OnePlus 6 vs. OnePlus 3 – Is it time to upgrade?
The OnePlus 6 has been in the hands of reviewers and consumers alike for over a month now. While it’s pretty clear that it’s currently one of the fastest phones around, many will be wondering whether it’s worth the upgrade. I myself came from the OnePlus 3, and I can say without a doubt that it is an upgrade (shocker!)… but is it a $529 upgrade? In this article, we’ll compare the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 6 so that you can decide whether you want to hold on to that OnePlus 3 for an extra while or not.
Note: Both of these devices were purchased by me. These devices were not provided by OnePlus nor XDA, and this isn’t a sponsored post.
Design and build quality
The best way to describe the OnePlus 6 is simply “2018.” It’s nearly entirely glass, with a notch present and a dual camera setup. An aluminum frame between the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back creates a glass sandwich of sorts. What’s more, there are reportedly over 40 steps taken in creating the glass on this device, with different procedures taken for each color variant. For example, the company says that there are actually crushed pearls under the glass of the Silk White variant, though most certainly not the luxurious kind you’d expect to make the price shoot up beyond reach. Still, the result is definitely nice.
I personally have the Silk White variant, so while I can’t talk about other designs, the overall layout is the same. It’s got a bit of a slippery grip, but that’s no problem thanks to the included silicone case. Buttons are tactile and firm. The device’s design screams premium, and the “Designed by OnePlus” insignia on the back signals that the company knows that. Sadly, there is a lack of wireless charging, so in a way, the glass on the back is actually a downside. I personally like the glass back, but that’s up to you to decide. It’s just another place your device could theoretically shatter, so if you have butterfingers then maybe it’s best to stay away. Or just use a case.
One thing is for sure, this device does feel like a tank. The build quality is strong and the design is one of the most attractive we’ve seen from the company yet. In terms of haptics, it’s no contest – the OnePlus 6 wins hands down.
The OnePlus 3 was characterized by its graphite aluminum body and sharp edges. This was the first truly “OnePlus” design that we know today, with many elements of its design language having continued to the OnePlus 6. The chamfered edges are much sharper here than on the OnePlus 6, and it still certainly looks like a flagship. The company’s logo hasn’t moved either, and even without it, you could probably guess what company designed it. The bottom layout of the device looks exactly the same as on the OnePlus 6, with the speaker, USB-C port, and headphone jack fixed in the same spots. The buttons remain tactile even after two years, and the alert slider is as rock-solid as ever.
And speaking of wear and tear, the device is still nearly like-new. The metal is unscratched and the screen only has a few micro scratches. I never used the included screen protector, as I ordered one of the first batches of the OnePlus 3 and the included screen protector was really, really poor. The included screen protector improved in a later batch. I don’t necessarily see the OnePlus 6 lasting quite as long, and I see it falling victim to lots of scratches all over. Time will tell in that aspect.
I’m a huge fan of the aluminum frame here too, and where the chamfered edges meet the glass is my favorite aspect of it. The OnePlus 3’s design remains elegant yet somewhat bold. Even the antennae on the top and bottom look natural and thoughtfully placed. I still personally prefer the OnePlus 6, but in terms of design, some may sway to the older device.
But there is one problem, and that’s the display. I don’t necessarily dislike it, but the bezels suddenly seem a lot larger than they did back when it first launched. Obviously, that’s because of newer devices pushing the boundaries of what we once thought of as “bezel-less,” but it’s something to note. If you don’t mind the display, then you can pretty much overlook that. Talking about displays, after two years I haven’t noticed any burn-in on my screen. That’s a pretty good lifespan for an AMOLED panel, and I’d definitely feel comfortable squeezing another year out of it, if not more. Having said that, a 16:9 panel feels somewhat archaic in a sense. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with one, but an 18:9 panel just looks a whole lot nicer, in my opinion. This last point is something that one must really try and get used to in order to fully appreciate, though.
There should be no contest here. We already know just how much the OnePlus 6 outperforms even other flagships with the same processor. As a result, it will come as no surprise that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is much, much more powerful than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820. The Adreno 630 GPU does a great job in terms of gaming, and the OnePlus 6 is still pretty competitive in terms of smoothness. In terms of raw computational power, this is the fastest smartphone available currently, due to its copious amounts of speedy RAM, it’s top-of-the-line storage and the greatest from Qualcomm. That’s not to say the OnePlus 3 is a poor performer, but it simply can’t compete with the latest that Qualcomm has to offer. Take a look at this smoothness graph taken from a scrolling sample on the Play Store’s “Top Charts” entries.
As you can see, the OnePlus 6 is very smooth when scrolling. Minimal frame drops, great gaming performance, and fast app launches. What’s not to love?
As we’ve already said, there’s just no contest here. There isn’thing wrong with the OnePlus 3 in its current state. It is still very much a top performer, and you’ll get perfectly acceptable performance. If the performance you have is enough, then you certainly don’t need to upgrade yet. Take a look at the smoothness graph of the exact same workload below.
It’s not that the OnePlus 3 is slow or that it stutters a whole lot, it’s that the OnePlus 6 is just better. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is leaps and bounds ahead of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, and it shows. If you’re finding performance is good enough on the OnePlus 3, then you don’t have much reason to upgrade in this department. I personally am very happy with the upgrade thanks to the performance alone, but it depends entirely on what you value in a smartphone. If you don’t value gaming and you aren’t using your phone for any intensive tasks, then maybe you can hold off on the upgrade for now.
I think it goes without saying that we all expected the OnePlus 6 to best the OnePlus 3 in performance. Newsflash, 2018 flagship is faster than 2016 flagship. There’s not really a huge amount to compare here, and to spend ages talking about benchmarks in particular would be rather useless. The OnePlus 6 beats the OnePlus 3 in basically every performance metric imaginable, and that’s to be expected. As we’ve already mentioned, the OnePlus 6 fares quite a bit better in gaming. PUBG on the OnePlus 3 runs pretty terribly, but the OnePlus 6 handles it without a hitch. Having said that, you’ll have no issues with most games on the OnePlus 3.
The OnePlus 3 is still very much a powerful device and was one of the best of its time when it launched. As such, it does still best other flagship devices that launched around the same time. Even better, the OnePlus 3 boasts a large development community which has sought after squeezing every little bit of performance out of it as possible. This was one of the first devices to get a fully functioning EAS port and has pretty much all of the official ROMs you’d hope for. Development support hasn’t gotten quite off of the ground yet for the OnePlus 6, but it’s only getting started and we are doing our best to ensure that it grows.
We’re going to do things a little bit differently in this section. One side of the photos belong to the OnePlus 6, and the other belongs to the OnePlus 3. For some of the photos, it should be obvious, but that’s not the point. Some of these photos are incredibly close. Which side is which is revealed at the end, so you can scroll through these at your leisure and make up your mind as to which is better. You might be surprised.