A lot of Windows phone users these days are switching to Android or iOS. Although that's unfortunate, we understand why it is happening and want to help. We're often bombarded with questions, such as "Which Android should I get?" Let's be honest, the world of Android is far more complicated and vast than the small circle of devices that Windows 10 Mobile currently offers.
In my previous article detailing my experience with Android as a Microsoft user, I decided to do an experiment using the OnePlus 3T. I made that decision after doing research on best Android smartphones, but I wasn't entirely interested in raw specs or the build quality. I was looking for an Android that's best for newcomers to the platform.
And that's where the OnePlus 3T comes in. I've been using the OnePlus 3T as my main device for around a month, and I'm yet to regret my decision. I could've picked the LG G6, or waited for the Samsung Galaxy S8. But I didn't. I grabbed the OnePlus 3T, and I honestly do think it's the best choice for Windows phone users looking to make the switch to Android.
Android is Android. It's Android on Google's Pixel, and it's Android on the Samsung Galaxy S8. It's also Android on the OnePlus 3T, but each hardware maker does something different that changes things. Some hardware makers clog their phones with unnecessary skins and services. Others implement useful tweaks. And some leave Android alone to be Android.
As someone coming from a Windows phone, it was important to me that my experience with the software was the best it possibly could be. So for me, the Galaxy S8 is not an option because Samsung often likes to cake Android in its own skins, added features and services, which ultimately slow down the handset. The LG G6 is less guilty of this, but HTC, Xaiomi and more all do the same.
The Pixel is probably the best choice in regards to smooth and responsive Android, but there's a problem: The Pixel is a Google phone, and at Windows Central, most of us are not Google users. We're all in on Microsoft's ecosystem. So buying a phone designed specifically for Google users probably isn't that great of an idea. So what other Android could we use here?
Enter the OnePlus 3T. OnePlus doesn't add unnecessary fluff on top of Android. The experience is almost "stock" Android, with a few additions and necessary tweaks that make using the OnePlus 3T better. For example, there's a dark mode on the OnePlus 3T, something that's omitted from the Pixel and Galaxy S8.
The OnePlus 3T shipping with mostly-stock Android is significant. There's only the "normal" amount of Google bundleware out of the box, and most of it can be disabled pretty easily. So it's an Android that isn't designed entirely for the Google ecosystem, that's mainly stock Android which means it's super fast and fluid.
That also means when you ultimately decide to install Microsoft's own Android launcher, it won't task the CPU as much as it would on other Androids, and overall user-experience is much more positive in the long run. I haven't experienced any lag on the OnePlus 3T. The same cannot be said with my experiences with the Galaxy S7 and other Androids.
The fingerprint reader in the home button on the front of the device is also incredibly quick. It's just as fast as my iPhone 7's fingerprint reader and definitely faster than the Lumia 950's iris recognition or the HP Elite x3's fingerprint scanner.
Of course, users coming from Windows phone finally have the chance to choose a smartphone that's well-built. The OnePlus 3T is an excellent device that's well-crafted and reminds me a lot of Surface. It's made of aluminum that feels superb in the hand. Lumia 950 users will really enjoy this build quality.
The OnePlus 3T comes in three colors: gunmetal, soft gold, and for a limited time, midnight black, which is what I opted for. The phone is incredibly well-built and isn't too crazy for a newcomer switching from Windows phone. It also uses dedicated hardware keys for back, home and the multitasker. The only criticism I have is that it's rather slippery, so you might want a case.
I know many Windows phone users prefer on-screen keys. Don't worry, the OnePlus 3T has you covered. As mentioned above, OnePlus has made several small but necessary tweaks to Android, and one of them is the option to enable the on-screen navigation buttons in favor of the hardware keys. (I still prefer using the hardware keys.)
When it comes to specifications, the OnePlus is pretty well-equipped. It's rocking a Snapdragon 821, which I know isn't the latest from Snapdragon, but it does the job well. It has 6GB of RAM, which is more than most other Android flagship devices on the market. Devices like the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 are rocking 4GB of RAM, which is also reasonable.
But with 6GB of RAM, you can have more apps open in multitasking at any given time, and the OS is less prone to slowing down and lagging when doing multiple things at once. In my tests, it's clear that the OnePlus 3T can hold more apps in multitasking than the LG G6, with the G6 needing to reload specific apps when switching.
You also get either 64GB or 128GB storage options. There's no microSD expansion support, unfortunately, which may be a deal-breaker for some. There is dual-SIM however, another must-have for a lot of Windows phone users. Oh, and there's also a headphone jack.
The screen is gorgeous. It's a 1080p OLED panel, so it's not the highest quality. But, honestly, at 5.5 inches, 1080p is absolutely fine. The OLED panel is incredibly bright, and the colors simply pop. There's also a sort of glance screen that you can enable, which displays the time and notifications on a black background when you wave your hand over the ambient sensor.
The camera is an important factor for many Windows phone users, especially those on Lumias. The OnePlus 3T camera is superb. It's incredibly fast to launch. I'm not much of a camera expert, but I've not been disappointed by the OnePlus 3T's 8MP front-facing or 16MP rear-facing shooters. (For more information on the cameras, I'd refer you to the Android Central review.)
There is a USB-C charging port at the bottom of the device, but this isn't any old USB-C charging system. The OnePlus 3T utilizes something called "Dash Charge," which has the tagline "A days power in half an hour." They aren't kidding; the OnePlus 3T charges abnormally quickly.
No Windows phone on the planet charges as fast as the OnePlus 3T. In fact, I'd argue that no other commercially-available phone charges as fast as the OnePlus 3T. The 3T is rocking a 3500mAh battery, which gets you through a work day easily. In my daily use case, I can get through a day and a half, sometimes even two, before needing to charge.
A lot of the time, people looking to switch from Windows phone don't have the money to be able to afford a good, high-end smartphone. This usually means they end up getting a cheap, low-end handset with terrible performance.
Considering the OnePlus 3T is rocking a Snapdragon 821, 6GB of RAM, 64GB Storage, dual SIM, a 1080p OLED display and the fastest charging in the world, I'm sure you're thinking this device is super expensive. But it's not. OnePlus is known for building incredibly high-end flagships for a low cost, and the 3T starts at just $439.
For $439, you can get yourself the 64GB OnePlus 3T, which comes with all the same goodies that the 128GB variant comes with. The 128GB model is only $479, so it's not much of a jump in price.
Now, $439 isn't the cheapest you can go for a smartphone, but for what you get in the box you can't exactly say you're not getting your money's worth.
Final thoughts on the OnePlus 3T
Based on the fact that the OnePlus 3T ships with almost stock Android, with some additional, useful tweaks such as dark mode, great build quality, incredible specifications, and a relatively low price point, the OnePlus 3T is the best Android phone for newcomers looking to switch from Windows phone.
It's not flashy and crazy. It's a good, modest and very capable smartphone. It's a great starting point into the world of Android. You can essentially turn the OnePlus 3T into a Microsoft phone thanks to Android, which is what I love the most about Android. On iOS, you can't really do that. On Android, you can set Microsoft apps as default apps, sync notifications from your phone to your PC, set Cortana as the default voice assistant, and even use Microsoft-made home screens and lock screens.
You can essentially turn Android into a Microsoft phone, which is great. Admittedly, it's unfortunate that so many people are looking to switch from actual Windows phones these days. For those who just can't hack Windows phone anymore (I'm still returning), the OnePlus 3T is an excellent best place to start if you're looking to switch to Android.