Not only OnePlus, but fans also have high expectations with this ‘affordable’ OnePlus Nord and we are also eager to review this phone. So let’s see how the OnePlus Nord meets our expectations? Can it really provide the same experience as its more expensive siblings? let’s find out.
OnePlus Nord: design and display
OnePlus has kept its design separate to make the Nord different from the OnePlus 8 series smartphone. The design style of the OnePlus Nord matches the phones of Oppo and Realme to some extent and we are not surprised because all these brands are part of the same family. However, the inclusion of an alert slider and the same old style of buttons and ports make us feel like it is a OnePlus phone.
Quality can be said to be good for phones made of polycarbonate. Gorilla Glass 5 protection is available at the front and back. We liked the blue marble color on the Nord unit, which is also the color of our review unit. Apart from this, the phone has also been introduced in gray onyx color.
Like other OnePlus phones, the OnePlus Nord also does not have the option of increasing storage, as the SIM tray supports only two nano-SIM cards. It also comes in 128 GB and 256 GB variants, in which you might not miss storage.
OnePlus smartphones are known for their AMOLED display and I am glad to see that OnePlus has not compromised on this low-priced smartphone. Its display panel is also AMOLED. The edges of the display are not curved like those on the OnePlus 8, but instead it has a cutout for two selfie cameras. The display size is 6.44 inches and it comes with a full-HD + resolution (1080×2400) with a 90Hz refresh rate. The phone comes with HDR10 +. Overall it is a good panel, in which the black levels look good and the colors are also seen in plenty. However, there is some difference in color tone on the white background and this did not go well after some updates. However, it is noticeable only after watching it very carefully.
With the OnePlus Nord, you get a silicon bumper case, Type-C cable, fast charger and stickers.
OnePlus Nord: specifications
OnePlus Nord comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset in India. This chipset has a Qualcomm X52 5G modem and is built on a 7 nm process. It promises better processing capabilities and up to 30 percent faster graphics rendering than the Snapdragon 730G.
In India, three variants of OnePlus Nord have been introduced. 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage, which will be available only on Amazon from September. It costs Rs 24,999. Apart from this, 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage variants, priced at Rs 27,999 and 12 GB RAM variants with 256 GB storage, priced at Rs 29,999.
OnePlus Nord has a thickness of 8.2 millimeters and weighs 184 grams. You get support for navigation systems including NFC, Wi-Fi AC, Bluetooth 5.1, and navigation. The phone has a single speaker, in-display fingerprint sensor and face unlock feature. Nord has no official IP certification, so you have to be a little wary of water. With Warp Charge 30T fast charging technology, you get a 4,115mAh battery.
OnePlus experience is not complete without OxygenOS. The phone software version was running at 10.5.2 at the time of the review, which had a July security patch. Its interface and the features found in it are similar to the flagship OnePlus phone. There are also options to customize Zen mode, built-in screen recorder and ambient display, fingerprint animation, etc. OnePlus has also promised a two-year software update and a three-year security update for Nord.
There are some software changes in OnePlus Nord compared to other phones of OnePlus. One of the biggest is Google’s inclusion of a stock dialer and message application. No clear reason for removing Oxigen OS’s dialer and message apps was shared, but simply stated that based on its research, the company felt that mid-range smartphone buyers would be better off with Google’s apps Experience. We have no problem with Google’s stock apps, but it’s disappointing that Nord users won’t get to experience the India-specific features that OnePlus has added to their dialer and message apps over the years.
The second change has been made in the camera app. In this, you will be able to share your Akiri photos from the app very easily. For this, you have to keep tapping on the preview and you will get the option to choose apps directly.
OnePlus Nord: performance
According to OnePlus, Nord users will get smooth and fast performance in this phone just like the flagship phone and we have to say that it works very well. With regular usage, we didn’t really see much difference between the OnePlus Nord and OnePlus flagship phones. The interface was very smooth and fast, apps were quick to load and close, and switching between apps was also quite simple. The in-display fingerprint sensor works very well. Face unlock is also very fast and accurate.
The videos on OnePlus’s display look great, especially when streaming HDR videos on YouTube and Netflix. The software enhancement of Dirac on the Nord also gives a loud sound experience on a single speaker.
We used the OnePlus Nord for a week and its battery life was quite solid. We easily got a day and a half backup on one charge. Even after playing a lot of games and using the camera, it managed to last a full day. In our video loop test, the OnePlus Nord ran for about 14.5 hours, which is a fairly good time. The charger that comes with it charges the phone by about 93 percent in an hour, which is quite fast.
OnePlus Nord: cameras
The OnePlus Nord has a total of six cameras – four rear and two front. The main rear camera is exactly what you would get with OnePlus 8. The company has also put optical stabilization, which is good to see. The other three cameras are 8-megapixel wide-angle lenses, 2-megapixel macro lenses and 5-megapixel depth sensors. For the selfie, you get a 32-megapixel primary Sony IMX616 lens and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens.
The camera app is similar to the OnePlus 8-series phone and performs the same function. In daylight, the main rear camera on the OnePlus Nord captures good pictures. We found that the details in the shots were generally good, the colors were also good and HDR worked well. There was a slight decrease in the dynamic range compared to the OnePlus 8. The main camera shoots photos by default at 12-megapixels, but you can also choose to shoot at full resolution.
The wide-angle camera captured relatively poor detail, but it worked well with colors and HDR. There is no optical zoom on the Nord. Instead, you can zoom up to 10x digital using the main camera, but quality is compromised. The close-up looked good in daylight, good detail came, but sometimes the colors increased. The autofocus system was quite fast.
The background is blurred well using the portrait shots primary camera, although the blur level cannot be set. The macro camera did its job, but it was not very good, and was useful only when there was good light around our subject.
The low light photos came decent and in very dark scenes, I had to use Nightscape. The problem with Night Mode on the Nord is that even though it can be quite effective at brightening a photo, it does make the texture flat and shadow light, which I didn’t like. The wide-angle camera is not able to actually take usable shots in low light, unless you use Nightscape.
Talking about the selfie camera, the primary selfie camera used to capture good detail in daylight, the skin tone looked good and the HDR was handled well. In low light, the detail decreased and overall quality was also average.
The selfie is captured at full 32-megapixel resolution by default, however if you go to portrait mode, the phone takes 8-megapixel shots. The wide-angle front camera is a nice addition, but we want OnePlus to improve its color profile a bit. Despite the lack of detail, the photos usually showed a light red color. In low-light shots, colors usually look flat, but the camera was successful in taking bright shots.
It seems that OnePlus is going back to its roots with its ‘affordable’ OnePlus Nord. It is not a ‘flagship killer’ like the original OnePlus One, but it does not even need to be, as OnePlus itself has a new line of premium flagships. The Nord could only be called the OnePlus Lite or the OnePlus 8 Lite, but doing so might not have made that much of an impact in the market in the name of the new product line. OnePlus Nord seems like an early start and if we are lucky, we might see more in this series, possibly targeting lower levels of the smartphone market as well. If you currently have an older OnePlus smartphone like the OnePlus 6, the Nord should be a good upgrade.
We don’t think many people will miss the OnePlus Nord’s lack of Qualcomm’s 800-series processors, as it performs well in day-to-day use. OnePlus Nord is currently the cheapest 5G smartphone in the Indian market, giving it a unique advantage. Although the competition is strong, phones like Redmi K20 Pro and Realme X3 series come with more powerful processors equipped with 4G and in some cases come equipped with similar features if not better. OnePlus Nord may not compete with these smartphones in terms of specification, but when you keep the software in mind and promise timely updates, it becomes an attractive deal for you.