OnePlus Nord Review - back to basics | TechBuyGuide
Phones

OnePlus Nord Review – back to basics

Nord does not aim for the top, nor does it have the ambitions. Its goal is the upper middle class and the pursuit of the best possible ratio of performance and price.

oneplus-nord-header
  • The design is beautifully minimalist and very sleek in blue colour
  • Oxygen OS is full of settings, yet stays simple and lightweight at the same time
  • Unfortunately, the phone is lacking water resistance and wireless charging features

Pros

  • Great display
  • Excellent system
  • Camera quality
  • 5G support
  • Physical profile switcher

Cons

  • Missing Wireless charging
  • MicroSD is not supported
  • Higher price for 256GB version
  • 3.5mm jack absence

Nord does not aim for the top, nor does it have the ambitions. Its goal is the upper middle class and the pursuit of the best possible ratio of performance and price. With the 128GB version without discussion, the tested 256GB is no longer so cost-effective in my opinion, but it is still interesting.

OnePlus-Nord-Colors
OnePlus Nord available in 2 different colors

OnePlus is backed by the parent company BBK Electronics, which also manufactures Realme phones. Comparing OnePlus Nord and the Realme X50 5G next to each other, you might find quite a few similarities in the design and a bit in the software as well. Where phones do not hide their relationship at all, there is a charger that is the same, although each uses a slightly different designation for fast charging.

Design

Blue suits it well, gray does not provoke. Nord is a nice little phone. True, 6.44 “is not quite small, but considering how thin the phone’s frames are and what diagonals the others are heading into, it is still a compact machine that fits beautifully in a smaller hand. The front screen is only slightly rounded at the edges, but the back is properly curved. However, not too much, though as it is exactly the shape that is pleasant to grip. The frame, which is made of glossy plastic, did not have to narrow significantly on the longer sides, thanks to which the phone is possible to grab well.

OnePlus Nord from side
OnePlus Nord from side

The blue colour of the phone definitely looks good. It’s not wildly provocative, but you definitely won’t miss the phone.
The absence of a 3.5mm jack probably won’t surprise anyone, so the only port on the phone remains USB-C at the bottom. Just next to it, you will find a drawer for two nanoSIMs and a loud speaker, which can offer an outstanding sound. The volume control is located on the left side, and the power button with a typical OnePlus profile switch button on the right side. As usual, the profile switch button has three positions: sound, vibration and complete silence. Surprisingly, this practical and ingenious element has not spread among other phones. After all, the iPhone has a physical ring / vibration switch since the first model. You will certainly appreciate such a nice detail that even on a switched off AMOLED panel, an icon and a description of which sound profile is currently activated are displayed.

OnePlus Nord from bottom
OnePlus Nord from bottom

In terms of design, it is right to praise the phone. That simplicity is magical and very impressive. At the same time, it is clear that the simple design is not the only thing that matters. Someone had to think it through to make the phone look nice and be practical at the same time. Nord fits perfectly in hand, 184 g is the ideal weight and the thickness of 8.2 mm hides nicely behind the rounded back. It’s truly a beautiful phone.

What’s missing

What you might definitely miss about the phone is that it lacks increased durability and wireless charging. It is understandable that the price would have moved up quite significantly, but at the same time, many customers would certainly pay a bit extra for these things. You can have at least a little pleasure from a fast 30W charger, which, however, catches up with laptop chargers due to its dimensions. In the package, you will also find a cable and a transparent case.

OnePlus Nord Box content
OnePlus Nord Box content

This concludes the list of accessories. You will not find any headphones or a reduction from USB-C to 3.5 mm jack in the package.

Display

AMOLED at 90 Hz. There are only positive words to describe the screen itself. The manufacturer refers to it as Fluid AMOLED and offers Full HD + resolution. The basic color tuning of the phone is very much focused on liking with strong colors, which he succeeds without reservations. But you will also find a more ‘real-colors’ profile in the settings. The refresh rate is fixed, so you can choose either 90 or 60 Hz.

OnePlus Nord screen | TechBuyGuide

Unfortunately, smoother movement on the display is redeemed by higher power consumption, with no other options to this.

Always-on setup options are very good to have; the brightness range is huge and night mode is a sure thing.

OnePlus Nord - Reading mode
OnePlus Nord – Reading mode

Also, an interesting function might reading mode, which you can set for specific applications, and the software then desaturates the colours automatically and you will then see shades of grey. At first, it seems a bit strange, but over the time you get a taste of it. You will quickly get the impression of reading a classic paper and black and white images won’t distract so much.

The screen is one of the strengths of the phone, and in addition, it has a great optical fingerprint reader. Full HD + resolution of 6.44″ is just enough, viewing angles and readability in the sun are surprisingly good. It seems like the screen for Nord was made by Samsung, which is famous for great AMOLED panels.

Hardware

8 GB of RAM will suffice to most, 12 GB to everyone. The Snapdragon 765G processor takes care of the phone’s operations, which has enough power even for more demanding games. The 12 GB RAM which was in the tested model is practically inexhaustible. That’s why we dare to say that 8 GB of RAM, which is associated with the 128GB variant, will suffice for the vast majority.

OnePlus Nord in hand | TechBuyGuide

As stated earlier on, the capacity of the phone is unfortunately final and it is not possible to expand it any further with a microSD card. A single drawer in the phone can hold two nanoSIMs.

Performance with AnTuTu 8.4.3
Total score: 332 089 points
CPU: 104,689 points
GPU: 93,539 points
MEM: 69,137 points
UX: 64,724 points

The rest of the equipment is no surprise, although some might lack wireless charging, which unfortunately remains the domain of expensive phones.

Battery

The battery with an unconventional capacity of 4,115 mAh will last for about two days and you will most definitely appreciate the fast 30W charging. A full charge from a fully dead phone takes a little over an hour, which is a very good performance. The battery life depends a lot on how often and how much you use your screen for. The 90Hz refresh rate is quite demanding, and if you accept 60 Hz, you can extend the battery life by 25 to 30%.

Battery life:
Full HD video playback, maximum brightness: 9:11 h
Website refresh every 15 s, half brightness: 7:50 h
Charging from 15 to 90%: 0:37 h


It is also worth mentioning the 5G support, which is not completely crucial in many countries yet, but that can change very quickly as many (if not all) car manufactures are releasing phones supporting the new 5G frequencies.

Surely, we cannot forget on Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1 and NFC which are also available in this phone. OnePlus Nord also supports four navigation services: GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo. Perhaps one that may be missing to the full satisfaction is an FM radio and possibly an IrDA port.

Software

Android 10 with a little oxygen. OnePlus refers to its system as Oxygen OS and has long followed the same strategy. The system is very close to pure Android, so the software comes almost exclusively from Google. Exceptions are some pre-installed apps like Netflix, a data migration utility and a community forum entry application. OnePlus also takes care of updates and patches.

oneplus nord software | TechBuyGuide

At first glance, Oxygen OS resembles pure Android, which is certainly not a bad thing.
At first glance, the system looks beautifully minimalist – simple graphics, the font used or how the system lets you set the basics at the beginning so you wouldn’t have to look for them again in the settings. If you do, there are plenty of choices waiting for you, allowing you to tailor your phone to your needs. These are little things like various gestures, turning off messages from Google on the desktop, etc.

The system is excellently optimized, agile and pleasant to work with.

Camera

Nord relies on the well-known 48Mpx chip with optical stabilisation, which complements the lens with OIS. The full resolution is converted to 12Mpx images and you also have the option of 2 × “lossless” zoom. The images are beautifully coloured, sharp and the presence of OIS is very well known.

The ultra-wide camera, and even though it has only 8MPx, has very good optical quality, and in addition, has the same tuned colour output as the primary camera, even though, 8MPx might not be enough during certain lower-light compositions..

Negative points to the 2Mpx macro camera, because the quality of the pictures it takes is terrible. It’s the same useless camera that manufacturers use just for their PR.

Primary camera: 48 Mpx, 1 / 2.0 “, F1.8, 2 mm, PDAF, OIS
Ultra wide camera: 8 Mpx, F2.3, 119˚
Scene depth measurement: 5 Mpx, F2.4
Macro camera: 2 Mpx, F2.4
Selfie camera: 32 Mpx, 1 / 2.8 “, F2.5
Secondary selfie camera: 8 Mpx, 1 / 4.0 “, F2.5, 105˚

The video has great colors and stabilization. It’s a shame that the ultra-wide shot can only be taken in Full HD. During shooting, you can also only switch between 1x and 2x zoom. In Overall, however, One Plus Nord nicely surprises and deserves praise as it is worth mentioning that we are not talking here about high class model for £1000. Shooting video in 4K we can see the optical stabilization working, which allows you to capture more details even when on the move.

Conclusion

OnePlus Nord is well-though and made phone with many higher quality features exceeding many phones in mid-class range. It represents a return to the roots as it should be. This is a great phone for a great price, which will hopefully bring the brand more popularity among regular users than its current top models.

The combination of the good AMOLED screen, sleek design, lightweight system, decent camera and the lower price tag makes this phone very appealing.

Video review from TheVerge

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