OnePlus Nord hands-on: New beginnings feel familiar


The hype surrounding the OnePlus Nord has been circulating for months. The company has pulled a fair number of stunts to hype up its latest release, which you can read more about here. But today is the day — the announcement of the OnePlus Nord.

The OnePlus Nord is the second-ever mid-range smartphone from the company. The first was the OnePlus X, which was launched in 2015. The Nord is one of three current-generation devices sold by OnePlus, alongside the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro.

Today, we have a OnePlus Nord hands-on where we’ll be telling you all you need to know about it, along with some initial impressions.

OnePlus Nord hardware

OnePlus Nord Top down unboxing media kit

The OnePlus Nord’s hardware is predominantly Gorilla Glass 5  at the front and back with plastic rails on the side. It comes in two colors, Gray Onyx and Blue Marble. The plastic rail is shiny and feels surprisingly robust. I had to double check to make sure it was made of plastic instead of what felt like metal. OnePlus seems to have applied a coating on the glass back of the device that gives it an almost plasticky feel and enhances the grip.

There’s one microphone on top. On the bottom, there is a USB 2.0 Type-C port flanked by a microphone, dual-SIM card slot, and the bottom-firing speaker. On the left, there are the volume buttons, while the right side houses the power button and the alert slider. The slider lets you conveniently adjust profiles and put the phone on vibrate or mute. On the back, there is a OnePlus logo in the middle with some text further down, with the quad-camera module and dual flash right next to it at the top.

Surrounding the display are some pretty thin bezels with some moderately rounded corners. The earpiece speaker is sitting stealthily in the thin top bezel. Just below and to the left is the punch-hole that houses the two selfie cameras. The display itself is a flat 6.44-inch Full HD 90Hz Fluid AMOLED panel. It looks bright, crisp, and colorful upon first glance, and my first impressions were good all around.

Holding the OnePlus Nord in my hand, it feels like a baby OnePlus. It feels solid and tight with clicky buttons and a tactile mute toggle switch. The haptic setup is the first thing that caught my attention when setting up the device. The Nord’s linear vibration motor makes the haptics feel surprisingly crisp for a mid-range smartphone.

The model that we have here is in the striking Blue Marble color. It’s a brand new color for OnePlus. It’s bright, and shines in slightly different shades based on how the light hits it.

OnePlus Nord software: A breath of fresh air

OxygenOS is loved by many for its clean yet featureful skin atop of Android. The OnePlus Nord will ship with Oxygen OS 10.5 on Android 10. It makes the Nord really feel like any OnePlus phone as soon as you power it on. From the get-go, it feels very similar to the 8 series in the setup process. It’s nice that OnePlus is carrying over its renowned user experience to its mid-range devices too.

OnePlus Nord specs: No need for a flagship chip?

OnePlus has chosen the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G as its SoC of choice for the Nord. We’ve found the chip to be pretty competitive in other devices, so its presence here is promising. OnePlus bringing 5G to its mid-range device is also a great effort to broaden the adoption of the superfast standard.

OnePlus has chosen to offer two RAM and storage configurations for the Nord. You can have either 8GB RAM and 128GB storage or 12GB RAM and 256GB Storage. Both of these options give you LPDDR4X RAM and UFS 2.1 storage. The latter of the two options could be seen as overkill for a mid-range device, but we’ll wait to provide buying advice until the upcoming OnePlus Nord review.

In India, the phone will also be available in an entry-level configuration with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

Read: The full list of OnePlus Nord specs

OnePlus Nord cameras: Set to impress?

OnePlus Nord Taking a photo with the phone

The Nord packs a whopping six cameras into its chassis — two upfront and four around back. That’s the most cameras that the company has ever put into a smartphone. However, as many have learned over the years, it’s about quality, not quantity. We’ll be putting the Nord through its paces in this category, so stay tuned for the upcoming review.

It’s about quality, not quantity.

Up front, we are treated to a 32MP main Sony IMX616 sensor and a secondary 8MP ultrawide selfie camera. The latter of which has a wide 105-degree field of view. They can shoot Ultra HD video at up to 60fps.

OnePlus Nord Camera module macro close up on a table

Flipping around to the rear we have the Sony IMX586 48MP main camera. This is the same main rear camera that the OnePlus 8 has. This is complemented by an 8MP ultrawide camera with a 119-degree field of view. Below that, you’ll find a 2MP macro camera and a 5MP depth sensor. To the right of the module, there’s a dual-LED flash. This rear setup can shoot video at up to Ultra HD 30fps, Full HD 60fps, or super slow motion Full HD 240fps.

The camera app features an array of modes including Cine aspect ratio where you can shoot video in a cinematic aspect ratio. Also present is UltraShot HDR, Nightscape, Super Macro, Portrait, Pro Mode, Panorama, AI scene detection, RAW files, filters, and quick share.

OnePlus Nord battery: Promising numbers

OnePlus Nord macro close up of the battery logo

With a 4,115mAh battery and 30W charging, the OnePlus Nord looks promising on the battery front. The Nord is actually using the same Warp Charge 30T tech as the OnePlus 8 series. These specs are what we’ve come to expect from a mid-ranger. The Realme X50 5G and LG Velvet share very similar battery sizes and charging speeds. With a power-efficient Snapdragon 765G chipset, the Nord could challenge its bigger brothers in terms of battery life, but only time will tell.

OnePlus Nord: The rest

The OnePlus Nord sports 5G thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon X52 5G modem which can deliver up to 3.38Gbps of throughput. This modem is capable of delivering both mmWave and sub-6GHz variants of 5G. It’s great to see OnePlus bringing a pretty early feature to its mid-range device, helping speed up the adoption of 5G across the industry.

Continue reading: Buying a 5G smartphone is already a confusing mess

OnePlus Nord pricing and availability

The OnePlus Nord starts at £379 in the UK for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model. This puts it comfortably in the upper-mid-range sector of the market. The Nord will be competing with the likes of the Realme X50 5G and upcoming Pixel 4a. £469 will net you 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, which pushes the phone closer to its bigger brothers — the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. At this price, the top-tier Nord will be competing with the higher spec’d Poco F2 Pro and Realme X50 Pro 5G.

OnePlus Nord

After years of only releasing top-tier flagships, OnePlus is back in the mid-range category with the OnePlus Nord. It cuts some corners, but we think many people will really like this phone — especially because of its £379 price tag.

More OnePlus Nord coverage

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