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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  • thek - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Regarding the last line - what I mean is that even if those companies flagships have slight bumps they should still be highly recommended for the sake of maybe making other big companies charge less for their phones (which they obv can do if this one costs 400$), or provide more for that same amount of money. They don't innovate because we just don't give them enough hard time for providing the same phone every year but with just more gimmicks, and not practical things like battery sizes and storage Reply
  • 10basetom - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    If they really want to help consumers save money, they should've gone with 3GB of RAM and keep the same $349 price tag. That extra 3GB is mostly for show at the moment (except maybe when you're playing 3D games). Reply
  • thek - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    again, going for the one that tried to do something good.
    why not take the argument to apple for having only 2GB (or 1!!!!!) up until a year ago or to Samsung (and of course, Apple again) for keeping the batteries at a pathetic 2000-3000~ mark when they can provide much more if they wanted?

    ''why 6'' is a worse argument than ''why only 2''.
    Reply
  • LukaP - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    (speaking about ram now)
    Because, in case you havent noticed, the iPhones up until last year, didnt need more than a gig of ram, and still perform great with 2gigs, so why increase BOM and power usage for silly specs?

    As for the batteries, these are very much parts that are dependent on the design of a phone. Sure they could slap in a 6000mAh battery into the next Galaxy, but then people like you, if not you, would be complaining here taht the phone is heavy and feels like a brick.
    I personally dont have a problem with smaller batteries/ram amounts/resolutions if it doesnt compromise the user experience. and speaking from a perspective of an iPhone SE owner, the lower resolution screen is not noticable, the low battery capacity provides me more usable time than any Galaxy S device ive had before, and multitasking is faster and much less disruptive than it has ever been, despite "only" 2 gigs of RAM.

    So why bash them for stupid "features"? Because either they could not include them, and save money, or not include them, adn spend that money on something that really matters, like a better screen, or atleast in factory calibration of what they have now.
    Reply
  • UtilityMax - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    The claim that iPhones like the 6, didn't need more than 1GB, even last year, is just BS. I had iphones with 1GB of RAM, and the apps and the tabs inside the web browsers kept reloading without any warning, sometimes losing data all the time. Yes, Apple did clever things to make sure the phone doesn't literally run out of memory, but multitasking was horrible. Moreover, It's truly ridiculous that a former flagship phone like iPhone 6 is no longer future proof, even though it's only two years old. Reply
  • Buk Lau - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    there's a difference between "having 6GB of RAM" and "having 6GB but only limiting usage to something lower." what oneplus is doing is simply limiting RAM usage on the kernel level to something lower than 6; if that's the case, why have 6GB of RAM at all? what's the point if I pay for 6GB but can't use all of it at my will? oneplus said they are doing to save battery, but if that's the case why not just take off 2GB and use that money for a bigger battery? "why 6" isn't the argument here, it's "why 6 when only use 4?" Reply
  • melgross - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Because iOS functions differently. Android keeps apps open, and running, when you aren't using them, when they don't need to, absorbing RAM, processor cycles and battery power. Except for apps that need to do work in the background, iOS doesn't keep them open. Sometimes I have 50 apps in the que, but they're not actually open. The state of the apps are kept, and when we go to them again, it seems as though they were open.

    This is why iOS needs less RAM than Android.
    Reply
  • UtilityMax - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    But iOS keeps killing the apps and reloading the web browser tabs so aggressively that it really affects the usability. The 1GB iPhones are getting pretty much useless to me right now, because all they spend most of their time on, seemingly, is to reload the web browser tabs, silently, sometimes losing my data. I never run into such issues with the Android phones with 2GB of memory. What iOS did was simply a hack to hide the facts that iPhone 6 shipped with an inadequate amount of RAM. Reply
  • UtilityMax - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    2-3GB of RAM is more than adequate. But 6GB is pretty much ridiculous. Ask any power-user or any price conscious user, and they would probably tell you that they would gladly trade the 3GB of Oneplus 3's RAM for better screen or an sd card slot or more battery life. 6GB is pretty much superflous at this point. Reply
  • LiverpoolFC5903 - Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - link

    RAM is cheap though, as you can see by the glut of sub 300 USD phones from China with 3/4 GB RAM and weak processors. Even phones with a processor as weak as the Mt 6753 have 3GB at least these days. That extra 3 gb should no have added all that much to the bom, especially compared to the SOC and Display.

    Companies who gimp on RAM do it because they want to create sub segments and not because it adds a lot to the bom.

    In any case, 2GB is more than sufficient for anything in Android, anything above is a waste. I dont need 100 apps in memory, no thanks. 6 GB is ridiculous overkill imho.
    Reply

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