OnePlus managed to completely disrupt the smartphone market back in 2014 with its top of the line specs combined with flagship-killer price.
However, things have changed more recently with the price of OnePlus phones gradually increasing with every generation. Not surprisingly, with year-on-year increases, the latest OnePlus 8 Pro will not set you back close to £1000 at launch.
If you’re anything like me, then the idea of spending close to 1000 pounds on a smartphone seems ridiculous. Well I’m not the only one as Samsung, Huawei, OPPO, Xiaomi have been pushing out mid-range devices, that quite frankly, are damn good!
And the latest brand to jump on the premium mid-range market is OnePlus themselves with their wallet-friendly OnePlus Nord (amazon).
Initially, I thought of getting the 8GB / 128GB model, but then I upgraded to the 12GB/256GB because… well, for only a little extra you can double the storage. So why not? I can see myself using this phone for at least the next 2-3 years.
It’s been almost 10 weeks now that I’ve been using the Nord as my main phone. In this time I’ve been comparing it against the Samsung Galaxy A71 (amazon). Two phones which both come in under £400 in the UK.
OnePlus Nord Design & Durability
Let’s start with the design, I bought myself the Blue Marbel colour variant which looks super vibrant and catches the light nicely. I’m a big fan! There’s also the grey colour & black colours, but I think OnePlus could have been a little more adventurous. However, keeping the colour options limited does help to keep the cost down.
The Nord uses an exterior plastic battery cover so you’re probably wondering how it fares against day-to-day usage. Well, rather than me telling you, you should check out the JerryRigEverything video below!
If you’re like me, then you’ll probably be putting the Nord in a case as soon as you get it anyway. A very entertaining watch though!
Overall, I like the design of the OnePlus Nord. It feels comfortable in your hands and when compared to the Galaxy A71, the Nord feels better. On the side, you get the signature slider that I’ve always loved about OnePlus phones. It’s such a small feature, but no other phones include it, so kudos to OnePlus. Finally, the Nord loses the 3.5mm headphone jack and also the support for expandable storage.
Turn on the Nord and you get to see its glorious 6.4″ fluid AMOLED panel with a 90Hz refresh rate. That’s quite the combo for a phone at this price point and beats the A71’s 60Hz. Taking a moment to think about this, and the Nord having 90Hz is a pretty big deal for the future of mid-range devices. Let’s just say that the competition is heating up.
Thanks to the smoother 90HZ display, my experience with the OnePlus Nord is fantastic. Besides gaming itself, the UI transitions when scrolling through my Instagram feed or browsing websites is buttery smooth.
Let me talk about the panel quality. The AMOLED on the Nord produces great colours with deep blacks and excellent contrast ratio. Brightness is okay but doesn’t compare to the display on the Galaxy A71 in terms of brightness and colour reproduction. It’s still a great display, but Samsung creates the best mobile panels in the world.
With the upcoming OxygenOS 11, we’ll also be getting the long-awaited always-on display which I’m very excited to see in action.
All in all, the one plus Nord has an excellent display thanks to its vibrant AMOLED panel, complemented by the smooth 90HZ refresh rate. It’s a point to the Galaxy A71 for display brightness though.
Let’s talk cameras. There are six cameras on the OnePlus Nord, four on the back, and two on the front. The rear camera setup uses a 48MP Sony IMX lens, then there’s an 8MP Ultra-Wide, 5MP depth sensor and finally a 2MP macro.
I’ve been testing the cameras out against the Samsung Galaxy A71 for comparison.
Starting with the underwhelming macro lens, the A71 was able to output way better colours and the extra 3MP makes images much clearer. Onto the 5MP depth sensor and it does a pretty decent job focussing on the target while blurring out the background.
The 48MP Main Camera
Getting to the images from the 48MP main camera, and this is where the Nord starts to shine. Colour reproduction is a little oversaturated but overall the photos are very pleasing. Contrast & details are also very good. You won’t need to do much post photo editing.
Wide-angle images from the OnePlus Nord are also excellent in good lighting with accurate colour and detail, but fall a little short compared to the A71.
The Dual Selfie Cameras
Flipping the phone over and we get a 32MP Sony primary camera paired up an 8MP wide-angle. Selfies from the primary camera look vibrant with natural skin tones. It does a good job of adding Bokeh blur in the software as well. as well as the background come out pleasant.
Moving on to the ultra wide-angle selfie. It’s great for capturing those group selfies on a night out but lacks detail and sharpness compared to the main sensor. At the end of the day, it’s more important to get all your friends in the shot though, which is exactly what the Nord can do.
In terms of low light photography, I tested out the Nord at multiple locations. Using the Nightscape feature enhances visibility and details in dark environments. While it does not compare to the night mode on the more expensive OnePlus 8, it does help to really brighten up photos.
Performance & Gaming
The OnePlus Nord is powered by Qualcomm’s excellent mid-range chipset. The Snapdragon 765G which uses the latest generation DDR4 RAM. They’ve really optimised this chip for the Nord as even under heavy usage, I haven’t suffered from any slowdowns or jutters.
While the 765G isn’t a top-tier flagship chip, it still has support for 5G which is incredible. The combo of Snapdragon 765G and the 90Hz displayed really makes for a good gaming experience, albeit only with mid-range titles. I extensively played PUBG mobile on the phone under HD Graphics with frame-rate set to high. The Nord only managed a stable 30FPS. Unfortunately, 60FPS gameplay on the OnePlus Nord is only achievable by lowering the graphics settings a lot which isn’t worth it.
Overall, day-to-day usage on the Nord is fantastic without any slowdowns, but if you’re a serious gamer, you’ll want to opt for a more powerful chipset like the Snapdragon 8-series.
Moving to the battery, OnePlus Nord comes with a decent 4100mAh with support for OnePlus Warp Charge. Switching the refresh rate from 90Hz to 60Hz will also get you over an hour of extra battery life.
Related: Top 10 Phones With Epic Battery Life
You shouldn’t worry about battery life with the Nord, as you’ll easily get over 7 hours screen-on time and the super-fast warp charge will have you juiced up to 70% in just 30 minutes.
One premium features that OnePlus dropped to save money is wireless charging.
OnePlus Nord – The Verdict
Now it’s time to wrap it all up. The OnePlus Nord is certainly an exciting smartphone in its price segment.
If you’ve been looking for a capable camera setup, excellent built quality, 5G and the fastest charging phone under £400, then you’ll love the Nord. However, if the camera quality & display are your main concerns, the Samsung Galaxy A71 wins (amazon).