OnePlus 3 vs OnePlus 2: what’s new

“Here’s a comparison of the OnePlus 3 with its predecessor to get a sense of what the flagship brings to the table”

One, 2, Three. Okay, this isn’t a race… that’s just a list of the flagship smartphones that have been outed by OnePlus thus far, and combined with the brand name prefixed to the model number, come across as basic mathematics problems. Solving those mathematical problems is child’s play, but figuring out whether these phones are actually worth your hard-earned cash is slightly tougher than that. Granted, all these phones rock solid specs for their asking prices, but still, analysing their individual stengthes and weaknesses, weighing them against the cost, and matching everything against a typical user’s requirements does take a fair bit of effort. Let us point you towards our reviews of these phones so you can get a sense of that.

While the OnePlus One (review) is a tad obsolete by now, the purpose of this post is to give existing OnePlus 2 (review) owners an idea of what all the latest flagship (pictured above) brings to the table, and whether it justifies an upgrade or not. Spoiler alert: it does, but then, you’d like to know the how and the why of it, right? So here goes…

Design and display


The One was known for its sandstone finish, and the brand upped the ante with its sequel… adding a metal frame to the mix (see above). The signature sandstone finish was retained however. The OnePlus 3 (pictured below) gets rid of that completely, and instead, comes encased in an anodised aluminium unibody that screams premium.

The new phone is quite slim at 7.35mm, and also boasts super-slim bezels around the display. The 2.5D curved glass also adds to the premium feel – something that was missing in the predecessors.

Talking about the display, the one on the Three (pun unintended), sticks to the same 5.5-inch size and 1080p resolution as its predecessors. It may not be a bad thing that OnePlus hasn’t opted for a 2K display, since that would negatively impact battery life. The OnePlus 3’s screen however, uses Optic AMOLED tech instead of the IPS LCD found on the OnePlus 2, and AMOLED is known for its deep blacks, rich colours, and low power consumption. On the OnePlus 3, the AMOLED tech also enables its handy ambient display feature that lights up the screen when notifications arrive. Worth mentioning that the 3’s screen comes protected by a layer of fourth-gen Gorilla Glass, and the company even throws in a pre-installed screen protector.

Overall, we’d say that in terms of design, the full-metal body in itself probably justifies an upgrade.

Performance and battery

OnePlus has a history of using top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon processors in its flagships, and the latest model doesn’t do anything to buck the trend. The OnePlus 2 came powered by a Snapdragon 810 processor, which was the top-end SoC from Qualcomm at the time. The OnePlus 3 ups the ante to the Snapdragon 820, which is the current king of the smartphone jungle in terms of processing power. Obviously, the new generation chip would bring expected improvements in performance and number crunching, but it’s worth mentioning that the 810, which powered the show for the OnePlus 2, was also notorious for its heating issues. All that should be a thing of the past with the OnePlus 3 though. Talking about the RAM, the older model had a very respectable 4GB, but the new one goes a few levels higher with the industry-leading 6GB RAM that it packs in. In fact, the OnePlus 3 is the first smartphone in India that can boast this spec. Goes without saying that multitasking and running heavy games should be a breeze on the OnePlus 3.


The OnePlus 2 (pictured above) came powered by a 3,300mAh battery, so it seems strange that its successor utilises a marginally weaker 3,000mAh battery instead. However, the new model boasts quick charging in the form of OnePlus’ Dash Charge tech, a feature that was missing in the older model. And since the new phone runs Android Marshmallow and features the Doze battery saving mode, it should actually offer better battery life. And thanks to Dash Charge, it should juice up pretty quickly too – up to 60 percent levels in just about 30 minutes, as per promises.

Storage and connectivity

These are areas where the OnePlus 2 and OnePlus 3 don’t differ significantly… as both come with 64GB storage that can’t be expanded. In terms of connectivity, there are few differences, such as enhanced LTE, support for more bands and the inclusion of NFC in the new phone. The latter was missing in the OnePlus 2. Otherwise, the remaining connectivity options seem quite similar between the two, including the USB Type-C port that utilises USB 2.0 speeds and dual-band Wi-Fi.


Shooting prowess is yet another area where the new one scores over its predecessor, and not just on paper. There’s an expected bump in the megapixel count of course – the OnePlus 3 flaunts a 16MP primary camera as compared to the 13-meg sensor on the predecessor, while the front cam moves up to 8MP from 5-megapixels. The front shooter mainly seems like just the megapixel bump, but the differences in the primary shooters that are worth highlighting. Both phones come loaded with optical image stabilisation for their primary cams, but while the older model had laser autofocus, the new flagship drops that in favour of Phase Detection Autofocus. To top that up, it also boasts EIS to add digital stability to videos. The overall features and capabilities, such as support for 4K video recording etc remains similar, but overall, the OnePlus 3 should definitely make users happier with its photography prowess.


Software-wise, you probably won’t notice any significant differences between the OnePlus 2 and the 3, since both run OxygenOS. Notably, the OnePlus 2 used Android Lollipop as base, it has since been upgraded to a new version of OxygenOS that uses Marshmallow. Since the OnePlus 3 also runs OxygenOS with Marshmallow as base, the overall usage and feature set should be very similar.


The OnePlus 2 was launched at a price of Rs 24,999 for the 64GB model, and in fact, is still available to buy, though now you can get it for Rs 22,999. In comparison, the new OnePlus 3 has been priced at Rs 27,999, and the difference is justifiable anyway, given the improved design and better specs. For anyone looking to buy a new phone now and considering the OnePlus 2, we’d recommend shelling out a little extra for the newer model – the better camera, smoother performance and all-metal body should definitely be worth it.


Coming back to our original question – whether the OnePlus 3 is enough of an upgrade over its predecessor or not – we think it’s worth considering by even those who currently own the older model. The OnePlus 2 is still a very capable smartphone, and if you’re satisfied with what it has to offer, then you can give the newer phone a skip… but it should be a worthy upgrade who’s hankering for better camera quality, smoother operation, and the flaunt value that only a premium-looking, metal-clad daily driver can offer.

Heading the editorial shenanigans at the Gurgaon headquarters, Deepak is gadget freak like no other. He’s been writing on technology for over 14 years, having worked at Digit Magazine, T3 and Engadget, to name a few. Known to switch his primary phone every three to four days, he's looking to own 91 mobile phones so he can justify his position as editor of 91mobiles. He’s usually reviewing the latest smartphone or tablet, and always has a good idea for a feature. His other responsibilities include being the voice of calm among an unruly bunch of writers.
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