OnePlus 5 vs. OnePlus 3T: An upgrade that won’t break the bank

oneplus 5 vs 3t screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
It’s been a little more than half a year since OnePlus, the smartphone company backed by Chinese tech giant BBK Electronics, launched its last flagship — the OnePlus 3T. The 3T was an incremental upgrade over the OnePlus 3, but the newly-announced OnePlus 5 is a different beast altogether.

No matter how you slice it, the OnePlus 5 is an impressive specimen of a smartphone. It’s packed to the brim with competitive hardware, including a 5.5-inch 1,080-pixel resolution screen, a whopping 8GB of RAM, and a battery that lasts “all day” on a charge. Just like the OnePlus 3T before it, the price is still the spotlight — no other phone offers flagship-level specs for under $500.

But just how much of an improvement is the OnePlus 5 over its predecessor? We compared the two to find out.

Specs

OnePlus 5

OnePlus 5

OnePlus 3T

oneplus-3t

Size 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm (6.07 x 2.92 x 0.28 in) 152.7 × 74.7 × 7.4 mm (6.01 × 2.94 × 0.29 inches)
Weight 5.39 ounces (153 grams) 5.57 ounces (158 grams)
Screen 5.5-inch AMOLED 5.5-inch AMOLED
Resolution 1,920 x 1,080 pixels 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
OS Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Storage 64GB or 128GB 64GB or 128GB
SD Card Slot No No
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM  6GB or 8GB 6GB
Connectivity GSM / HSPA / LTE GSM / HSPA / LTE
Camera  Front 8MP, Rear Dual 16MP and 20MP Front 8MP, Rear 16MP
Video 4K 4K
Bluetooth Yes, version 5 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor
Water Resistant No No
Battery 3,300mAh 3,400mAh
Charger USB Type-C USB Type-C
Quick Charging Yes Yes
Wireless Charging No No
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Color offerings Black, gray Gunmetal, gold, black
Availability Unlocked, OnePlus Unlocked, OnePlus
DT Review 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Under the hood, the differences between the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 3T may not seem too different, but the former packs a more powerful punch. The OnePlus 5 uses Qualcomm’s newest processor, the Snapdragon 835, which is more powerful and more battery efficient than the Snapdragon 821 processor powering the OnePlus 3T.

The OnePlus 5 comes in two configurations: 6GB RAM and 64GB of storage, or 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. The OnePlus 3T offers 6GB of RAM, and you likely won’t ever fully take advantage of the whopping 8GB on the OnePlus 5. More RAM means more apps can be held in active memory, and won’t have to be reloaded when you switch between them. The 6GB RAM in the 3T is already remarkable, but the OnePlus 5 takes it a step further. The OnePlus 5’s Wi-Fi chip is up to twice as fast as the OnePlus 3T, and its Bluetooth version 5 boasts quadruple the range and twice the speed of the 3T’s Bluetooth 4.2 radio.

The OnePlus 3T has a slight advantage when it comes to battery (3,400mAh compared to the OnePlus 5’s 3,300 mAh). But the Snapdragon 835 is a more battery efficient processor, so you may hardly see a difference overall. The OnePlus 5 is a solid step up from the OnePlus 3T in terms of raw hardware.

Winner: OnePlus 5

Design, display, and durability

oneplus 5 vs galaxy s8 back
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 5 doesn’t look very much like its predecessor — in fact, it looks more like an iPhone than the 3T. It retains the OnePlus 3T’s oval-shaped front fingerprint sensor, volume rocker, Alert Slider, and power button positioning, but ditches the angular design for smooth, curved edges on all four sides. On the rear, a camera hump accommodates the OnePlus 5’s dual rear shooters, and antenna lines bisect the top and bottom edges. Design is subjective, but we think the OnePlus 5 looks far more attractive than the 3T.

The AMOLED screen is the same as the OnePlus 3T — it’s 5.5 inches in size, and offers a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution. In terms of durability, the OnePlus 5 isn’t any more water- or dust-resistant than the OnePlus 3T. Unlike most flagship smartphones, neither are certified for exposure to the elements — if both take an accidental dip in a pool, their chances of survival aren’t great.

We’re fans of the OnePlus 5’s design refinements. For that reason, we’re crowning it the winner this round.

Winner: OnePlus 5

Battery life and charging

oneplus 5 charging port
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

On paper, there isn’t a drastic difference between the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 3T in the battery department. The OnePlus 5 packs a smaller battery than last year’s model — 3,300mAh versus the OnePlus 3T’s 3,400mAh. But there’s more to battery life than capacity.

The OnePlus 5’s processor, the Snapdragon 835, consumes up to 40 percent less power than the Snapdragon 821. Those savings will depend on the apps you’re using, but the OnePlus 5 should last just as long, if not slightly longer, on a single charge than the OnePlus 3T. In terms of charging speed, the OnePlus 5 supports the same proprietary fast-charging technology: Dash Charge. OnePlus says you should be able to recover about 60 percent of the battery in half an hour, or the full battery in 90 minutes. Both phones have a USB Type-C port for charging.

It’s a close call between the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 3T when it comes to battery life, but the OnePlus 5’s power-efficient processor is enough to put it slightly ahead.

Winner: OnePlus 5

Camera

oneplus 5 camera tips and tricks app
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

One of the OnePlus 5’s most notable improvements is the addition of a second rear camera. The dual rear camera module, which combines a 16-megapixel (with a f/1.7 aperture) with a 20-megapixel telephoto lens (with a f/2.6 aperture), helps create the same depth effect that won the iPhone 7 Plus camera so much praise. Last year’s OnePlus 3T, on the other hand, makes do with a single 16-megapixel sensor (with a f/2.0 aperture). Because of the f/1.7 aperture, OnePlus 5 should perform better in low-light scenarios as well.

When it comes to video, both shoot in the same resolutions: 4K at 30fps, 1,080p at 60fps, 720p at 30 fps, and slo-mo 720p at 120fps.

On the front, the OnePlus 5 shares the same selfie cam as the OnePlus 3T — a 16-megapixel camera with a f/2.0 aperture. We were impressed by the OnePlus 3T camera’s shots, but the added portrait mode offers the OnePlus 5’s camera more versatility.

Winner: OnePlus 5

Software

oneplus 5 scrolling front
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 5 run OxygenOS, a customized version of Google’s Android 7.1.1 operating system. It’s almost the same user experience as the Google Pixel, except it goes a step further by adding nifty options that help users customize the phone more to your liking. There’s a Reading Mode, which uses gray-scale mapping to filter out blue light and adjust the display’s sharpness and brightness, and an Auto Night Mode, which takes advantage of the ambient light sensor to adjust the color temperature according to the environment. Other highlights include off-screen programmable gestures, tweakable vibrations, a gaming “do not disturb” mode, and password-protected folders for sensitive documents.

There’s no clear advantage, here. The newest version of OxygenOS — the version that ships on the OnePlus 5 — is already available in beta for the OnePlus 3T. Assuming nothing changes between now and the time the OnePlus 5 launches, we’re expecting the same experience.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The OnePlus 5 is $480 for the gray version, which has 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. It will work just fine on AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM networks in the United States, but not on Verizon or Sprint. If you want the black version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, then you’ll have to pay $540. You’ll have to buy directly from OnePlus and pay the full amount.

The OnePlus 3T, which works on the same carriers as the OnePlus 5, is a good deal cheaper. It’s $440 for the 64GB variant and $479 for the 128GB model, but it’s no longer listed on OnePlus’ official site. If you want one, you’ll have to look at other sellers.

OnePlus 5 OnePlus 3T
AT&T $480 $440
Sprint N/A N/A
T-Mobile $480 $440
Verizon N/A N/A

Winner: OnePlus 3T

Overall winner: OnePlus 5

OnePlus has done it again — the OnePlus 5 is just a great a value for your money as the OnePlus 3T. It packs a superior processor, a massive amount of RAM, dual cameras, and a bevy of other hardware improvements that put the comparably-priced competition to shame. It might not boast the water resistance and screen resolution as other flagships, but in terms of sheer bang-for-your-buck value, the OnePlus 5 is a worthy successor to the OnePlus 3T — and an improvement in every way.

Got a OnePlus 3T? There’s no reason to upgrade other than lusting for the latest and greatest.

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