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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  • Ian Cutress - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    We did some in the past, when Audio Precision let us borrow the $50k+ kit needed to do some proper testing. However, AP wanted the hardware back and Chris is no longer at AnandTech. If someone can convince AP to long-term loan us the hardware, I'm sure one of our smartphone team would pick up the mantle for the devices they test (and because the team is four people, it would only be tested on 1/4 of devices unless we get duplicates or can hand some off when people travel internationally for events. It also means you'd be lucky to see release day data, and we might have to do audio focused testing. But that all depends if we can get the hardware.)

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/8078/smartphone-audi...
    Reply
  • dishayu - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Thanks for the response. Yeah, sounds like a challenge and a half. I am aware of the past audio testing, which is why I was hoping for more. Maybe a more practical approach would be to send one person to a partnered lab and run a gauntlet test on all phones released in that year... like a shootout, maybe. Reply
  • cheinonen - Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - link

    Yeah, I'm no longer here but the equipment made to do that level of audio testing is incredibly expensive. I live down the street from Audio Precision so I could borrow it, but most people testing audio quality are using gear with noise levels that are high enough that you can't trust the testing unfortunately. Reply
  • Spectrophobic - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    That... is one disgusting screen.
    Google please refresh the 5X with an 820 and UFS 2.0.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    So provide 6GB RAM, then make the software aggressively cull its use to save energy?

    Apart from future proofing (and to be real, it'll probably run out of Android updates well before 3/4GB would be a limit), that seems rather pointless.

    I'd hope like the author hopes that an over the air update would address that, but if the founder said it was to save energy, maybe it's just an intentional choice they'll keep around until 6GB makes any sort of sense in a phone (which again, is probably outside of the usable life of this one).

    That said, I think they're generally back on track which is nice. The Oneplus One was a hit, the Two was a miss, this seems closer to the One competitively.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    So 10 months after launch, much closer to the launch of the 7 now than the 6S, the NVMe storage solution is still pooping all over everyone elses, huh? The OP3 is the closest to bridging the gap on reads, but still a whole 128MB/s behind, and much further in writes (which are cool particularly for app installs - I barely see the install icon anymore after the download).

    I'm curious, is it *because* of NVMe? It doesn't seem like it should be, I mean NVMe is awesome but mainly reduces the AHCI latencies and gives a stupid amount of in flight queues that consumers probably don't approach often. Is it just how many channels Apple gives their NAND? Is there a limit to how much UFS 2.0 can scale up?

    All this said, on the flip side, NVMe seems to take a hit in 4KB random reads/writes, with Samsungs controller overtaking the 6S there, among some others.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Hm, I see the author also suggests it's because the 6S was the 128GB model. I guess I had assumed they'd all perform the same, despite always knowing larger SSDs usually do better due to more channels.

    Now I want to test a 16GB 6S to see how the storage fares. What test is used?
    Reply
  • Pissedoffyouth - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Random read and write matters much more than sequential, expect for heavy burst photography which the 6GB RAM should help with Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    I recall some of the early generations of SSDs had 4K random read/write performance as a culprit for why they would freeze up for a second in worst case situations on a PC, and increasing the random performance was found to be an important metric back then as much as if not more than sequential transfers.

    However I do wonder at what point of 4K random read/write performance increases is where it will no longer provide any extra kick to most consumer workloads, while hopefully the OS is writing app binaries in nice sequential rows for app launch reads. Going down to 4KB reads would still very much be a very worst case scenario.
    Reply
  • thek - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    I feel like the reviewer reviewed this device as on-par with other premium/flagship devices that literally cost twice as much and not take into account the device's cost. And I'm not talking about just mentioning the cost itself here.
    The question should be if devices that cost less(and we're really talking about 1/2 the price of any flagship, with literally the same hardware) should be reviewed differently. Now, by differently I don't mean with different or lower standards ,but maybe with the knowledge that this device is clearly cheaper than other flagships devices for a reason. Something had to be cut back.
    If the display was premium as well, that device wouldn't been able to get to a 399$ price mark and make a profit (only makes sense). So if it's not reaaally crucial I'd say it's a slight issue but not one to make you not purchase the phone.
    Basically I'm just saying all of this because the last 3 paragraphs really dished the device into making it seem like a no-buy right now to anyone that doesn't want to suffer from a really bad display (again, this is how it sounds to a non-technical guy that just wants a smartphone). Furthermore, as you mentioned, you are a pro reviewer and have different standards, that maybe do not imply to regular users? Yes, you've mentioned it(very slightly), but saying something like you won't replace your old low end phone for this one just because of the display makes it sound probably worse than it is(or actually, the worse it can be: ''but for anyone who cares even the slightest bit the issues with the OnePlus 3’s display will be too severe to live with.''). I'd recommend providing the device for some day to day users/family members and asking if they enjoy the display.

    With all of that said, I think that companies that are trying to do things differently for the better or to be cheap on the consumers expense (like Samsung, Apple, and basically any other that charges double the amount for the same hardware or charges premium prices every year for the same old battery's and storage- which Xiaomi showed us with the Redmi note 3 pro that a 4000 battery is possible with a 200$ or less phone) should be praised.
    Only god knows why reviewers provide each year an A grade score for the Galaxy's and Iphone's when they don't even provide bigger batteries which is clearly out of making us buy their next phones again next year.
    I'd bash them, and not OP or Xiaomi for trying to provide more for less. just my 2 cents
    Reply

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