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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  • UtilityMax - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    Sadly, in the world of Android the competition has forced the companies to start hyping the features nobody asked for, such as QHD screens, octa-core processors, and now I guess RAM (6GB of it, no less). At the same time, the Android vendors often fail to deliver features people really wanted, such as better battery life, quality screens (as in good brightness and black levels, at least), sd card slots, unlocked wireless bands, and single-core performance that could match at least the three year old Snapdragon 800/801 at an affordable price. Reply
  • fanofanand - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    I seem to recall them highly lauding the Moto-G, and even the Moto-E. Your complaints are largely invalid, as they do take price into account. They are technical reviewers, if they started every sentence with a caveat about price it would be unbearable reading. "Xiaomi showed us with the Redmi note 3 pro that a 4000 battery is possible with a $200 or less phone".

    Then go buy the Xiaomi. If you think that phone is the bee's knees then vote with your wallet. If a massive battery is the sole important factor in your phone purchasing then your search is over! For the rest of us, it's nice to see the technical analysis and decide for ourselves what amount of compromise is worth the cost savings.

    FWIW I am on my 2nd Nexus 5 because no company has made anything since that is a better value. I get the value proposition, I do.
    Reply
  • thek - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    You obviously didn't understand the argument, sir.
    The point was that if even a low end cheap Chinese phone can have better batteries, than huge companies can include them too. But they don't. So why is that?
    Reply
  • fanofanand - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Maybe because there are no employee protections in China? Maybe because there are no real consumer protections in China? The cost of doing business as a Chinese company is a fraction of the cost of doing business in the EU or the US. There is a reason most Chinese products don't get sold in either of those two markets, and it isn't just patent/copyright laws. You might as well ask yourself why you can buy 10 Chinese t-shirts for the same price of one US made t-shirt. BOM is not static between nations. Reply
  • thek - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    You do realize that the IPhone is made in China right?
    ..You missed it again: the correct answer was that those companies are being cheap on us consumers, even on their premium priced flagships because they want to keep making billions of dollars of revenue per quarter (not even talking yearly!!).
    they can provide 64GB as base storage and 4000+ batteries as minimum. They just don't want to.
    Reply
  • melgross - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Ah, you're missing the point. Quality manufacturers all pay about the same thing for the same things. A screen may be made by one manufacturer, but their customers may spec a lower, or higher quality for brightness, speed, color quality, contrast, power draw, and other matters.

    The same thing is true for everything else. There are higher quality batteries, and lower quality batteries. The better ones may last for 1,000 recharges, and the cheaper ones may just last 500. Storage is, again, the same. Apple obviously uses higher quality NAND, hence the much higher speeds. It's been said elsewhere too. When making cheaper phones, compromises must be made. Not spending the money to calibrate a screen is a factor that we see here. Even if they come out with an sRGB update, without calibrating each screen, it will still look pretty bad. Cheaper components and fewer features are the way to go. How a manufacturer balances that all out is the differentiating factor.
    Reply
  • kurahk7 - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Here are a few reasons why the display is the single most important part of a smartphone-
    1. You stare at it all day long.
    2. The image that you see while taking a photo is expected to be the same as when you print it out or share to a friend.
    3. You will be able to enjoy content the original creator intended.
    Reply
  • echoe - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    I mean, if a phone didn't have a working display it would not be usable. The screen needs to be good. They mention the caveats to this judgment in the review, but obviously it's pretty bad ... Reply
  • UtilityMax - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    Why do you think that 400USD is not enough money for the vendor to deliver a quality screen? In fact, the vendors have gotten quite lazy recently. The 600+ USD prices were artificially inflated to herd the consumers into signing the multi-year cellular plans so they got big discounts on hardware. Now that the heavy discounting of the locked carrier-branded smartphones by the carriers is nearly gone, I don't know what's going to keep justifying the 500-600USD prices on the flagship phones when a phone like Nexus 5X offers 90% of functionality, at 40 percent discount. The Nexus 5X normally sold for well under 400USD. It had a great display and great camera, and was basically a good all-around phone. Yes, the SoC was slower than that in OP3, but that issue affected most phones of the 5X generation. Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Monday, June 20, 2016 - link

    Hey look it's... not a GTX 1080 review. Reply

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