With its main number series now elevated to the premium tier, OnePlus needed something to compete in the thriving At under £400 or around $480 segment.
I’ve been using the OnePlus Nord for the past couple of days, and while I still have a lot more to test, here are my first impressions of the device.
The OnePlus Nord is the start of a new series, and the company wants to make that very clear, right from the packaging. Instead of its typical long red boxes, we have a relatively compact black box with super-sized Nord lettering on the top. Inside the box, the bundled silicone case has a new pattern on it and the stickers are slightly different, but you still get a red Type-C cable, Warp Charge 30T charger, and a SIM eject tool. OnePlus sent me a special media kit, which had the phone as well as a few cases, which will be sold separately.
The OnePlus Nord feels a lot lighter than it looks, which is something I immediately noticed upon taking it out of the box. The glossy finish looks good and I really like the new Blue Marble colour. The dual camera cutout in the display and the positioning of the rear camera module to the left are new design choices for a OnePlus phone. The OnePlus Nord is also available in a Gray Onyx trim.
The OnePlus Nord feels sturdy, and an accidental drop didn’t leave a mark, which is a good sign. There aren’t any visible antenna bands along the frame either and that’s because this phone uses polycarbonate, instead of metal. The OnePlus Nord has a similar layout for the ports and buttons as the 8 series, and you still get the trademark OnePlus alert slider. Overall, the phone has been pretty comfortable to use so far.
Hardware & Design
The OnePlus Nord is in the middle of the pack when compared to the “average” 2020 upper mid-range or flagship smartphone. This is the first OnePlus device to come with a non-800 series Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
Do not worry about performance — the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G is a fantastic mid-range chip that performs. There’s also either 8 or 12GB of RAM, which should stand you in good stead for a long time to come.
It feels good in the hand because it has a really good balance in the hand. The plastic side rails aren’t instantly noticeable but unlike metal when you pick up the phone or clasp it, you’ll notice the edges are not cold to the touch. By no means is this is a big problem, but it was one of my first impressions when unboxing the OnePlus Nord.
At first glance, the OnePlus Nord in the candy Blue Marble color does look like it’s entirely plastic, but the glass at the rear and solid feel instantly put you at ease. There is no hollow cheap feeling in the hand, which was a worry ahead of time.
The OnePlus Nord comes with a 6.44-inch AMOLED display tuned to 90Hz. It’s a really nice panel that gets bright and has good colors. I think the biggest bonus is that the OnePlus Nord has a flat display rather than curved.
One other thing to note is the inclusion of an in-display fingerprint reader. It’s fast, accurate, and as good as any previous models from what I can tell so far. It’s quite a shift from a physical fingerprint reader which is often a common fixture in similarly-priced affordable smartphones.
There is also the first dual punch-hole notch on a OnePlus smartphone here. It’s a lot larger than some earlier renders suggested. It might adjust how you view videos, but for the most part, you can easily forget that it is there. Notch haters will likely disagree with me here though.
Viewing angles seem good so far, which is often an area where LCD-laden smartphones seem to stutter or suffer. Having an AMOLED is a really nice addition especially as it enhances your experience so much more than an LCD.
Software & Performance
One thing to note is that the OnePlus Nord ships with OxygenOS 10.5, which doesn’t leave any nasty impressions. It’s the exact same streamlined and slick experience we’ve come to know and love over the past five years.
The only thing I think that really feels different from the outset is the elongated dual punch-hole notch in the upper left. This seems to push some of the UI elements along making the status bar feel a little cramped. Deactivating some of the status bar icons helps alleviate this a fair amount.
At 4,115mAh, the battery on the OnePlus Nord is a good size but about what you’d expect from a smartphone of this ilk at this stage of 2020. I’m really pleased that OnePlus decided to slap in Warp Charge 30T fast charging.