New photos of the OnePlus 3 have leaked showing off what we’ve seen in renders before. It looks even better in real life though with a real metal back and an oblong home button.
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 chaseWhat is it? The next affordable flagship from OnePlusWhen is it out? June 14, released a few weeks laterWhat will it cost? Likely around £239/US$329OnePlus 3 release date
OnePlus has revealed that its next flagship will be announced at 12:30pm EDT (9:30am PDT, 5:30pm BST) on June 14. That follows an earlier teaser that pointed to a June 15 announcement in China.
The company also revealed that it will go on sale a few hours after launch and that you won’t need an invite to buy it or any future OnePlus handset, which is great news, as actually being able to get your hands on a OnePlus phone has long been one of its biggest problems. However, as it’s a small company supply may be quite limited.
This won’t be any normal launch event though, as the OnePlus 3 will be announced by a virtual reality press conference. OnePlus is giving away 30,000 free VR headsets ready for the launch and those are set to be shipped on June 6.
OnePlus has also confirmed that those who watch the press conference will be able to order the phone two and a half hours before anyone else, with it set to appear in VR from 12:30pm EDT (9:30am PDT, 5:30pm BST) and on the website from 3pm EDT (12pm PDT, 8pm BST).
The company is also offering up the opportunity to use a OnePlus 3 before it has even been announced with a project called The Lab. OnePlus will invite 30 fans to try out the phone before anyone else and you can apply to be one of them on the official Lab website.
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 best leaked image of the OnePlus Three 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.
That said, another source on Twitter has shown off a similar design for the OnePlus 3, but this time in the flesh. It looks exactly the same as the render above showing off the premium metal look, an oblong home button and antennas running around the top and bottom of the phone.
Some other leaked shots come 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.
If those images aren’t correct though there are also a bunch of 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 5.5-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.
Since the initial listing it’s updated the details to include a 6GB RAM version, alongside the 4GB one.
That all 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 -when NFC wasn’t as useful – and a lot of people will now be using the technology for mobile payments.
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. Given that China’s regulatory agency also shows a 3000mAh juice pack that’s what we’re banking on.
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.
The most recent pricing rumors come from unnamed sources in China speaking to MobiPicker, who claim there’ll be four distinct pricing options.
Apparently the OnePlus 3 will start at CNY 2299 (around US$349/£242/AU$482) for a model with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. For 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage you’re looking at CNY 2499 (roughly US$379/£263/AU$524).
But there’s also said to be a version with 6GB of RAM, which will apparently cost CNY 2699 (around US$409/£284/AU$566) with 32GB of storage or CNY 2799 (roughly US$425/£294/AU$587) with 64GB of storage.
That’s all believable as it’s somewhat in line with the pricing of the OnePlus 2, but it’s not the only pricing rumor.
One source claimed it could be even cheaper at around US$310 (about £210, AU$409), while OnePlus itself is selling 1000 handsets early in China for CNY 2999 (roughly US$455/£315/AU$628), but has confirmed that this won’t be the final pricing.
All we know with any certainty right now is that the OnePlus 3 will probably undercut big name flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10, since price has always been one of the brands main selling points.
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.
There’s stiff competition for OnePlus with the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, HTC 10 and the iPhone 6S. In September, we also expect to see the iPhone 7 launch.
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?OnePlus 3: what we want to see
Here’s everything we have our fingers crossed for on the OnePlus 3.
NFC is perhaps the single biggest omission from the OnePlus 2. It apparently wasn’t included because it’s not a popular feature, but that doesn’t change the fact that almost every other flagship and plenty of lower end phones offer it, not to mention the OnePlus One.
It may also soon get a lot more popular, with Android Pay now launching, so it’s a feature that we really hope is reinstated for the OnePlus 3.
2. Fast charging
Quick charging is another thing the OnePlus 2 lacks. It’s a little more forgivable than the absence of NFC, since it’s a feature that’s only quite recently been implemented into phones, but it’s also a very useful feature, allowing you to juice up your handset in no time flat.
The OnePlus 2 has a pretty big battery, but once it runs down you could be out of action for a while, so hopefully the OnePlus 3 won’t lack it.
3. A better fingerprint scanner
When it works the OnePlus 2’s fingerprint scanner is pretty good, but we found it inconsistent. Sometimes it would be less responsive or fail altogether and you can’t currently use it to pay for things or log into apps.
Some of those things may be fixed with a software update, but we hope the scanner on the OnePlus Three works well from day one. Though early renders suggest we may not even get a fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus 3.
4. Cool running
The Snapdragon 810 at the heart of the OnePlus 2 has had its share of problems in other devices, with various reports of overheating. Supposedly the OnePlus 2 uses an improved version yet it doesn’t seem immune to heating up.
If the OnePlus 3 can avoid even getting a little toasty that would certainly be appreciated. Thankfully the Snapdragon 820, which is rumored for the OnePlus 3, is a far better behaved processor.
5. A QHD screen
The OnePlus 2 has a 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 display and while it’s fairly sharp it could definitely benefit from the extra pixels of a QHD screen, especially as it’s on the large side.
Hopefully the OnePlus 3 won’t get any bigger, it makes more sense as a smartphone than a phablet, but it could certainly afford to pack in a few more pixels. Current rumors suggest it will be sticking at 1080p though.
6. Long battery life
There’s a 3,300mAh juice pack in the OnePlus 2. That’s pretty sizeable, but then it’s also a pretty sizeable phone. In practice you should get through a day on a single charge even if you push it pretty hard, but you’re going to want to plug it in at night.
Whether through a bigger battery, a more efficient screen and processor or full-featured power saving modes there’s a lot that can be improved here and we hope the OnePlus Three implements those improvements.
7. A microSD card slot
There’s no microSD card slot in the OnePlus 2, which instantly renders the 16GB model near redundant for any serious smartphone user. The 64GB one is a better bet, but then you’re also spending more money and we have almost 100GB of cat pictures we want instant access to, so a microSD card slot would be a huge help.
Hopefully OnePlus is listening. Its motto is ‘Never Settle’ after all and with the OnePlus 2 we have to settle for just 64GB of cat pictures. It’s not okay.
8. Wireless charging
Not only does the OnePlus 2 lack fast charging, but also wireless charging. This is a technology which is still finding its feet, but for a self-proclaimed ‘2016 flagship killer’ it’s a feature we’d expect.
We wouldn’t be surprised if a wireless charging case is launched for it, but we don’t want a case, we want the tech baked right into the phone. The OnePlus 3 has to have it or OnePlus might need to rethink its marketing, as by 2017 we half expect our phones to fly, while wireless charging should be as common as Bluetooth.
9. No lag
With a Snapdragon 810 processor and up to 4GB of RAM the OnePlus 2 really shouldn’t lag, yet while it’s mostly lightning fast we have noticed some lag with the home button, which didn’t always return us to the home screen immediately.
Hopefully this will be sorted with a software update, but we want the OnePlus Three to be as smooth as silk from day one.
10. A similarly low price
Any issues with the OnePlus 2 will be largely negated by its astoundingly low price tag. Sure, it’s not quite entry range, but with a starting price of £239 ($329, around AU$452) it’s roughly half the price of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S6, despite packing similar specs.
That’s a massive win and for the OnePlus 3 to keep the momentum up it will need to be similarly affordable.
We’re also waiting for the iPhone 7