OnePlus 3T review

Faster, longer-lasting, and a bit more expensive

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The OnePlus 3T is perhaps a smartphone the firm didn’t need to make, but it did so because it wanted to give users an improved experience without having to wait until 2017 to get their hands on an all-new handset. 

For those who've already purchased a OnePlus 3 the 3T launch may be viewed as irritating rather than exciting, but the Chinese startup has another excellent handset on its books. 

The OnePlus 3T improves on the OnePlus 3 in several key areas, notably improved battery life and slicker performance. It’s a shame the design hasn’t been tweaked in a more noticeable way to signal that you have a new phone in your hands, but other than that it’s difficult to find fault.

Some will point to the lack of expandable storage as a stumbling block, while its larger size rules it out for those wanting something a little more manageable in the hand.  

It does everything really, really well, and while it may not truly excel in areas such as screen resolution and camera quality, the OnePlus 3T is still astonishingly good value for what is a serious flagship contender.

Who's it for?

The OnePlus 3T has the same target market as the OnePlus 3 – fans of the brand, those looking for something a little bit different and people on the hunt for a bargain.

At $439 (£399, around AU$580) for the 64GB model the OnePlus 3T is still much cheaper than its flagship rivals while offering an almost comparable experience. 

It won’t have the wide appeal as the likes of Apple or Samsung, but for those in the know – and willing to give OnePlus a go – the 3T is a real gem.

Should I buy it?

You can't! Well, it's highly unlikely you can. OnePlus has stopped making the 3T and no longer sells it through its website. There may be some stock knocking around at a handful or retailers, but once it's gone, it's gone. Don't fear though, the OnePlus 5 has arrived to take its place.

If you’re looking for a flagship smartphone but don’t want to break the bank on the latest Samsung or iPhone the answer here is simple: yes, buy the OnePlus 3T – you won’t be disappointed.

Hell, even if your budget can stretch to the handsets from the bigger names we urge you to at least consider the OnePlus 3T. 

For those who committed to the OnePlus 3 just six months ago, however, the arrival of the 3T is a little harder to swallow. 

While the OnePlus 3T is an improvement over the handset you're holding in your hand right now – the battery life is the standout upgrade – it's difficult to justify trading in for the newer model.

The OnePlus 3T is an excellent phone, but the flagship mobile market is a busy place right now, and there are plenty of options to consider. 

Here are our top picks for the OnePlus’ competition – all of which are easier to come by, as they're actually on sale.

OnePlus 5

It's the obvious choice. If you're in the market for a OnePlus handset the OnePlus 5 is the only phone the firm is currently selling.

OnePlus has increased the price over the 3T, but the OnePlus 5 is packed full of tech including a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 835 chipset, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, dual 20MP+16MP rear cameras, a full metal body and a fingerprint scanner.

If an affordable smartphone is what you're after, there's nothing better than the OnePlus 5 currently on the market.

Samsung Galaxy S8

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best phone in the world right now, and if you're looking for the best money can buy then you'll want this rather than the OnePlus 3T.

The thing is, both the S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are extremely expensive - you're basically looking at double the price of the 3T.

With the price taken into consideration, the OnePlus 3T compares pretty favorably and you’d be hard pushed to work out how it’s that much cheaper.

The S8 has a superior camera, and its QHD display combined with the curved screen presents a sleeker, even more premium finish than that of the OnePlus 3T – plus it offers a microSD slot for bumping up your storage.

The Galaxy S8 offers the complete smartphone package – for a price – but the 3T gets pretty close for a decent amount less.

iPhone 7 Plus

The OnePlus 3T rubs shoulders with the best larger-screened flagships on the market and the iPhone 7 Plus is another handset it’s contending with. 

The 7 Plus again trumps the 3T in the camera department, but it’s far more expensive and also fails to offer an expandable storage option. 

Then there’s the old Android vs iOS argument, and many people are firmly in one camp or the other – but if you’re considering a switch to Android the 3T does offer an affordable option without skimping on features.

Motorola Moto Z

The 5.5-inch Moto Z is a phone which is slightly closer to the price of the OnePlus 3T, but offers something unique that the rest of the competition doesn’t – Moto Mods. 

These are basically cases than magnetically cling to the rear of the handset, which options such as a optical zoom camera lens, stereo speakers and even a projector to choose from (although all at extra cost).

It does have a couple of shortcomings though, with a small battery impacting on time between chargers and the removal of the headphone jack – it’s not only Apple doing it!

First reviewed: November 2016

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.