The OnePlus Nord is the second mid-range device the company has released, following the OnePlus X that made its debut way back in 2015. The handset has a downgraded processor compared to the flagship OnePlus 8 series and lacks a few other high-end features, but it comes with a cheaper price tag that puts it in direct competition with the likes of the Pixel 4a.
To help you decide whether get the OnePlus Nord, we’ve prepared this buyer’s guide that brings together all the best resources on OnePlus’ mid-ranger. We’ll take a look at how well the cameras perform, what various reviewers think of the phone, where to buy it, how much it costs, and much more. Let’s dive in.
Editor’s note: This OnePlus Nord buyer’s guide is current as of August 2020. We will update it with new content regularly.
OnePlus Nord at a glance
The OnePlus Nord (launch price: £379/€399/24,999 rupees) made its debut on July 21 via an online event. Sales officially kicked off on August 4 in select markets including the UK. The phone will go on sale starting August 6 in India. Unfortunately, the OnePlus Nord was not released in the US.
The OnePlus Nord is a mid-range device, but it still has plenty to offer. It comes with the Snapdragon 765G processor, up to 12GB of RAM, four rear cameras, a big battery with Warp Charge 30T, and 5G support.
Due to its affordable price tag, OnePlus had to cut some corners. In addition to opting for a slower processor compared to the Snapdragon 865 you get in the OnePlus 8 series, there’s also no wireless charging or an IP rating. You also get less base RAM and storage (India only) compared to the company’s flagships, and plastic rails around the phone instead of the more premium and durable metal.
The handset is OnePlus’ answer to the likes of the Pixel 4a, Realme X50, and iPhone SE (2020), just to name a few.
Is the OnePlus Nord worth buying?
It depends on what you’re after. If you don’t need the power you get with the likes of the OnePlus 8 and can live without all the bells and whistles available on flagship devices, the OnePlus Nord should be on your shortlist.
The handset is more than powerful enough to handle everyday tasks with ease, offering similar performance as the two-year-old Snapdragon 845. However, if you plan on playing heavier games such as Real Racing 3 and Fortnite, you may have to look elsewhere. As noted in our review, you’ll experience some performance issues with titles like these.
One of the biggest reasons to buy the OnePlus Nord is for the software experience. OxygenOS is one of the best skins out there, offering plenty of useful features while keeping a stock-like feel. That means the OS isn’t as modified as those you get on Samsung and Huawei devices, and there’s not a lot of bloatware on board. OnePlus also has a great track record when it comes to software updates, shipping out the latest versions of Android faster than most of the competition.
Other reasons to go for the OnePlus Nord include an affordable price tag, 5G support, and a great AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. The build quality is excellent as well, as is the overall design of the handset.
The OnePlus Nord’s camera system is nothing to write home about.
However, there are a few drawbacks you have to keep in mind, with the biggest one being the camera setup. While the main sensor does a solid job, the other three lenses are nothing to write home about. If camera quality is a priority for you, the Pixel 4a is a much better option.
There’s also no headphone jack on board, nor is there a microSD card slot. This is especially worrisome considering that the base variant of the phone in India only comes with 64GB of storage. If these two things are important to you, something like the Galaxy A51 5G might be more up your alley. There are other alternatives available as well, which we’ll take a look at later on.
Also, while the battery of the OnePlus Nord is a decent size, the battery life isn’t the best in class. But it’s not bad and should get you through the day with ease.
What experts think of the OnePlus Nord?
Our very own Ryan-Thomas Shaw has already reviewed the OnePlus Nord and had a lot of good things to say about it. However, he also pointed out a few areas where the phone lags behind the competition.
Let’s start with the good stuff. Ryan praised the software experience as well as the build quality, despite the phone having plastic rails instead of metal ones. He also liked the 90Hz AMOLED display and OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30T that gets the battery from zero to 100% in less than an hour. The main camera is good too in his opinion, and the overall design of the phone is easy on the eyes.
The OnePlus Nord is a great phone overall, but it’s not for everyone.
On the flip side, the phone lacks a microSD card slot and doesn’t come with wireless charging, although that’s kind of understandable given the price point. And while the main camera is good, the other ones are far from perfect. So if you’re in the market for a great camera phone, the OnePlus Nord shouldn’t be at the top of your list.
Ryan also mentioned that while performance is good overall, the phone struggles with certain 3D games. If you’re a gamer and often play titles like Fortnite on your phone, a phone with a more powerful chipset will be better suited for your needs.
All things considered, the OnePlus Nord is a great phone, although it doesn’t stand out from the crowd too much. It offers great value for money and is a great buy for OnePlus fans and those looking for things like great software, but it’s not for everyone.
What other reviewers from around the web think?
To give you the best overview of the Nord, we looked at what reviewers from other publications had to say about OnePlus’ mid-range phone.
- Tech Radar’s John McCann said the OnePlus Nord is a great combination of style, features, and affordability. It offers an almost-flagship experience thanks to its premium design, slick performance, and great cameras. He also pointed out a few drawbacks of the phone, which he described as minor. These include the lack of a headphone jack, IP rating, and wireless charging. Then there’s also the battery life, which is average at best.
- Cnet’s Andrew Hoyle thinks the OnePlus Nord offers a lot of value for money. The phone has a great design in his opinion and feels premium, despite its low price point. Performance is excellent, the display is vibrant, and the main camera is decent. Andrew also likes that the phone supports 5G and OnePlus’ Warp Charge technology. However, he mentions that the in-display fingerprint scanner isn’t the best, and the same goes for the 2MP macro camera at the back. There’s also no IP rating. But these things aren’t deal-breakers for him.
- Engadget’s Mat Smith really likes the OnePlus Nord. He said that the phone offers great performance, although he did run into a few issues when playing demanding games like Fortnite. He also said good things about the display of the phone as well as the cameras, except for the macro lens he described as “ mostly pointless.” Other pros of the Nord include 5G support and an affordable price tag. However, Mat didn’t like the cheap screen protector that comes pre-installed on the phone and believes that the overall footprint of the Nord is too big for a lot of people. The lack of availability in the US is also a big drawback in his opinion.
What people like you think of the OnePlus Nord?
A day after Oneplus announced the Nord, we ran a poll on our website, asking readers whether they think the OnePlus Nord is hot or not. Based on the answers, the vast majority of our readers really like OnePlus’ mid-range smartphone. Out of nearly 29,000 survey participants, 68.9% of them said the phone was hot.
The 31.1% of those who voted “Not” berated the phone’s lack of an IP rating, wireless charging, and a headphone port. Its questionable selfie camera performance didn’t help its case either.
We also ran a poll in our OnePlus Nord vs iPhone SE camera shootout, asking readers which of the two phones takes better images. The iPhone came out on top, with 65.4% of people preferring its camera over those of the OnePlus Nord. What’s interesting here is that the OnePlus Nord has four rear cameras, while the iPhone only has one. This just goes to show that more cameras don’t always translate to better images.
How good are the cameras on the OnePlus Nord?
The OnePlus Nord has a total of six cameras. You’ll find a main 48MP sensor on the back along with 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP depth, and 2MP macro lenses. There are two selfie cameras on board — a main 32MP shooter and an 8MP ultra-wide sensor.
In his review of the OnePlus Nord, our very own Ryan-Thomas Shaw wasn’t very impressed with the camera setup of the device. The main 48MP sensor is the same as the one on the OnePlus 8 and is the best of the pack, producing acceptable images. There’s a reasonable amount of sharpness in images, and the sensor captures highlight details well. But the colors seem to be washed out and aren’t always true to life.
Read next: What’s going on with the selfie cameras on the OnePlus Nord?
The other three rear cameras leave a lot to be desired. The 8MP ultra-wide camera suffers from many issues, with the most apparent one being general lack of sharpness, particularly at the edges of the frame. OnePlus’ software also seems to be incorrectly applying noise reduction to areas that it thinks are noisy.
Portrait mode shots are nothing special either, and that’s despite a dedicated 5MP depth sensor. The 2MP macro lens is probably the worst of the bunch, producing fairly poor quality images.
The OnePlus Nord comes with the company’s Nightscape mode that’s designed to improve low-light photography. Unfortunately, the tech is no match for Google’s Night Sight that’s on board devices like the Pixel 4a. Nightscape mode is fairly usable with the main 48MP camera, although it’s far from perfect. But when you switch to the ultra-wide, the images come out a mess due to the smaller sensor, slower lens, and lack of OIS.
For selfies, the results are a hit and miss due to OnePlus’ over-the-top processing. The colors are reasonably accurate and there’s a good amount of dynamic range. The contrast is nice as well. But there’s too much skin smoothing considering that this setting was turned off during our testing.
Overall, the camera setup of the OnePlus Nord is acceptable, but there are far better options available at this price point. To see exactly how the cameras of the device perform, check out all of our full-quality OnePlus Nord review camera samples in this Google Drive folder.
Does the OnePlus Nord have good battery life?
The handset packs a 4,115mAh battery that supports OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30T fast charging (30W). The battery life is good overall, providing a full day of use with ease. However, it’s not the best in class.
We compared the battery life of the Nord with three of its competitors — Oppo Reno 4, LG Velvet, and Realme X50 — and the phone came last by a notable amount of time. As you can tell by the chart below, the Reno 4 was the winner in this category, despite sporting the smallest battery of the bunch at 4,000mAh. It was followed by the LG Velvet (4,300mAh) and Realme X50 (4,200mAh).
For charging, you can get the OnePlus Nord from zero to 100% in 57 minutes, according to our testing. That’s fast, although Nord’s competition can charge in about the same amount of time, if not less.
Competition and alternatives
The OnePlus Nord is facing some stiff competition, some of which have the phone beat in many areas. The phone’s main rival is the recently announced Pixel 4a, which sports a much better camera despite only having a single lens at the back. The device also has a headphone jack and a smaller footprint, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your preference. But it does come with a weaker chipset and does not support 5G.
The Apple iPhone SE is also a great alternative, although it runs a completely different OS that some love, while others hate. It comes with wireless charging, an IP rating, a faster chipset, and a more pocket-friendly (albeit dated) design. But you don’t get 5G support or a display with a 90Hz refresh rate display like with the Nord.
Related: Google Pixel 4a vs OnePlus Nord: Which is better?
Then there’s the LG Velvet that sports the exact same chipset as the Nord, but also comes with a microSD card slot, a headphone jack, and even wireless charging. You also get an IP68 rating for protection against water and dust. But the performance isn’t the best and the phone is quite a bit more expensive than the OnePlus Nord.
Next up is the Realme X50. The handset comes with a larger display at 6.57 inches, which is either good or bad depending on your needs. The refresh rate is also higher at 120Hz. But you’re stuck with an LDC panel instead of the AMOLED one you get with the Nord, and software updates likely won’t be as fast or frequent.
Other OnePlus Nord rivals worth checking out include the Realme X3 Superzoom and the Galaxy A71. The high-end version of the Nord with 12GB of RAM also competes with the Poco F2 Pro, which is a much better device overall, although it comes with less RAM and storage. You can check out a few other OnePlus Nord alternatives at the link.
Known OnePlus Nord issues
Since it was recently released, we haven’t come across a lot of issues with OnePlus’ mid-ranger. The only one users have complained about so far is green, purple, or yellow screen tinting at low brightness levels, typically around the 20% to 25% threshold.
OnePlus originally said that the tinting problem was just an aspect of OLED panels and no fix was necessary. However, the company later changed its tune and said that a fix for the issue is on its way via a future software update. But the company didn’t say what the fix will do, nor when it will actually arrive. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
OnePlus Nord software updates
As the Nord has just recently hit the market, we haven’t seen any major updates released for the device. But the good news is that OnePlus is generally very fast with updates, and it rolls them out frequently too.
For example, the OnePlus 5 and 5T were updated to Android 10 earlier this year, even though they were almost three years old at that point. With that in mind, the Nord is likely to get the same or similar treatment.
As far as speed goes, OnePlus rolled out the stable version of Android 10 to the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro just 18 days after the OS was released. This made it among the fastest companies to update its flagships to the latest Android. For reference, it took Samsung around two and a half months to ship out Android 10 to the Galaxy S10 series, which is still fast compared to some of the other OEMs.
If fast and frequent updates are important to you, you can’t go wrong with the OnePlus Nord — or any other OnePlus phone for that matter.
OnePlus Nord cases and accessories
The OnePlus Nord is not as expensive as the OnePlus 8 series and other flagships, but it still isn’t exactly cheap. With that in mind, it’s worth getting a screen protector and a case for the device to protect it from bumps and bruises.
OnePlus has a few original cases available, with the most interesting one being the JerryRigEverything creator case that has an image of the phone’s internals printed on the back, making it very unique. There’s also a clear bumper case available that lets you show off the phone’s design and a sandstone case for extra grip. OnePlus also sells a tempered glass screen protector that should make sure the display of your handset doesn’t get scratched.
There are a lot of third-party cases and screen protectors available as well, and we’re already working on lists of the best ones. We’ll update this page when those posts are ready, so stay tuned.
The OnePlus Nord doesn’t have a headphone jack, so the best option is to opt for a pair of Bluetooth headphones. You have plenty to choose from, including the company’s brand-new true wireless OnePlus Buds, which made their debut alongside the OnePlus Nord. If you want to save a bit of money, OnePlus’ Bullets Wireless 2 are a great option as well. There are a bunch of third-party headphones to choose from, the most interesting of which you can check out in our dedicated “The best headphones for the OnePlus Nord” post at the link.
We also recommend getting a power bank for your OnePlus Nord. The battery life of the phone is decent, but not class-leading. A power bank will make sure you don’t run out of juice while out and about. To check out the best ones we recommend, click here.
Top OnePlus Nord questions and answers
Q: Is the OnePlus Nord waterproof?
A: No, the phone isn’t waterproof, which is to be expected due to its affordable price tag. The company says the phone has been internally tested in up to 30cm of water for 30 seconds, however, the lack of an official rating means we don’t recommend taking the phone for a plunge.
Q: Does the OnePlus Nord support 5G?
A: Yes, the OnePlus Nord supports the sub-6Ghz 5G standard.
Q: Does the OnePlus Nord have a headphone jack?
A: Just like the OnePlus 8 series, the OnePlus Nord does not have a headphone jack.
Q: Does the OnePlus Nord support wireless charging?
A: No, it doesn’t. But this is to be expected due to the affordable price of the device.
Q: Does the OnePlus Nord have dual-SIM capabilities?
A: Yes, you can use two SIM cards in the OnePlus Nord at the same time.
Q: Does the OnePlus Nord have a microSD card slot on board?
A: Unfortunately, the phone does not support expandable storage.
Q: What storage variants is the phone available in?
A: The phone comes in 8GB/128GB and 12GB/256GB variants. There’s also a 6GB/64GB model available, although it is exclusive to India.
Q: When will OnePlus Nord launch in the US?
A: Unfortunately, the OnePlus Nord will not be released in the US.
Q: Does the phone have stereo speakers?
A: No, the OnePlus Nord has a single bottom-firing speaker.
Q: How fast does the OnePlus Nord charge?
A: The device supports OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30T tech (30W), which gets the battery from empty to 100% in 57 minutes, according to our testing.
Q: What colors is the OnePlus Nord available in?
A: The phone is available in two colors: Gray Onyx and Blue Marble.
Where to buy the OnePlus Nord
The OnePlus Nord is already available in Europe, with sales kicking off in India on August 6. The phone wasn’t released in the US.
For now, the only place you can get the phone is directly from OnePlus’ website, but we expect Amazon to start selling it sooner or later as well.
|Display||6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED
2,400 x 1,080
20:9 aspect ratio
90Hz refresh rate
In-display fingerprint sensor
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
|RAM||6GB / 8GB / 12GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||64GB / 128GB / 256GB UFS 2.1|
– 48MP main (f/1.75, 0.8µm)
– 8MP ultra-wide (f/2.25, 119 degrees)
– 5MP depth (f/2.4)
– 2MP macro (f/2.4)
Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)
No wireless charging
|Dimensions and weight||158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2mm