Not only OnePlus, but also fans have high hopes for this ‘affordable’ OnePlus Nord and we can’t wait to review this phone. So let’s see how well the OnePlus Nord lives up to our expectations. Can it really offer the same experience as its more expensive siblings? Let’s find out.
OnePlus Nord: design and screen
OnePlus has kept its different design so that the Nord is different from the OnePlus 8 series smartphones. The design style of the OnePlus Nord is somewhat similar to phones from Oppo and Realme and we are not surprised that all these brands are part of the same family. However, the inclusion of the alert slider and the same old style of buttons and ports make us feel like it’s a OnePlus phone.
The quality can be called good for a phone made of polycarbonate. Gorilla Glass 5 protection is available on the front and back. We really liked the Blue Marble color scheme on the Nord unit, which is also the color of our review unit. Apart from this, the phone is also featured in Gray Onyx color.
Like other OnePlus phones, there is no option to expand storage on the OnePlus Nord as the SIM tray only supports two Nano-SIM cards. It also comes in 128GB and 256GB variants where you may not be short of storage space.
OnePlus smartphones are known for their AMOLED screens and I am pleased to see that OnePlus has not compromised on this low-end smartphone. Its display panel is also AMOLED. The sides of the display aren’t curved like on the OnePlus 8, but instead of one, it has a cutout for two selfie cameras. The screen size is 6.44 inches and it comes with Full HD+ (1080×2400) resolution with 90Hz refresh rate. The phone comes with HDR10+. It’s a good panel overall, with decent black levels and rich color reproduction. Though there is some difference in color tone on white background and it was not fixed even after few updates. However, it is noticeable only after observing very carefully.
With OnePlus Nord, you get a protective silicone case, a Type-C cable, a fast charger, and stickers.
OnePlus Nord: specifications
OnePlus Nord comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset in India. The Qualcomm X52 5G modem is available on this chipset and is made on a 7nm process. It promises better processing capabilities and up to 30 percent faster graphics rendering compared to Snapdragon 730G.
In India, three variants of OnePlus Nord have been introduced. 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, which will be available exclusively on Amazon from September. Its price is 24,999 rupees. Apart from this, the 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage variant, which costs Rs 27,999 and the 12 GB RAM variant with 256 GB storage, which costs Rs 29,999.
The thickness of OnePlus Nord is 8.2 mm and it weighs 184 grams. You get NFC, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1, and support for the navigation system, including navigation. The phone features a single speaker, in-screen fingerprint sensor, and face unlock feature. The Nord does not have any official IP certification, so you will have to be a little careful with the waters. You get a 4,115mAh battery with Warp Charge 30T fast charging technology.
The OnePlus experience is not complete without OxygenOS. At the time of the review, the phone was running software version 10.5.2, which had the July security patch. Its interface and the features found in it are similar to the OnePlus flagship phone. There are also options to customize Zen Mode, built-in screen recorder and ambient display, fingerprint animations, etc. OnePlus also promises two years of software updates and three years of security updates for Nord.
There are some software changes on the OnePlus Nord compared to other OnePlus phones. The biggest one is the inclusion of Google’s stock dialer and messaging apps. OxygenOS didn’t share any clear reason for removing the dialer and messaging apps, but simply said that based on its research, the company felt that mid-range smartphone buyers would be better served with Google apps. We don’t have a problem with Google’s stock apps, but it’s disappointing that Nord users won’t be able to experience the India-specific features OnePlus has added to its dialing and messaging apps over the years.
The second change has been made to the camera app. In this you can share your last photo very easily from the app itself. For this, you need to keep tapping on the preview and you will get the option to select the apps directly.
OnePlus Nord: performance
According to OnePlus, Nord users will get the same smooth and fast performance as a flagship phone with this phone and we must say that it performs very well. With regular use, we don’t really notice much of a difference between the OnePlus Nord and OnePlus’ flagship phone. The interface was smooth and fast, apps loaded and closed quickly, and switching between apps was easy. The in-display fingerprint sensor works very well. Face Unlock is also very fast and accurate.
Videos look great on the OnePlus screen, especially when streaming HDR videos from YouTube and Netflix. Dirac’s software enhancements on the Nord allow for louder sound even from a single speaker.
We used the OnePlus Nord for a week and battery life was pretty solid. We easily got a day and a half of backup on a single charge. It managed to last a full day even with lots of gaming and camera use. In our video loop test, the OnePlus Nord lasted around 14.5 hours, which is a pretty decent amount of time. The included charger charged the phone up to 93 percent in about an hour, which is pretty fast.
OnePlus North: cameras
The OnePlus Nord has a total of six cameras, four on the back and two on the front. The main rear camera is exactly what you’ll find on the OnePlus 8. The company has also kept optical stabilization, which is nice to see. The other three cameras are an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. For selfies, you get a 32-megapixel Sony IMX616 primary lens and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens.
The camera app is similar to the OnePlus 8 series phones and works in a similar way. In daylight, the OnePlus Nord’s main rear camera captures decent images. We found that detail in shots was generally good, colors were decent, and HDR worked well. Compared to the OnePlus 8, there was a slight decrease in dynamic range. The main camera takes photos at 12-megapixels by default, but you can also choose to shoot at full resolution.
The wide-angle camera captured comparatively poor detail, but it did a decent job with colors and HDR. There is no optical zoom on the Nord. Instead, you can digitally zoom up to 10x with the main camera, but quality is compromised. Close-ups looked good in daylight, there was good detail, but sometimes the colors were too loud. The autofocus system was very fast.
Portrait shots with the main camera blur the background well, although the blur level cannot be set to this. The macro camera did its job, but it wasn’t great and was only useful when there was good lighting around our subjects.
Low light photos came out decent and in very dark scenes, I had to use Nightscape. The problem with night mode on the Nord is that while it can be quite effective at brightening an image, it tends to flatten textures and lighten shadows, which I didn’t like. The wide-angle camera doesn’t really take usable pictures in low light, unless you use Nightscape.
As for the selfie camera, the main selfie camera captured decent detail in daylight, skin tones looked decent, and HDR was handled well. In low light, detail suffered and overall quality was average.
Selfies are captured at a full 32-megapixel resolution by default, though if you switch to portrait mode, the phone takes 8-megapixel photos. The wide-angle front camera is a nice addition, but we wish OnePlus had improved its color profile a bit. Despite the lack of detail, the images generally showed a slight reddish cast. In low-light shots, colors generally look flat, but the camera managed to get bright shots.
It looks like OnePlus is going back to its roots with the ‘affordable’ OnePlus Nord. It’s not a ‘flagship killer’ like the original OnePlus One, but it doesn’t have to be as OnePlus has a new lineup of premium flagships. The Nord could have been called simply the OnePlus Lite or the OnePlus 8 Lite, but that probably wouldn’t have had as much of an impact on the market as the name of the new product line. The OnePlus Nord feels like the beginning of the past, and if we’re lucky, we could see a lot more in the series, possibly targeting the lower tiers of the smartphone market as well. If you currently have an older OnePlus smartphone like the OnePlus 6, the Nord should be a nice upgrade.
We don’t think many people will miss the absence of Qualcomm’s 800-series processor in the OnePlus Nord, as it performs well in everyday use. OnePlus Nord is currently the cheapest 5G smartphone in the Indian market, giving it a unique advantage. While the competition is stiff, phones like the Redmi K20 Pro and Realme X3 series come with more powerful 4G-enabled processors and come with similar, if not better specs in some cases. The OnePlus Nord may not compete with these smartphones in terms of specs, but when you factor in the software and the promise of timely updates, it makes for an attractive offering.