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OnePlus 3T unboxing and first impressions: licensed to kill future flagships

“While the 3T might not differ much from the OnePlus 3, it does remain an attractive proposition which is available at an enticing price point”

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Let’s take a trip back memory lane

It was December 2nd in 2014 when a barely known company named OnePlus made its way to India with the launch of its debut smartphone, the One. The Chinese upstart has come a long way since then, and has been able to make a space for itself in the hyper-competitive market, along with living up to the ‘flagship killer’ tag carried by its devices. Two years later, the brand has launched its latest offering, the OnePlus 3T, on the same date. A lot has been said (and pondered upon) regarding the phone, which is a mid-cycle refresh to its current flagship, the 3 – why would the brand launch a slightly upgraded smartphone just five months after launching the OnePlus 3, what problem does the 3T solve, or even what it means for the company’s future product roadmap.

If you view the OnePlus 3T objectively, then the only changes it brings to the table are a better front camera, a larger battery, and a new model with more storage. But even with these small upgrades, the 3T is an attractive proposition at its sticker price of Rs 29,999. Read on to find out why we think so in our initial impressions after a look at the box contents.

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Similar to the OnePlus 3, the 3T comes packed in a compact rectangular packaging, with a minimal branding. Opening the lid brings up the phone itself. Underneath it, you’ll find the documentation in the form of a quick start guide and safety information along with a SIM-ejection tool. Lastly, you’ll find the Dash charger along with the compatible cable. Interestingly, the Indian retail unit also comes with a voucher worth Rs 300 that can be used for buying accessories from OnePlus’ India e-store.

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Looks-wise, the OnePlus 3T is exactly same as its progenitor – the OnePlus 3 (review). That means you get the metal-wrapped smartphone with a curved rear, resulting in an impressive ergonomic quotient. In terms of the design, the only difference is that OnePlus 3T comes in a gunmetal hue, and a soft gold colour is due to come later. It’s worth mentioning that the 3T packs in a bigger battery pack, yet retains the exact same 7.3mm thickness and 158g weight of its predecessor.

Related read: OnePlus 3T vs OnePlus 3: what’s new

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Contrary to the rumours that suggested that the manufacturer is facing difficulties with a shortage of AMOLED display panels and hence might move to IPS tech for the OnePlus 3T, the new phablet continues to employ the 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED screen. As much as we’d have liked OnePlus to move to 2k resolution especially considering the rise of Virtual Reality, the 3T’s display sticks to full HD.

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Not just the outards, the internals of the OnePlus 3T are quite similar to the 3 as well. The device is powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core processor, and still remains among the very few options in the market that come equipped with a beefy 6 gigs of RAM. However, there’s one difference on the chipset front… the 3T utilises Qualcomm’s latest 821 SoC, which is an incremental upgrade over the SD820 chip. The Snapdragon 821 is clocked at 2.35GHz for two of the high-end cores (the 820’s high-end cores are tuned at 2.15GHz), while the power-efficient cores run at 1.6GHz. The hardware should be able to deliver buttery-smooth performance, although there shouldn’t be noticeable difference in comparison to the Snapdragon 820-toting OnePlus 3, except for benchmark scores. For storage, along with the 64GB model, OnePlus has now ousted a 128GB variant with the 3T,

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What’s odd however is that the OnePlus 3T isn’t compatible with Google’s VR platform, Daydream, even though the processor is capable of supporting it.

In the camera department, the OnePlus 3T sports a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 sensor at the back with support for PDAF and OIS – same as the OnePlus 3. The major change however, is the front camera, as it’s now double the resolution at 16MP… hopefully translating into well-detailed selfies and a superb video calling experience.

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On the software front, the OnePlus 3T continues to offer Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but with the latest Oxygen OS 3.5 on top. The new custom skin offers some subtle changes such as uniform icons, support for more gestures, etc. The company has also promised that the handset would be getting an update to Android Nougat before the end of this year.

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While the OnePlus 3 was a near-perfect device – a rarity in the world of smartphones – it’s Achilles heel was the average battery life offered by the 3,000mAh unit. Thankfully the manufacturer has tried to take care of this issue by equipping the OnePlus 3T with a 3,400mAh battery. Of course, the 3T carries over the dash charging capabilities – which is probably the fastest charging system around.

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When the Chinese brand launched its second offering in 2015, aptly named as the OnePlus 2 (review), the company pitched it as the flagship killer of 2016. That seemed audacious, but showed its relentless pursuit to offer its consumers the best. The OnePlus 3T is also the result of the same thought process. Based on our brief time with the 3T, we think it has enough firepower to take on the flagships of next year, despite being priced in the mid range. But will it live up to our expectations? That only time and our review can tell, so keep watching this space.

 

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