Battery Life

The OnePlus 2 had many problems, but something you could generally count on was that it provided good battery life. Unfortunately, the caveat was that the phone usually ran on four Cortex A53 cores so it performed only a bit better at CPU tasks than a $100 Moto E LTE, but that's another story. With the OnePlus 3 you no longer have to deal with exceptionally poor performance, and with the battery being made smaller at the same time as OnePlus moves from an LCD to an AMOLED display it's difficult to say what happens to battery life in the process. To evaluate the OnePlus 3's battery life under various scenarios I've run our 2016 WiFi web browsing battery test, PCMark's battery test, and GFXBench's Manhattan 3.1 battery test.

Web Browsing Battery Life 2016 (WiFi)

The OnePlus 3 regresses slightly from the OnePlus 2 in our web browsing battery test. However, it's also worth noting that the OnePlus 2 had crippled web performance by only enabling the SoC's A53 cores, and with the OnePlus 3 being over twice as fast with JavaScript performance it's worth the tiny hit to battery life. Looking at the broader market you can see that the OnePlus lasts slightly longer than the Nexus 6P, but trails the Galaxy Note5 by about the same amount.

In my own usage I haven't noticed any problems with web battery life on the OnePlus 3. OnePlus definitely could have put in a larger battery, but it would have made the phone thicker and heavier which would have a negative impact on its ergonomics and usability. The OnePlus 2 basically feels like a brick in the hand, and all you get for it is an extra 300mAh over the OnePlus 3. The OnePlus 3 much nicer to hold in the hand, and the idea that you should compromise that by making it 3mm thicker and 30g heavier just to boost the battery capacity by 10-15% is ridiculous.

For those who are interested, I measured 6.47 hours when running this test over LTE. I've decided not to compare this result directly to our past reviews because I'm still unable to achieve a strong enough signal over LTE to get results that are comparable to those run by Josh and Matt, but the drop in battery life when running over LTE was only about thirty minutes which is a great result for -97dBm on LTE.

PCMark - Work Battery Life

In PCMark's battery test the OnePlus 3 continues to do quite well. As I showed in the performance section, the OnePlus 3 improved over the OnePlus 2 a great deal in PCMark's tests, and yet it also lasts longer in a battery benchmark running those same tests. PCMark's battery test is a good indicator of what battery life you can expect when performing a variety of different tasks that stress different parts of the system, and the fact that the OnePlus 3 only loses to the larger Galaxy Note5 and Huawei Mate 8 speaks very well of its battery life.

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 / Metal Battery Life

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 / Metal Final Frame Rate

The OnePlus 3 does exceptionally well in our GFXBench Manhattan battery test. While it's by no means a leader in terms of absolute battery life, the performance it achieves is impressive to say the least. It's important to note that this is an on screen test, and so while the OnePlus 3 is a bit behind the iPhone 6s for sustained performance, it's also pushing a much higher resolution. The fact that the phone maintains its frame rate for over two hours is also an improvement over pretty much every other Android device, with the LG G5 coming close but exhibiting small oscillations that the OnePlus 3 doesn't have. Suffice to say, the OnePlus 3 provides a substantial improvement over the OnePlus 2 here, and I think anyone would agree that it's more fun to play a game at 30fps for two hours than to play it at 7fps for three.

In the end, the OnePlus 3 generally does as well or better than its predecessor in our battery life tests when you consider their context. In our 2016 web test battery life has dropped a bit, but it's not a significant decrease even though performance has improved immensely. PCMark battery life improves, and that's a test that reflects real world usage quite well. In GFXBench it doesn't last as long, but sustained performance is three times as high, and the frame rate the phone can maintain is high enough that a game with the visual fidelity of the Manhattan benchmark would actually be playable at 1080p on the OnePlus 3.

Charge Time

One of the biggest controversies regarding the OnePlus 2 was the lack of support for quick charging. OnePlus actually included a 10W charger so it wasn't as though you were limited to 5W speeds, but nonetheless you weren't able to take advantage of chargers that supported Qualcomm's Quick Charge protocol. The OnePlus 2 and the OnePlus 3 both use USB Type-C connectors, but there's no support for USB Power Delivery. With the OnePlus 3 there's now support for quick charging, but in an unconventional way.

The OnePlus 3 introduces a new standard for quick charging that was created by OnePlus, which they call Dash Charge. According to OnePlus, Dash Charge moves much of the power management processes to the charger itself rather than the phone, which reduces the heat generated by a device as it charges. There isn't much technical information about what exactly is going on, but a reasonable guess is that the DC/DC voltage conversion is now going on at the charger instead of the device, which means the phone only has to handle the current limiting. Dash Charge also operates at 5 volts, and the included charger is a 5V 4A block for 20W of output power. It's worth noting that the USB Power Delivery implementations that we've seen operating at 15W also use 5 volts, so this isn't necessarily something unique to Dash Charge.

Of course, there is a caveat with OnePlus making their own protocol is that you're limited to their charging blocks.  On top of that, you're limited to using OnePlus's cords, with the charger not providing quick charging using other USB Type-C cables such as the Google-branded ones that I have. This is a significant drawback compared to Qualcomm Quick Charge and USB Power Delivery, although I would imagine most users will use the included charger and cable so it may not pose much of a problem in practice.

Charge Time

As a OnePlus-specific charging implementation, Dash Charge may not be as convenient as USB Power Delivery or Qualcomm Quick Charge, but it certainly charges the phone quickly. At 1.44 hours to go from 0 to 100% there's not really anything to complain about with the actual time to charge. 

While Dash Charge is interesting in how it charges quickly and actually does manage to keep the phone cool while doing so, I'm not really sure if it's worth the trade-offs. If you lose your OnePlus cable you have to buy a new one from OnePlus, and you can't quick charge with the large number of Qualcomm Quick Charge accessories available on the market. If nothing else, Quick Charging is here on a OnePlus device, but it has more restrictions than one might have hoped, and it's not clear if the benefits are worth it.

Camera Architecture and Performance Final Words
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  • PaulD87 - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    It's hard to make an idea about phones by reading reviews on your site.
    Besides the fact that reading reviews that are 4 days apart you compare the benchmarked phones to totally different phones there are huge differences, for example:
    Oneplus 3 review - Samsung galaxy 6 Display - Max Brightness: 335.0
    Meizu PRO 5 reviews - Samsung Galaxy 6 Display - Max Brightness: 593.04
    That's not a 1-5% let's say difference, that's the difference between a bad and a really good display.
    Reply
  • Irishwomble - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Brandon, currently a nexus 5 owner and just cracked the screen so should I get a oneplus 3 or nexus 5x? Cheers Reply
  • UtilityMax - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    Not, Brandon here, but just wanted to mention that a lot of US-based ebay vendors are having a blowout sale on the Nexus 5X phones, which are sold for as little as 225-240 USD for a new phone. It may be a sign that the inventories are cleared for a new 2016 Nexus smartphone. So even if Oneplus 3 is much better, specially if the newly released OTA fixes the screen accuracy issues, the Oneplus 3 will remain a 400USD phone, while the price of the Nexus 5X has gone down to the level of Moto G (2015), so the price performance is very good. Reply
  • AndyBandy - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    Hi Brandon! Where did you place the color balance slider (from the display menu) when you measured the OnePlus 3 display calibration? Was it on the left side, or the on the right (the warmer side?) Reply
  • Vishalaestro - Saturday, October 1, 2016 - link

    waiting for lenovo z2 plus review since it's way even cheaper than one plus 3 and has the same internals except camera. Reply
  • Ygor Cortes - Monday, February 20, 2017 - link

    I really think that you should've used the phones' full potential (by turning low light features on (as HQ mode on the OnePlus 3 and HDR+ on the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6). You should've at least shown them on auto AND with the modes activated. Really good comparison though besides of that! Reply

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