The OnePlus 3 proves that no smartphone should cost more than $400

For several years, the Chinese phone maker OnePlus has nipped at the heels of the smartphone industry.

Their flagship devices cost a fraction of other premium phones’ price tags; the OnePlus One started at $300 and the OnePlus 2 at $350. But they also have, until recently, had some flaws like weak cameras that kept them from competing with the top tier brands. And an invite-only release system hamstrung their distribution, even if they were wildly popular among their fans.

But the OnePlus 3 changes all that. Released without an invite, this nearly-pure Android device runs as fast as any phone on the market. Its camera is excellent, and its large screen can compete with any device on the market. Plus, though it resembles the offspring of a HTC-Apple-Samsung love triangle, it’s beautiful to look at and feels great in your hands. At $400 it’s the most expensive OnePlus ever, but hundreds of dollars cheaper than the $650+ LGs, HTCs, and iPhones with which its meant to compete.

And, in my opinion, it outclasses all of those.

This should set a new standard for smartphones. If there’s one premium device that scores top marks across the board but only costs $400, no other company with a similar phone can justify charging more.

From now on, if a phone is going to cost more than $400, it had better have some standout features to justify the extra cost. Some already meet that standard. The $650-$950 iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, of course, will always appeal to diehard iOS fans who are willing to shell out for the Apple ecosystem. And the ultra-premium Galaxy S7 line deserves a class all its own for its design, best-in-the-world-camera, and ability to survive a jaunt through your washing machine.

But for the rest of us who aren’t paying for something specific and special like that, the OnePlus 3 should set a new standard for what we’re willing to pay for a premium smartphone.

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