If you have a OnePlus 3 or a OnePlus 3T, you must be already aware that there is an update out for these two phones. OnePlus has announced the Nougat update, aka Android 7 update for the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T several days ago. The update installs the Android 7 on these two phones, bringing them closer to the features that you will find in Google’s own Pixel phones. OnePlus has said that the update is rolling out in waves. This means some people, some regions, have got it. Some are still waiting for it, but it should reach all OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T users in a week or two.
So how is the Android Nougat on the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T? Mighty swell, we say after trying it out on the OnePlus 3T. It is not stock Android, but it is quite close. The Nougat update for the OnePlus phones come in the form of OxygenOS 4. The OxygenOS, as OnePlus users know, is a custom software built on top of Android. Earlier versions were using Android Marshmallow as the base. But the latest one uses Nougat.
The great bit about the OnePlus 3T and Nougat on it is that this makes the phone look somewhat like the Nexus that Google didn’t launch in 2016
As noted earlier, the OxygenOS 4 is not the stock Android. But the great bit about the OxygenOS right now is that it is very clean and slick looking. It is not like the custom software and interface that companies like Lenovo and Xiaomi are putting in their phones. It retains the core element and user interface that Google provides with Android on phones like the Google Pixel, Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X. No wonder, the OxygenOS 4 with Android Nougat is as slick and clean as the Android Nougat in the Google Pixel. It has the similar notification shade, similar app drawer, tastefully-designed icons and no bloatware. But at the same time, the experience has been augmented with a few extra features. One example of such feature is the screen calibration, which allows users to set up the default colour space and change the colour temperature of the screen. Some may like it cold, some other may find the warmer colours soothing to their eyes.
Given how close is the OxygenOS 4 to the Android Nougat, you can even switch to the default Google launcher on the phone and get some of the functionality that was earlier reserved for only Nexus phones. One of the biggest allures of a Nexus phone is the Google Now, which sits on left of the home screen. In the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T, you don’t get this by default. Instead, you get a feature called “Shelf” in place of the Google Now. But switch to the default Google Launcher — it is available in the Play Store — and you can replace Shelf with Google Launcher and enable “Ok Google” command.
The great bit about the OnePlus 3T and Nougat on it is that the update makes the phone look somewhat like the Nexus that Google didn’t launch in 2016. Once you have installed the Google Launcher on it, the combination of click animations, clean software, tasteful design and powerful hardware inside the phone, makes it a formidable phone. It becomes a device that look like the spiritual successor to the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P, only so much better in many ways.
In 2016, Google killed the Nexus line and instead came out with the Pixel phones. Surely the Pixels — the Pixel and the Pixel XL — are fantastic phones. But unlike the Nexus phones, which were always great value for money, the Pixels are expensive phones. Like the iPhone expensive. I did call the OnePlus 3 a Nexus replacement a few months ago, largely because of its clean software, good hardware and formidable price. But with the Nougat on the OnePlus 3T, it becomes even clearer.
If Google had launched a proper Nexus phone in 2016, it must have looked very much like the OnePlus 3T. It fact, it might have been inferior in some areas, particularly in design where Google is yet to prove its mettle. As Pixel phones in 2016 showed, Google is still finding it a bit hard to move to a design that is unique and classy at the same time. The Pixel phones look very average. On the other hand, the OnePlus 3T looks extremely slick with its metal body and clean straight lines. The workmanship too is top notch with the OnePlus 3T.
As Pixel phones in 2016 showed, Google is still finding it a bit hard to move to a design that is unique and classy at the same time. The Pixel phones look very average. On the other hand, the OnePlus 3T looks extremely slick with its metal body and clean straight lines
The hardware, meanwhile, would have been very similar. The OnePlus 3T uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, has 6GB RAM, 64Gb storage, 16-megapixel cameras on both the back and front, a 5.5-inch screen and other bells and whistles. Although my suspicion is that camera would have been better in the Nexus — in the nexus 6P it already is — but the amount of RAM and storage would have been lower.
All of this makes me believe, especially after the Nougat update on OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T, that these are the spiritual successors to the Google Nexus phones. Their hardware is perfect and although they don’t have the stock Android, for all practical purposes the OxygenOS 4 is as good and slick as the regular Android 7 aka Nougat. At the same time, the price is great, just like what the Nexus phones once had. At a price of Rs 29,999, I can’t recommend the OnePlus 3T with Nougat update hard enough. It is a phone that is as good as any other, if not better. And that includes the Nexus and Pixel phones.