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OnePlus Nord Review: The thunder strikes again, almost

Does OnePlus Nord manage to deliver for the company? Should you consider OnePlus Nord while looking at mid-range smartphones? Is it a better attempt at a second lineup than the OnePlus X? Check out answers to these and many more in my OnePlus Nord review here.

OnePlus Nord Review feature image

OnePlus Nord 4.5 5
BGR Rating :
4.5/5

OnePlus Nord, one of the most anticipated and hyped mid-range smartphone is finally out in the market. The company officially revealed the device on the global stage about a week back on July 21, 2020. This launch came after months of leaks, speculations, and weeks of teasers. It is the first OnePlus smartphone to hit the sub Rs 30,000 market it the last four years. OnePlus claims that this device marks a “new beginning for the company”. Nord is also likely the spiritual successor to the OnePlus X that landed in the market about 5 years back. Also Read - OnePlus Nord update optimizes camera performance: Check details

It is also worth noting that this is not the first and only device that the company has launched. Instead, the company is planning to launch a number of affordable devices after the Nord. As part of the tease, OnePlus wants to expand its offerings to provide more options to its fans across price-points. Talking about Nord, the company is offering three different RAM and storage variants of the device. These include models with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage, 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, and 12GB RAM and 256GB storage. OnePlus has priced these models at Rs 24,999, Rs 27,999 and Rs 29,999. Also Read - OnePlus Nord launched in India: Here are the top 5 features of the smartphone

Watch: OnePlus Nord First Look and Unboxing

OnePlus Nord: Price in India, availability, and specifications

The company has already had a number of pre-order rounds in India and Europe. Beyond these, Nord is set to go on sale starting from August 4. Pre-bookings for Nord are currently available at OnePlus Experience Stores across the country. Interested buyers can also head to Amazon India to pre-book the device starting from July 28. It will also hold “an exclusive Early Access sale” for OnePlus Red Cable Club members on August 3, 2020. One can head to OnePlus India or exclusive offline stores to complete the purchase. Also Read - OnePlus Nord finally launches with Snapdragon 765G SoC, 6 cameras and 12GB RAM

Features OnePlus Nord
Price Rs. 24,999
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G
OS OxygenOS based on Android 10
Display 6.44 inches, Fluid AMOLED panel with 2400×1080 pixels resolution
Internal Memory 6GB+64GB
Rear Camera 48MP with Sony IMX586 + 8MP Ultra wide-angle lens + 5MP Depth lens + 2MP Macro lens
Front Camera 32MP with Sony IMX616 + 8MP Ultra Wide Angle Lens – Front
Battery 4115mAh

OnePlus Nord Review (14)

The hype and why Nord matters?

OnePlus seems to have mastered the art of marketing and creating hype around its devices with multiple methods. This time, the company created a private Instagram account showcasing the creation of the smartphone. In addition, we also got a limited documentary series with a meme competition, humorously calling out leakers, and AR launch. Beyond this, we also saw pre-order rounds, dedicated blog posts, and early preview in a podcast with YouTuber MKBHD. Though it was all cool and unique, the sheer number of things just became tiring towards the end.

OnePlus Nord

Photo: MKBHD/Twitter

Regardless, Nord is one of the most important devices for the next chapter of the OnePlus saga. This is partly because the company is right that Nord marks a new beginning. It also signifies a return to the somewhat affordable roots of OnePlus in the market. “Beginning” and “affordable” are the two key terms as the company plans on an even in-expensive lineup of OnePlus devices in the future. But, for the plan to work, Nord needs to deliver for the company.

We got our hands on the device almost about a week back. Does OnePlus Nord manage to deliver for the company? Should you consider Nord while looking at mid-range smartphones? Is it a better attempt at a second lineup than the OnePlus X? Check out answers to these and many more queries in my OnePlus Nord review here.

OnePlus Nord: Design and the built quality

OnePlus Nord Review (5)

The company highlighted three important things while announcing Nord. These include the design, the software experience, and the camera system on the smartphone. After all the claims and the words; let’s check the ground reality. Talking about the design, the company has been successful in creating a premium-looking device. We get a glass back and a glass front with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to protect against scratches and damage. In addition, the company has also opted for a plastic frame with a metallic finish and metal buttons.

Inspecting the design, we get the SIM tray, USB Type-C port, and primary speaker at the bottom of the device. We also get the power button and the Alert slider on the right-side and volume rocker on the left side. Overall the device features high-quality design with impressive built. There is no flex in the device and it feels like you are using a flagship smartphone.

Display

We get a 6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED display with a 20:9 aspect ratio, 90 Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+ support. The display panel also supports 1080 x 2400 pixels resolution with a pill-shaped cutout on the top left corner. We also get 2,048 levels of automatic brightness along with dedicated “vibrant color effect” to enhance videos, a “Reading Mode”, and “Night mode”. OnePlus has also added the familiar “Screen calibration” section with “Vivid”, “Natural” and “Advanced” profiles. The “Advanced” profile offers “AMOLED Wide Gamut”, “sRBG”, and “Display P3” calibration options to users.

During the review period, Nord managed to impress me with the display color reproduction and the overall brightness. For some context, Nord was brighter than my almost one-year-old OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren. The display is quite reflective but I was able to use it under direct sunlight with relative ease. It also managed to offer adequate levels of brightness and color reproduction at extreme angles of use. It took me some time to get habitual to the colors, often thinking that the vibrancy was a bit low while coming from a higher-end smartphone.

OnePlus Nord Display options

OnePlus also opted for a flat display which will help in eliminating the accidental touches associated with curved panels. I do hope that the Fluid AMOLED panel does not exhibit any screen burn-in issues in the long term. It is also worth noting that considering the Pill-shaped notch, OxygenOS features the option to hide the cut-out in the software.

Software experience and Android 10

The device comes with Android 10-based OxygenOS 10.5.2 out-of-the-box with July 1, 2020 security patch. In addition, we also get May 1, 2020, Google Play system update. For anyone who has used a past OnePlus smartphone, Nord offers a similar “near-stock” Android experience with useful tweaks. The company also claims that it has made about 300 software optimizations to the software to make things smooth.

OnePlus Nord Review software

Beyond the usual and familiar, the company also made an important change with the software on Nord. This change is not really overt but the company has opted for Google Dialler app called “Phone” along with Google “Messages”. This makes the experience even more pristine and seamless.

Beyond this, we get some bloatware including Amazon India, Facebook, Instagram, and Netflix out of the box. The company has also added its in-house apps include Calculator, Cloud Service, Community, File manager, Game Space, Notes, OnePlus Switch, and Weather. We also got the “Fnatic” mode in the software to optimize gaming.

Performance of OnePlus Nord

OnePlus Nord performs flawlessly for a mid-range smartphone. Unless you check the specifications or use extremely taxing, heaving gaming apps or benchmarks, it is hard to see if its the Snapdragon 765 or the 865. This dismissive nature of this question or rather ignorance of the hardware is a big deal. In fact, OnePlus must be applauded for the work. Nord feels like a breath of fresh air in the mid-range segment where some companies offer sub-par performance.

The flawless performance is due to the work done in optimizing the software along with the 90Hz display. It is likely that the current level of performance may dip with time. However, frequent software updates may likely prevent this. We also conducted some synthetic benchmarks for people who care about the numbers. Nord scored 602 in the single-core test and 1,905 in the multi-core CPU test in Geekbench 5 benchmark.

Gaming and thermals

OnePlus Nord Gaming performance

Considering that mid-range smartphones are popular for gaming in India, we took two of the most popular games to check gaming and thermal performance. First up, we were able to run PUBG Mobile in “HD” quality at “High” frame rates. Call of Duty: Mobile ran at “Medium” graphic quality at the “High” frame rate. During the testing session, the device performed admirably with no lags or jitters. In fact, I also did not notice the device heating up considerably during my extended gaming sessions.

Cameras on OnePlus Nord

OnePlus Nord sports a total of six cameras with two on the front and four on the back. Specification-wise, we get a 48-megapixel camera with Sony IMX586 sensor with OIS, and EIS and f/1.75 aperture. This is the same sensor that OnePlus has added on its latest flagship offering, the OnePlus 8. Other cameras include an 8-megapixel sensor with an ultra-wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. We also get a dual-LED flash unit on the back with support for 4K video at 30fps.

Other features also include the “Super Slow Motion” video at 1080p at 240fps, UltraShot HDR, “Quick Share” and a new CINE 21:9 mode with 4K at 30fps. The front features a 32-megapixel camera with a Sony IMX616 sensor and an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera for group photos. It supports 4K video recording at up to 60fps. The company has also added the face unlock feature along with HDR.

OnePlus Nord camera

Performance

Digging in the performance aspect, the camera is likely one of the weakest aspects of the OnePlus Nord. The device manages to capture decent images in ideal lighting conditions. However, noise starts to creep up in less than ideal lighting with Nightscape mode adversely affecting the details and texture in the image. The images from the primary camera are decent with ideal background separation with the help of the depth sensor. The ultra-wide lens also offers decent images in decent lighting but the macro fails to leave any mark.

OnePlus Nord

The company has already rolled out a software update to improve the camera performance. However, it is likely to roll out mode updates to further improve the camera. To conclude, despite the claims, the OnePlus Nord manages a borderline “passable” job with its camera and some pending work.

OnePlus Nord Battery

OnePlus Nord Battery

The device features a 4,100mAh battery with support for Warp Charge 30T technology. This ensured that the device easily lasted a workday with about 6-6.5 hours of screen-on-time on moderate use. It is worth noting that I locked the brightness to 75 percent at 90Hz for the complete day. This means that one can push it further to about 1.5 days with 7.5 hours of screen-on-time. While pushing the device to its edge, the device depleted in just about 4.5-5 hours while gaming. It took about 50 minutes to charge from 0 to 100 with the included adapter.

Should you buy OnePlus Nord?

Yet again, OnePlus has managed to craft a great device for the smartphone market. The company gets a lot right in terms of the design, hardware, software, and the overall experience. However, like mode OnePlus devices, the company needs to improve the camera. This is not because the camera is bad. But instead, this is to ensure that Nord offers class-leading camera performance in the sub Rs 30,000 price range.

OnePlus Nord Review (1)

In addition, the company is still working on some important features for OnePlus Nord including 4K at 60fps on the rear-camera setup. OnePlus revealed that it is currently testing the mode along with the 21:9 CINE mode in 4K resolution at 60fps. The company is currently combating some heating issues with the 4K at 60fps mode.

Overall, Nord is an impressive smartphone and a great start for the company. OnePlus has added all the right ingredients in the smartphone to jump-start its affordable phase of devices. If Nord performs well, we will likely see multiple OnePlus devices in the mid-range and budget segment.

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  • Published Date: July 27, 2020 1:29 PM IST


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