OnePlus 3T vs Samsung Galaxy S7
Is the boosted OnePlus still the better option here?
The OnePlus 3 is no longer the company’s latest and greatest phone, even if it is still pretty new and extremely awesome.
Due out next week, the OnePlus 3T offers a small advancement over the original version, packing in a little more power, a slightly larger battery, some camera tweaks, and a new colour option. All told, they’re minor changes, but the old comparisons may not hold true anymore.
For example, we have the OnePlus 3 atop our listing of the best smartphones in the world, but a big part of that powerful ranking has to do with value – whereas our #2 phone, the Samsung Galaxy S7, tops it in certain respects but costs a lot more. Now that the OnePlus 3T is coming with a higher price tag, will it also be a better overall pick than the Galaxy S7?
Let’s take a look at the spec-based showdown, shall we?
Design: Same showing
When we pit the original OnePlus 3 against the Galaxy S7, we determined the design battle to be a draw. Some of us in the office prefer the less distinctive, yet smooth and attractive metal backing of the OnePlus 3, while others like the beautiful, yet smudge-friendly glass rear of the Galaxy S7. Both are great.
And really, there’s no change here: the OnePlus 3T has the exact same design as the OnePlus 3, ableit now with a darker Gunmetal grey option to supplement the Soft Gold choice. This one’s purely up to preference, and collectively, we can’t come to enough of a consensus to advise you towards one direction or the other. Go with your gut.
Also Read › OnePlus 3T vs OnePlus 3: Should you upgrade?
Screen: Galaxy of pixels
Perhaps the most obvious way in which the Galaxy S7 asserts itself as the more premium handset in this matchup is with its screen. The 5.1in Quad HD OLED screen packs in a heap of pixels within its 2560 x 1440 (557 pixels per inch) panel, and it looks absolutely stunning. It’s just spectacular, really.
By comparison, the slightly larger 5.5in 1080p OLED screen of the OnePlus 3T takes a small hit in clarity, with a 1920 x 1080 (401 pixels per inch) display. At that size, the difference isn’t massive, but it’s enough to say plainly that the Galaxy S7 has the better screen. You’ll pay more for that benefit, however.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7
Camera: Serious shootout?
Between the release of the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and the Google Pixel, the battle for the best smartphone camera today has become a lot more complicated of late. But at least we know this: when it comes to the Galaxy S7 and original OnePlus 3, Samsung has the better shooter by a smidge.
The Galaxy S7 has a remarkable phone camera, with the 12-megapixel sensor delivering brilliant contrast and depth, with a lot of options for hardcore photographers to tweak. We found the OnePlus 3’s photos to look a little overly processed by comparison, yet thought the 16-megapixel camera was totally nice for a £300-ish handset.
At £400, the OnePlus 3T’s camera really is about the same. OnePlus has added a couple small perks, such as improved electronic image stabilisation and sapphire glass on the back camera, and doubled the front-facing camera to 16 megapixels as well.
All told, the experience is about the same, and the differences here are slight. Is the Galaxy S7’s camera so much better that we’d pay a couple hundred extra quid for it alone? Probably not. But we’ve been just a bit more wowed by Samsung’s camera overall.
And you’ve backed up that opinion, dear readers: with thousands of votes tallied, you picked the Galaxy S7 as the #1 smartphone camera this summer, while the OnePlus 3 ranked #2. But with mere points separating the two in the rankings, it really isn’t a massive difference. And again, that’s essentially the same back camera at the OnePlus 3T now.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7
Performance: No losers here
The OnePlus 3 and Galaxy S7 were already pretty even on performance. You’ll find a Snapdragon 820 in the OnePlus 3, along with a startling 6GB RAM, while the Galaxy S7 rocks an Exynos 8890 around these parts and 4GB RAM.
However, the Galaxy S7 uses a Snapdragon 820 in some other territories, and all told, the differences aren’t really noticeable. Both phones are ultra-fast and can handle nearly any task thrown their way.
With the OnePlus 3T, the company has embraced Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 821 chip, which was just seen in Google’s Pixel. The 821 delivers about 10% faster performance than its predecessor (confirmed by benchmark testing), plus the RAM is a bit speedier – but on a phone that’s already ultra-fast, you shouldn’t see any significant differences in day-to-day usage between the OnePlus 3T and the Galaxy S7.
Perks: The S7 satisfies
The OnePlus 3T bumps its battery pack up to 3,400mAh (from 3,000mAh), while the Galaxy S7 sits right at 3,000mAh. We saw a bit more battery life in the Galaxy S7 than the original OnePlus 3, and we figured they’d be about even this time around, but we’ve seen some inconsistencies with the OnePlus 3T battery life so far.
As our review explains, the battery seems to drain faster than in the OnePlus 3, which frankly doesn’t make any sense at all. With both video playback and a session of Real Racing 3, the OnePlus 3T lost more of its battery charge than the standard OnePlus 3. Hopefully this is something sorted by an update in the near future, because otherwise that’s a definite downer.
Beyond battery, the Galaxy S7 has big, big benefits like microSD support, waterproofing, and VR action via the Gear VR headset. You’ll get more starting storage on the OnePlus 3T, with 64GB (vs. 32GB on the S7), but then you can’t expand from there once you own it. Here’s just another example of how the extra money spent on the Galaxy S7 brings some seriously worthwhile benefits.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S7
Also Read › OnePlus 3T review
Verdict: Tougher call
This comparison isn’t dramatically different from our OnePlus 3 vs Galaxy S7 showdown from the summer, but our verdict has been muddled a bit. It’s true: the Galaxy S7 has more premium perks, but that’s what you’re paying for.
Meanwhile, the OnePlus 3 hits pretty much all of the baseline stats needed for a flagship phone, but does it at a much lower price. The OnePlus 3 started at £309 in the UK but then was bumped to £329 (thanks, Brexit), while the Galaxy S7’s original price tag was a sharp £570.
Now, the OnePlus 3T sells for £399 with 64GB storage, while you can find the Galaxy S7 with 32GB for about £460-470 on Amazon as of this writing. That’s still a difference, but it’s a much, much smaller one.
With less distance between price points, it’s not as obvious of a slam dunk for the OnePlus this time around – but it still gets the edge here for the average buyer. You’re getting a brilliant flagship phone for just £400, although if you can still pick up the now-discontinued OnePlus 3 instead, we’d still give that the stronger recommendation.
The Galaxy S7 has some big perks worth spending the extra cash for, including that higher-res screen, the microSD support, water resistance, and Gear VR fun, but these are premium niceties. Worth the extra £60-70? Sure. Essential? Nah.
Winner: OnePlus 3T