The OnePlus Nord is an additional $ 400 Android phone screen that wants you to rethink whether you need to spend double or triple its price on the flagship.
Had Google done so, the phone name could have been “Google Nexus 2020. It’s actually revived the same amazing idea in many ways, starting with a clean version of Android and ending with fast action.
Firstly, the size: Nord is not too big, but also not small. In fact, it’s narrower than most other XL-sized phones, making it easier to handle. The back is glass, but the sides are plastic. I dropped it almost immediately after I photographed it, and a small piece of plastic was shredded, but, honestly, it’s good plastic and I don’t mind that at all, plus it helps to receive the signal.
The buttons are very pressable and feel cozy, which is important to me. The power button is on the right and the volume keys are on the left, then you also have a 3-way mute switch on the right, which is another touch of the OnePlus signature that provides so much convenience. However, there is no headphone jack. I miss it so much, but I think it’s a huge problem as wireless headphones are becoming much cheaper these days.
The killer feature here isn’t just beautiful in color: the screen also supports the 90Hz refresh rate option. This drains the battery a little faster than the traditional 60Hz refresh rate (you can go back to that in the display settings), but we recommend leaving the 90Hz option on, as this greatly affects the smooth operation of the phone.
Performance and interface
OnePlus Nord has 4 colorful animated live wallpapers
Instead of a sample chip, the OnePlus Nord is equipped with a Snapdragon 765G processor. Even after using the phone for a while, I had a hard time noticing the difference. Occasionally a slight stutter every time on the blue moon, yes, but what’s worth it, the phone works as smoothly and quickly as a model phone.
I played several rounds of Call of Duty Mobile and it went just as smoothly as many of the flagships I tested, there were no problems there. You’ll notice that the benchmarks on this phone are actually lower than the competitors, but in real life you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference.
I should also mention that the OnePlus Nord is an Android 10 out of the box in a form that is pretty close to stock, with a clean system look. However, this is by no means an Android stock: OnePlus is proud of the many improvements it has made, ranging from hundreds of small improvements to improve system performance and added features. My favorites are the new live wallpapers that are animated so smoothly and beautifully. You can simply say that OnePlus sweats those details like no other company. You see this clarification throughout the interface.
Biometrics and haptics
Then I had another big concern: haptics. Vibration reviews for mid-range phones are usually very poor and weak. I was almost certain that the OnePlus had cut a corner here, but again, this phone has a very nice, sharp vibration engine similar to the one on the flagships. You feel this most often when writing and receiving messages in a pleasant, concise way.
There are four cameras on the front of the camera and two on the front. But the two rear cameras don’t really count: one is a macro lens, which is actually almost useless – photos from it look dirty and lack detail, and you better use the main camera – and the other is a depth sensor. There remain two cameras you can actually use: the first is a 48-megapixel main shooter, and the second is an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera.
The four rear cameras are as follows:
- 48MP Sony IMX 586 main camera with OIS
- 8MP ultra wide angle camera
- 2MP macro camera
- 5MP depth sensor
For selfie shooters, Nord has:
- 32MP main camera
- 8MP ultra wide angle camera
Here’s the deal: it’s a good camera system, but not quite great. Why? Well, mostly because of the colors. They look muffled and a little dull, with all shots a little pink. Not bad, just not quite right out the gate. For example, iPhone SE captures sharper shots that look better in most cases, but then lacks an extra-wide camera and a few accessories like night mode.
Extremely wide camera
2X digital zoom
You have a wide selfie camera on the front and then a very wide selfie camera. The extra wide can easily accommodate a whole group of people, so you don’t have to carry a selfie stick, this is a very neat feature.
Wide Selfie with 32MP main camera
Extra wide Selfie with 8MP secondary front camera
You can also record video in up to 4K video resolution. The quality obtained is good, but again you will notice that the amount of details resolved is not as good as on my more expensive phones and in the material below, my white shirt was too bright and burned. You have a separate Super Stable mode, which will also provide clove-like stability. One thing you can’t do in a video is move away from a very wide camera if you started recording with the main camera. You can use an extra-wide lens for videos, but you have to select it before you can start the video, and you can’t zoom in with it either. Here’s a quick example of quality:
This phone makes one compromise: the speakerphone. It’s just one speaker at the bottom of the phone, and I thought I didn’t mind it too much, but the reality is this: I do.
If, like me, you’re used to having dual speakers on flagship phones, then this one just lacks punch and clarity, sounds average. Plus, it’s so easy to mute the sound with your hands while watching videos or playing games. If you have a habit of playing music or YouTube videos without headphones, the speaker quality and questions will be annoying. The linguist is actually quite loud, so that’s a plus.
The OnePlus Nord has a 4,115 mAh battery and excellent battery life. I used the phone almost at 90Hz, so everything runs both smoother and the battery lasts all day, but no longer. If you play a lot of games and have a habit on social media, expect to have to recharge before the end of the day. Thank goodness for the quick charge. Nord supports the same 30W fast charging speeds as the flagship OnePlus phones. Unlike other brands, fast charging stays fast even if you use your phone while charging. You don’t get wireless charging, but with fast charging, I really don’t miss it.
This review will be updated shortly with the results of our battery test.
So how about 5G? The phone supports 5G in markets where there is. It doesn’t support those ultra-fast mmWave 5G speeds, but honestly, they have so few seats, it really doesn’t matter. It supports the low and medium band 5G range, as it already is and which is really important. If you are in the US where Nord is not officially available and you are trying to import it, you should be aware that several non-essential US groups are missing. You will still get 4G LTE, but at a lower speed than other phones in the US market.
So… it’s time to draw a proverb in the sand. Is OnePlus Nord good enough? And is it a “role model killer”?
So unless you’re not the best camera and you don’t care about the longer zoom range, you should absolutely consider OnePlus Nord. It does 90% of what a flagship does, but only for the price.
IPhone SE (2020)
If you prefer iOS, iPhone SE offers impressive camera quality and rough performance at a slightly higher price. As for the downside, it has an outdated design and lacks wide-angle and macro cameras. It also does not have a headphone jack.