OnePlus definitely dodged a bullet on this one. The relatively small Chinese company was one of the few Android manufacturers to jump on the new USB Type-C train with the OnePlus 2. However, it missed to get a perfect score when Google engineer and USB-C Crusader Benson Leung revealed that the company’s USB-C accessories weren’t up to spec. Now it’s the OnePlus 3’s turn to almost get a scathing review because it didn’t support USB Host Mode, a.k.a. USB OTG, right out of the box without flipping a switch.
Although it has certainly been possible for a long time, especially with microUSB ports, it could be argued that few people probably actually plug in a USB flash drive into their smartphones. Most would prefer to have microSD cards if they can, but being able to plug in an external USB storage is nonetheless something good to have as a fallback. Besides, it is actually a feature mandated by the USB spec, so you’re not exactly paying extra for the capability.
OnePlus, however, now seems to be a company who will be known for doing things its own with USB-C. In GTrusted’s initial review, it seemed that the OnePlus 3 actually didn’t support the USB Host mode of the spec, which meant it wasn’t complying with established industry standards and breaking user expectations. Unsurprisingly, Leung called out the company for it and strongly recommended consumers to stay clear of the company’s products as they don’t seem to be willing to play ball with standards.
The good news is that things aren’t as they seem, but they are also a bit more complicated. The OnePlus 3 does support USB OTG but users will have to explicitly enable it in the Storage settings. The setting itself is hidden in the overflow (three vertical dots) menu, which makes it hard to discover, unless you were specifically hunting for it.
It is definitely not an ideal user experience, at least for those who regularly plug in USB flash drives and expects all modern, not to mention flagship, smartphones to behave appropriately. OnePlus initially decided not to include sRGB mode options, citing user experience reasons to justify it. Later on, the company gave in to popular demand and added it in an update. It will be interesting to hear what OnePlus has to say about this hidden feature.