A great act is tough to follow and sometimes delivering two great devices in a row requires that you take a completely different approach with the successor. Now on its third "flagship killer" (with the OnePlus X taking a different path), OnePlus has taken on the tough task to mature from a business standpoint, while still retaining that ambitious "never settle" attitude that brought it where it is today.
Only time will tell if that works out, but it's beyond the point of this review anyway. What we are determined to find out here is whether the OnePlus 3 is worth your hard-earned cash.
On paper, the formula is right - match the specs of rivals and undercut their pricing. However, it is the approach towards the latter that has really changed this time around. Instead of going for an absurdly low price and being unable to sort out production, mandating stuff like the dreaded invite system, OnePlus has gone to reasonable levels this time and dropped the sales tricks.
Overall, the OnePlus 3 is best described as driven by pragmatic choices. There is nothing really unusual, bold or even remotely eccentric from a design standpoint - just a really elegant and thin metal unibody with very few things that may raise questions. The same goes for the specs. They have always been more than robust in OnePlus devices, but typically hand-picked and arranged for optimal performance, rather than just there for the sake of pure numbers.
With a Snapdragon 820 SoC and Adreno 530 GPU, pushing pixels to an extremely power-efficient 1080p, 5.5-inch AMOLED panel, you don't expect any performance bottlenecks. If anything the 6GB of RAM put it ahead of the pack and with a Sony-made 16MP OIS camera imaging department holds plenty of promise too.
All bases seem covered, but a modern smartphone, and particularly a flagship is more than a mechanical sum of its parts. Premium user experience goes beyond the things you can put on a specs sheet and we are yet to see if OnePlus managed to deliver it. Follow along on the next page, as we unbox the 3 and take a closer look at its exterior.