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
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  • MrCommunistGen - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Oh, I didn't mean to only post that. I also wanted to thank you for your diligence in doing the additional testing and for your well written objective analysis as well as your personal commentary on the topic of color accuracy.

    I think that this is a topic that more people would care about if they knew about it, and articles like this are a step in that direction.
    Reply
  • Brandon Chester - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    I do plan to do this. I'm just at work right now, will be updating both the display and conclusion sections of the original review around 5PM EST. Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Awesome! Reply
  • Stochastic - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    OnePlus One owner here. My one big gripe with the OPO is that, at least on T-Mobile, reception is pretty terrible. In your experience does the OnePlus 3 have any issues receiving LTE? In your review you wrote that "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" which concerned me. Reply
  • Brandon Chester - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    That's not due to the phone. My apartment just has terrible cellular reception on both our major networks on all my devices. I'm only pulling -97dBm, so I've decided to stop directly comparing my results, at least until I move at the start of August where I'll have to investigate the signal again. Reply
  • Lolimaster - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Meanwhile I currently have my firefox with 200tabs and just 4GB of memory on my Athlon II X4 620, feels snappy. Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    There are likely other factors involved as well. First one off the cuff is that modern desktop OSes like Windows manage memory differently than Android. I guess there's a chance things have changed, but AFAIK Android does not use a pagefile to help alleviate memory pressure.

    Also, on mobile devices, the VRAM is still allocated out of a chunk of RAM. If your desktop has a dGPU, that'd be extra memory available on desktop vs mobile.

    Unfortunately I'm not terribly well versed in this topic and can't really provide much specific insight.
    Reply
  • thek - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    Hi, Look!
    It's a reviewer that clearly forgot what it was to be an average day to day consumer and only thinking like a reviewer - with only numbers in his mind .. (kind of like politicians these days..huh), and bashed an apparently really decent phone(..or a superb! if you take into account the cost of it which is half the cost of a new galaxy or Iphone) for nothing really. just because it wasn't amazing.

    I swear, I thought about not buying this phone just because of your earlier review and what you said about the display, but thank god there are other decent reviewers out there. Once no one(literally no one) even mentioned the display I knew it was probably because you were relying too much on the numbers instead of actually looking at the screen. Then I went into youtube to watch vid reviews (and display reviews between the OP3 and other flagships) and clearly the OP3 was not the worse, as you said...and surprisingly enough, just from eye-to-eye, it was sometimes the best.
    Reply
  • thek - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    just adding, I started liking AnandTech less since your review. Reply
  • MrCommunistGen - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is an age old adage for a reason. As I think Brandon mentioned in the review, much of the consumer base actually prefers oversaturated colors. This is part of what won early AMOLED panels their consumer appeal.

    The point of an thorough and critical review is not to say the same thing as every other site. It is to push the boundaries of what is examined. To perhaps find things that a device does particularly well, or in this case something a device might not do well.

    Personally, I'd like to know there is a *potential* issue with a device and be able to make an educated decision based on that, rather than no one looking deep enough, me buying the device, and seeing something clearly different on the display than I was expecting.

    The point of color accuracy isn't necessarily to provide picture that looks the best, but rather to display the colors that were actually called for.

    My rather poor example is: Say you are helping a friend buy a used car. You take a picture of a car whose paint looks faded and send it to your friend. For the case of this example, lets say that the picture taken was perfect. The lighting, exposure, and color represented in the image are exactly as it looks in real life. When viewed on a device with an oversaturated display, that car might look better than it does in real life. It might not look faded.

    If the conversation you're having is: "Hey <your friend's name>, I think the car is in good shape but the paint looks faded" <insert picture>

    If your friend's phone has an oversaturated display, he might say: "Naw, it looks fine to me" when in fact the paint looks terrible. When he shows up to buy the car he's probably going to be disappointed.

    I understand this is a very narrow example, but I hope it illustrates the difference between making an image look "good" vs accurate.
    Reply

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