OnePlus 3T vs OnePlus 3: Should you upgrade?

The 3T makes small tweaks to stay cutting edge; should you, too?

The OnePlus 3 has reigned as our favourite phone in the world since its July debut, simply because it does the seemingly impossible: deliver flagship power at an affordable price.

Of course, the cutting edge moves ever ahead with time, and even in the four months since the OnePlus 3's release, we've seen some advancement in smartphone tech. Apple's A10 Fusion processor in the iPhone 7 is the fastest around right now, but even in the Android world, the Snapdragon 821 offers speedier performance than the 820 in the OnePlus 3.

So OnePlus is moving the goalposts again. Next week, the company releases the OnePlus 3Tan admittedly incremental upgrade that brings several small tweaks to the winning design, from the processor bump to a larger battery, as well as camera tweaks and a new body colour.

But if you just bought the OnePlus 3 within the last few months, do you really need to trade up? Now that we've put the OnePlus 3T through our review gauntlet, here's our expert opinion on this conundrum.

No! It's the same design

We quite like the OnePlus 3's build. It's not the most distinctive flagship we've ever seen, but it's a big improvement over the OnePlus 2, and most importantly, it looks and feels like a premium phone at half the price of the top-tier competition.

Likewise, we also enjoy the look of the OnePlus 3T – because it's the exact same design. Truly, nothing has changed here aside from the new Gunmetal colour, which is a fair bit more striking than the lighter grey of the original. You can also get it in Soft Gold, much like the OnePlus 3. 

Realistically you wouldn't upgrade solely because of that new colour option, but we do like it a lot. Maybe we'll just spray-paint our older model.

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Maybe! It's had a few camera upgrades

You'll see a few small tweaks in the camera department on the OnePlus 3T, both on the front and the back. With the main rear camera, an updated electronic image stabilisation algorithm can smooth out your video capture just a bit and works at 4K now too. The back camera also has a fresh layer of sapphire glass to better resist scratches, in case you're concerned about that sort of thing.

And then the front camera gets a solid spec bump too, scrapping the serviceable 8-megapixel selfie shooter of the OnePlus 3 for a 16-megapixel camera that promises better light and crisper snaps. In our review testing, however, we didn't find it to be a vast improvement.

All told, is it enough to warrant the upgrade? Not unless you're desperate for smoother 4K shooting or need the best possible selfies on a OnePlus.

No! It's got the exact same screen

While many parts of the OnePlus 3T see small enhancements over the original model, that's not the case with the screen: it's the exact same 5.5in 1080p AMOLED display panel from the OnePlus 3. We noticed some slight differences in the warmth of the colours, but varying batches can produce slightly different results.

In any case, we're not complaining at all. It's a damn fine screen, and about as good as they come in the 1080p ballpark. Other flagships such as the  Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 bump up the resolution to Quad HD territory, but then you're paying a lot more for that privilege – for most buyers, probably too much more to warrant the tiny bump in crispness.