Speculation about the OnePlus Nord has been going on for a while, suggesting that the OnePlus Nord would be a cheaper offering than the premium OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 8 models that were released in April 2020. As it turns out, the OnePlus Nord is even cheaper than we predicted based on the rumours.
OnePlus took a decidedly different approach with their phone launch for the OnePlus Nord, opting to do it via an app available to download on the App Store and on Google Play as an AR launch. The AR unfortunately did not work on two of our staff members’ phones (an iPhone and an Android), therefore the technology was not without issues. However, given that a lot of other viewers seemed to not have experienced the same problems, we can at least commend OnePlus for attempting an innovative solution for their phone launch.
We did manage to follow the event in the end thanks to the Unbox Therapy YouTube channel, which streamed the event. So now that the event has happened, has the OnePlus Nord lived up to our expectations? The short answer is: yes, we are very impressed and we have not seen such an attractive smartphone offering for quite some time. Without further ado, here are our impressions of the OnePlus Nord.
Image credit: OnePlus
The OnePlus Nord has a 6.44-inch AMOLED display with 20:9 aspect ratio in Full HD+ and comes with a premium finish. Its small-ish size means that it can be used one-handed, which tends to be more ergonomic than the larger devices that can be tricky to hold. It is built with a metal frame, and the screen is made of Gorilla Glass, one of the sturdiest types of glass on the market. This makes for a luxurious looking and feeling device that will satisfy the aesthetes.
The buttons on the device include the power/lock key on the right hand side of the device, the OnePlus’ signature alert slider which allows you to easily switch between the silent, vibration and loud settings and a volume rocker on the left hand side of the device. In terms of colour, you have two options: Gray Onyx or Blue Marble. The Gray Onyx is nice but nothing special, unlike the Blue Marble. The Blue Marble colour is a crisp icy blue, which is visually appealing and stands out from the myriad of black, grey and silver devices that are currently on the market.
Image credit: OnePlus
In terms of cameras, the OnePlus Nord has what OnePlus have marketed as a rear quad camera setup, although this is not exactly true if you want to be pedantic. There is a 48MP lens with optical image stabilisation and low light settings for those eye-catching night time shots, an 8MP ultrawide lens as well as a depth sensor and a macro lens. Nonetheless, this is still a modern setup and should serve smartphone photographers well.
Interestingly, the OnePlus Nord also comes with two front facing cameras. One is a 32MP lens for regular selfies, and the other is an 8MP ultrawide lens, which is very practical for taking group photos. You can get a group of your relatives or friends piled into the frame quite easily this way, without having to get someone else to take the photo or by doing the awkward timer setting to get everyone in the shot.
Image credit: OnePlus
The OnePlus Nord was created and designed to be more affordable than the latest OnePlus flagships released four months ago; the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, but just because a phone is affordable, this does not necessarily mean a cheap build and a plastic looking appearance. In OnePlus terms, affordable means putting more thought into choosing the specifications list and finding the best components within the price range. The end result is the OnePlus Nord, offering flagship features within the mid-range market.
The OnePlus Nord has a 90Hz refresh rate, beating Samsung and Huawei to the punch with its OnePlus 7 Pro flagship last year. The 90Hz refresh rate makes for a smoother scrolling experience overall. Unsurprisingly, the display panel does not offer a higher resolution than 1080p and is flat unlike the OnePlus 8 flagships, however there is an in-display fingerprint sensor which users are likely to find useful.
The Nord is powered by the Snapdragon 765G 5G chipset, making the OnePlus Nord the cheapest device with 5G connectivity. We learned from previous releases from other manufacturers that 5G is regarded as a flagship feature that can easily push the price of a flagship to over £1000. The Nord’s story is different, and those who do not want to stay with 4G can now get a 5G smartphone at a lower price.
There is also the choice of 8GB and 128GB of storage or 12GB of RAM with 256GB of storage. These seem like generous RAM options and are likely to please those who are looking for more speed. Last but not least is the 4115 mAh battery that can be juiced up from flat to 70% in just thirty minutes thanks to the Warp Charge 30T technology. The Nord does not support wireless charging, but the fast wired charging should make up for that.
Image credit: OnePlus
Unfortunately it does not, and mobile gamers are not likely to be satisfied with a single bottom speaker on the OnePlus Nord. We have been spoiled by stereo speakers on flagship devices in the past, but the OnePlus Nord cut a corner here presumably to lower the price.
You will not find a headphone jack on the bottom of the OnePlus Nord, so if you have owned a phone with a 3.5mm jack before, you will need to get accustomed to a USB Type-C port for charging and listening to music. It is not the end of the world, but it is still something to consider if this is a dealbreaker for you.
The UK has been included in the list of European countries where the OnePlus Nord will launch, and this confirmed release date is Tuesday the 4th of August (just a day before Galaxy Note 20 series announcement). Three have announced the OnePlus Nord availability from Wednesday the 5th of August and we hope to see other UK networks offering the Nord to their new and existing customers.
The most exciting feature of the OnePlus Nord by far is its price. OnePlus has broken the mold and is offering this device for just £379 (8GB RAM and 128GB RAM). As we have discussed so far in this article, the OnePlus Nord offers a premium design, 90Hz refresh rate, a face unlock feature, a fingerprint scanner, multiple cameras and 5G capability, and typically for these state-of-the-art features, you would pay a higher price. When you compare the OnePlus Nord to some of the other smartphone models that have been released this year by smartphone manufacturers such as Apple (the new iPhone SE costs £419) however, the OnePlus Nord really gives you bang for your buck.
OnePlus has managed to return to its roots by releasing a smartphone model which offers many of the premium features for a fraction of the cost. When OnePlus released the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 8 which were £799 and £599 respectively, questions were raised about the future of the company, and if it was going to abandon its initial endeavour to produce devices that were affordable but cutting-edge. With the release of the OnePlus Nord, we have seen that OnePlus is branching out into the premium flagship space, while still adhering to its roots by providing a low-cost offering. This is an encouraging step from OnePlus, and we look forward to seeing what the future for the Nord lineup holds.
Cover image credit: OnePlus
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