Oneus 3T review: One of the best Android phones gets a little better

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 8 Dec 2016

Oneus has never been one to play by the rules. Back when it made its entrance into the crowded smartphone market with the One, it set itself apart by selling a premium hset at a mid-tier price  offering invitation-only purchases instead of the stard preorders. The 3T very much fits with this rebellious nature. Essentially a refreshed version of the 6-month-old Oneus 3, the new phone undermines another smartphone constant: the yearly update. 

ione users are familiar with the concept of the mid-cycle model—a hset that keeps the same enclosure but beefs up features internal components. But there’s always been a special hook with Apple’s S phones, a reason for current owners to rush out buy the new model. The 3T could be seen as Oneus’ attempt to mimic the success Apple has had with the formula ( in fact, the company says it picked T for the new phone’s surname simply because it’s a letter higher than S).

Nonetheless, the upgrades in the 3T shouldn’t be enough to create any jealousy among current Oneus 3 owners. Rather, they seem designed to keep Oneus on top of the mid-range market, if anyone was on the fence about purchasing the 3, the 3T would likely push them over.

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The Oneus 3T is more than just a cool new color, but the Gunmetal hue is gorgeous.

lished powerful

On the outside, the Oneus 3T is identical to the model it replaces. That’s not a bad thing, the cool metallic tones of the new Gunmetal gray color do well to accentuate the phone’s clean lines understated elegance. ke its predecessor, the 3T is one of the more comfortable phones I’ve held, with a diminutive frame that belies its 5.5-inch screen. There still isn’t an SD card slot, but thankfully the hy mute button remains, as does the fingerprint sensor, which is as fast accurate as any I’ve used.

th a tight screen-to-body ratio, most of the front of the phone is taken up by the display, it’s a great one. Spec-wise, it’s identical to its predecessor—a 5.5-inch 1080p AMOD—but there’s no reason to complain about that. It can be excessively bright bold at times, but a night mode dark theme do well to mute the intensity when using it in bed. And the sRGB calibration setting that was missing from early versions of OxygenOS on the 3 also works to tone down the display a bit (though it does impart a slight green hue).

But anyone can make a gorgeous hset these days, besides, the 3T isn’t trying to improving on the 3’s looks. It’s about specs, in that vein, the 3T has been fitted with the most recent Snapdragon processor (the 821) a larger 3400mAh battery. These are decent but not to-die-for spec improvements over the previous phone (which admittedly was already pretty great in the components department).

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The Oneus 3T’s Snapdragon 821 processor puts it on even footing with the xel.

The difference between the two processors isn’t all that measurable. The 821 chip promises better battery efficiency, but offers a theoretical speed boost of only about 10 percent over the 820—not something you’re going to notice in daily use. Nonetheless, the 3T is a screamer, running switching between apps games with ease, deftly hling everything I threw at it. During my testing the phone exhibited no signs of lag or stuttering, certainly not any of the touch latency issues other users have experienced.

Built for more

ong with a more efficient processor, the 3T’s larger cell provides battery-life benefits, I was able to consistently get through a day’s work ( play) without reaching for a power cord. And when I did, it wasn’t plugged in for long. Oneus supplies the same Dash charging setup it did with the 3, charging lives up to the company’s claims. Charging is super fast—noticeably quicker than the Nexus 6 about twice as fast as the glacial ione 7 us—but the wall unit is unfortunately just as bulky as the 3’s. And until Oneus licenses the tech, it remains the only way to get a quick charge on the 3T.

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The Oneus 3T’s bigger battery means you won’t have to worry about getting through a day’s work.

l said, the newer parts comm a $40 premium over the Oneus 3, if you want the new 128GB model, that’ll cost you another $40. Add it up you’ve got a hset that costs 10 to 20 percent more than the $399 Oneus 3—still a great deal but not quite the unbelievable bargain of the previous model. And you still can’t use a Oneus 3 variant on Verizon or Sprint, which is a bummer.

But at $479, the 3T is still several hundred dollars cheaper than the xel X which uses the same processor. The mid-cycle chip battery upgrades all but ensure another similarly priced phone won’t be able to topple the 3T before the Oneus’ next major revision (at least when it comes to benchmarks), a strategy that hasn’t been used by other hset makers. These aren’t huge improvements—certainly not the kind that ione users expect from Apple—but it makes the Oneus 3 a new phone again, replete with all the attention that brings.

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In the right light, the Oneus 3T’s front camera takes pretty great selfies.

First-person shooter

Aside from the chip the battery, the only other component of the 3T that’s been upgraded is the camera. But surprisingly, Oneus didn’t set out to boost the rear camera, opting instead to focus on the selfie shooter in the front, a move that will certainly appeal to obsessive Snapchatters (at least those who haven’t bought a pair of Spectacles yet). Oneus has doubled the megapixels to 16, pretty much unheard of in a smartphone at this or any price (the ione 7’s front camera is 7M while the xel’s is 8M. The result is a front camera that’s just as sharp as the rear one on some of its peers.

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en you’re using the main camera, the Oneus 3T is capable of taking some pretty great nighttime shots.

That’s not to say you’re going to be going out of your way to use your 3T to take selfies instead of portraits. Even with the higher resolution, it still suffers from the typical selfie-cam problem of poor low-light performance. In certain nighttime settings, the camera often struggled to identify multiple faces in a frame (rendering the auto selfie Smile Capture feature useless), the resulting images were grainy out of focus. So while it might not have any new parts to speak of, the main rear camera is still the star of the show, with image stabilization, excellent manual controls touch focus—all of which are unavailable in the front-facing camera. If Oneus were to bring any of those features to the selfie cam, it would have a killer package.

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en it’s dark, the Oneus 3T’s beefed-up front camera still takes grainy, out-of-focus shots.

But a 16Mfront camera is still a massive leap forward, with ’s Duo app set to make video calls a bit more commonplace among Android users, the 3T’s 16Msecondary shooter could become the de facto stard for the next round of hsets, at least in terms of pure specs.

oneplus oxygenos

OxygenOS on the 3T still runs Android 6.0.1, but Marshmallow has never looked better.

Breath of fresh air

Since Oneus has targeted the newest competing hsets, it’s surprising that the 3T doesn’t ship with a Nougat-flavored version of Oxygen OS, especially since a beta is already making the rounds. But even though the latest build (3.5.3) is still based on Android 6.0.1, Marshmallow doesn’t look the least bit stale on the 3T.

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The Oneus 3T includes a really nice-looking minimal weather app, but it needs some curious permissions to run.

Oneus takes a light brush to Android’s stock interface, adding just enough tweaks to remind users the OS has been customized, while respecting ’s vision overall. Oneus changes some icons adds a couple of apps, most notably a ather app that takes a pretty good crack at what a bonafide Material Design weather forecaster would look like. Simple elegant, it’s better than most of weather apps in the ay Store, but I can’t for the life of me imagine why it refuses to run without permission to make mange phone calls.

Oneus’ trademark focus on customization is also on full display, you get tremendous granular control over the interface, particularly with the capacitive buttons, which can be programmed to launch the camera, summon Now, other tasks. Furthermore, Oneus’ proprietary Shelf still occupies the customary location on the screen to the left of your home screen, offering bite-sized chunks of data without cluttering the home screen with widgets.

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If you were considering buying a Oneus 3, the 3T gives you more bang at a slightly higher buck.

Should you buy it?

None of phone’s upgrades make the 3T all that much better than the model it replaces, Oneus could probably have left well enough alone simply updated to the 4 next spring as expected. But Oneus isn’t about managing expectations, in many ways the 3T exists solely to defy them.

th relatively modest upgrades to the processor, battery front-facing camera, Oneus didn’t deliver the massive boosts one expects in annual updates, I’d be surprised if any Oneus 3 owners felt the need to buy the new phone. So, instead, what we have here is a case of Oneus simply bumping up the specs of its flagship hset as soon as new components became available— why not? Even with a price hike of $439 for the base 64GB model $479 for the 128GB one, anyone buying the 3T during the holiday shopping season won’t have to worry about an old chip or small battery, most buyers won’t mind the extra costs for better specs.

It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a new release schedule for Oneus or a one-time-only experiment. But the 3T improves on what was already one of the best phones of the year, it’s hard to find a fault with mid-cycle, incremental improvements. For years, Oneus has been imploring us to Never Settle, with the 3T, you don’t have to.