Dressed in blue, channelling its name from Carl Pei’s time in the nordic country of Sweden, the new OnePlus Nord is the most affordable phone the Chinese smartphone phenomenon has created in the last four years. The idea is simple like I wrote before -- OnePlus wants to democratise the now much-haloed software experience of its phones to a lower price point. And after using the new Nord for a couple of hours, I can confidently say that it plays the value card well.
OnePlus has moved to a new design language with this device. It’s a more compact form-factor with a smaller 6.44-inch AMOLED 90Hz screen with rounded corners and curves on the back of the device. OnePlus has also moved the alignment of the camera array to the left for the first time since the OnePlus 5T. Unlike its more expensive brethren, the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, one also doesn’t get the curved screen, which is a usability nightmare. For most people, this may not be as swanky as other OnePlus phones, but definitely, it is a more ergonomic option.
Even today, even old OnePlus phones like the OnePlus 7 feel faster than the average Android phone. The Nord continues that trend. It is a fairly well-equipped phone with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chip, truckloads of RAM and memory coupled with hyper-fast software that OnePlus calls Oxygen OS.
At its core, this phone is all about bringing the Oxygen OS experience to the masses. Oxygen OS is the OnePlus nomenclature for their build of Android-based on the latest version 10. It's typified by fast animations, clean software and zero third-party apps that people don’t use. OnePlus has gone one step beyond by even eradicating its own messaging and phone call apps and replacing them with Google’s defaults. OnePlus’s penchant for regular software updates for over 2 years is another USP.
This is a fast phone by any measure, but it may not have the firepower of the OnePlus 8, iPhone SE or even Xiaomi’s Redmi K20 Pro - especially when it comes down to gaming. For most people, this will be more than excellent, especially gaming isn’t a prime use case. Having said that, it may even surprise in that department as I haven’t tested its gaming potential yet.
In typical OnePlus tradition, this phone gets their signature warp charge 30T fast charging solution in the box, replete with their signature red USB cable. The phone also has a decent-sized 4,115mAh battery. I will report my findings on battery life later this week when I am done reviewing the phone.
Interestingly, this phone has more cameras than even the OnePlus flagship - the 8 Pro. There are a total of 6 cameras -- four on the back and two on the front. Fundamentally, the rear camera system is more or less similar to the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 7T with an additional macro sensor which wasn’t there on its other phones. After clicking a couple of photos I didn’t find the image quality to be too dissimilar from the OnePlus 8. In fact, out of the gate, this phone took better photos from the OnePlus 8 which needed a couple of software updates to have good photos coming out from its lens. More testing is needed to have a full verdict on the camera including the quality of the videos.
Selfies are interesting on this phone, as now there is a wide-angle lens alongside a standard 32-megapixel Sony sensor. This will be definitely better for group selfies but in the era of social distancing, I’m not too sure how useful a feature this will be.
On the basis of using the phone for a couple of hours I can say a few things - it is a phone that will make most people happy and at the same time, it gets the basics bang-on. Don’t be surprised to see the sold-out or out-of-stock tag alongside it considering people have been waiting for an affordable OnePlus smartphone for over 4 years.
- Author Dr. Sahil Mohan Gupta is the founder and chief editor at warpcore.live