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article imageOnePlus launches a new version of its six-month-old flagship

By James Walker     Nov 16, 2016 in Technology
OnePlus has announced the replacement for its popular OnePlus 3 flagship just six months after launching the phone. The OnePlus 3T comes with more powerful internals, a larger battery and a higher price tag, using the same design as the outgoing version.
OnePlus announced the 3T today after being widely rumoured earlier in the month. On the surface, nothing has changed. It's still a minimal, attractive smartphone with a sizeable camera hump on the back and a fingerprint sensor on the front. The only design tweak OnePlus has made is the addition of a new colour option. The phone now comes in Graphite, Soft Gold and Gunmetal Gray.
It's under the 5.5-inch display that OnePlus has been focusing its attention over the past few months. The old Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor has been replaced with the company's flagship 821 chip, delivering a boost to CPU clock speed and graphics performance.
The 820 was a powerful chip itself, replaced by the 821 earlier this year, so users won't notice a difference in general use. The additional power of the new processor will primarily benefit intensive workloads such as virtual reality gaming.
OnePlus 3T
OnePlus 3T
The 3T retains its predecessor's 16MP rear camera. The sensor on the front has received a significant upgrade though. In the place of the 8MP camera is a new 16MP one, doubling the megapixels for sharper selfies. OnePlus has also tweaked its video stabilisation algorithms for smoother footage, delivering an improved overall camera experience.
The rest of the device is identical to the original OnePlus 3. There's the same 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED panel on the front, USB Type-C port on the bottom and OnePlus Dash Charge technology that provides a full day's power after half an hour connected to the wall. The battery itself has gotten bigger though, increasing from 3,000mAh to 3,400mAh for greater durability.
While the improvements will be welcome for new buyers, OnePlus is breaking from tradition by launching a mildly upgraded flagship just a few months after the last one. The company has defended the move, pointing out that its rivals launch waves of new phones every year. The 3T is OnePlus' fifth since the company launched its debut OnePlus One in 2014.
"We've seen some comments online but I feel that releasing two products in a year is significantly less than the vast majority of other smartphone brands on the market," OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei said to VentureBeat. "I still think it's fair — one refresh a year, and one new device a year. We wanted to try it [this way] this year, because we had some updates we wanted to make."
OnePlus 3T
OnePlus 3T
In OnePlus' view, the updates offer significant improvements to the overall OnePlus experience. Pei said the company has been delivering regular software updates "but you can only take software updates so far." It's now reached the point of being ready to launch a hardware revision. With the holiday season just starting and demand for the OnePlus 3 still high, the company didn't want to wait to get Qualcomm's fastest processor yet into its line-up.
Even so, some existing OnePlus 3 owners are likely to be disheartened by the 3T's arrival. It also raises questions for prospective purchasers of next year's inevitable OnePlus 4. Buyers could be put off the handset if it's likely a faster version will appear a few months afterwards. While Pei seems confident the strategy will pay off, it could end up confusing consumers with two physically identical devices to pick from every year.
The OnePlus 3T goes on sale on November 22 in the U.S. and November 28 in Europe. The 64GB version will be priced at $439, €439 and £399. There will also be a 128GB edition for the first time in OnePlus' history. It will cost $479, €479 and £439 in the U.S., mainland Europe and the U.K. respectively. The phone will come to China, Hong Kong and India in the future but timing has not been announced.
More about oneplus, oneplus 3, oneplus 3t, Smartphones, Android
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