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.
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:
- Both phones sport 5.5″ screens (measured on the diagonal), but the OnePlus has nearly a 20-square-millimeter smaller footprint.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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:
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– The Editor
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