Some smartphone enthusiasts were not too happy with the prices of some of the recent launches from OnePlus. The Nord is a reminder that the company hasn’t abandoned the value-for-money segment just yet. While it may appear like a big deal for OnePlus to launch a new phone in the Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000 segment, there is no denying that there are phones like Samsung Galaxy A51, Realme X3 and Redmi K20 Pro, which are still strong contenders in this range.
OnePlus definitely has got the pricing right this time and with all the hype around, the Nord may actually help OnePlus get the ‘value-for-money’ tag again. However, a starting price of Rs 25,000 is still a lot of money and not to forget that there is the new affordable iPhone SE as well. After using the OnePlus Nord (12GB RAM/256GB storage option) for around two weeks, here is our review.
OnePlus Variants and prices
OnePlus Nord 6GB/64GB: Rs 24,999 (Available in September)
OnePlus Nord 8GB/128GB: Rs 27,999 (Available from August 4)
OnePlus Nord 12GB/256GB: Rs 29,999 (Available from August 4)
OnePlus Nord design
The OnePlus Nord flaunts a familiar design and the company hasn’t tried to experiment much here. Having said that, OnePlus has paid extra attention and it doesn’t look like a run-of-the-mill device. The OnePlus Nord feels premium to touch and the weight is well-balanced. The handset is easy to grip and feels very compact to hold. The device comes in two colour options: Blue Marble and Gray Onyx. The Blue colour variant looks more vibrant and premium. And it is this unique colour which is making heads turn.
It’s an all-glass device with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection on both front and back. Thankfully, OnePlus is offering a stylish soft clear case out-of-the-box. This is important because the Nord comes with a plastic frame and not metal. While the device feels sturdy, a plastic frame and all-glass body will not make you feel confident. There’s no IP rating for dust and water resistance, however, OnePlus claims that the Nord may withstand splashes.
OnePlus retains the slider button on the right side along with power/wake button. The glossy sides of the Nord look great and overall, you will want to flaunt this phone.
There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack. You will have to rely on the Type-C port for power and headphones connection. It’s a dual-SIM phone and like with all OnePlus phones there’s no microSD card slot.
OnePlus Nord display
The display is very similar to the OnePlus 8. OnePlus seems to have made no compromise with the display. The OnePlus Nord features a 6.44-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels and 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. Having said that, the device feels a bit longish and it will take some to get used to the form factor, especially while playing games like PUBG Mobile or Call of Duty Mobile.
It’s a delight to watch movies or stream content on the device. The colours are vivid, you will have no complaints about the viewing angles and sunlight legibility is good too. The Nord offers several modes like Video Enhancer, Reading Mode and Night Mode to customise display settings as required.
If you have never used a dual punch hole display phone, then the Nord will be a bit annoying initially. You can always change the camera display area to hide the punch hole completely. Also, while the 90Hz refresh rate sounds good, note that it drains the battery faster. You have the option to tune it down to 60Hz when you don’t need it.
OnePlus Nord camera
The OnePlus Nord comes with a total of six cameras– 4 at the back and 2 at the front. OnePlus Nord features a 48MP Sony IMX586 main sensor with OIS, EIS, f/1.75 aperture along with three secondary sensors of 8MP, 2MP and 5MP. There’s Dual LED flash, multi autofocus(PDAF+CAF). The device supports 4K video recording at 30 fps, 1080pvideoat 30/60 fps, Super Slow Motion at 1080p at 240 fps and Time-lapse at 4K/30 fps and 1080p/30 fps. Note that the OnePlus Nord doesn’t support external mics while recording videos.
The overall camera quality is pleasing but definitely not the best. This is because as long as you use the primary camera– 48MP Sony IMX586– the output is good. But the same cannot be said for the secondary sensors.
The colours are crisp without any unwanted over saturation and the images come with a good amount of detail. But the experience of the camera depends a lot on the overall lighting and the lens you are using. We found the image output to be quite good under decent lighting conditions but lowlight shots may not impress you that much.
Also, if you zoom in or opt for ultra-wide angle shot, the colours and details are a bit off. Not to forget, the macro lens is not up to the mark. In fact, it is not easy to get detailed macro shots using the Macro Mode.
Focusing is also an issue and it is definitely not the fastest. Especially in low or mixed lighting conditions, it takes time to focus on a subject. Overall, the 48MP primary camera delivers and sets an expectation that cannot be matched by the other lens or camera modes.
OnePlus Nord comes with dual front cameras with 32MP and 8MP sensors. The OnePlus Nord selfie camera features a 32MP SonyIMX616 sensor with f/2.45 aperture along with 8MP f/2.45 aperture secondary sensor. Front camera offers 4K video recording at 30/60 fps, 1080p video at 30/60 fps, Time-lapse. The front camera produces good quality selfies for social media usage.
Note that the OnePlus Nord doesn’t come with support for external mics. So, recording audio will be a problem if you are planning to use the Nord for vlogging.
OnePlus Nord software and performance
The OnePlus Nord gives a refreshing break from heavily customised UIs with bloatware. It runs OxygenOS10.5 based on Android 10 and looks very clean compared to other phones in this price range. The UI is clean and has no unnecessary bloatware or gimmicky tools.
The device is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G processor with Adreno 620 GPU. There’s no 5G in India yet and as OnePlus promises 2 years Android upgrade and 3 years security update, having 5G support doesn’t hurt as we may get 5G in India by then.
The device comes in three RAM and storage options– 6GB/64GB, 8GB/128GB and 12GB/256GB. It comes with an in display fingerprint scanner along with support for Face Unlock. The fingerprint scanner is not the fastest in the business. It’s a dual SIM phone with 4G support on both SIM slots. Like with all OnePlus phones, there’s no microSD card slot. Also, there’s Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS and NavIC.
Talking about the performance, this device does well when it comes to gaming and multitasking. However, it is not the quickest. You may notice small lags while opening heavy games like Call of Duty Mobile.
While gaming, expect the device to get heated but it will not slow down the phone. Overall, the device manages to offer a smooth experience without any software hiccups or app crashes. For average users, who are into occasional gaming, the Nord will easily take care of all your performance demands.
OnePlus Nord batteryThe OnePlus Nord is backed by a 4115 mAh with WarpCharge 30T fast charging (5V/6A). The device easily lasts a day on mixed usage which includes casual gaming. The device takes a little more than an hour to get fully charged. The WarpCharge 30T is a delight as you can get around 50% battery time by charging the battery for 30 minutes.
OnePlus Nord verdict
OnePlus Nord is a good choice in the Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 segment. If you are an average user then it may be a good idea to go for the low-end variant with 6GB of RAM to get the best bang for the buck. If you ever wanted to buy the OnePlus 8 but the price deterred you, then the Nord is the right opportunity to get a OnePlus flagship experience for a lesser price. The Nord is a fine overall package but do not expect it to be a replacement for a true flagship device which runs the latest Snapdragon 800 series processor. Having said that good battery life and the promise of timely software upgrade makes the Nord a compelling choice under Rs 30,000.