Our OnePlus 3 VR launch was a disaster: here’s why

Thomas Wellburn
June 14, 2016

So the OnePlus 3 virtual reality launch has been and gone, but was it all that it was cracked up?

Well actually, no. In our office at least, it was a bit of a disaster. We had our Samsung Gear VR ready to go, only to realise that the app doesn’t seem to play nicely with the proprietary Oculus software. After a few attempts and no avail, we resorted to using our newly acquired Alcatel Idol 4s… which had no battery. In a last ditch attempt to see the experience, we sellotaped the Samsung Galaxy S7 into the Alcatel headset, thereby overriding the Oculus software. This was the only way to do it and, after several occasions where the handset fell out and smashed into the floor, we managed to watch the presentation.

I’d by lying if I said it was an enjoyable experience because it felt like unnecessary tedium. A giant hologram of Carl Pei welcoming you into his space lair followed by a trail of breadcrumbs which gradually unlock more information about a device that’s already leaked. That is the overall synopsis of what transpired. The virtual world was impressive at times, I will admit, but the overall experience was far too much like a marketing pitch and not enough about the VR experience itself. By the time I had found all the necessary tokens needed to purchase the device within the virtual store, my interest had already dissipated to the point where I only wanted to take the thing off.

OnePlus 3: What’s inside oneplus 3 02

So with that aside, we get to the handset itself. As previous rumours have already stated, it’s a beast to behold. At £309 or $300, it’s only a slight bit more expensive than the Oneplus 2, yet manages to cram in much more power considering the cost. For the design we have a aluminium unibody finish and curved edges, which makes last years model look pretty dated by comparison.

The display is 1080p and 5.5 inches with AMOLED technology, meaning bright saturated colours and good power efficiency. It probably won’t be good enough for virtual reality as the pixel density is too low, but for your average user, they likely won’t care too much. Under the hood is a Snapdragon 820 accompanied by a huge 6GB RAM, dwarfing competitors like the LG G5 and HTC 10. Quite how this performs in real life scenarios remains to be seen, as we know that RAM isn’t everything. The type of RAM they use is often just as important as the amount. A large 3,000mAh battery and USB-C connectivity finishes things off, putting it up to standard with pretty much every other flagship out there.

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One big area where the OnePlus 3 has improved is in the camera, with a 16 megapixel Sony sensor that has f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilisation, plus 4K video recording. This year, the camera is lightning fast to focus, even though it doesn’t include laser auto-focusing like the competition.

Software on the OnePlus 3 is also a welcome change, as it now ships with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box that’s very close to stock. This means little bloatware and a refreshingly fast experience.

We’ll be doing a thorough piece on the handset tomorrow when we attend the pop-up event in London, so stay tuned for that. For now, our first impressions are very good. Just please don’t do another VR launch in the near future.

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