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July 4, 2016

OnePlus 3 tips and tricks: Master your 2016 flagship killer

by John_A

OnePlus’ latest phone is is comfortably the best phone in its class. And while its hardware is admirable for a £300 phone, the software does its bit to ensure the experience of using it is both smooth and unique. While it looks very much like standard Android OS, it does have a number of customisation options, the kind you don’t normally get unless you download a third party launcher from the Play Store. 

This is our in-depth guide on all the options you can play with, and how to get the most from your OnePlus 3. 

OnePlus 3 home screen tips

Add widgets to Shelf: Shelf is a custom screen that sits the the left of your main home screen. By default it has your weather, most-used apps and contacts, but you can add practically any other widget you want to it by tapping the floating action button in the bottom right corner, then choosing your desired widget.

Customise Shelf widgets: The Shelf screen has its own settings menu which you access by tapping the sidebar menu button in the top left corner. Here you can disable the default weather information card, or choose to have Celsius or Fahrenheit.

Disable Shelf: For whatever reason, you might just decide you don’t want the Shelf. To disable it, head to your regular home screen, then tap and hold the wallpaper. Choose “customise” then switch the “Enable Shelf” toggle to the off position.

Swipe up for search: In the same customise screen – underneath the Enable Shelf option – is a toggle for Quick Search. If enabled, this will let you swipe up from anywhere on the home screen and go straight to the Google search app.

Swipe down for notifications: In the same gesture options list is a toggle which enables quick notifications. When enabled, you can access your drop down notifications by swiping downwards anywhere on the home screen, you don’t have to swipe from the top.

Customise Google search bar: In the same customisation screen, if you swipe from right to left you’ll get to the next customisation card. This screen lets you choose what kind of search bar you want on the top of your home screen. You can have the modern white bar with a colourful Google logo, or have a transparent grey one with white logo, or just have none at all.

Change app icon size: The next customisation card lets you choose between three app icon sizes. Choose between small, standard or large to alter how much space your app icons take up on the home screen.

Change battery icon: With OxygenOS you can choose what battery information you want to see in the status bar. Swipe down from your home screen to reveal the quick settings/notification panel and then tap the battery icon. This takes you to the main battery settings menu.

From here, tap the battery icon in between the refresh and three dots/settings button. The drop down menu allows you to choose between the standard battery bar icon, a circle icon, no icon at all and whether you want the percentage showing or not.


OnePlus 3 buttons tips

Capacitive or virtual buttons: As has been the case with every OnePlus phone since the beginning, you can choose whether or not you want to use onscreen software buttons, or use the built-in capacitive buttons. By default, the capacitive buttons are in use, but if you want software buttons simply head to Settings, then Buttons and toggle “on-screen navigation bar”. 

Custom actions: In Oxygen OS you can assign secondary functions to all three of the capacitive keys on the OnePlus 3. Each button can have two secondary functions, launched by either a long-press or quick double-tap. There are seven options in total, which include opening recent apps, launching search assistant, turning off the screen, opening the camera, voice search, opening the last used app and opening Shelf. You’ll find the options in the same settings menu under the Buttons category.

Backlight on/off: Both the capacitive buttons have a backlight, which light up when any of the buttons (including the home key) are touched. You can switch this off if you don’t want it on just by tapping the Backlight toggle in Settings>Buttons.

Swap recent/back order: By default, the left capacitive button is the back button, and the right button is the recent apps button. If you’re more accustomed to having them the other way around, you can switch those. Just toggle the “Swap buttons” option in the same settings Buttons menu.

Alert slider: The one other button on the OnePlus 3 is the three-position alert slider on the left edge. Sliding down is regular, show me all the notifications mode. In the middle is priority mode which restricts most apps from sending you notifications. The top position is total silence, which practically silences everything. 

You can customise these Do Not Disturb options to only allow specific apps to notify you in each mode. In Priority mode, you can chose to enable or disable alarms, media, reminders and events. You can even choose between being alerted of phone calls or SMS messages from only starred contacts, from any contacts, anyone or no alerts at all. There’s also an option to let calls through if the same person tries to call you twice within 15 minutes. 

OnePlus 3 display tips

Adjust colour temperature: How good the colours on screen look to an individual can often be a point of debate. A perfect balance to some is too cool (blue) or too warm (yellow) for others. Thankfully, OnePlus includes the option to manually adjust the colour temperature. Head to Settings>Display and you’ll find a colour balance slider. Sliding right makes the screen warmer, sliding left makes it cooler.

Proximity wake: With the OnePlus 3 you can have the screen wake up just by waving your hand over it. To activate this feature, simply tap the toggle in the display settings.

Ambient display: You can set your OnePlus to wake up whenever you receive a notification. Activating it is very simple. Like the proximity wake option, just switch on the toggle in the settings menu. Rather than have a fully active screen, Ambient display mode is a black screen with white text/notifications.

Night mode: As with most phones with the feature, night mode strips the blue tint from the screen, making it warmer, more yellow and easier on your eyes at night time. Just like the colour balance option, there’s a slider to adjust how deep you want the yellow tint to be.

Change font size: Near the bottom of the main display settings screen is the option to change the font size. Here you can choose between small, medium, large and huge.

OnePlus 3 camera tips

Double tap power button to launch: By default, the OnePlus 3 camera can be launched by quickly double-tapping the power button on the right edge. If yours doesn’t have the feature switched on, or you want to switch it off, head to Settings>Display and then hit the toggle next to “Press power button twice for camera”.

HD Mode: When you launch the camera you’ll notice HD and HDR in the top right corner. HD Mode is a new technology from OnePlus 3 which sharpens details. Switch it on by simply taping the HD. In practice, however, we haven’t found that it makes too much difference to the image quality. Plus, it disables the ability to shoot with HDR, which is a big negative. So maybe leave that one alone.  

Manual controls: In the top left corner is three lines, tapping them gives access to a sidebar menu/list of all the different camera modes. Manual model is in that list and selecting it enables you to manually control a number of important settings. Tapping on ISO will then let you change the brightness/gain, the next one along lets you set the white balance to counteract any artificial (or natural) lighting. You can also manually set the shutter speed to take long exposures up to 30 seconds, and manually focus.

Adjusting each of these settings is pretty easy. Once the manual mode has been selected, you just need to press on whichever setting you’d like to change, then you get a semicircle control on-screen. Adjust the ISO, shutter speed, or focus by rotating this onscreen “wheel” clockwise or anticlockwise.

Save RAW photos: In the same sidebar menu mentioned above, in the right corner is a settings cog. Tap on this and you’ll see a toggle switch which enables RAW format images to be saved. This basically means you’ll get the highest quality image possible, rather than JPEG which isn’t full quality.

OnePlus 3 other tips

Dual SIM options: Just like the OnePlus 2, there’s a dual SIM tray which means you can have two SIM cards in the phone at once. If you have a work and personal line, or have a SIM for two different carriers, it can be an invaluable especially if you know one network in your area is better for data speeds than another.

Heading into Settings then SIM cards, you can choose which SIM is the preferred option for mobile data, calls or text messages. So if one SIM has a higher data allowance, you could set that as your main data SIM.

Reorder quick tiles: In Android N, Google is introducing the ability to move around quick settings tiles in the drop down settings panel, but OnePlus already has that feature in Oxygen OS. Drop down the panel as usual, then tap the little pencil in the top right corner. Then you can reorder the tiles on the screen to suit your preferences.

OnePlus 3 gestures: Like many modern Android phones, you can enable a number of gestures for launching apps or functions from the lock screen. Head to Settings>Gestures and then you can enable each gesture individually.

With each enabled, you can launch the camera by drawing an “O”, switch on the flashlight by drawing a “V”, pause music with a two-finger swipe, skip track backwards or forwards by drawing < or > and – as usual – double tap the screen to wake up the phone.

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