OnePlus Nord Review: The ‘Nord’ to Get

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Introduction

OnePlus Nord Blue Marble (11)The last OnePlus device I reviewed was the OnePlus 6, and back then, I thought that was a great device, so it’s exciting to know that the brand has now ventured into the midrange segment with the OnePlus Nord.

The phone seems impressive on paper, but its PhP21,990 price tag places it above most of the other midrangers in the scene. The question is, can it justify the difference?

Specifications
  • Display: 6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED, 90Hz, Gorilla Glass 5
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G
  • RAM: 8GB/12GB LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 128GB/256GB UFS 2.1
  • Rear Camera
    • 48MP Sony IMX586 Main
    • 8MP Ultra-Wide
    • 5MP Depth Sensor
    • 2MP Macro Lens
  • Front Camera
    • 32MP Sony IMX616 Main
    • 8MP Ultra-Wide
  • OS: OxygenOS on top of Android 10
  • Battery: 4,115mAh with Warp Charge 30T

Design

OnePlus Nord Blue Marble (16)The design of the OnePlus Nord is kind of thematic for this year, especially when looking at its back panel with the vertical camera module and the branding. Surprisingly, it’s also not as slippery when used without a case, making one-handed operation a breeze.

OnePlus Nord Blue Marble (4)What makes it look even better is the contrast between the glossy look of the back and the metallic sides. You also get the signature mode toggle switch for silent, normal, or vibrate.

The power button is located on the right, while the volume rocker is on the left. You get a USB-C port at the bottom along with the speaker grille, microphone, and SIM slot.

OnePlus Nord Blue Marble (8)While the absence of the headphone jack should be fine for some, the lack of expandable storage can certainly be an issue. But then again, you’d be expecting that if you’re buying an OnePlus device, right?

OnePlus Nord Blue Marble (1)The 6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED screen boasts a 90Hz refresh rate, which while not the fastest you can get today, is still pretty decent and delivers that additional snappiness and fluidity on visuals.

Performance

The OnePlus Nord packs a Snapdragon 765G SoC, backed by up to 12GB of LPDDR4X RAM (our review unit had 8GB), and either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage.

Daily performance was flawless, as expected. The device breezes through my typical day-to-day use (email, YouTube videos, picture-taking here and there, social media, plus a bit of gaming). There were also no issues switching between multiple running apps.

Speaking of games, the phone also performs well in popular titles such as Genshin Impact, CoD Mobile, Black Desert Online, and of course, Mobile Legends.

OnePlus Nord Gaming FPS

Settings

OnePlus Nord Black Desert Mobile Settings

Black Desert Mobile

OnePlus Nord CoDM Settings

CoDM

OnePlus Nord GI Settings 1

Genshin Impact

OnePlus Nord GI Settings 2

Genshin Impact

OnePlus Nord ML Settings

Mobile Legends

As for thermal performance, the OnePlus Nord did get warm while gaming, but not to a point that it’s already uncomfortable for typical use.

Camera

In most of our sample shots, the OnePlus Nord was able to deliver well-exposed, detailed, and properly sharp photos. The depth of field effect it generates is also accurate and very convincing.

OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (43)OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (87)OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (82)OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (81)OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (79)OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (50)

As for Ultra-Wide shots, you do get more coverage, but with degraded details and dynamic range.

OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (44)

Normal

OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (45)

Ultra-Wide

There are instances wherein it does tend to brighten things too much, such as this photo below.

OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (73)

Night shots are pretty impressive for a midrange phone, showcasing decent control on the various light sources in the background.

OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (3)

Selfies show great texture and detail, as well as proper exposure. There’s just a tiny bit of inaccuracy, which is almost not noticeable.

OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (20)OnePlus Nord Camera Sample (19)

Video Performance

While it only works for 1080p/30fps and 4K/30fps, the OnePlus Nord’s Super Stable feature does a good job of getting rid of shakes.

Software

I’ve always loved how clean and feature-packed Oxygen OS is, and here, it’s no different. Performance-wise, the UI runs snappy, fluid, and smooth.

You get a ton of options to personalize the device. From display presets, to accent colors, tone, and system icons, this phone lets you give the device a touch of your own style.

 

For gaming, there’s Fnatic Mode to block notifications and calls, as well as for restricting background activity to optimize performance.

OnePlus Nord Software (27)You do get the full suite of authentication methods, including Face Unlock and Fingerprint Scanning. Both work well and fast.

Battery

OnePlus Nord BatteryWith PCMark’s Work 2.0 benchmark that simulates tasks like basic data manipulation and video editing, the OnePlus Nord was able to score 10 hours and 15 minutes.

What’s even more impressive is that charging the OnePlus Nord from zero to full only took about an hour using the supplied charger and cable.

Verdict

OnePlus Nord Unit Sample (8)The OnePlus Nord is a fantastic all-rounder of a smartphone. It takes great photos, does well in daily tasks and games, and delivers good battery life. The software Oxygen OS is also well-optimized and offers a lot of options for personalizing the device.

It’s not a perfect phone. The lack of expandable storage may be a deal-breaker for some, and so is the absence of a headphone jack. Exposure control on the camera needs some tinkering, as well as the accuracy of the depth of field effect when taking selfies.

While a lot would think that the PhP21,990 price tag is a bit steep, I’d say that for what it offers to the table, that price is justified. I, however, can’t say the same for the recently-launched 12GB + 256GB variant, which is priced very close to the OnePlus 8, which is a flagship-specced device that delivers better value, at least on paper.

Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.

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