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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  • greyhulk - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Bragging that your phone has 6GB of RAM, while knowing that you gimped it so that it doesn't utilized it is pure insanity. The co-founder has gone on record saying this was intentional to save battery (yet the put a smaller battery in). I would have thought that the flack that Samsung received last year over their aggressive RAM management would have given OnePlus pause, but it's almost like they don't even have their finger on the pulse of the mobile industry. Let's face it: Price or not, this is more of an enthusiast device than anything and the enthusiasts were very loudly condemning the aggressive RAM management phones last year. They had to know this was going to blow up in their faces. I'm glad there's an easy fix. Heck, you couldn't even root most models of the GS6 to fix the issue, but it never should have shipped this way. Reply
  • UtilityMax - Sunday, June 26, 2016 - link

    They should have included a brighter screen or an sd card slot instead of wasting resources on more RAM. Another proof that many android smartphone vendors chase superfluous paper specs instead of addressing issues that the users really have. Reply
  • rxzlmn - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    'The OnePlus 2 and the OnePlus 3 both use USB Type-C connectors, but they only implement the USB 2.0 protocol so there's no support for USB Power Delivery either.'

    The power specifications have nothing to do with the supported USB protocol, this sentence is false. In fact, both the Nexus 5X as well as the Nexus 6P do not support USB 3.
    Reply
  • Brandon Chester - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    That's correct, the Nexus 5X and 6P are just USB2 as well. I've amended that sentence, thanks for pointing it out. Reply
  • jjj - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Where are my subpixels! And the microSD and what's with the display's accuracy, that home button and design?
    That aside, the RAM management is the funniest thing ever. You got 6GB but you are not allowed to use it as only 3-4 apps are allowed to stay open.
    Pricing is not great compared to OP1, this one is a lot less value considering.

    The devices you guys include in the charts make you seem partial. You include few last gen devices and that has to be on purpose as you don't usually do that.

    Fast charging related ,Mediatek just did a demo in China for their Pump Express 3.0, they had a 5.8V/6A charger (so 34.8W) and got to 83% in 27 mins- the marketing claims 70% in 20mins.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    What's the charge cycle rating on a battery that charges to 83% in 27 minutes? Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Depends on how you manage heat and how far you push it. Take a 3500mah battery, never charge above 90% and even if you charge it to 75% in 15 min and trickle from there to the 90% you will be fine from a life expectancy perspective I bet. Reply
  • Dr. Swag - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    I think you've made a mistake... On the first page you stated multiple times that the oneplus 2 has a microsd card slot but it doesn't... It only has dual sim. Reply
  • osxandwindows - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    So, no gs7 review?
    ok
    Reply
  • dishayu - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Any chance of doing some audio benchmarking as well when reviewing smartphones? I'm specifically referring to audio-quality for headphones/earphones, since many (most) people use their phones as media player these days. Phones vary in capabilities vastly, from Vivo X-play5 with a DAC that costs 40$ on its own to many other flagships using a basic Qualcomm codec. Reply

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