Let’s put aside the truth that the OnePlus Nord isn’t launching within the US. Even when it’s not, mid-range telephones are having a second on each side of the Atlantic. From the iPhone SE to Samsung’s Galaxy A sequence and Google’s Pixel 3a — and shortly the Pixel 4a — everyone seems to be making an attempt to promote non-flagships to the not-early adopters.
Out of that group, I feel the OnePlus Nord is the most effective approximation of a flagship smartphone. Possibly it’s the big measurement, equal to different OnePlus flagships and my trusty iPhone 11 Professional Max. Or perhaps I’m simply impressed by a litany of digital camera sensors. No matter it’s, the Nord provides off that costly cellphone vibe.
I additionally respect it when telephones land in fascinating colours. I actually like this blue hue on the Nord. There’s a extra subdued grey onyx model too, should you don’t like enjoyable.
Vivid colours apart, OnePlus at all times affords a good number of instances with its telephones. Along with some artsy choices, my assessment unit got here with a grippy plain black case; a cyan case; and clear case for individuals who don’t desire a case, however want a case. (It’s the middle-seat of cellphone cowl selections: Nobody ought to be proud of a transparent case.)
Now, this cellphone is just not fairly the identical because the OnePlus Eight or Eight Professional. There’s no curved show on the Nord, making certain it was cheaper to make. It additionally has a nasty, cheap-feeling display screen protector glued onto the entrance of the cellphone, with a moderately tough edge that catches in your fingertips. It’s in all probability the one main inform that this isn’t a top-of-the-line cellphone, occurring first impressions. That stated, this protector already ‘saved’ my display screen from some scratches however they’re already very noticeable. I promise you I haven’t already dropped the factor.
There are different apparent value financial savings. The body itself is plastic, not metallic, although it has a metallic end to trick you. For those who’re a OnePlus die-hard, relaxation assured the alert slider continues to be current and hewn from metallic. I don’t perceive the relevance of the alert slider in 2020. I get that some individuals like it, however it looks like a devoted digital camera button. Its time has handed. OnePlus may have saved some cash right here by dropping it — however perhaps then the Nord wouldn’t have been “OnePlus” sufficient?
Like Samsung’s Galaxy A51, there’s no water resistance IP certification — one other cost-saving measure. I’ve taken it for a sweaty run and it survived that encounter. However there aren’t any ensures it gained’t probably be broken from rain or your individual exercises.
The Nord can maintain twin SIMs and, as a result of it has a 5G modem, this makes it fairly fascinating. Or, it would. The cellphone takes twin 4G SIMs or a single 5G SIM however blended 5G+4G assist is outwardly coming in a future software program replace, ETA unknown. With 5G not fairly there, the flexibility to modify carriers round would have been fairly helpful. Possibly sooner or later it will likely be.
The cellphone additionally helps OnePlus’ Warp Cost 30 function, although oddly it has the older USB 2.zero port on it. Not a significant subject, however a bit dated. OnePlus estimates you may take the cellphone from zero to 70 % charged in only a half-hour, and they don’t seem to be incorrect. Your subsequent compromise at this value is an absence of wi-fi charging — a function that OnePlus had solely simply launched to its cellphone lineup earlier this yr.
You’re both into wi-fi charging (since you personal a charger) or you might have little to no real interest in it. I work at Engadget so I’ve, I feel, 4 wi-fi chargers in my home alone. I could have absent-mindedly tried to cost the cellphone on charging pads. I missed this function right here.
The Nord has a 4115 mAh battery which is a good measurement for a middleweight cellphone. Throughout my time with it, the cellphone appeared to carry out admirably, retaining the 90Hz show setting on all through my time. Burning the battery down by means of video, I obtained roughly 13 hours of playback. With extra typical use, I’d normally finish the day across the 50 % mark. It at all times lasted by means of a day of fairly intensive utilization, together with some gaming, video watching and intermittent digital camera use.
Let’s circle again to the display screen, as a result of a 90Hz show on a smartphone is exceptional at this value. What does it do? It makes your cellphone life smoother — if the apps assist it. I’ve hung out with 90Hz and 120Hz screens, and it’s at all times jarring to ‘settle’ for the 60Hz status-quo after I shift again to my iPhone. Sure, you might get a 120Hz display screen on the OnePlus Eight Professional and the Pixel 4, however you’ll must pay flagship costs for something past 60Hz.
With 1080p decision, nonetheless, it’s not the crispest display screen on the planet. And with this massive a display screen measurement, you may have the ability to discover it. It’s additionally a compromise: increased refresh speeds do have an effect on battery life. Dropping the display screen decision is a approach to cowl these energy commitments. And, If you’d like, you may hard-set the cellphone to run at 60Hz, and pocket the battery-life increase.
The AMOLED display screen itself is vivid and punchy. Like most Android telephones, you may select the diploma of punch you need from the display screen in settings, however I’ve normally ramped it as much as max, if solely to make my photographs pop.
There aren’t any pop-out selfie cameras this time round, and OnePlus determined to go together with a dual-camera array, so it’s much less of a holepunch and extra like a capsule punch. That’s not a phrase, I do know. You’ve seen an identical setup on Samsung telephones in recent times, and certainly, that is one other design observe that implies a high-end machine.
With regards to shopping for a mid-range cellphone, it was that the expertise was rougher across the edges. Extra app churn, extra sudden crashes. Fortunately, I not often noticed that in my week with the OnePlus Nord. Just like the LG Velvet, one other current mid-range cellphone, it’s one of many first gadgets we’ve examined with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G processor, the chip maker’s first silicon to combine a 5G modem. (Telephones with the Snapdragon 865 processor nonetheless require a separate 5G modem.)
It may be as a result of 90Hz display screen, however more often than not every part ran nicely. Extra graphically dense video games like Fortnite triggered frame-rates to take a little bit of a success, nonetheless. The processor did typically choke with web sites in Chrome, struggling to stream embedded movies. More often than not, although, I didn’t really feel the Nord was missing in energy. If you’d like a robust gaming cellphone, you’ll must look elsewhere — and pay extra. That stated, I did handle to play loads of Stadia titles on this cellphone with out subject. You don’t want a variety of processing energy to stream Tomb Raider and Mortal Kombat from a cellphone.
OnePlus says it’s made a whole lot of tiny optimizations on the Nord, and it does certainly ship an expertise you don’t typically see at this value.
It helps that OnePlus additionally makes good Android software program. Positive, it feels a bit branded, with purple highlights right here and there, a couple of OnePlus particular apps you’d in all probability by no means contact. However I’m oddly cool with it; I don’t thoughts being recognized as a OnePlus consumer. Once you boot up the Nord, all that OnePlus bloat is neatly contained in a bit folder. It’s already out of the way in which and out of your face.
When our personal Chris Velazco reviewed the OnePlus 8 Pro earlier this yr, he concluded the fingerprint reader was garbage, however with the Nord I had no points. The in-screen reader was fast to unlock, and there’s the choice of face unlock too, should you’re snug with these sorts of biometrics.
Cameras for many issues
Extra cameras are normally higher, although there are apparent exceptions to the rule. With the Nord, the primary digital camera captures 48-megapixel photos, with an f/ 1.75 lens augmented by optical picture stabilization — nonetheless uncommon in mid-range cellphone cameras. The digital camera defaults to 12MP stills, shedding these pixels for crisper pictures. The high-resolution sensor means you get a 2x zoom perform and you may nonetheless go for full-fat 48MP pictures if you would like. I most popular the usual setting, personally.
There’s additionally an ultra-wide-angle 8-megapixel digital camera and a principally pointless 2-megapixel macro lens. The ultimate sensor is a depth digital camera for portrait modes. All advised, it’s an uncommon combination of OnePlus Eight and OnePlus Eight Professional digital camera specs.
Surprisingly, most of my photos got here actually out nicely. OnePlus typically has a repute for underdelivering on smartphone cameras, however that wasn’t the case with the Nord.