OnePlus 3 vs. Nexus 6P

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It's a stock (or near stock) Android lover's dream fight: OnePlus 3 (left) vs. Nexus 6P

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If you like stock (or mostly stock) Android combined with high-end specs and great value, OnePlus phones are competing with Google's Nexus line as the cream of the crop. Comparing a 2015 phone like the Nexus 6P to a 2016 one like the OnePlus 3 is never a completely fair fight, but in case you're eyeing the two (before the next Nexuses are released later this year), let's see how the two phones' features and specs compare.

Size

The Nexus 6P is the bigger phone: it's 3 percent taller and 4 percent wider than the OnePlus 3.

Weight

The smaller OnePlus 3 comes out 11 percent lighter than the Nexus.

Build

Apple started a trend that started the whole world copying: after the iPhone 6 and 6s, nearly every high-end flagship now employs an aluminum unibody design (the OnePlus 3 looks like the love child of the iPhone 6s and HTC 10).

At least the Nexus 6P deviates a bit from the copycat game, with its back-facing fingerprint sensor and horizontal glass bar that houses the rear camera and other sensors.

Colors

In an unusual move for a modern flagship, the OnePlus 3 is only sold in one (dark gray, or "graphite") color option.

Display size

Both phones have pretty large displays, but the Nexus 6P's is 7 percent bigger.

Display resolution

The OnePlus 3 is jam-packed with high-end specs, but this is one area where the company skimped. For a couple years now, the best high-end Android flagships have had QHD screens, like the Nexus 6P's, but the OnePlus 3 is stuck in (still sharp, but not insanely sharp) 1080p.

Display type

Both handsets have AMOLED panels.

Always-on display

The OnePlus 3 has an option for an always-on display (its version is called "ambient display"), similar to the Galaxy S7.

Navigation buttons

One of the most unique things about OnePlus' flagships is that they give you capacitive keys below the screen (back, recent apps and the fingerprint sensor/home button), but you also have the option of using virtual/onscreen equivalents. The Nexus only has the latter.

Fingerprint sensor

The OnePlus 3's is on its front and the Nexus' is on its back, but both phones have fingerprint sensors.

Processor

This may be the biggest area where the OnePlus 3 has a leg up, as it uses Qualcomm's early 2016 beast, the Snapdragon 820. The Nexus runs Qualcomm's late 2015 chip, which isn't quite as fast.

RAM

Most 2016 Android flagships have stuck with 4 GB of RAM, but OnePlus decided to forge new ground with an absurd 6 GB RAM, doubling the Nexus 6P's total.

Storage

OnePlus went with just one storage tier, but with a plentiful 64 GB, there's little to complain about there.

Keep this in mind when we compare pricing, as the 64 GB Nexus costs an extra $50 over the base model.

MicroSD

MicroSD card slots have seen a resurgence of late, with Samsung, HTC and LG all throwing them into their 2016 flagships. But no such luck with either of these phones.

Battery

The Nexus 6P has the bigger battery, but real-world battery tests and benchmarks are the best ways to measure this. Stay tuned.

Fast charging

Both phones use fast charging tech: OnePlus' own "Dash Charge" in the 3, and Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 in the Nexus. OnePlus' tech should make it juice up a little faster than the 6P, but the differences are relatively minor (and both charge much faster than iPhones).

Wireless charging

Neither of these handsets has wireless charging built-in.

Charging/data port

Both phones use the reversible USB Type C standard.

Camera megapixels

The Nexus 6P has a good camera, but it wasn't the best on market even when it launched – much less nine months later. We'll have impressions of the OnePlus 3's camera soon.

Camera aperture (rear)

Both have ƒ/2.0 aperture – that isn't particularly wide for a 2016 flagship like the OnePlus 3, suggesting its low-lit photography may struggle to match the excellent Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 (though other factors can affect those results too).

Water resistance

Unlike Samsung's 2016 flagships, neither of these phones are water resistant.

Software

Both run Android Marshmallow today, but the Nexus 6P should get the update to Android Nougat on Day One. The OnePlus, with its "Oxygen OS" customizations, will likely take a little longer to roll that (and other future updates) out.

Release

The OnePlus has clear advantages in processor, RAM and storage, but it's also standing on the shoulders of nine extra months of forward progress. A fairer fight would be vs. Google's 2016 Nexus phone(s), which we probably won't hear about for at least another couple of months.

Starting price (full retail)

If you're okay with its lower-res display, the OnePlus 3 looks like one hell of a bargain: premium build, cutting-edge processor and RAM, and plenty of storage for just US$399. And the company even ditched its annoying invite system from its first two flagships: you can order it now and get it in your hands after a few business days.

The Nexus 6P still holds up well today – and it too is priced lower than similarly-specced rivals – but this isn't a great time to buy it, at least not at full price. Expect a new model around October.

For more on these two, you can peruse our full reviews of the OnePlus 3 and Nexus 6P.

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