OnePlus has made a comeback to the mid-value market with the OnePlus Nord. It has come a long way from 2014 – when it was first launched. It had made headlines for being a brand that provided flagship features at an affordable price.
But through the years, OnePlus was slowly losing the tag of “value-for-money” which had caught the public eye in the first place. OnePlus smartphones like the OnePlus 8 was nearly twice the price of OnePlus Nord and was way above the mid-range segment.
OnePlus Nord has definitely gotten the price right this time and is packed with some outstanding flagship features. However, now OnePlus now finds itself in a tough market with many companies providing similar flagship features at prices suitable for the mid-range segment. Samsung Galaxy A51, Realme X3, and Redmi K20 Pro are some of the strong contenders in this range.
Release date of OnePlus Nord and price
Launched on the 21st of July, 2020, the price starts at £379 / €399 (around $480, AU$680). The prices are cheaper compared to rival phones like Samsung, Apple, and Google. This price is for the model which provides 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage.
For the model providing 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, the price rises to £469 / €499 (around $590, AU$850).
Judging by these prices, the OnePlus Nord is still way cheaper than the new iPhone SE, LG Velvet, Mi Note 10, Motorola Edge, Samsung Galaxy A51 5G, and Google Pixel 3a XL which was released last year. It is rumored to be cheaper than Google Pixel 4a as well.
OnePlus Nord is also cheaper by a significant amount from its counterpart OnePlus 8 which was released last year. The price started at £599 / $699 (around AU$1,100).
The release date of OnePlus Nord was August 4, 2020. It has already been released in the UK and is available in 27 other European countries. It has also been released in India, Malaysia, and Hong kong. It remains unclear whether OnePlus will be released in the U.S. and Australia or not. OnePlus have not given an official statement regarding the release dates.
The device can be purchased from the OnePlus website or from Amazon, John Lewis, or Three.
OnePlus Nord Design
It flaunts a design similar to its flagship OnePlus 8 series with a metal frame sandwiched between Corning Gorilla Glass on both the front and back. It has not really experimented much here, but it’s for the best. It feels premium to touch and weight is properly balanced.
The OnePlus Nord measures 158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2mm weighs 184g. It has a similar size to that of the OnePlus 8 but is slightly thicker, wider, and heavier.
People with shorter fingers might have a hard time trying to reach the top of the display. It has a smooth glass finish, which means that the phone can get slippery at times. This is a matter of concern for those consumers who can get a bit clumsy at times and might end up letting their phones slip out of their hands and into the ground. OnePlus Nord provides relief in that department as the phone comes with a slimline silicon case which gives instant grip and prevents it from falling.
The power key falls on the right side of the phone below One Plus’ familiar alert-slider, which allows it to change the modes between vibrate, silent, and loud modes.
There is a USB-C port on the base of the phone adjacent to the dual SIM card port and the speaker. It however lacks a 3.5 mm headphone jack and you will have to use the Type-C port for headless connection and power. It also does not have a micro-SD card slot like all other OnePlus phones.
Apart from the above-mentioned speakers, there is no external audio output like stereo speakers. The problem begins when the phone is switched to landscape mode when you want to play a game of Pubg or watch a movie. You can unknowingly cover the speakers with your fingers which results in a stifling of the sound which can be a menace.
The device comes in two color options: Blue Marble and Gray Onyx. The Blue color variant looks more vibrant and premium. And it is this unique and appealing color which is making heads turn.
Oneplus says that the Nord comes with water resistance, but there is no official IP rating to support its claim. It however claims that the handset has been plunged into 30cm of water for 30 minutes and has survived. Despite the claims, there is no harm in being a bit careful.
Oneplus has not made any compromise with its display as it is similar to the OnePlus variant. The OnePlus Nord features a 6.44-inch AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels and a pixel density of 408 PPI. There’s a 90Hz refresh rate and the aspect ratio of 20:9 makes the 6.44-inch display easy to hold. It also boasts of a 90Hz refresh rate for fluid scrolling performance.
The screen occupies the front of the handset and comprises fewer bezels. The thickest bezel is at the bottom of the phone. There is a punch-hole cutout on the top-left corner of the screen which houses the dual selfie cameras. Although they are not much of an interruption, they can get a little annoying for first-time users. The camera will however get in the way of the number of notification icons that can be displayed in the top bar of the phone. But you will stop noticing it after the first few weeks of using it.
The factory-fitted screen protector creates an additional ridge around the punch-hole of the camera and the screen. However, that should be of little priority compared to the protection it is providing against scratches.
You do have the option of peeling the screen protector off if you are not comfortable with the feel or looks.
It has a bright and clear display but lacks OnePlus 8’s curved ridges. It provides HDR10+ support which allows you to stream content from Amazon Prime Video or Netflix. It is a pleasant experience to stream content and watch movies but the colors are slightly muted. They are not as visually arresting compared to other handsets in the market. The area of the screen which has the notification bar and the dual cameras is not used so that it does not come in the way of your viewing or gaming experience.
The screen comes embedded with a fingerprint scanner which allows you to register your fingerprints for security. We suggest you register your fingerprints of both thumbs and forefingers for additional security. The scanner works reasonably well but it’s not the best.
In order to unlock your phone faster, you can pair up your fingerprint recognition with the face unlock feature. The OnePlus Nord can simultaneously combine both biometric security features when you are unlocking your phone.
How good is the camera?
The OnePlus Nord comes with a total of six cameras – four at the back and two at the front. It is the most number of cameras ever on an OnePlus phone.
The OnePlus official website says that the main camera “is stolen”. It just means that the main camera of Nord is similar to that of the OnePlus series. Nord comes with the same 48 MP primary sensor as the OnePlus 8 complete with optical image stabilization (OIS and EIS) “to eliminate blur and shakiness from every photo.” However, it is set to 12MP by default.
It is teamed with an f/1.75 aperture along with three secondary sensors. The sensors include a depth sensor of 5MP, a macro camera of 2MP, and an 8 MP, 119-degree ultra-wide-angle snapper for those sprawling landscape shots.
We suggest you use the 12 MP for social media posts and using the 48 MP one if you want to print the image out or further edit the image in a photo editor.
It has dual-LED flash and multi autofocus (PDAF+CAF). The device also supports 4K video recording at 30 fps, 1080p video recording at 30/60 fps, slow-motion video capture at 1080p, and 240 fps and Time-lapse at 4K/30 fps and 1080p/30 fps.
The main rear camera performs reasonably well both outdoors and indoors provided there is good lighting. The experience of the camera depends a lot on the overall lighting. It depends on the lens you are using as the 2× zoomed-in indoor shots can get a bit dark and grainy. The 10×digital zoom and the 2×digital zoom work well outside with the image quality being naturally reduced in the former.
The 8 MP ultrawide camera with a 119° field of view allows you to take huge group selfies and include more landscape in your photos. However, the images are not quite as sharp as compared to those taken from the main front camera. It certainly lacks resolution, color, and detail.
OnePlus’ ultrawide camera gives images with less distortion around the edges, popularly known as the “fish-eye effect” and claims that this feature is better than that of the iPhone.
The Nightscape feature takes up to nine different pictures at varying exposures and stitches them together to produce clearer, brighter, and more dramatic photos in low light. You need to hold your phone very still, else you might end up with muddy pictures. The picture quality depends a lot on the environment and the light sources. It is not as good as Pixel’sNight Sight mode which can brighten up really dark images.
You can use the Macro mode to get closer to the subject for more detailed shots. The inclusion of the macro camera seems a bit excessive and rather unnecessary. It feels more like a vanity feature because you can capture a beautiful close-up shot using either the 2× zoom or the main camera. There isn’t really much of a difference.
They also have a bunch of amazing filters that were created with the help of the photographer Hannes Becker.
Software and battery performance
OnePlus Nord comes with 5G support. The device is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G processor with Adreno 620 GPU. It promises 2 years Android upgrade and 3 years security update. It runs OxygenOS10.5 based on Android 10 and looks very clean compared to other phones in this price range.
The 90Hz refresh rate enhances the experience of playing games like Pubg and includes sleeker graphics and motion in games. Also, while the 90Hz refresh rate sounds good, it drains the battery significantly faster. You have the option to tune it down to 60Hz when you don’t need it.
Nord comes with a 4115mAH battery but does not provide any wireless support. With moderate use, it can last an entire day on a single charge, but you will have to end up charging the phone at night.
The Warp Charge 30T can get you from 0 % to 70% in just 39 minutes. Battery life is good but will not be acceptable for those who are involved in heavy gaming. The Nord has a better battery life than the new iPhone SE but still lags behind OnePlus 8 or 8 Pro.
Should you buy it?
You should go ahead and buy Nord if you are looking for a flagship experience at an affordable price with 5G support. It cannot get any cheaper than this. You will also get a ton of camera options to exercise your photographic talent.
Its premium design, good battery life, and 2 years worth of software updates make the OnePlus Nord a compelling choice for the mid-range segment. OnePlus says the Nord is “pretty much everything you could ask for”, and it’s got a point.