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OnePlus 3 review: Third time's the charm with this supercharged, unlocked flagship

Florence Ion | June 15, 2016
Premium specs with none of the carrier bloat: The OnePlus 3's 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a capable 16-megapixel camera make it a formidable contender.

My favorite part of the OnePlus 3 is the 8-megapixel front-facing camera. I appreciate higher resolutions for the front-facing camera because every camera app can take advantage of these extra megapixels. I also like that there aren’t any beautifying features bloating up the software, as is the trend with other Android devices. There are plenty of third-party apps that can give us the airbrushed look, so this trick doesn’t have to be built in to the camera software. The OnePlus 3 also has a neat feature that starts a countdown once you smile; this should make group selfies easier to take. You don’t even have to flash your teeth for it to work.

Stock Android with flair

oneplus3 interface
I can’t believe it’s not Google Launcher.

The new Oxygen OS 3.1.1—which updated to 3.1.2 during my testing—is a beefed-up version of the operating system we first met in last year’s OnePlus 2. It still features a Shelf, which you can access by swiping right on the Home screen, and it still offers the same array of customizable options in the Settings panel. You can even tweak a variety of interface elements, like which icons are displayed in the status bar, and whether to enable soft navigation buttons or physical ones.

oneplus3 shelf
The Shelf is a nice customizable landing page if you’re not too keen on the busyness of Google Now. 

oneplus3 customsettings
Don’t like all the icons crowding your status bar? No problem, you can eliminate them—and more—in the settings panel.

Customizable gestures are also available for the OnePlus 3. For instance, you can choose what happens when you long-press or double-tap either of the navigation buttons. I set up the Home button to launch the camera with a double-tap, and the Recents button to open my last-used app with a long-press. This is a feature that we’ll eventually see in Android N, but it’s nice to see it included here, too. And you don’t have to worry about being left behind: OnePlus is already working on its version of Oxygen OS for the next release of Android.

OnePlus’s commitment to customization is appreciated. And if it turns out you’re not particularly keen on OnePlus’s interpretation, you can always install another launcher and have access to all the same wonderful customization options.

Should you buy it?

oneplus3 5 
If you’re tired of all the Samsungs in the marketplace, give the OnePlus 3 a try. Credit: Florence Ion

It took three tries, but OnePlus finally has a flagship that lives up to some of its absurd marketing slogans. And the best part is that you can buy this smartphone outright without having to jump through hoops to secure an invitation. That’s right: OnePlus is doing away with its invite-only system, and its online storefront is open to anyone who’s interested. This should help the company achieve more success among mainstream smartphone users, and not just hardcore Android enthusiasts with the inside scoop.

 

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