OnePlus Nord Review.
Take a look at the detailed specifications and features of the OnePlus Nord.
In recent years, the OnePlus brand, which originated the slogan "flagship killer," has been progressively making inroads into the luxury smartphone market. Now, the business appears to be returning to its roots by delivering more cheap smartphones in previously ignored price groups. The recently released OnePlus Nord (first impressions) is not a flagship phone, nor is it a flagship killer, but it is an attempt by the business to reclaim a mid-range position.
The OnePlus Nord has a starting price of Rs 24,999 for the 6GB RAM + 64GB variant. This is also the price threshold at which the OnePlus 2 was released nearly six years ago. However, unlike six years ago, the mid-range segment's rivalry has reached unprecedented heights. Realme, OPPO, Xiaomi, and Vivo are just a few of the companies striving for a bigger piece of this lucrative pie. The OnePlus Nord is the first device in the company's new Nord series, but does it have what it takes to compete? I'll try to answer this question in my in-depth review.
OnePlus Nord Review: Design and display
The Nord design features a quad-camera setup in the rear and a dual-punch hole camera cutout in the upper right corner of the front. OnePlus has advertised the Nord as a mid-range device, but it has not skimped on premium materials in order to create an attractive gadget. Like the flagship OnePlus 8 series, the device's front and rear are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The tablet is easy to handle thanks to its thin form, trimmed edges, polished aluminium frame, and curved rear panel. A clear plastic case with a textured surface is also available from OnePlus, which will provide further protection for the device.
The OnePlus Nord comes in two colour options: Onyx Black and Blue Marble, and I received the latter for evaluation. While I haven't seen the black version, this teal-like colour option is a breath of fresh air in the saturated dual-tone gradient-based market. The quad-camera setup is on the top left, as it is on several Realme phones, and the camera enclosure juts out somewhat, causing the phone to wobble on flat surfaces.
The device has a single bottom-firing speaker rather than the stereo speakers found in the OnePlus 8 series. A USB Type-C connector and a dual-SIM tray are located next to the speaker. Along with the power button, the right side of the device features OnePlus' characteristic alert slider, which has a textured feel. On the left are the tactile and clicky volume rocker controls. I have to admit that OnePlus has done an outstanding job at giving the Nord a premium feel.
The display, which is perhaps one of the best in the market, is another area where there are no compromises. A 6.44-inch FHD+ (2,400 x 1,080) AMOLED display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and 408ppi is included on the device. The screen is flat and does not curve on the sides, unlike the OnePlus 8 series, which eliminates accidental touching.
The Nord, on the other hand, keeps the smooth 90Hz refresh rate. The Nord's screen boasts amazing colour reproduction and contrast ratios, as I've come to expect from OnePlus. Because of the AMOLED nature of the display, viewing angles and deep blacks on the screen are excellent.
The device's display customization possibilities are fairly broad. You can change the colour tone and saturation level using a variety of choices. There are options that optimise the display for reading an ebook or browsing your phone late at night. During the day, the display is bright enough, but when I'm going to sleep, it's not as dim as I'd want. The phone's refresh rate is adjustable, and there's an intelligent auto-switch feature that reduces the refresh rate when 90Hz isn't required.
OnePlus Nord Review: Cameras
The OnePlus Nord comes with the same camera system as the OnePlus 8, but with the addition of a depth sensor. OnePlus claims that the Nord offers a flagship camera experience, but this isn't precisely accurate because the OnePlus 8 didn't come with one. The primary sensor on the Nord is a 48MP Sony IMX 586, which was seen on phones from last year, including the OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T series.
An 8MP ultra-wide sensor, a 2MP macro sensor, and a 5MP depth sensor are among the other sensors on the OnePlus Nord. A dual selfie camera arrangement with a 32MP primary sensor and an 8MP ultra-wide lens is a first for OnePlus smartphones on the front.
In good daylight conditions, photo quality from the main sensor is excellent, similar to that of the top OnePlus handsets. For the price, you get vivid photos with excellent colour reproduction and exposure management. I prefer more natural-looking photos, so I turn off auto HDR, however it does improve contrast ratios and saturation levels.
The OnePlus Nord, like other 48MP sensors, takes pixel-binned 12MP photos, which the manufacturer claims improves dynamic range. You can also capture UHD 48MP images, which add a lot more detail and exposure, albeit there isn't much of a difference between them and pixel-binned shots under overcast settings.
While the ultra-wide sensor has a lesser resolution than the primary lens, it manages to capture photos that are very detailed and exposed at the expense of distorted colour temperatures. There is also no autofocus. The 2MP macro sensor doesn't perform well, producing photos that are passable but only in bright light. Then there's the 5MP depth camera, which is primarily used for portrait mode photos. To that end, the depth camera does a good job of separating the background from the subject while yet retaining a lot of details.
OnePlus Nord is also one of the few phones to offer OIS in its price range. From the main camera, the phone can shoot 4K video but only at 30fps though at 1080p you have the option to shoot at 60fps and 240fps on Super Slo-mo.
The Nord uses its AI-based Nightscape feature for extra exposure and details in low-lighting situations. I have stated that low-light shooting on the OnePlus 8 requires improvement for a phone with such a high price tag. While the OnePlus Nord might not take the best night photographs, it is still quite decent for its price range. Under street lights, the Nord enhances the exposure, giving the photo a saturated tint while retaining a lot of details, albeit there are a few instances when overexposure is a concern.
Nightscape, for example, brightens a reasonably dark alleyway as if it were illuminated by a floodlight. When the brightness of external light sources decreases, the camera adds extra noise, giving the image a grainy appearance while maintaining an excellent focus on the subject. Night mode is still a work in progress, but after seeing fantastic camera improvements in prior OnePlus software releases, I have high hopes.
There are two cameras on the front, with the primary sensor being a 32MP Sony IMX616 lens with fixed focus and an aperture of f/2.45. While OnePlus does utilise its distinctive face smoothing, I'm pleased to notice that the majority of my facial features have a lot of detail. There are three levels of beautifying to choose from, each of which will produce more Instagram-like selfies with excessive oversharpening. You may use the front-facing 8MP ultra-wide camera to add more to the frame, which works great in good lighting but not so well in poor lighting.
OnePlus Nord Review: Performance and software
After the Vivo X50 Pro, the OnePlus Nord is the second smartphone in India to use the Snapdragon 765G SoC. OnePlus typically uses top-of-the-line Qualcomm chipsets in its phones, but the company believes that the 765G SoC that drives the Nord will provide customers with a flagship-grade experience, at least for day-to-day tasks.
Benchmarking results are consistent with a high-powered mid-range chipset. The OnePlus Nord scored 600 and 1,835 on Geekbench for multi-core, single-core, and multi-core, respectively, while Antutu gave it a total score of 275,761. These are remarkably comparable scores to the Vivo X50 Pro, which is nearly twice as expensive but uses the same processor.
However, when compared to the Realme X3, Nord's scores don't match up, owing to the latter's flagship-grade Snapdragon 855+ chipset. On Antutu, the Realme X3 received a score of 476,587, while Geekbench's single-core and multi-core tests yielded scores of 741 and 2,422, respectively.
However, OnePlus was correct in claiming that you will not be missing out on flagship-level performance when using the phone for basic to intermediate tasks. Tasks like opening a slew of programmes in the background and moving between them fall under this category.
All of this happens with the kind of fluidity I've come to expect from OnePlus, such as opening numerous Chrome tabs and simultaneously playing music on Spotify as a file is being uploaded to Google Drive. This could be due to the fact that I received the 12GB RAM version of the gadget, but the 8GB version should suffice as well.
The navigating experience is much smoother because to the 90Hz screen. Only while performing intensive tasks, such as playing PUBG Mobile, can you notice a minor lag on an otherwise responsive and performance-focused gadget.
Even when the visuals are lowered to the lowest level, the frame rate settings top out at Ultra rather than Extreme. The frame choice for the highest supporting graphics, HD, is maxed out at High, and HDR graphics are not available. To summarise, the OnePlus Nord may not be the finest gaming phone available.
The OnePlus Nord features an in-display fingerprint sensor for authentication, which is one of the fastest in the industry and also less prone to unsuccessful tries. While less secure than a fingerprint sensor, face authentication is highly fast and reliable, especially in low light.
The OnePlus Nord features 5G capabilities for future-proofing, but it will be of limited utility until the necessary infrastructure is in place. The OnePlus Nord also lacks dual speakers, instead opting with a single bottom-firing speaker. Even at maximum volume, it's not the finest I've heard, but it's sharp and loud. The device's call and microphone quality are both excellent.
In terms of software, I believe OnePlus' OxygenOS provides the best user experience in the Android world. With the OnePlus Nord, that opinion has not altered, and it is one of the most important contributions to the flagship-level experience that the business is attempting to give.
I won't go into great length regarding OxygenOS because you can read about it in our OnePlus 8 Pro review. The short version is this: enjoyable and simple UI navigation, numerous customization choices, assurance of timely Android updates, lack of bloatware, and ease of use.
OnePlus Nord Review: Battery life
The OnePlus Nord has a 4,115mAh battery that is comparable to other phones in this price bracket. While the 765G SoC is fairly power-efficient, I've discovered that the Nord only lasts about a day of use, and that's when I'm not playing any demanding games. Streaming YouTube and Netflix, surfing around Facebook and Instagram, and listening to Spotify podcasts are the majority of my activities. The OnePlus Nord had about 10% battery left after a whole day. If we include some intense gaming in the mix, the Nord may require a charge in the evening.
Much of this can be attributable to the screen's 90Hz refresh rate, despite the fact that I have selected the variable refresh rate option. For a quick charging experience, the phone supports Warp Charge 30T. A full charge from 0% to 50% may be completed in around 20 minutes, whereas a full charge from 0% to 100% takes about 60 minutes. The phone lasted 19 hours in our typical battery test, which runs a film on repeat at half brightness and volume. This is somewhat less than what a phone with a 4,000mAh battery should last.
OnePlus Nord Review: Verdict
When OnePlus unveils new smartphones in the Nord series, the starting price point of Rs 24,999 provides up a lot of possibilities. The OnePlus user experience is unrivalled, and it has now made its way down to this more budget-friendly device. Although the device's battery life could be improved, the display and camera are both excellent.
The rivals, primarily Realme's X3 series and the Redmi K20 Pro, provide a flagship-grade chipset, albeit from the previous year, which may be important if you're into heavy mobile gaming. Apart from that, only the Realme X3 Superzoom has a number of capabilities that the Nord does not, including a 64MP primary sensor, a periscope lens with 5X optical zoom, and a faster refresh rate of 120Hz.
The Realme X3 SuperZoom is the most feature-rich alternative to the Nord. The OnePlus software experience, on the other hand, is absent on both the X3 and the K20 Pro. The Nord also has the advantage of being 5G enabled, if and when the technology becomes available in India, whereas other devices are not.
So, for whom is the OnePlus Nord designed? I've determined that, while it isn't the best in any one area, it is an excellent all-arounder. The OnePlus Nord is a good alternative for non-gamers and those searching for a quality OnePlus experience on a budget. This item is well worth the asking price.