OnePlus yesterday launched the OnePlus 3T, an incremental update to their popular OnePlus 3 smartphone. This phone sports the newer Snapdragon 821 Processor, a higher resolution 16MP Front facing shooter, A larger Battery @3400mAh and a new Gun Metal Graphite finish. The OIS in the rear camera has also been replaced by a new Gyro enabled EIS, kinda like what we found on the Google Pixel Phones but the underlying camera sensor hasn’t changed. The camera glass has also been changed to sapphire crystal. Even with a larger capacity battery the OnePlus 3 and the Oneplus 3T have the same dimensions, right down to the 158g weight of the phone. The battery uses different materials and has a higher voltage of 4.4v compared to the 4.35v on the OnePlus 3. All this for 40$ more. Its great, but what about the OnePlus 3?
So, Why is this release strange?
Well the company claims that official sale of the OnePlus 3 will be stopped and The OnePlus 3T will be the way forward for the company. Support for the device will continue but the device wont be available anymore and that’s the odd part about all this. Why would OnePlus completely Ditch The 3? its a 6 month old phone, that has been selling really well and with no issues or controversies surrounding it, like exploding units for example. I can understand a 2 Flagship a year cycle but no company ever ditches one in favor of the other. Samsung has the Galaxy S series along with the Note series, LG has their G line and their V lineup of flagship phones, companies like Xiaomi have multiple variants of the same phone, but not one of these companies, i repeat, none of them ditch their other models in such a small period. No company, for no reason just halts production of a device without any well grounded reason. Well lets just take a look into what the OnePlus 3T means for OnePlus because there is more than meets the eye here.
What the OnePlus 3T stands for:
Seeing that the OnePlus 3T costs just 40$ more, its likely that people wont be buying the OnePlus 3. Also if the 3T is priced close to 500$, it could hurt sales of the 3T and make the OnePlus 3 the more economical option for many. This could be a reason why they are stopping production of OnePlus 3’s. You must be thinking, Why not skip the OnePlus 3T, never make it and just go with the OnePlus 4 next year, Right?? well the answer to that is, OnePlus has had a hard time sourcing the required materials to make the OnePlus 3. There has been shortage of Processors, Screens, camera modules and a lot of other things. To tackle this they have to make a device with components more commonly available. You might think that “would a manufacturer really have a hard time sourcing materials?”. Well Oneplus came out of their invite system this year and made the phone openly available. Demand for the device has been increasing and OnePlus cannot handle it all. The invite system even with its flaws, let OnePlus control demand. So now taking a look at the parts they have used, we can make a more careful analysis. The newer Snapdragon 821 Processor they are using is not that different from The 820 in terms of how it performs and also how it needs to be worked with development wise. Developing for the 821 isn’t that much of a hard task for the OnePlus team, Both the OnePlus 3 and 3T will be running close to the same thing software wise.
This was seen with the Snapdragon 800 and 801. The Xiaomi Mi3 ran the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, While the Mi4 ran the 801, both of these devices have pretty much the same firmware source even with all the hardware changes, so much so that both these phones firmwares were interchangable. Roms developed for the Mi3 could run almost perfectly on the Mi4 and this is to this day, the same. Qualcomm too wants to push the newer 821 more, because it costs the same as the 820 to make. when you can push the newer better one at the same price. Its easier to just make a small amount of 820’s for phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7, which is far too much into its release period to be changed. Also Samsung can pay for it, OnePlus can’t. So OnePlus, can now get the better 821 Processor, but changing only that component and calling it a new phone will be a fools game. The same lack of availability with components is felt with the camera too. The Sony IMX 298 sensor is used in the Rear Camera of the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T. The Older phone came with OIS but the newer one comes with EIS, but optically both are the same but ditching OIS for EIS is a hardware change, a slight one but a change nonetheless. The newer EIS enabled sensor is being used more by the industry, with the same IMX 298 sensor with EIS being used in the Zenfone 3 which also has the same Sapphire glass covering as the 3T. So OnePlus would have had to change some other components to make the OnePlus 3T more appealing to consumers so why not go with the updated sensor and save some money as well, right?. So in short, OnePlus was in a way forced to make the OnePlus 3T due to unavailability of parts but at the same time, they could not just switch parts with no one noticing. When you are making great phones that are affordable like OnePlus, you don’t always have the luxury of placing specialized orders for materials. Every dollar counts with the low profits margins that these companies take.