Final Words

As far as accuracy relative to the sRGB standard goes, the OnePlus 3 is now in a great position. The last questions that need to be answered are what the relevance of this is, and how it changes my opinion about the phone. I'll start with the question of relevance, as it has generated some interesting discussions in the time since I published my original review.

In my view, having your phone target the color space used for content on the web is an important feature. Clearly not everyone shares this view, and we're all welcome to have differing opinions on this topic. However, from an objective perspective there is no question that targeting an irrelevant color gamut which causes severe distortions to content is not a good thing. When looking at things from a more subjective point of view, the situation becomes much less clear. Many people enjoy the oversaturated colors that wide gamut displays provide when software isn't color managed. I have no issue with that, but users who want an accurate display should have the option to enable an sRGB color mode, and that was the issue with the OnePlus 3 when it launched.

What I do have to disagree with is the idea that sRGB accuracy is a niche feature. Many readers and other commentators have made that assertion since I posted my review, and OnePlus maintains that stance as well. I think people value display accuracy more than some may think, and it isn't spoken of much purely because if your display is accurate then there's no discussion to be had about it; it simply looks as it should. While this is by no means a definitive piece of evidence, it is worth noting that Apple, the company bringing in most of the profits in the smartphone market, values color accuracy quite highly across all their devices. When moving to a wider gamut they put a great deal of effort into updating their operating system to enable the use of a wider color space for designing applications and artwork, while maintaining accuracy and compatibility with older devices, and they are really the only vendor that has properly executed the transition to wide color.

Targeting a common color standard has benefits beyond simply being "accurate" relative to some arbitrary gamut. It means that what you see on one device will look the same on another device, and this means that you can rest assured that the people you share content with will see the same colors that you did. In the world of creative arts you have people who spend hours editing photos and videos, drawing artwork, and designing websites and apps. In all of these situations, someone spent a great deal of time choosing exactly the right colors to bring their content to you. I think they would all disagree with the idea that being able to view their creations as they intended is just some niche feature that isn't worth the effort. sRGB is certainly not the widest gamut, and things are finally moving away from it, but that transition needs to be handled properly. The important thing is not that everything targets sRGB, but that everything targets whatever color standard has been chosen to be used across all platforms, and for the time being that standard is sRGB whether we like it or not.

While not everyone feels that offering an sRGB mode matters, and seemingly not everyone at OnePlus feels that it matters, it is apparent that there are engineers there who do. After my review was posted they were exceptionally quick to publish an update for review units that included an sRGB mode, and as you've seen, they did an excellent job of bringing the display in line with the sRGB standard considering that there must be some degree of variance from unit to unit that prevents precise tuning. Creating, validating, and publishing updates takes considerable engineering effort, so it looks like sRGB calibration is not too niche to be worth it after all. I haven't gotten a firm answer on when this update will rolling out to every OnePlus 3, but I've heard that it should be happening quite soon.

Now for the second question: how does this change my view of the phone? I mentioned this on Twitter the other day, but with this update the OnePlus 3 has become my daily Android device, as I had originally hoped it would before the display accuracy disappointed me. OnePlus has addressed the only issue about the phone that I felt truly hampered my enjoyment of it. My original recommendation was conditional in that you needed to not really care about display accuracy for the phone to be worth buying. It's unfortunate that OnePlus can't fix the relatively low brightness or address the low effective resolution that a 5.5" 1080p PenTile display provides, but every phone has issues and these are ones that I can live with. My only other complaint about the phone now is that the video recording isn't great, but it's still functional and not a deal-breaker at all unless you record a ton of video. After this update I can safely say that if OnePlus leaves these settings as they are then the OnePlus 3 should be seriously considered by all smartphone buyers, and it's a phone that I would personally recommend based both on its technical merit and how I simply enjoy using it on a daily basis.

Display Accuracy


View All Comments

  • zepi - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    The question is: Is there any real need for device specific calibration if they can just ship a updated colour profile and hit well within "good enough" territory without worrying about device level differences?

    I wonder if someone could test 20 "identical" OLED phones and 20 identical LCD phones / displays and see if there are any real variations?
  • Brandon Chester - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    I sure wish that we could, but getting more than one device is already very difficult, let alone twenty.

    It's also worth noting that backlight variance probably makes post-ship changes more difficult on LCDs than on OLEDs.
  • JanSolo242 - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    It would be interesting to know what impact the memory management changes have on battery life, if any. Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Maybe you should have loaded a couple of big games too.Memory management seems to be all over the place and people care about it so including details on it in reviews might not be a bad idea.

    Would also like to make a case for a 360 Mobile N4 review. Not that i expect you guys to review such a device since you are too commercial to review what's interesting instead of what's in the financial interest of the owner.
    Still, you got a 135$ device with 2xA72@ 2.1GHz and 8 more little cores pedaling behind , 4GB of RAM, a GPU that seems sufficient for 1080p gaming ( once again AT really needs to start testing the GPU in actual games at some point this century) and it makes one wonder how much sense does it make to pay 2 to 5 times more on a SD820 device.Sure you get better cam and wifi and other little bits but for a few years midrange was little cores and there was a huge theoretical perf gap.Theoretical because even A53 at high clocks results in a decent experience. Helio X20 and even SD65X changed the landscape in a substantial way and no publication seems to be willing to notice and take a look at that.
  • Yesumanu - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    I would refrain from calling Anand "too commercial" when they're reviewing niche devices like this:

    To comment on the phone you have mentioned, it does not have a stellar price/performance ratio. It costs $135 in China, if you're an international buyer be ready to pay $200 for it, and for that price you are better off with the Meizu Note 3 with Snapdragon 652, metal chassis and software support (this "360" company update record is either sketchy or non-existent).

    Also, I don't really see the point of testing individual games. We don't care how well certain games are optimized for certain chipsets, Anand just tests the absolute performance of a phone (or relative to its resolution). I suspect that many readers, including me, don't play XYZ or ZYX game on their phone or any at all but want to know if their phone's gpu performance is gimped and may hinder the device's ability to playback videos.

    It should also be mentioned that if you go with Mediatek chipsets, you can forget about any custom rom support or even a TWRP-like recovery. For many people that is a deal breaker and personally, I would never buy a phone with Mediatek SoC, altough I know that some people may not share this belief.
  • Yesumanu - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    *Redmi Note 3, not Meizu Reply
  • deyannn - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Whilst I agree with most of this post I have to disagree on some points - especially on the Custom rom and TWRP-like recovery.
    All Mediatek devices I've used and configured so far have custom rom support albeit lackluster. And I'm talking about a multitude of Mediatek devices I've used or configured for friends from manifacturers like Lenovo, Jayiu, Xiaomi, Doogee, Umi, etc.
    The code base is a nightmare when the source code is released at all and when no sources are released naturally you can't find support in places like XDA and have to go look elsewhere and there is a separate set of web pages for custom roms and modified roms for such devices (the 4pda Russian forum for example). But then again this is the case with these manufacturers even when the device has a Snapdragon SOC.

    I do have to say the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 case with unlocked bootloader and sources you can work with for the Helio X10 is the exception and not the rule and yet after mingling with Mediatek devices for some time I decided to move back to using a dev-friendly device like a Nexus or Oneplus One and the Oneplus Three so far feels pretty great.

    But indeed it's as easy to revive a softbricked Mediatek devices as it is to revive a Oneplus One just relying on Snapdragon drivers, flash tool and nand flashing. In fact often the custom roms for Mediatek devices came in this fashion and once a TWRP is compiled for the SOC it becomes a base to be used for all other devices with the same SOC revision.
  • WoodyPWX - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Very good job! Both Brandon and OnePlus! Thanks for the update Reply
  • mortimerr - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    I love the image of an engineer at 1+, who had a working sRGB mode before launch, because they new damn well the thing was shipping attuned to the incorrect mode and knew it would be so bad that it would almost certainly come in handy. Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    I always find it helpful if significant updates like these are mentioned and linked back to in the original review as an update, either on the first page, or in the conclusion.

    Of course regular readers like me will see all of the articles as they come out, but we're not the only ones who matter. Someone searching the internet for reviews of a particular device will likely only see the main review and I think it is especially important for those people to know that the reviewer's opinion of the device has changed.

    I don't want to rustle any feathers, but when requested, Ganesh did this for his Skylake NUC article:

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now