new 950 for 250$ and people still don’t buy it.

950 is different from 950XL :wink:


On the other hand, I took the time and found a 950XL sold for 400€ here in Lithuania. I have to admit, the price is great. But that still does not include the dock, nor does it change the fact that the user experience is lacking due to complete absence of apps apart from Microsoft’s own…

I hate big phones :stuck_out_tongue:


Since I can’t say anything in the Challenge 1 I will post it here:
I think Jim got the information from 1+'s specs list(“Display” section). And it actually says that it has Gorilla Glass 4. Quite weird that it’s not in Corning’s list though

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Yep, that’s were I got my info from!
Really weird if it doesn’t have it even though they claim so :sweat_smile:

I’m 99% sure they do NOT have it.

if they did, so many people would not be complaining about broken glass. And my phone would have easily taken the hit against wood.

Now as to why they are still claiming it. I’m saddened to say this is very typical for company with chinese roots.

Idk, many seem to actually say the truth like “we have tempered glass, but it’s Asahi” (usually dragontrail)

Here are a bunch of people complaining about the same issue. Could it be that they shipped reviewers GG4 phones and then switched to a cheaper component? Happens all the time (like with Surface SSDs).

If that’s the case, I will never buy any products from this company or any of the same group (VIVO, OPPO) and will recommend everybody to do the same. Lying to customers is simply unacceptable.

Of course its possible they did not sign a potentially required agreement for OP3 to appear on the site (for whatever reason) but I’m still very surprised the glass would break so easily vs. OP1 or OP2. Maybe the 2.5D curving reduces the durability so much (in which case I’m super happy we foresaw it and chose to sacrifice that one design detail in favor of glass durability).

In fact I’m super happy about the fact that we chose to go with maximum glass durability on all decisions: no front facing speakers, no microphone holes in the glass, etc. Our glass should be the toughest on the market within the category.

But as said, I will get to the bottom of this.

Is it possible that they sell it with Gorilla Glass only in select markets? Maybe in the US? Or maybe they sell it without Gorilla Glass in retailers, and with it online?

@pauliunas @Jim getting confirmation it should have GG4, but I still wonder how on earth it would scratch so easily. I hope it is not the anti-reflection coating because that would certainly mean that we would have to seriously consider is it worth to put in PF.

Well testing will tell us.