OnePlus Nord N10 hands-on: Settling on simplicity

Patrick
OnePlus Nord N10 in the hand angled

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The OnePlus Nord N10 is the middle child of the Nord family. The Nord sits at the top of the heap, with the N10 and then the N100 sitting below. Together, these three phones represent a new tier of devices meant to give OnePlus fans the full range of potential price points: from entry-level to premiere mid-range. For example, the vanilla OnePlus Nord starts at £379 in the UK, while the N10 costs £329/€329 (~$429), and the N100 is £179/€179 (~$233). That leaves the N10 in an awkward spot.

Can anything set the OnePlus Nord N10 apart from its stablemates? We have some thoughts in our initial hands-on of the middle sibling’s hardware.

Related: The best OnePlus phones

Hardware

OnePlus Nord N10 rear panel wall

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

OnePlus picked Nord, which means “north” in German, with purpose. “This product line reminds us to always search for our true north, and we hope it will keep reminding you of yours,” said OnePlus co-CEO Carl Pei in a tweet earlier this year. This means Nord is supposed to be simple and reliable, a beacon that offers guidance. Does the Nord N10 embrace that idea?

Well, it’s simple. The phone bears only the slightest resemblance to the OnePlus 8 series phones. It’s got a flat glass face, a polycarbonate frame, and a plastic rear shell. You could say that it looks like a glass sandwich — only it’s not glass.

The OnePlus Nord N10 is a compelling blue. One might liken it to the deep blue of a northern sky just after sunset. It’s rich and better than the aqua shade we saw on OnePlus phones earlier this year.

OnePlus Nord N10 rear panel chair

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Nord N10 is a sizable piece of hardware. It’s bigger than the OnePlus 8 and more in line with the size of the 8 Pro. OnePlus was able to keep the weight down, thanks to the plastics, but some people may find the N10 is too much to handle.

See also: History of OnePlus’ lineup

I wish the materials and build were a little more premium. I get that this is a mid-range phone, but the plastics don’t feel quite fine enough to my fingers. More to the point, the display glass is set into an obvious plastic frame that’s itself set into the polycarbonate chassis. It cheapens the look a bit. There aren’t any gaps in between the panels and the frame, but there is a distinct ledge between the sides of the rear panel and the frame that I don’t care for.

Something’s missing

OnePlus Nord N10 in the hand

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The rear panel is totally smooth, save for the fingerprint reader and camera module. The Nord N10’s glossy finish is a total fingerprint magnet. It’s easily covered in grime. I found myself constantly rubbing it on my jeans to get rid of the gunk.

The fingerprint reader is in a fine spot. I found it easy to locate and use when testing the phone. The camera module closely resembles those of the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Note 20 series, which is to say it’s a fairly large rectangle that protrudes from the otherwise smooth plastic.

OnePlus Nord N10 bottom edge

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

There are plenty of functional elements along the outer edge of the phone — save for one big one. Let’s start at the bottom. That’s where you’ll find the USB-C port, downward-firing speaker, and headphone jack. Yes, really, a headphone jack. The volume toggle is on the left edge of the phone, as is the tray for SIM/microSD memory cards. A microphone graces the top edge and the power/screen button is on the right edge.

What’s missing? The alert slider. One of OnePlus’ hallmark hardware features is simply not here. That’s a major let down.

A flat display

OnePlus Nord N10 front panel wall

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

As noted above, the display glass is flat. That’s totally fine for a phone in this price category. The OnePlus Nord N10 has a 6.49-inch IPS LCD with Full HD+ resolution. Importantly, it has a 90Hz refresh rate. This really helps give the screen some oomph. While I think the colors and brightness come across a bit on the muted side, the refresh rate provides some crispness that helps it stand apart from others in this price category.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 powers the phone, aided by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. A 4,300mAh battery delivers the juice. Middling specs, all, and quite a bit of a hit when compared to the more capable Nord.

More: Phones with the best display

Other than the missing ringer switch, the other big “what?” of the Nord N10 is that it ships with Android 10. We’re at the point where new phones should be shipping with Android 11, not Android 10. This is a bit of a misstep if you ask us.

OnePlus Nord N10 specs

  OnePlus Nord N10 OnePlus Nord N100
Display 6.49-inch IPS LCD
Full HD+ resolution
90Hz refresh rate
6.52-inch IPS LCD
HD+ resolution
60Hz refresh rate
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 Qualcomm Snapdragon 460
RAM 6GB 4GB
Storage 128GB internal
microSD support (up to 512GB)
64GB internal
microSD support
Power 4,300mAh battery
Warp Charge 30T wired charging
5,000mAh battery
18W wired charging
Ports microSD slot
3.5mm headphone jack
Dual-SIM (Europe and UK)
Single SIM (North America)
microSD slot
3.5mm headphone jack
Dual-SIM (Europe and UK)
Single SIM (North America)
Cameras Rear:
64MP Main
8MP Ultra-wide
2MP Macro
2MP Monochrome

Front:
16MP

Rear:
13MP main
2MP Bokeh
2MP Macro

Front:
8MP

Security Rear fingerprint sensor Rear fingerprint sensor
Connectivity 5G + 4G LTE 4G only
OS Android 10
Oxygen OS 10.5
Android 10
Oxygen OS 10.5
Dimensions and weight 164.9 x 65.1 x 8.49mm
188g
163 x 74.7 x 8.95mm
190g
Colors Midnight Ice Midnight Frost
Availability United Kingdom
Europe
North America
United Kingdom
Europe
North America

OnePlus Nord N10: Early verdict

OnePlus Nord N10 in the hand face

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The OnePlus Nord N10 is a solid piece of hardware. There is a lot to like about its mid-range design, though there are certainly some questionable omissions, such as the ringer switch and Android 11. It’s supposed to be an affordable phone, and it is.

Android Authority will be testing the OnePlus Nord N10 over the days ahead and should have a full review ready soon.

OnePlus Nord N10 5G

The OnePlus Nord N10 5G is the middle child in OnePlus’ expanding Nord line. It delivers a quad rear camera, 30W charging, and 5G on a budget.

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