In July of 2020, OnePlus launched its second mid-range smartphone, the OnePlus Nord. With this affordable middle class, OnePlus wants to bring a more accessible OnePlus smartphone to the market. Did she do that? You read it in this review.
OnePlus Nord review
The OnePlus Nord is OnePlus’ second attempt to bring a midrange device to the market. This time the company has learned from the mistakes made by its predecessor, the OnePlus X. This mid-range was intended for existing OnePlus fans who were used to high-end specifications and that did not go together.
With the OnePlus Nord, OnePlus wants to increase its target group. The current OnePlus community goes for the more expensive high-end smartphones from OnePlus. The Nord should attract the people who have less to spend but don’t want to compromise on performance.
I was very curious if OnePlus succeeded with the Nord. To find out, I have been able to try the OnePlus Nord with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage in the color Blue Marble for quite some time. You read the answer to the question in this review.
OnePlus Nord Specifications
- Dimensions: 158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm
- Screen: 6.44 inch Fluid AMOLED (2400 x 1080), 408 PPI
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
- RAM: 12 GB RAM
- Storage: 256 GB internal (UFS 2.1)
- Selfie camera: 32 MP main camera with f / 2.45, 8 MP wide-angle camera with f / 2.45
- Main camera: 48 MP main camera with f / 1.75, 8 MP wide-angle camera with f / 2.25, 5 MP depth camera with f / 2.4, 2 MP macro camera with f / 2.4
- Battery: 4,115 mAh
- Software version: OxygenOS 10.5 based on Android 10
- Extra: Fast charging (30 watt Warp Charge 30T), a fingerprint scanner in the screen, a screen with 90 Hz refresh rate dual-sim, 5G
Housing and design
The OnePlus Nord in light blue looks very striking and I like the screen size of 6.44 inches. The phone is therefore not too big and therefore fits more easily in your pocket. You can also operate the phone more easily with one hand thanks to this format.
The front has no rounded screen edges but is completely flat. Although rounded screen edges look nice on a phone, they are more susceptible to damage and accidental actions. The fact that a phone has no rounded edges is certainly not a flaw for me.
On the other hand, both the front and the back are provided with Gorilla Glass 5 for extra protection against scratches. This means that the back is provided with glass. You see that material especially with high-end phones and it certainly does not look out of place for the Nord. It does feel a little less premium than you might expect.
Keep in mind that the back is very smooth. The included transparent case therefore comes in handy here. You don’t have to worry about fingerprints. You do not see it. You may worry about the phone if you drop it in water.
The Nord does not have an IP68 certification and the omission of such a certificate saves another $ 30 on the price. OnePlus does say that the phone can be immersed in 30 cm deep water for 30 minutes, but I do not recommend it anyway.
The OnePlus Nord also has a USB-C connection, a SIM card holder (dual sim) and one speaker at the bottom. On the sides are the on/off button, volume buttons and the well-known alert slider.
With this button you can easily set the phone to silent, just vibrate or just ringtone. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on this phone. So you can listen to music on the Nord via a Bluetooth headset or an adapter (not included).
Screen, performance and battery life
Screen and display
The OnePlus Nord therefore has a 6.44 inch AMOLED screen. OnePlus calls this a Fluid Display and this screen has a Full HD resolution and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. The first feature is quite normal in the mid-range, the 90 Hz refresh rate is not.
This refresh rate was introduced by OnePlus on the OnePlus 7 Pro and makes images appear smoother. You will notice that, just like with previous OnePlus phones. Especially when gaming and browsing. The OnePlus 8 Pro also comes with a 120 Hz screen. The Nord has therefore saved on this.
I think that OnePlus has chosen to add this refresh rate to the Nord. The AMOLED screen also does its job well. The color reproduction is fine and that also applies to the viewing angles.
This panel also includes a screen notch for the dual selfie camera. Not everyone will be charmed by where the couple is placed on the screen, but OnePlus wallpapers hide a lot. After a while I hardly notice them.
The OnePlus Nord is a more affordable smartphone for OnePlus, but it should offer the same user experience as its top phones. That means that the phone has to perform very well in terms of performance.
And OnePlus has succeeded. The Nord is a fast phone, not only because of the Snapdragon 765G chipset but also because of the smooth OxygenOS software and of course the 90 Hz screen.
This makes browsing and checking TikTok’s on the Nord a breeze. Ok gaming on this phone comes with as little delay as possible.
These are all ingredients that ensure that this phone performs above average in the mid-range in terms of performance. Now I was already very satisfied with the capabilities of the phones with a Snapdragon 765G chipset in this segment, the OnePlus Nord confirms that again.
Like the more expensive phones from OnePlus, the OnePlus Nord also features the fast charging technology called Warp Charge 30T. This ensures that the 4.115 mAh battery of the OnePlus Nordt is charged to 70% within 30 minutes.
Fast charging with 30 watts is not uncommon in the smartphone industry. Samsung already supplies 45-watt chargers with some of its phones. OPPO has had a 65-watt charger in its range for more than a year and recently came with its 125-watt fast charger.
In addition, the phone has a charging limit. This will stop charging overnight so the phone will not continuously charge at 100%. That works very well in practice. You can see the phone will stop charging in the evening when that limit is reached.
The OnePlus Nord lasts for more than 1.5 days with my intensive use. If I charge it in the morning, it will be empty around noon the next day. That’s very neat for a phone in this price range. My daily driver, the Pixel 4 XL with a suggested retail price of 899 euros, does not last a day on one battery charge.
Warp Charge 30T also ensures that your phone does not get too hot while charging, and the charging speed will not decrease while using the phone. The OnePlus Nord cannot be charged wirelessly. That is also more of a feature that you only see with more expensive phones.
The OnePlus Nord has the same fingerprint scanner as that of the OnePlus 8. So you can check that this sensor is doing very well, quickly and accurately. Placing your finger on it several times to register the printout is not necessary on the Nord.
You can also use facial recognition on the Nord to protect the phone. Since the OnePlus Nord does not have advanced sensors such as a TOF sensor, I do not recommend using this form of security. It’s simply not as secure as the fingerprint sensor.
OnePlus has saved on the speakers. There is a single speaker at the bottom. So there are no dual speakers and you will of course notice that. Still, the single speaker goes quite loud and the treble and midrange sound fairly balanced. There is also sufficient bass sound. Especially during gaming, you miss the second speaker. Dolby Atmos has also been omitted.
OnePlus has put a Dirac audio tuner in the settings. With this audio tuner, you can adjust the sound to your personal preference. This works for the speaker on the phone as well as the paired headphones or earbuds.
The OnePlus Nord review has a total of six cameras on board, four of which can be found on the back. Here is a main camera for the standard photos and a wide-angle camera (119 degrees) that allows you to capture the extra images.
There is also a depth camera that adds depth of focus to a photo. This allows you to blur the background of an object. Finally, there is a macro camera. With this camera, you can photograph subjects up close. So there is no telecamera on the Nord with which you can zoom in on something without too much loss of quality.
The camera app has several shooting modes, such as portrait, time-lapse, night scene, super macro, slow motion at 240 fps and a Pro mode. There are also various color filters available. You can film in a maximum of 4K resolution at 30 fps. with the selfie cameras, you can film in maximum 4K resolution at 60 fps.
The OnePlus Nord has the same 48 MP IMX586 main camera as that of the OnePlus 8. In fact, this is a 12-megapixel sensor that shoots images as if photos were taken with a 48 MP camera.
This camera is also equipped with electronic and optical image stabilization (OIS and EIS) so that you can also take sharp photos if your hands shake slightly. You do not see much optical image stabilization in this price range, so that is a bonus. Photos are also sharpened via the software.
The 48-megapixel main camera shoots very sharp, colorful photos with good contrast. The photos shot with 12 megapixels, on the other hand, have a better dynamic range. This in turn ensures a better balance between highlights and shadows. Blur in portraits is better in photos where good objects with clear edges are zoomed in. Blur is less well used in dishes.
The macro camera with its 2 megapixel performs the least well of the four. Colors become paler and sharpness is missing. Night mode (Night Scene) didn’t make me happy either. Photos become yellowish in dim artificial light and too many details are missing.
Double selfie camera
OnePlus has the Nord a double selfie camera for a reason. This pair is for the young people who are crazy about TikTok and YouTube and dream of becoming a well-paid vlogger. With these two cameras.
OnePlus also wants to make the selfie stick unnecessary. According to the company, you can do that with a wide-angle camera. You can then take an angle of 105 degrees with as many classmates as possible.
The OnePlus Nord review runs on OxygenOS 10.5 which is based on Android 10. This software shell is very similar to standard Android found on Google’s Pixel phones. Few optical changes have been added, but many useful functions.
For example, you can adjust the fingerprint animations or long-press the fingerprint scanner to quickly open an app. In addition to standard Android, OxygenOS is still one of my favorite software skins to work with.
Not only does OxygenOS look a lot like standard Android, but the software also comes without bloatware apps. There are almost no third-party apps pre-installed like Booking.com. Only Netlfix is supplied as standard. However, there are a handful of OnePlus apps such as the Community app, the File Bear app and Game Space.
OnePlus customers have been able to count on Android updates for two years and security updates for three years. The security updates are rolled out every two months.
The Nord, like the more expensive OnePlus phones, can count on the same update treatment. So you can assume that Android 11 and Android 12 will come to this phone. You often see that phones in the middle and low segments are less well endowed with updates. OnePlus makes no distinction here and that is nice to see.
In this article, you will find more information about the updated policies of OnePlus and of other smartphone manufacturers.
The company has indicated that the OnePlus Nord review has been released to increase the target audience. The Nord should, therefore, attract new customers instead of attracting the existing OnePlus fans (who go for high-end).
Still, I think the premium audience is certainly also fond of the OnePlus Nord. Then I’m talking about the capabilities of this middle class, not about the double selfie camera and the corresponding large notch in the screen. Not everyone will find that couple equally useful and beautiful.
The OnePlus Nord performs as we expect from a high-end OnePlus phone, smoothly and quickly. It even performs above average in the mid-segment, making the mid-segment even more attractive. Also for people who are used to a high-end phone.
Indeed, OnePlus has not made any concessions in terms of performance. The Nord has also taken over a large number of pulses from the OnePlus 8 series, such as the beautiful screen, the fine OxygenOS software, and the fast fingerprint scanner.
However, the company has saved on a number of parts to make the price more accessible. There are no dual speakers and the IP68 certification is also missing. But for this price range, 399 euros (8 GB) and 499 euros (12 GB), those savings are allowed.
The Nord has a lot to offer for a starting price of 399 euros. In my opinion, the device is an attractively priced alternative to the premium OnePlus phones, but also to many other high-end phones.
The middle segment is, therefore, getting better and the Nord is the captain of this segment in terms of performance. Is the OnePlus Nord already the best middle class of 2020? In terms of performance, I say yes to all!
If OnePlus can also further improve the macro camera and night mode with updates, then the variant with 8 GB of RAM (399 euros) in terms of value for money may take that honor in my opinion.
The OnePlus Nord competes against many other phones with similar specifications. Consider, for example, the Realme X3 SuperZoom (499 euros), the Motorola Edge (599.99 euros), the Vivo X50 (price still unknown), the OPPO Find X2 Lite (499 euros), the Samsung Galaxy A71 (469 euros) and the HTC U20 5G launched in Taiwan.
+ Excellent performance
+ Beautiful 90 Hz screen
+ Very good value for money
– Macro camera and night mode are underperforming
Buy OnePlus Nord
The OnePlus Nord is available in the Netherlands and Belgium for 399 euros (8 GB / 128 GB) and 499 euros (12 GB / 256 GB) and you can choose from the colors Blue Marble and Gray Onyx. The OnePlus Nord will be available from August 4 via OnePlus. You can pre-order the phone via Belsimpel, T-Mobile, and Coolblue.