The OnePlus Nord is animportant moment for OnePlus. For years OnePlus hasbasically stuck to flagships. Nowadays it likes to do them two at a time but they’re both designedto sit more or less at the top of the market. Now it’s expanding with theNord, its first serious attempt at a mid-range phone in years. Launching a mid-range phonemeans making some tough decisions about what theOnePlus name means to people.
It still needs to have thosefeatures that people buy OnePlus phones for in thefirst place but it also needs to make some compromises. Not just because it needs to make it cheap but also so that once it ischeaper it doesn’t end up so good that people chooseit over your flagship phones. It needs to draw a linebetween OnePlus features and flagship OnePlus features. It’s a balancing act whereif you get the balance slightly wrong you couldend up with the same kind of flagship killer thatOnePlus liked to call its phones back in the day. Only now OnePlus hasflagship phones of its own that risk getting caught in the crossfire. So what does a mid-rangeOnePlus phone look like? Which flagship features do you get to keep and which do you lose? (gentle music) So this is it, the OnePlus Nord. The model I’ve been using has 12 gigabytes of RAM and 256 gigabytes ofstorage and costs 469 pounds or 499 euros. But there’s also a step downmodel with eight gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigabytes ofstorage which costs 379 pounds or 399 euros. So it’s a mid-range phonesitting in a similarish sort of price category tothis year’s entry level, 419 pound iPhone SE or the429 pound Galaxy A51 5G. Both models are releasing inEurope and India but OnePlus is only planning a limitedbeta launch in the US for now. At either price you’regetting what is on paper quite a well specced device.
There’s a 6.4, four inch OLED display with a 1080p resolution anda 90 Hertz refresh rate, a quad rear camera array basedaround the same 48 megapixel sensor that OnePlus used forthe 8, dual selfie cameras, including one with an ultrawide lens, and you’re getting support for sub six gigahertz 5G. Now the trade-off, on paperat least, is that the Nord is powered by a Snapdragon 765Gprocessor which isn’t quite as fast as the flagshipprocessors OnePlus used in the 8 and the 8 Pro. But specs can’t tell you howpremium a device feels to hold. And the OnePlus Nord’s designis one of the more obvious indicators of it’s lower price point. That said, I still really like it. I like the simplicity,there’s no messing around with screens that curve roundthe edges of the device. Instead you’re gonna get aflat screen with a smallish hole-punched notch for theNord’s dual selfie cameras and what I’d call reasonably small set of bevels around the edge of the screen. Generally the whole designdoes feel less premium than the 8 but not ina way that feels cheap, it’s just more utilitarian. Battery life is also good.
Now I’ll admit that it’sstill quite hard to gauge this given the amount of time I’mspending at home right now and I’ll also caveat this bysaying that I was connected to 4G rather than 5G networks. But I was getting betweeneight and 10 hours of screen time betweencharges from the Nord’s 4,115 million power battery. And that includes everything,from watching copious amounts of YouTube to keeping in contactwith friends and colleagues over Slack and WhatsApp, taking photos and of course browsing plenty of Twitter. There’s no wireless chargingbut there is support for OnePlus’ Warp Charge 30Tstandard which the company says should get you about70% of your charge back in half an hour. So good battery life doesn’tseem to be exclusive to OnePlus flagships, it’s more of auniversal OnePlus feature. Now we already know you’renot getting exactly the same display on this as you didon the 8, it doesn’t have that same curve for example. It’s also a little bitsmaller at 6.44 inches compared to 6.55 inches with the 8. But honestly if you holdthem next to each other you barely notice the difference. So it’s a very similar screenwhich means it’s pretty great. It’s OLED so blacks are lovelyand deep, colors are vibrant, it’s still 1080p and hey, it’s also got that 90 Hertz refresh rate display. Now I’ve said it beforeand I’ll say it again but high refresh ratedisplays deserve to become the new standard.
But there is a caveat andthat’s that the slightly less powerful processor on the Nordmeans that it doesn’t feel exactly as smooth as the 8. I mean it’s fine if you’rescrolling through something simple like the app drawerbut scroll through Twitter with its numerous videos and images and it does start tostutter, if only a little. It’s a little bit hard toshow on video but trust me when I say it is there. It’s still better than a 60 Hertz display but it just doesn’t feel assmooth as what we’ve seen from flagship phones with 90 Hertz displays. It’s an acceptable trade offfor the price but it’s also something that’s worth bearing in mind. Oh, and by the by, Ifound it hard to fault the in-display fingerprint sensor. It works basically everytime and I’ve barely had to think about it. So a high-end display seemsto be a OnePlus staple and not something that’sexclusive to its flagships, even if you’re not gettingexactly the same performance. Audio isn’t a strong suit of the Nord. There’s a single downwardfiring speaker here which means that there’s no stereo andwhile it gets plenty loud enough there’s just not that much base there. So I guess good speakersare a flagship exclusive. (upbeat music) So far we’ve been trying towork out what features OnePlus thinks all of its phones needto have and which it wants to keep for its flagships. But cameras are a bittrickier to categorize here because they’ve never been oneof OnePlus’ core strengths. They’ve been good, butnever best in class. Now the good news is that theNord’s cameras are in a very similar ballpark to theOnePlus 8 and the better news is there’s at least one feature here that is exclusive to the Nord. Now the Nord has a lot of cameras. I mean on the back there’s four. There’s a 48 megapixel maincamera, an eight megapixel ultra wide angle camera, atwo megapixel macro camera and a five megapixel depth sensor. And on the front, there’s two. There’s a main 32 megapixel camera and an eight megapixel ultra wide with a 105 degree field ofview, a neat little exclusive for the Nord. Now that’s a lot of hardware.
So here’s what OnePlusactually does with it. In daylight I think you getvery similar quality photos to the 8 with the Nord. I mean check out thisphoto from my living room. And if I didn’t label thephotos I think you’d have a hard time telling me whichphone took which photo. Sometimes the OnePlus Nord decides to add a little bit more saturationto photos than the 8 does but most of the time you canbarely tell the difference. It’s the same when it comes to faces. There’s more of a differencewhen it comes to wide angle shots though where you reallymiss the extra resolution on the 8’s ultra wide camera. The Nord seems to overcompensatewith a little too much image processing sometimes. But, it’s probablyacceptable at this price and I’d rather it wasthere than not at all. It’s the same deal with thewide angle selfie camera. Sure, it’s images are a little softer than the main 32 megapixelsensor and the selfie camera in general seems tomake my face a bit weird and bright looking but it’ssuper useful for group selfies or I guess couple selfies ifyou’re socially distancing. Whatever, I like it. While we’re talking extracameras let’s run down the other two that are onthe back of this device. There’s a macro camera andthe camera for sensing depth. Both are kind of a mixed bag. I mean take the macro camera,it’s certainly managed to focus on this amoeba thatyes, I know, I always use to test macro cameras but tryas I might my shots ended up looking muddy and blurry. Same with these flowers.
It’s not something I’d ever choose to use. Likewise with this depthsensing camera I think it did a decent enough jobgenerating a convincing background blur on thisphoto of me in low light but in this shot of myflatmate it completely beefed the hair on the top left of his head. It quite a nice shot overallbut once you notice the hair you can’t un-see it. And speaking of low lightshots, well, if you watched my review of the 8 then youprobably have a good idea of what to expect here. It’s acceptable, but nothing amazing. So, like the 90 Hertzdisplay, the Nord has a lot of hardware but I don’tnecessarily think it gets the most out of it that it could. It’s in a very similar leagueto the 8 and I just don’t think that either are thephone to get if you want the absolute best camera available. That said I think those tradeoffs are far more worth it at this price pointthan they were on the 8. (gentle music) I think the Nord is areally solid mid-range phone but it’s not perfect. It’s well specced, yes. I mean, it’s got lots ofcameras, it’s got that nice big high refresh rate displayand of course it’s got that big battery. But the reality of what it gets from that hardware sometimesleaves a little bit to be desired. I mean it’s got lots of camera lenses but overall performanceends up only being okay. And it’s got that highrefresh rate display but sometimes its processorseems to let it down.
They’re compromises but I don’tthink they’re unreasonable at this price point. Picking a mid-range phoneis normally a matter of choosing the battles. You have to pick which featuresare most important to you because no mid-range phone isgonna be able to completely deliver on all of them. But you sort of can’tdo that with the Nord, it’s too well-rounded, which means there are no serious pitfalls. There’s also no one area thatit completely delivers on. That’s not a bad thing at all,it just kinda makes it hard to unreservedly recommend this phone to any one group of people. On the flip side thoughit does mean that I can sort of recommend thisphone to almost anyone. OnePlus made a decent mid-range phone.
But look, it’s no flagship killer. Hey, so thank you somuch for watching guys. If you’re looking foranother video to watch then obviously I just recommendwatching this one again ’cause it’s kind of great. But if you must havesome variety in your life then Becca reviewed theOnePlus Buds last week which are the new true wireless earbuds that go along with this phone. So if you like OnePlus give it a watch.