The Philosophy Behind the OP3T: Why OnePlus Released this Device, and What it Means for The Future of Your OnePlus 3

The Philosophy Behind the OP3T: Why OnePlus Released this Device, and What it Means for The Future of Your OnePlus 3

It is no secret that the OnePlus 3T is a controversial launch: coming only 134 days after the OnePlus 3’s announcement, this update to its short-lived predecessor brings a bunch of impressive improvements for an extra 40 to 80 dollars.

After reading discussions on OnePlus communities including our own at XDA, the official forums, and the OnePlus subreddit over the past week, it’s clear that many people are unhappy with OnePlus’ decision to release a new device so early into the OnePlus 3’s lifespan. Most importantly, the OnePlus 3 is no more as the phone has reached the end of its life in terms of official availability (this also means no more Graphite color option). From now on, the OnePlus 3T will be the company’s flagship moving forward. While this might sound like a radical move for the company, OnePlus 3 owners do not need to be worried. I’ve spoken at length with a OnePlus representative who gave me a few important answers to the community’s most pressing questions, beginning with the fact that software support for the OnePlus 3 will continue alongside the OnePlus 3T. In fact, OnePlus sees both devices as “two versions of the same phone”, with one of the two being slightly more updated.

OnePlus says it is “not forgetting anybody”, and OxygenOS will be on the same schedule and treated with near-identical priority.


The software will not be synchronized at launch, and it might take a few weeks for both devices to be running the exact same version of Oxygen OS. After that, however, both will receive updates together for the duration of their respective lives (which should be the same).

According to OnePlus, the 3T was devised after the launch of the OnePlus 3, and it was a decision made in part because of the intricacies of the company’s business model of limited supply and also because they had continuously worked on advancing the hardware, and they felt that they could implement these improvements into a new device and optimize their line-up. OnePlus cannot handle the production of multiple SKUs at the same time, though, in great part because of the difficulty with maintaining the different orders (like the different processors) across two sets of demand, but also because of the multitude of shared components, some of which are rarer than others. Readers might recall, for example, that the OnePlus 3 has been either out of stock or on backorder for the past couple of months, and delivery itself has been very slow as of late. OnePlus claims, however, that the development of the OnePlus 3T was not the reason for these annoyances and that there were two production streams. Rather, they say it had to do with the device reaching its end-of-life but only for the past couple of weeks.

Many of the components are the exact same, though, and thus the experience is extremely similar across on both devices. The rear camera, for example, is not only identical in terms of hardware but also the resulting experience is the same as well (no differences in image processing algorithms), except for the inclusion of updated EIS for video — the pictures will be the same on the back camera, so the main shooter on your OnePlus 3 is not any worse than that of the OnePlus 3T and both will be running the same optimizations. Other changes like the increase in battery capacity from 3,000mAh to 3,400mAh are clear advantages, and it’s understandable why OnePlus 3 owners might be upset at the fact that their device has a smaller battery when the dimensions and weight are kept equal. OnePlus has stated that a slim profile for a slick design was one of their priorities when building the OnePlus 3, and that was one of the reasons why the battery didn’t go past 3,000mAh. However, the OnePlus 3T’s battery is not physically bigger, rather it went through a safe voltage change from 4.35 volts to 4.4 volts (which explains the 13% increase in mAh, clever huh?).

Going back to software, the OnePlus 3T is indeed launching with Marshmallow and will likely be getting Nougat before the year is up. OnePlus also confirmed to us that the Nougat Community Build for the OnePlus 3 will be coming in a few weeks — this likely means OnePlus 3 owners will experience OxygenOS Nougat before anyone receives their OnePlus 3T. It also must be noted that the version of OxygenOS that the OnePlus 3T is running is similar to the community builds in terms of user interface and design — that means it is not as close to Stock Android as the main firmware branch currently available for the OnePlus 3. Yes, this essentially means that OnePlus 3 users have been “beta-testing” the firmware that the OnePlus 3T is launching with — but do keep in mind that this is the firmware that both devices will be running synchronously moving forward. There is no Daydream support for the OnePlus 3T either, as the company is weighing its options when it comes to figuring out which VR standard they should be aiming for, and they are waiting to see how that market develops on Android.

…the OnePlus 3T will receive the same developer-friendly treatment as the original OnePlus 3 including timely source releases and no loss of warranty upon rooting/flashing ROMs

Finally, OnePlus told us this is not indicative of a new line-up and that users should not infer that there will be two separate SKUs (one being superior) in 2017 and beyond — they claim that the OnePlus 3T is a situational phenomenon, given it made sense for them to release the phone at this time due to their technological optimizations and the complicated relationship between supply, demand and component availability. Do note that the OnePlus 3T will receive the same developer-friendly treatment as the original OnePlus 3, including timely source releases and no loss of warranty upon rooting/flashing ROMs.

What the Future Entails

OnePlus was kind enough to answer some of the questions that the community would most likely have asked, about topics that are sensitive given this product is being released not too long after their flagship. We have concerns regarding the possible fracture this will create within the OnePlus 3 enthusiast community at XDA — which, by the way, is one of the fastest-growing the site has seen. The OnePlus 3 has been an extremely dev-friendly device, and a new version does mean split development due to the slight hardware differences, namely the processors. XDA administrators will keep a close eye and help where needed, and we might end up merging the forums as a result.

The OnePlus 3T is an excellent phone with very good value, but so was the OnePlus 3. If you enjoy the OnePlus 3 you own, this new release doesn’t make your device any worse. However, we also understand the concerns and frustration that many loyal OnePlus fans and recent OnePlus 3 buyers likely have with this release. XDA won’t pick sides here, and many of our staff members are also frustrated at the fact that they would need to buy a new device to stay on OnePlus’ bleeding edge, and we don’t want to see a fissure in this booming dev scene. While we don’t necessarily condone the move, we can’t say it was completely unexpected from a company that has made it its goal to continuously improve in 2016, and whose motto is Never Settle. That it did, as the OnePlus 3T looks to be one of the best smartphones of 2016… as much as that might hurt.

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About author

Mario Tomás Serrafero
Mario Tomás Serrafero

Mario developed his love for technology in Argentina, where a flagship smartphone costs a few months of salary. Forced to maximize whatever device he could get, he came to know and love XDA. Quantifying smartphone metrics and creating benchmarks are his favorite hobbies. Mario holds a Bachelor's in Mathematics and currently spends most of his time classifying cat and dog pictures as a Data Science graduate student.