Is the iPhone 6s Really the Best Smartphone On the Market? Meet the OnePlus 3

Apple has for nearly 10 years, essentially since the first iPhone came out in 2007, dominated the smartphone industry. They’ve been launching new phones year after year, each getting more powerful. Recently, Apple launched its new flagship phone: the iPhone 6s. This thing is a beast. A powerful processor, great screen, aesthetic design, and phenomenal camera and video capabilities combine to make the ultimate smartphone. Or do they? Meet the OnePlus 3.

Image of OnePlus 3

In this post we’ll be systematically comparing the phones, through each category of capability and hardware features. So now, let’s jump right in and see if the big brand name really means the best product on the market.

Footprint and Appearance

In comparing these two phones, you’ll notice that they both have trim lines and are very appealing to the eye. Both sport aluminum backs and GorillaGlass screens. The OnePlus 3 comes in at 152mm x 74.7mm x 7.35mm, so it is comparable in size to the iPhone 6s Plus. Therefore, that is what this comparison will focus on: the 6s Plus vs the OnePlus 3. The 6s Plus comes in at 158mm x 77.9mm x 7.3mm. The OnePlus wins this battle, primarily for two reasons:

  1. Both phones sport 5.5″ screens (measured on the diagonal), but the OnePlus has nearly a 20-square-millimeter smaller footprint.
  2. The OnePlus weighs 34 grams less than the iPhone (that’s more than an ounce for you folks that aren’t into math), at 158g vs 192g for the iPhone 6s Plus. This, combined with the smaller footprint, results in a phone with the same screen size as the iPhone, but in a much more comfortable and ergonomic package.

View of OnePlus 3 Dimensions

Battery

For most people, the battery on their phone is one of the most important pieces. Nearly everyone carries a charger around with them everywhere they go. For many of us, our phone is our lifeline to work, family, and contacts, so we need our phones to stay charged throughout the day. The OnePlus also wins this battle, carrying a 3000 mAh battery vs a 2750 mAh battery in the 6s Plus. In a recent review by GizMag, a battery test was conducted that shows that not only is the OnePlus’ battery larger, it’s also better-performing with the phone. A one hour video was streamed while the phones were on full brightness. The OnePlus drained 11% while the iPhone (one of the phones in the test) drained 13%. Although that might not sound like a huge difference, GizMag reports that after a day of normal use, the OnePlus has 20-30% battery left. Speaking from experience, the iPhone 6s models tend to chew through battery.

In addition to having a powerful battery, OnePlus has created a charging unit called the Dash Charging System, which can charge the OnePlus 3 to over 60% in just 30 minutes. The Lightning connector system is fast, but not nearly this fast. Score 2-0, in favor of OnePlus.

Processing Hardware and Performance

Once again, the OnePlus trumps the iPhone in this category as well (the iPhone does come out on top in some categories, I promise). In this section, we’ll be going through the processing components of both phones and comparing them step by step.

  1. Central Processing Unit (CPU): The iPhone 6s Plus carries its trendy A9 chipset (widely marketed due to its 64-bit nature), which includes a dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister CPU. Not bad, right? I mean that’s as good as some older laptops/low end laptops of today! Sorry Apple. OnePlus wins again. The OnePlus has a Snapdragon 820, a monster 64-bit chipset which pairs two 2.2 GHz cores with two 1.6 GHz cores. This is comparable to many laptops today. It’s an extremely powerful processor — I can guarantee you this phone will not lag.
  2. Graphics Processing Unit (GPU): The iPhone performs very well here, sporting six-core graphics thanks to a PowerVR GT7600. Games and other graphics-heavy activities perform flawlessly on the iPhone 6s Plus. The OnePlus is essentially comparable, carrying the Adreno 530, one of the latest superpower GPUs from Adreno. The image below shows how the Adreno 530 in the Snapdragon 820 increases performance while simultaneously decreasing power drain.
  3. In the final stage of the processing hardware comparison, the OnePlus 3 pulls ahead once again. RAM, or Random Access Memory, is essentially the cache for your phone or computer. It’s temporary storage that allows the device to run processes in the background and store information temporarily for lighting-fast access. The more RAM you have, the more information can be put into temporary storage for fast access, and the more information can be cached at once. Let’s just cut to the chase. The iPhone 6s has the industry standard 2 GB of RAM. The OnePlus has 6 GB. That’s more than a lot of laptops (4 is quite common for notebook laptops such as Chromebooks)! Bottom line, the OnePlus 3 is a processing beast which will never, ever lag, seamlessly transition and display graphics, and compute anything you could ever imagine.

Adreno 530 Performance

Ports

Since this is an in-depth review, let’s take a quick look at the ports on both phones before moving on. As usual, the iPhone 6s Plus does not have a microSD slot, so that Apple can charge ridiculous amounts of money for extra storage. Interestingly for an Android based phone, the OnePlus also lacks a slot. However, this is less of an issue because the OnePlus comes only in one size, 64 GB, which is plenty of space for most people. In addition, the price/storage ratio is much more appealing as we’ll discuss a little later. Both phones have their respective charging ports, and in the case of the OnePlus, the charging port is also a microUSB 2.0 port, as is common on Android phones. Both phones have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack as well. The OnePlus has a SIM card tray, as does the iPhone depending for which carrier you purchase it (Verizon does not use a SIM card because of their use of the CDMA networking system).

Buttons and Switches

The two phones are roughly comparable when it comes to this section. Both have round or rounded home buttons, each with an integrated fingerprint scanner. GizMag wrote in their review that the scanner in the OnePlus is “very fast.” Both phones have standard volume buttons. OnePlus did something a little out of the ordinary for an Android phone, taking a hint from Apple and including a physical notification mute switch next to the volume slider. All in all, the phones are about the same in this category; the speed of the fingerprint scanner is unlikely to make much of an impact. The iPhone scanner is already quite fast.

Screen

Here is where the iPhone really excels. Now obviously the Retina display has been one of the most marketed features of Apple products since it was created for the iPad 3. Apple has continued to refine the technology, and the iPhone 6s Plus does not disappoint. Now the main pro of the Retina display has less to do with the pixel density and more to do with dual domain pixels for better viewing across a wide range of angles. However, what might surprise you is that the OnePlus 3 matches Apple’s flagship phone and their widely marketed display. The 6s Plus has a full HD screen, at 1920 x 1080 pixels across a 5.5″ display. That comes to 401 ppi, which is pretty darn good. The OnePlus has a full HD screen, at 1920 x 1080 pixels across a 5.5″ display. That comes to 401 ppi. Sound familiar? So to wrap this section up, yes, the iPhone does win here. But it does so just barely.

Camera Function: Still Pictures

In its latest iPhone models, Apple made huge upgrades to the cameras. Unfortunately for Apple, however, 12 MP is not the industry standard anymore. As cameras have gotten smaller and smaller, phone cameras have gotten better and better. As a result, we’ve seen some windows phones with ridiculously high megapixel counts. That being said, let’s go over the cameras of these phones, with regard to still photography. The iPhone 6s Plus has a 12 MP rear camera (the main camera) which can also record video, as we’ll discuss momentarily. It can take a variety of photos, such as high dynamic range (HDR) photos, panoramas at up to a stunning 63 MP, or pictures with non-standard aspect ratios (such as square). The front, AKA “selfie” camera is 5 MP and can perform essentially basic pictures and video recording. The iPhone also has an integrated self timer and smile detection.

The OnePlus 3 matches all of this and does more. It carries a 16 MP rear camera, which takes very high quality photos, even in low light situations. Not only are the pictures themselves high quality, but the control is as well. The OnePlus has a lot of manual functions, giving it an SLR-esque feel. In addition, the OnePlus allows for RAW image exports in addition to JPEG, just like a high quality SLR camera. The selfie camera on the OnePlus is also high quality than that of the iPhone, at 8 MP with the same smile detection and other fancy features of the iPhone. Bottom line: the OnePlus 3 shares all of the same features of the iPhone, and then some. Plus, the cameras themselves are better quality.

Camera Function: Video Recording

Here’s where the iPhone actually pulls a bit ahead of the OnePlus. For the most part, the OnePlus has a better camera; however, the iPhone has slightly better video capabilities. The iPhone records several different sizes and frame rates of video out of its main camera. It will record 30, 60, and 120 fps in full 1080p HD, 30 fps in 4K(!!!), and 120 and 240 fps in 720p. The selfie camera will record 30 fps in 720p. In addition to these features, with the release of iOS 8 many Apple devices received time lapse recording capability, and this has been carried over into newer devices and more recent OS updates.

The video capabilities of the OnePlus are mostly the same. It records 30 fps in 1080p HD and 30 fps in 4K. The main difference is found in the slow motion capabilities. It does record slow motion, but it is 120 fps in 720p. It does not have a 240 fps feature. Personally, since the camera is on the whole much better (taking into account the still photo specs), this is a price I’m willing to pay.

The Final Comparison – Pricing

Up until now, it’s been easy to see we are comparing two very excellent phones. Granted, the OnePlus has amazing processing capabilities that are better than the iPhone 6s models. However, they are both excellent phones. So, here’s where the rubber really meets the road: how much these phones cost. Buying an unlocked iPhone 6s Plus, in its base 16 GB (not much storage, trust me) model will cost you a gut-wrenching $749. The next model up (and really the first one worth buying) will get you 64 GB for $849. So far we’ve seen that the OnePlus 3 is comparable to, and in several areas surpasses the iPhone 6s Plus. That probably leaves you wondering how the prices match up. As already mentioned, the OnePlus 3 comes in one size, of 64 GB. But it’s not $849. Try $399. Yup. A comparable, even arguably inferior iPhone will cost you 225% of what the OnePlus 3 costs. For me at least, that seals the deal. The phone itself is fantastic, but with the price OnePlus offers, they have truly created their own “flagship killer” at last.

Folks, we have a winner:

OnePlus Logo

Thanks so much for reading! If you enjoyed this in-depth comparison, be sure to hit that like button before you leave. Please share us with your friends, family, and others you believe would enjoy our content. Feel free to make use of our share buttons below.

– The Editor

Links for further reading:
https://oneplus.net/3/overview

http://www.apple.com/iphone-6s/specs/

http://wccftech.com/snapdragon-820-official-folks/

http://www.gizmag.com/oneplus-3-review/44306/?utm_source=Gizmag+Subscribers&utm_campaign=840e81bc8e-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-840e81bc8e-91209505

A Couple of Updates on Previous Posts

Hello,
This is a follow-up to two previous posts of ours:

  1. NOOKcolor Hack
  2. IR Camera Hack

Let’s start off with the NOOK.

  1. NOOKcolor Hack:
    We mentioned in that post that we didn’t know of a way to “unroot” the NOOK; now we do. Recently we successfully reset the NOOK to factory defaults. To accomplish this, make sure the NOOK is powered off. Then power it on — wait until the “CyanogenMod” screen with the rotating icon pops up. As soon as that screen pops up, hold down the power button until the NOOK turns off, then wait a few seconds. Repeat 7x (for a total of eight boot interruptions). After the eighth one your NOOK will do one of two things: it will either A) start up as a NOOK by reinstalling the default boot image, or B) you will have to reset it by turning it on again while holding down the volume up (+) button at the same time. After that, you should be good to go.
  2. IR Camera Hack:
    We announced in that post that we didn’t know if you could replace the IR filter, making it a risky hack. About two weeks ago we were in need of another camera for a production, and so decided to try to replace the filter, and we were able to do so successfully, and the camera is now functioning normally. If you are going to do this, just make sure you have the filter and the rubber seals that go around it.

We hope you enjoyed this update and found it helpful. Be sure to check around soon — we’ll be releasing a review of Fitbit’s new ChargeHR sometime soon! Please subscribe to the site (over in the menu bar), and check us out on Google+. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

New YouTube Video — Sony Vegas Tutorial – How to Mask in Movie Studio!

Here’s our latest video on our YouTube channel! In this tutorial we show you how to achieve masking if you don’t have Sony Vegas Pro or Adobe After Effects and are stuck using Sony Vegas Movie Studio.

Be sure to both subscribe to our YouTube channel and to subscribe to the website so you’ll be notified every time we release a new video or post! Also be sure to check us out on Google+!

GIMP download: http://www.gimp.org/downloads/

Camera Review: Casio Exilim EX-ZR400

Casio’s new lineup of small, high speed video cameras has raised it in the past few years to one of the most popular camera makers of the 21st Century. Today, I have a Casio EX-ZR400 that I’m going to review, as well as give you a few tips and tricks. Unfortunately, I can’t show you any video of my own, but I’ll embed a couple of YouTube videos later on as well as give a link to video from other ZR400 owners.

I’ll start by saying that this camera has many relatives, including DSLRs like the EX-F1 or EX-FH9, and also other point and shoot cameras like the EX-ZR200, EX-ZR300, EX-ZR500 (new this year I believe), EX-ZR700, and EX-ZR1000, but today I am going to focus on the ZR400.

This is the one I have, the grey model.
Picture of EX-ZR400

I found six main attractions to this camera:

  • Zoom. This camera has a 24mm to 300mm zoom lens, giving it an amazing 12.5x optical zoom. It also has lossless digital zoom up to 25x and normal digital zoom up to 50x.
  • Battery life. This camera has a huge battery for its size, giving it up to 515 shots on a charge. My experience with my ZR400 is that the battery life is even longer.
  • Video. This amazing little camera can shoot 1080 and 720 HD at 30fps (frames per second), as well as VGA (640×480) at 30fps. It can also shoot high speed video which I will go more in depth on later.
  • Picture quality. The ZR400 takes up to 16.1 MP images, with no image deterioration even at 25x digital+optical zoom.
  • Size. The ZR400 is roughly the size of your typical point and shoot camera, but slightly larger due to the 3″ LCD display and its larger battery.
  • Finally, price. On Amazon, the ZR400 costs just $175 on average, although the price varies between color and season. At Christmas the camera was $205, but you get free shipping. The $175 price does not include shipping. Since shipping is $13, the $205 price is still more expensive, but not a huge amount (around $20 all told).

Now let’s go into the high speed video capabilities. As mentioned before, the ZR400 can shoot at 1080 and 720 HD as well as VGA at 30fps. But the ZR400’s capabilities don’t stop there. The ZR400 can shoot high speed video (slow motion) at the following frame rates and image sizes:

  • 120fps/VGA (640x480px)
  • 240fps/512×384
  • 480fps/224×160
  • 1000fps/224×64

Whoa! Did you see that right? Yes, you did. The ZR400 can shoot high speed video at up to 1000fps! That’s 33x slower than real time when played back at 30fps. But let’s say you play it back at 25fps: 40x slower than real time! You can play back video smoothly to around 20fps, meaning that you can slow things down with this camera up to around 50x!

This feature, combined with its small size, makes it work well for on-the-spot slow motion because you don’t need the laptop and battery pack needed for a real high speed camera. Plus it doesn’t cost $100,000! I would like to acknowledge, however, that the resolution at 1000fps is quite small. But hey, it works!

The ZR400 has two other slow motion features: HS 30-120 and HS 30-240 (HS as in High Speed). In these modes, the camera starts recording at 30fps (real speed) in the resolution for either 120fps or 240fps (depending on which mode you choose). Then, at the touch of a button, the camera switches to 120 or 240fps (once again depending on which mode you’re in). I really enjoy this because I can take videos of my dog running, then have him suddenly run in slow motion, mid-video.

Here is a link to slow motion video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0RIBdagBE8 (this was actually the ZR700, but the slow motion capabilities are the same)

Here are a couple of videos from YouTube showing slow motion from the ZR400.


You may have noticed that the second video has a lot of light grain on it. Let’s talk about that!

When recording video, the shutter is opened for a fraction of a second. The higher the frame rate, the smaller the fraction of the second. You probably know that images are created by light hitting the sensor on the camera. If you think about this, it means that the higher the frame rate, the smaller the amount of light hitting the sensor is. This means that for high speed video, you need a lot more light than you normally would. I recommend shooting outdoors because then you know you will have enough light.

Finally, let’s talk about one more thing: the flickering lights. As you know (at least I hope so), the current in your house is AC. AC stands for Alternating Current, meaning that the current is not constant and flickers on and off to achieve a steady output. This also means that if you have a lightbulb and you put AC current through it, the light will also flicker very quickly. High speed cameras, as you know, slow things down, and that is why the light flickers in the video. The slow motion is actually slowing down the flicker until you can actually see it! That’s just another reason to shoot outside.

I hope that you enjoyed this post! Maybe now you have something else to noodle on as the summer approaches. This camera would be great to take to the beach!

-The Editor
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