OnePlus 3T, Day 2

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware with 29 Comments

OnePlus 3T, Day 2

While it’s easy to get excited by the shiny new bauble that just arrived in the mail, sometimes you just need a single day to gain new perspective. Not in this case: One day later, I’m still really impressed by the OnePlus 3T.

I quickly recapped my initial experiences with the OnePlus 3T yesterday. Since then, I’ve gone through the self-inflicted, tedious process of manually installing the apps I want and need, and then arranging the home screens how I like as well.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I prefer iOS to Android generally, and that’s certainly true. But one of the areas in which Android has iOS beat is home screen customization: You can arrange icons as you like—I prefer them on the bottom of the screen, where they are easily accessible—and of course Android supports commingling widgets and app icons on the home screens.

I still haven’t swapped out the SIM, though I will likely do so today. Tied to that, I’ll need to move my Microsoft Authenticator codes to this new phone as well, but that will be easy enough.

I noted yesterday that the OnePlus 3T comes with Android N 6.x. I had read that it had been upgraded to Nougat, and looking online I see that is indeed the case. But my phone, nonetheless, is “stuck” on the older version. Turns out the culprit is the United States of America: If I were in almost any other country I would have gotten the upgrade already.

A cool weather app. But it doesn’t provide a widget for some reason.

So the workaround is to use a VPN app to fool the phone into thinking I’m in Canada, or Germany, or some other cool place, and then check for updates. Apparently, I’ll get the upgrade immediately. And then turn off the VPN.

I’m not one hundred percent sure I even want to do this, and I don’t honestly see a huge difference between the Android version on the 3T and the more current one on the Pixel. But I can’t leave well enough alone, and I probably will end up giving it a shot.

One thing I was able to do already, however, was test the OnePlus 3T’s low-light camera capabilities. And it is as had been reported elsewhere: It’s not honestly terrible in low-light, but it offers nowhere near the quality of what is possible with the Pixel XL (or the Nexus 6P).

Pixel XL:

OnePlus 3T:

By which I mean, with a Pixel XL, I can focus on a small lit area in an otherwise very dark scene, and the resulting photo is often pretty amazing. With the OnePlus 3T, the resulting photo is generally just acceptable. Not terrible. But not up to the quality of the Pixel.

Pixel XL:

OnePlus 3T:

What it does, basically, is blow out the light source so that it’s a light blob. With the Pixel, that light area is almost always nicely focused and clear instead.

Pixel XL:

OnePlus 3T:

Granted, my testing was limited: We had just experienced the third warm day in a row, so my wife and I hung around outside last night for a bit. And thanks to a candle, some indoor lighting, and a lantern, I was able to pitch the two devices head-to-head.

So I guess the way I’d describe this, for now, is that the Pixel takes superior low-light shots. And the OnePlus 3T takes decent low-light shots.

Beyond that, the device is holding up. It’s attractive and well made, and a good size. The Kevlar case I bought is grippy, and adds to the positive impression. And the front fingerprint reader has worked quickly and reliably so far.

More soon.


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Comments (29)

29 responses to “OnePlus 3T, Day 2”

  1. Josh Cook

    I just grabbed the OnePlus 3T (Midnight Black) myself, 'downgrading' (or 'sidegrading'?) from a Pixel XL. Camera was my biggest hesitation, and usage so far has confirmed that it is indeed a trade-off. But I just felt too uneasy hanging onto the Pixel given how much money it cost. I think the OnePlus 3T fills the 'Nexus' nitch pretty well, but we're talking pre-6P, before the Nexus cameras actually got good.

    Nokia says they want to have a go at this space, too, so it'll be interesting to see what both they and OnePlus serve up later this year. Whichever has the better camera is probably my next phone. What I'm secretly hoping, however, is that OnePlus pushes an update to improve the processing on the 3T's camera. I remember when Google did something similar for the Nexus 5 and it went from a below-average shooter to an actually pretty decent camera overnight.

  2. Reinier Zevenhuijzen

    That Pixel XL is unbelievable in low light. Just wow. It's also priced unbelievably at € 987 here in The Netherlands, that's 18% more than the iPhone 7 Plus! Are you kidding me?

  3. wright_is

    Whether it is running 6.x or 7.x is not so important as whether it is running the March / April security patches!

  4. James Wilson

    The camera would put me off. It's usually the screen, camera or build quality that gets compromised. For me, photos last a lifetime but your phone will likely get changed regularly. I look back at some of my pictures from 10 years ago and think what a shame. I wouldn't want to compromise on that.

  5. johnh3

    You get a lot for the money with OnePlus 3T. I myself have passed the flagship options this year Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6 etc..Ordered a cheaper Chinese option Vernee Apollo X.

    (support european frequencies)

    Also a very decent device with good specs. Especially if you buy unlocked without a carrier contract OnePlus and some other Chinese alternatives are very attractive for consumers.

  6. RossNWirth

    "thanks to a candle, some indoor lighting, and a lantern" ...and wine, also wine...

    PS - you can have your MS authentication codes on multiple devices, just reuse the qr code or secret id on additional devices

  7. red.radar

    Paul, My OnePlus 3T has the android 7.0 update. Not certain why yours doesn't. Just had to query for system update from the phone settings menu. I am waiting for 7.1 though.

  8. Lars lalaa

    Pixel has a lens flare problem though. It‘s on every low light picture as well as in sunlight. Great camera but an issue. For the high price unacceptable. best pixel alternative is the honor 8 imo, looks similar, great 5,2 size, build quality and performance. Nova launcher on top, some app adjustments and it’s quite good. Honor/Huawei finally improved the notification tray with Nougat. way better than before. they just have to continue in settings. 

    • YouWereWarned

      In reply to Lars lalaa:

      Agree that lens flare is serious on the Pixel, meaning cheap optics. The differences in exposure are fixable in software, but the lens...not so much. On this basis, the OnePlus may actually be the better camera. And I contend that evaluating the goodness of cameras only at default settings is misleading at best. The adjustments in the camera apps are there for a reason.

      And I'll guess that "Lars Ialaa" is "Nessie". The user name leak is not fixed?

  9. Bats

    What did Paul mean that the culprit, for why he doesn't have Nougat, is the United States? He left absolutely NO EXPLANATION! I looked online and from what I see, people in the United States have downloaded without a hitch.

    If you go to Android Central, they discuss the OnePlus 3T and Nougat on January 2, 2017. Just look for the title, "With Nougat update, OnePlus 3T finally feels like a complete thought" with the subtitle, "OnePlus's new flagship shines with Android 7.0 — a phone that's almost as good as the Pixel for a whole lot less cash."

    Does Paul happen to be in India right now? LOL.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to Bats:

      I just used a VPN to change my location to Canada and it updated immediately.

      Those people who have Android 7.x did the same thing, if they live in the USA.

    • ben55124

      In reply to Bats:

      I have never understood OP's geographic based update system, so Paul's experience doesn't surprise me. I have needed to do the VPN trick on every update because I don't want to wait. What OP should do is if you go to the update screen and click check, it should override whatever holdups are delaying the auto update. This is a valid criticism that would cause a normal user problems.

  10. dcdevito

    It is quite stupid that US users are forced to used a VPN to get updates on a OnePlus phone.

  11. ben55124

    Your screen shots all have the on screen nav buttons. Go to settings and try the bezel buttons -- frees up screen space and the fingerprint sensor makes a good home button.

    Opera VPN app to Canada or Germany to get updates going immediately.

  12. maethorechannen

    "So the workaround is to use a VPN app to fool the phone into thinking I’m in Canada"

    If you're going to Montreal soon, couldn't you just do the upgrade while you're there?

  13. CompSciGuy31415

    I owned the original OnePlus One, but became soured on the company after they immediately abandoned it. The OnePlus Two was announced shortly after and no more updates for the One were scheduled. The phones are very nice for the price, but I don't appreciate the "love 'em and leave 'em" attitude from phone manufacturers.

    • red.radar

      In reply to CompSciGuy31415:

      But the OnePlus One has an unlocked boot loader and its pretty easy to load Lineage Os. Know people that do it.

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to CompSciGuy31415:

      In what way did they abandon it? It was on KitKat when it launched. It took them a while to get to Lollipop, but that was actually a good thing because Lollipop was pretty buggy at first. But it got upgraded to Lollipop, and then CyanogenOS was ultimately updated to 6.0.1, which is is the final version on Android that is officially supported by the Snapdragon 801 chipset. It basically got 2 full years of software updates, which is about as good as any Android phone.

  14. Lyall Demorrow

    I have been using the OnePlus 3T for a while now. You would not believe how easy it is to upgrade to the latest firmware on the OnePlus 3T. All you have to do is download the latest OTA full zip from the OnePlus 3T XDA forums or Oneplus' website, and go to your phone's settings, then System Update, then tap the gear icon in the corner and choose local update. That's it, easy as pie. I'm running the open beta right now and I haven't experienced any problems at all.

  15. Conner Paulson

    What app is that translucent weather widget from?

  16. mortarm

    I had just the opposite reaction to the photos. While the main light source was blown out a bit, the surrounding dark areas show objects more clearly. Also, I wasn't thrilled with the smear given off by the Pixel, which made nearby objects difficult to see. My vote goes to the 3T.

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