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OnePlus Nord || Good Buy, Tough Sell

Prologue

For years OnePlus has basically stuck to making killer flagships rather than reinventing the good old flagship killers. But, after all these times they have realised they are losing a huge chunk of the enthusiasts market who doesn’t really have the money to buy a full fledged OnePlus device. So, this year they have come with the new OnePlus Nord which is rather a serious step towards the mid-range teritorry.

And their hard work paid off as there has been a lot of hype around this new OnePlus Nord as well as a lot of questions. We are here to answer every single question of yours in this review. Also, let’s see how this device holds up against the mid-range kings aka the Google Pixel 4a & the iPhone SE (2020).

The Goods

  • 90Hz FHD+ Fluid AMOLED display 
  • Neat and Clean Oxygen OS
  • 765G Gaming Processor
  • Above Average Cameras (4K/60fps at the front)
  • 5G Connectivity
  • 30T Warp Charging

The Bads

  • No Face Unlock
  • No Official IP rating
  • No Headphone Jack
  • No Wireless Charging
  • No Telephoto Lens
  • No Stereo Speakers
OnePlus Nord Vs OnePlus One

Specifications Of OnePlus Nord

Starting Price$349
Release DateAugust, 2020
DisplayFluid AMOLED capacitive screen, 6.44 inches, 1080×2400 pixels, 408ppi density, 20:9 ratioCorning Gorilla Glass 5, HDR10+, 90Hz refresh rate
Dimensions6.23 x 2.89 x 8.2 inches
Weight184 g 
ChipsetQualcomm SDM765 Snapdragon 765G (7nm),Octa-core (1×2.4 GHz Kryo 475 Prime & 1×2.2 GHz Kryo 475 Gold, 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 475 Silver)Adreno 620
RAM & Storage6GB/64GB, 8GB/128GB, 12GB/256GBUFS 2.1 
Rear Camera48 MP Wide (f/1.8, 26mm, 0.8micron, PDAF, OIS)8 MP Ultrawide (f/2.3, 119 Degree)5 MP Depth (f/2.4)2 MP Macro (f/2.4)Dual LED Flash, HDR, Panorama
Front Camera 32 MP Wide (f/2.5, 0.8micron)8 MP Ultrawide (f/2.5, 1.12micon, 105 Degree)HDR
VideoRear: [email protected](4K), [email protected]/60/240fps, gyro-EISFront: [email protected]/60fps (4K), [email protected]/60fps
Battery4115mAh (non-removable), Li-Po30W fast charging, 70% in 30Min
Network & ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac), dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, HotspotBluetooth 5.1 (A2DP, LE, aptX HD)GPS with dual band A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS, SBAS, NavICNFC connectivity Unspecified FM Radio
Sound & AudioSingle Firing LoudspeakerNo 3.5mm headphone jack 
SensorsFingerprint (in-display, optical), Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass
Water/Dust ResistanceNo

Unboxing

OnePlus Nord comes in a very fancy looking retail box on the top of which you will see the name NORD engraved beautifully. We get the following things inside the box: 

Credit: Mrwhosetheboss
  • First thing on the inside, the OnePlus Nord itself
  • Welcome letter with manuals and stickers
  • A pretty wacky looking case
  • A USB-C charging cable 
  • A Warp charge 30T adapter

Design & Build

OnePlus Nord Back Part
Credit: Marques Brownlee

The phone comes in two different finishes – Blue Marble & Gray Onyx. You do not get to dislike anything a lot when it comes to the design of the OnePlus Nord. In fact, you will be glad that the phone is not overly huge or bulky at all and it is quite comfortable in your palm; thanks to the rounded edges. It is the sleekest as well as the lightest one among its two of the major competitors, the Redmi K20 Pro and Realme X3, while weighing about 184g. 

The back of the phone is glass while the frame is made of plastic; although the shiny chrome finish on the frame makes it feel like metal. On the right side of the phone, you get a power button and an alert slider which are both metal built. And on the left side, you get the volume rockers which are pretty tactile while pressed. 

Now, the one thing that might bother you is this phone not having a headphone jack and that is especially because of the fact that its competitors, K20 Pro and Realme X3 both come with that. Another thing important to note is that the phone does have dual SIM support but no expandable microSD slot which is an eyesore because the base variant has got only 64gigs of storage. 

However, there is no IP rated water or dust resistance here but the phone is splash proof. But overall, this is the type of premium design for this price range that you can ask for.  

Display

Credit: Marques Brownlee

As for the display, this is where the Nord is going to get you sold as it comes with a 6.44 inches FHD+ Fluid AMOLED display. The resolution of this phone is 1080×2400 pixels which comes with a PPI density of 408.   Of course, the panel is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. Plus, it has the 90Hz refresh rate which completely complements Oxygen OS. 

Unlike the flagships from OnePlus, the display of the Nord is flat where the dual selfie cameras are housed in a pill shaped cutout at the top. The display is pretty nice unless you do not mind the cutout taking up your screen space. And this goes without saying that the display being an AMOLED panel, you get the typical perfect blacks from the panel and the colors are vivid out of the box.  

Although the Nord’s display is not the brightest display out there but it is good enough for outdoor usages as it can pull out about maximum 320nits with the slider and 750 nits while on auto mode. Beneath the display lies an optical fingerprint reader which is both accurate and lightning fast. 

There is a cool feature based on the scanner called Quick Launch which gets activated when you keep holding down your fingers and a carousel pops up with customizable shortcuts. Although you do not get any notification LED on OnePlus Nord, its ambient display will keep you updated with the time and notifications provided that you tap or lift the phone to see it.  

Camera

OnePlus Nord comes with the same camera specs as the OnePlus 8. So, we generally have good expectations from its camera and the phone sort of delivers them. It comes with a total of four cameras on its back which are as below: 

  • 48MP Main (f/1.8, PDAF, OIS)
  • 8MP Ultrawide (f/2.3, 119 Degree)
  • 5MP Depth Sensor (f/2.4)
  • 2MP Macro (f/2.4)

As for the main 48MP Sony IMX 586 Shooter, In daylight, the photos from the phone look really good as the colors are really saturated and rich in detail. Although the dynamic range comes out pretty amazing because of that Always-on HDR, sometimes the phone misses out on the accurate color during the evening; but this should not be a big deal if you turn on the Smart AI mode. 

In low lights, the Nord does not perform that well considering to be a phone at this price segment. Some photos are a bit off, in terms of sharpness but you will mostly notice the phone taking fairly sharp and welded shots in low light condition. The photos catch sufficient light and the details are pretty decent. 

Credit: Technolobe

As for the rest of the lenses, the OnePlus Nord’s Ultrawide sensor does a good job with the colors and the dynamic range but it is not the best, especially in terms of details. It also supports the night mode. There is an obligatory 2MP Macro lens on this phone which performs average and often ends up taking noisy photos but you can not expect better at this price. But the portrait shots taken with the help of the depth sensor have excellent subject detection and separation. One thing is for sure that the phone does lack a Telephoto Lens which we usually get to see in a mid-range phone of this segment. 

Credit: Marques Brownlee
Credit: Marques Brownlee

When it comes to the videos, there is no 4K 60fps support on the rear camera. So, you only get to shoot 2160p(4K) at a maximum 30 frames per second and 1080p at 30/60/240fps with the OIS enabled.   

So, the rear cameras are pretty good as you will see but the front cameras are not getting far behind in this race. There are dual selfie cameras – 

  • 32MP (f/2.5) Wide
  • 8MP (f/2.5, 105degree) Ultrawide 

The colors remain mostly the same from both the sensors and the details are pretty good too. But the plot twist is that the video from the front-facing camera supports 2160p(4K) at 60fps along with the regular 30fps. You can shoot on both the main camera as well as the ultrawide camera and the good thing is that the quality remains the same in both the lenses. 

Performance

Credit: GadgetByte

Hardware & Software

Well, the big question has been around the chipset and the performance of this phone. The user interface is OnePlus’s Oxygen OS 10.5 based on Android 10 which is one of the cleanest and snappiest Android UIs that you can find these days. There are plenty of additional features and customization options here in this phone although it is not quite a stock Android.

OnePlus Nord comes with the futureproof chipset from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 765G, which has an integrated 5G modem. This is one of the most powerful chipsets that you can get outside of a flagship device. OnePlus did a great job optimizing the hardware and as a result the Nord sits at the top of the mid-range benchmark charts. 

The Nord is missing expandable storage although you do have options for 6/64GB, 8/128GB or 12/256GB RAM and ROM variants. So overall, OnePlus Nord is surely going to be a really consistent and smooth performer in day-to-day life of yours.

Battery

Credit: GadgetByte

OnePlus Nord is featuring a comparatively huge battery of 4115mAh and it comes with the 30T Warp charge which the company says, should get about 70% of your chargeback within half an hour. The battery does a great job with its performance and goes for a whole day very easily. As for the screen on time with the display set to 90Hz, you will usually get a backup of around 6 hours and an endurance rating of 100 hours, which is quite great.  

Gaming

Credit: GadgetByte

The gaming performance is topnotch on this latest phone of OnePlus. The Nord defaults to HD and High graphics in PUBG Mobile and you will be able to have a number of PUBG sessions at this setting without facing any issues. So, you do not need to worry about PUBG, let alone highly optimized games like Asphalt 9, Call of Duty or Fortnite. Apart from these, Oxygen OS has its own gaming optimization tool named Game Space in which the Fnatic mode will block notifications and restrict the background activities to direct more resources towards your games. 

Speakers & Audio Quality

Credit: SB Digital

For audio there is a single downward firing speaker on the OnePlus Nord which means you do not get to see stereo speakers on this phone. But you do get a dedicated Dirac audio tuner which offers some audio enhancement presets. Loudness of the speaker is just average and beside some balanced Highs, the audio quality is nothing special.

Also, there is no headphone jack on OnePlus Nord; in case you want to plugin your traditional headphones, you will need to use an USB-C adapter which you do not get inside the box. 

Final Verdict

That was all about the OnePlus Nord, a sleek-looking mid-ranger with a high refresh rate AMOLED screen, excellent battery life, pretty fast charging and one of the neatest Android interfaces around. But sometimes it lacks a headphone jack, IP rating or any option for expandable storage. 

Overall, the OnePlus Nord does not live up to all the hype that it had prior to the launch. This here is not a flagship killer either; rather it falls short of other mid-rangers that you can get right now. So, unless you are dead set to OnePlus or the Oxygen OS experience, you should shop around for better options like the Redmi K20 Pro or the Realme X3 in this price segment.

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