Update: An almost-official source has outed the likely design and specs of the OnePlus 3 and we shouldn't have long to wait for it, as according to one OnePlus rep, the key date is June 14.
The OnePlus 2 is a great phone, with a beautiful screen and a brilliantly low price, but there are plenty of things that could have been done better – or just done, full stop.
OnePlus underwent a lot of criticism for losing NFC and it's hoped that will be sorted on the OnePlus Three.
Lots of rumors and leaks are starting to come through for the OnePlus 3, suggesting we may see the phone very soon. Here's all the juicy details we know so far about one of the most exciting phones of 2016.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next affordable flagship from OnePlus
- When is it out? Launch tipped for June 14
- What will it cost? Likely around £239/US$329
OnePlus 3 release date
OnePlus has now confirmed the OnePlus 3 will be announced by a virtual reality press conference, but when it will actually take place is unclear.
OnePlus is giving away 30,000 free VR headsets ready for the launch and those are set to be shipped on June 6, so it won't be announced anytime before then.
One fan though has been chatting to a company rep, who appears to have leaked a June 14 date for the OnePlus 3 launch. We're still waiting for confirmation from the firm, though.
OnePlus CEO Carl Pei also confirmed in a blog post that those who watch the press conference will be able to order the phone before anyone else. Whether that means the company is going to stop the traditional invite system is not yet clear.
OnePlus 3 design
The design on the OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 was largely similar, but OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed that the OnePlus 3 will sport a new design.
The most recent leaked shot comes direct from TENAA (China's regulatory agency) so it's pretty close to official and shows a metal handset that's apparently 152.6 x 74.6 x 7.3mm and 160g, which would make it similar in size to the OnePlus 2, but slimmer and lighter.
Another recent leaked image is a high-quality render of the phone, which sports the same design and looks more like the HTC 10 than anything OnePlus has previously made, with a slim, slightly curved metal body in a silver color and antenna bands at the top and bottom.
The same render was supplied to Engadget China directly from a OnePlus PR rep, but it's a weird situation though as the site has speculated it may be a fake even though it comes from an official source.
Chinese manufacturer Vivo often employs a similar tactic to stir up some excitement for a launch, and leaks out false renders to ensure none of the real details are given away before the actual launch.
This may be the case here as well, especially as the render suggests OnePlus is dropping laser auto-focus and two-tone flash from the rear camera, though now that it's also been mirrored by TENAA it seems like it could be true.
That render does also largely line up with other recent leaked shots, which all show a plain back likely made of metal and an antenna band running along the top. The lack of logo and less polished appearance suggests this might have been an earlier prototype, but it's broadly similar to the render above.
The same source leaked shots purportedly showing the front of the OnePlus 3 and these also line up with the render, showing a (likely 5.0 or 5.5-inch AMOLED) screen, slim bezels and a home button that probably houses a fingerprint scanner.
It's looking likely this will be the design of the OnePlus 3, but alternatively, the OnePlus X, a cheaper phone the company launched last year, may be inspiration for the new design if earlier leaked renders turn out to be true. The images of the phone even suggest the design will come with a glass back like the OnePlus X.
But this time there's a mirrored front screen, which is a strange step for OnePlus.
The leaked renders are also missing a fingerprint scanner, suggesting these may not be real. If OnePlus drops the fingerprint scanner we'd expect it to come up with an iris scanner or something similarly impressive to go in its place.
OnePlus 3 specs
China's regulatory agency has released specs for the OnePlus 3 and as that's an official government body it's likely that it's got the right information. In which case you can look forward to a 2.15GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 screen, a 16MP rear camera, an 8MP front-facing one, 64GB of storage, Android Marshmallow and a 3000mAh battery.
That largely lines up with various benchmarks. Recently two different ones have appeared, pointing to either 4GB or a massive 6GB of RAM. Another rumor seems to offer an explanation - there will be two different versions of the phone.
A source has claimed there will be a 4GB RAM version with 32GB of storage while a 6GB of RAM version will cost a little more with 64GB of memory onboard.
If this turns out to be true, that will mean an end to the 16GB OnePlus model. The source who claimed this said the 32GB version will cost a similar amount to what the 16GB OnePlus 2 did though, so you shouldn't expect a big jump in price.
The benchmarks also suggest the OnePlus 3 will have a Snapdragon 820 processor, a 5-inch 1080p screen, 64GB of storage, Android Marshmallow, a 16MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing one.
That same benchmark also suggests there will be NFC support on the OnePlus 3. That's a big deal for OnePlus customers who missed the technology on the OnePlus 2.
Upon the launch of the OnePlus 2, OnePlus confirmed to techradar it decided to ditch the feature as it "saw most of [its] users weren't using NFC" on the OnePlus One. But things have changed since 2014 and a lot of people will now be using the technology for mobile payments.
One source claims the phone will only launch with 32GB of storage. That seems strange considering the company now only sells the 64GB OnePlus 2 in the UK.
On battery, a source claims the OnePlus 3 will come with a 3500mAh cell rather than the 3300mAh one used on the OnePlus 2. But more recently we've heard it might just have a 3000mAh juice pack. An import listing also shows the phone will include Oppo's VOOC fast-charging technology for the very first time.
That means the OnePlus 3 may be able to charge from empty to full battery in just 15 minutes.
OnePlus 3 price
The big selling point for OnePlus is the price. The OnePlus 2 cost £239 or US$329 (about AU$460) so we'd expect a similar price point for the OnePlus 3.
One source even claimed it could be even cheaper at around US$310 (about £210, AU$409). We'll have to wait until the official announcement to know for sure though.
OnePlus 3 competition
OnePlus launched the OnePlus 2 as the "2016 flagship killer" even though it came mid-way through 2015. It held its own against some of the best phones you can buy, but the spec now looks a little dated compared to the brand new flagship handsets.
But then there's both the OnePlus X and the OnePlus 2 as well. Even though both of these phones are older, they'll be cheaper than the OnePlus 3 when it launches and the biggest benefit is they are readily available while the OnePlus Three is likely going to be invite only. At least for a bit.
- Have you read our review of the OnePlus X?