OnePlus Nord 0019
- Smartphones

OnePlus Nord Review – OnePlus Did It Again. Kind Of.

When OnePlus came into the smartphone world, they released a smartphone with premium hardware at the time for a midrange price. After many phones, they are now selling premium smartphones for premium prices. Which is totally fine, but the community asked for a premium hardware phone for midrange prices again. OnePlus listened and they created the OnePlus Nord.

Introduction & Specifications

Smartphones are getting more expensive every single year. Now, the flagship phones will be over a thousand euros! That is insane… The community of OnePlus users spoke up and asked OnePlus to go back to its roots and create an affordable, but a premium smartphone. Luckily, OnePlus listened and we now have the OnePlus Nord. A very affordable phone, but not with the latest technology, like SOC or wireless charging for example. Is it still worth it? Did they do it again? Looking at the specifications, I’m very pleased about this price for sure.

Specifications 
Brand:OnePlus
Model:Nord
Colors:Blue Marble, Gray Onyx
Display:Fluid AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Display Size:6.44"
Display Resolution:1080 x 2400 pixels
Refresh Rate:90Hz
Operating System:Android 10, Oxygen OS
Chipset:Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
CPU:Octa-core (1x2.4 GHz Kryo 475 Prime & 1x2.2 GHz Kryo 475 Gold & 6x1.8 GHz Kryo 475 Silver)
GPU:Ardeno 620
Internal Storage:64GB 6GB RAM, 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 12GB RAM
Rear Camera:48MP, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP depth, 2MP macro
Front Camera:32MP, 8MP ultra-wide
Fingerprint Scanner:Yes, under the display
Battery:4115mAh Li-Po battery, non-removable
Charging:Fast charging 30W
Weight:184g
Size:158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm (6.23 x 2.89 x 0.32 in)

Unboxing

Since I placed a pre-order of the OnePlus Nord, I got a special box. Inside this special box, there is an extra OnePlus Case, in my case the Marble Blue. The box that contains the OnePlus Nord, is the one you will receive if you buy it from the stores now.

It is a calm and nice box, with the Nord name all over the front. On the back, we find some specifications, but nothing special. I like the little touch of Marble Blue on the box. Inside, we see the OnePlus Nord right away. Great feeling to finally have it in my hands after all the hype around it. Underneath the OnePlus Nord, we find the Wrap 30W charger with USB-C cable, a transparent protection case, the manual, and the SIM ejector.

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Hardware & Design

When taking the OnePlus Nord out of the box, it feels good to hold it. You do feel that there are some materials on the OnePlus Nord which are not the most premium, like plastic instead of metal. Personally, I don’t find it a big deal, but you do feel it. The two front cameras, with the pill shape in the display, looks kind of nice! I thought I would be very bothered by it but have used the OnePlus Nord for a few days, I like it. We’ve seen it before on OnePlus smartphones, the OnePlus Nord offers a slider on the side. This is an easy way to switch from silent to vibrate to sound. Handy little extra feature. At the bottom, we see the USB-C charger, the SIM slot, and a mono speaker. The speaker is not good enough and the quality of the sound is … Meh. I rather see a stereo set up. Watching a video now on the OnePlus Nord is not the best experience.

JerryRigEverything made a video where he “breaks” the OnePlus Nord due to the plastic edges, instead of metal. Yes, it is a weaker point, but putting so much pressure on your smartphone is kind of unrealistic. All the media picked it up as if the OnePlus Nord is very fragile, even if this is true, it will not be easy to break it. With this price tag, OnePlus made some decisions on where to save money, and the plastic for metal is one of them.

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Fingerprint Scanner & Face ID

The fingerprint scanner of the OnePlus Nord is located underneath the display on the front. This is my first smartphone that offers this feature and I really like it. It is located at the bottom in the middle, which is the most logical place to put it. It reacts slightly slower than the physical fingerprint scanner, but you barely notice it.

Besides the fingerprint scanner, you can also use Face ID to unlock your OnePlus Nord with just your face. I have them both configured, and it works, but it does not take my face when I want too. I’ve set it up twice and it slightly improved, but still, I have it fail on me on several occasions. This is during the day, so enough light to capture my face.

OnePlus Nord 0028

Display

Like the plastic edges, the display is also not top of the line. This is an upgrade compared to many other smartphones, but there are smartphones with 120Hz screens. The OnePlus Nord offers a 6.44″ AMOLED screen with 90Hz! At first, I was happy with my 60Hz screen and did not see the value in a better, higher Hz screen. Now, with the OnePlus Nord that offers 90Hz, I like to use it. You do notice the difference, but sometimes I switch to 60Hz just to save battery life.

There is no notch or something, but you are missing a small piece of your screen. The two front cameras are taking a pill-shaped piece of the display, which is fine by me. When I first saw it on smartphones, I was very negative about it. Who wants to walk around with a hole in their screen?! Now that I have the OnePlus Nord, I do like it and I find it not as annoying as I thought. Let’s say I’m pleasantly surprised by the hole in the screen.

There are some complaints of people that are seeing some color grading on the OnePlus Nords display. Luckily for me, that is not the case.

Battery Life

The battery life is important for a lot of users, I’m one of them. I was really curious to see how the OnePlus Nord will do in our battery test. Luckily, the OnePlus Nord battery life is great. We did our tests with the display set to 90Hz.

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During a normal day, I easily manage to get it to the end of the day with around 30% of battery life left. Now, this is not reliable. You might use it more intense which could cause the battery to go down harder. In a browse test on a WiFi, I managed to get around 14 hours of usage time out if the OnePlus Nord. On a 4G network, this was around 10 hours. When watching videos, the battery life was around 20 to 21 hours. Really impressed if you ask me!

The OnePlus Nord is also doing a good job when it comes to charging the battery. It comes with the Warp Charge 30T technology, which is the same as the OnePlus 8 for example. After 30 minutes of charging with the Warp Charge 30T, the OnePlus Nord gained around 50% battery life! The total charge time was just over 1 hour. Again, a great job is done by OnePlus.

Camera

One of the best features of the OnePlus Nord should be the camera set up. On the back, there are 4 cameras including a macro camera and a wide-angle camera. The front offers two selfie cameras, including a wide-angle camera again. That by itself is great, but not unique. The quality of the photo’s taken is what needs to stand out. Let’s see if OnePlus managed to get the camera set up as good as they promised.

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Front Cameras

There are two selfie cameras, so you can make the best Instagram shots. You have the primary camera, which is a Sony IMX616, 32Mp, f/2.5, 1/2.8″, 0.8µm. There is also an ultra-wide-angle camera, the 8Mp, f/2.5, 105˚, 1/4.0″, 1.12µm. If you want to take some group pictures, you don’t have to use a selfie stick, just select the ultra-wide-angle camera to do it for you.

For the selfie generation, the front camera is really good. There is a 32mp Sony IMX616 sensor in there which will capture a lot of details. A selfie stick is not needed anymore, there is an ultra-wide lens available that takes shots with a 105-degree field of view. It loses some details again in the shots, but it is acceptable. Not the best out there, like the rear cameras, but for this price we can not complain.

Rear Cameras

There are 4 cameras on the back, that by itself is pretty impressive. We have to see if they are able to take some good shots, but having 4 cameras for less than 400 euros is pretty amazing. The primary camera is a Sony IMX586, 48Mp, 1/2,0″, f/1.75. There is also an ultra-wide-angle camera, with 8Mp, f/2.3, 119˚. The last one is a macro lens, which is a 2mp camera lens. And, the fourth one, is a depth-sensor. Overall, a good camera set up. But as we’ve seen with the Google Pixel devices, the software is also important to take good shots.

The main front camera is pretty decent. You can make some good shots with it and, especially seen this price, it is good. If, however, you are looking for the best camera (as advertised by OnePlus), this is not the phone for you. There are better options, like the Google Pixel devices, available. The 2x zoom option is good and keeps a lot of details. Really happy with that. There are some details lost when using the ultra-wide camera, but again, for this price it is OK. The macro camera is not good enough. This is very unsharp and does not capture the details good enough. If you get as close as possible with the 2x zoom camera, you have a better picture with more detail.

Photo Examples

Click to enlarge. Text continues below the pictures.

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Normal
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48MP shot
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Ultra wide shot
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2x Zoom shot
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Portrait mode
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Macro lens
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2x Zoom close up shot
OnePlus Nord Selfie Camera 001
Normal selfie camera
OnePlus Nord Selfie Camera 002
Ultra wide selfie
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Selfie camera normal
OnePlus Nord Selfie Camera 004
Portrait selfie camera

Performance

With a price tag of below 500 dollars, you can not get all the premium parts. For example, the chipset is not the latest and fastest out there. Inside the OnePlus Nord, we find the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G. Even though there are better chipsets available, this is not a bad one either. We ran several benchmark tests to see how good or bad the smartphone really is.

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Geekbench 5 Benchmark

With the Geekbench 5 Benchmark tests, you have the option to run the CPU and GPU tests. Below you will find the results of both.

3DMark Benchmark

In the 3DMark Benchmark test, the OnePlus Nord had a better score than 69% of the other smartphones. That is pretty impressive, to be honest.

OnePlus Nord Software 0012

PCMark Benchmark

During the PCMark Benchmark test, the OnePlus Nord scored 8623 points. That is not bad at all. Comparing it in their own charts of best devices, the OnePlus scored higher than the Xiaomi Black Shark (Helo) and the Oppo R15. It is just below the Asus ROG Phone, which scores 8821.

Software – Oxygen OS

The Oxygen OS, developed by OnePlus, is great software. While using it, there is no lag and the navigation between the applications and menus is simple and effective. There is an active community of Oxygen OS developers and they really listen to the customers with developing their product. Besides that, you can easily unlock the bootload and install custom ROMs. Again, here is an active community producing those ROMs. In the Oxygen OS settings, you also have a lot of options to customize the User Interface. I attached the screenshots to show you what you can change..

OnePlus offers 2 years of Android updates. In this case, that should mean that you will get Android 11 and Android 12. For a not-flagship phone, that is great. Samsung, Huawei, and other brands might not even offer that. That is not all, OnePlus also offers 3 years of security updates. That is on the same level as some flagship phones from big companies. Very well done by OnePlus again.

Features

We looked at the hardware, which is great, but what more does the OnePlus Nord has to offer? Carl Pei mentioned it is waterproof, just not official. Is that true? We tested this, of course! Besides that, there are some nice software features, like Game Mode and Zen Mode. Let’s find out more about the features of the OnePlus Nord.

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Slider on the right side

Waterproof?

The OnePlus Nord does not officially own an IP-rating. Carl Pei, the CEO of OnePlus, mentioned that they did that to save money since an IP classification costs money. Carl Pei mentioned that it is water-resistant in water for up to 30 minutes, but just not official. Normally, when a company claims that I’m very skeptical.

I believe OnePlus is a great business and in the interview, he sounded really sure about his case. So, the only logical thing to do is to place my OnePlus Nord, which is my daily phone by now, in a bucket of water with just over 20 centimeters of water in it and take it out in a minute… Luckily, the OnePlus Nord is able to handle this and I was able to use my device after drying it. Relieved and happy!

Looking for a new mid-range super phone by OnePlus? CLICK HERE to get yours!

Customizability

Oxygen OS is customizable. I really like that, you can make it your own. In the settings, you can go to “Customization”, here you can change the Theme, Wallpaper, Clock Style, Fingerprint Animation, the Font, Icon Pack, and System Icons for example. This might be one of the best software features, as I don’t see it that often on the software of smartphones.

Game Mode/Fnatic Mode

The Game Mode, or Fnatic mode, is ideal if you are a gamer. The Fnatic Mode will block all the notifications and calls, so you can focus on your game. It will also restrict background processes so more speed and resources are available for your game session. It will also turn off the second SIM card to save resources. Handy and this can give you the boost to enjoy your games even more.

Zen Mode

“Phone Down, Enjoy Life” is the quote that OnePlus assigned to the Zen Mode. What is it? It turned off all the non-essential functions. You will only be able to use the camera and phone services for example. Take a break from your phone and give the Zen Mode a try.

90Hz Refresh Rate

A great feature is the 90Hz refresh rate of the display of the OnePlus. It really makes a difference and it makes scrolling super smooth and just flowing naturally. I thought I would not notice the difference, but the 90Hz refresh rate is really nice. You can switch it back to 60Hz to save battery life, but since the performance of the battery life is great, you can safely set it to 90Hz and make it to the end of the day.

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Conclusion

Man, OnePlus created a hype around the OnePlus Nord. Was it justified? I don’t think so. There are downsides, which makes sense if you want to sell it for a cheaper price, but I wish I knew about them before buying the OnePlus Nord. For example, the cameras are not as good as they promised in their promotion videos and posts. The camera is important for me, but I expected it to be of higher quality than this. Don’t get me wrong, it is decent, just not as good as they hyped it to be. Maybe they set the expectations too high for themself. The speaker is bad. This is just a mono-speaker, which is just not good enough. They saved on some features, like an official IP rating and wireless charging. Which is OK, that is why you can get this phone for just €399.

Besides that, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, it feels very smooth and fast. Even when multitasking or playing games, the OnePlus Nord feels fast. Oxygen OS is a relief and I love the freedom you get with it. You can customize it just how you want. Even though there is no official IP rating, it can still handle water. We dropped it in 20+cm of water for a minute and it worked perfectly fine after. The battery life is good too, no complaints at all about that. Charging with the Wrap Charge 30W is fast and convenient. Before buying, just know about its shortcomings.

OnePlus Nord

€399
8

Price/Quality

9.0/10

Battery Life

9.0/10

Software

8.0/10

Product Size/Design

7.5/10

Materials

6.5/10

Pros

  • Great battery and charging time
  • 5G and NFC support
  • Fingerprint scanner is quick
  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • Software is good, with long periods of updates and Oxygen OS

Cons

  • Plastic casing
  • No official IP rating
  • Camera quality is not superb
  • Mono speaker
  • No wireless charging

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