21 July 2020 18:38

OnePlus OnePlus Nord OnePlus

For rear cameras you get the same main 48MP sensor as the OnePlus 8, plus an 8MP wide-angle lens, 2MP macro lens, and 5MP depth sensor. The phone has a USB-C port, NFC, an in-screen optical fingerprint reader, a single speaker on the bottom, and OnePlus' 30W Warp Charging, which the company says will take the phone from "empty to 70% in just half an hour." The phone runs Android 10 and comes with two years of major OS updates and three years of security updates; although, like other OnePlus phones, they won't be monthly. OnePlus CEO Pete Lau mentioned that the company is "looking to bring more affordable smartphones to North America in the near future," and in today's press release, OnePlus says: "Fifty North American users will have a chance to experience the OnePlus Nord through a limited beta program." Why does the company want feedback from North American consumers? The Nord in India is way cheaper, running ₹27,999 for the entry-level version ($375), and ₹29,999 ($401) for the version with more ram and storage. Those are $81 and $170 cheaper than their European counterparts, with the RAM and storage upgrade running a whopping $25 in India.

Any mid-range Android phone will have a tough time against the iPhone SE that launched earlier this year. Apple's $400 mid-ranger has the same A13 Bionic SoC as the bigger iPhones, meaning it's faster than even the most expensive Android phones, at a fraction of the price. While the benchmarks are top tier, you'll be running them on a tiny 4.7-inch, 60 Hz display with a very dated-looking design thanks to the huge bezels. On paper the OnePlus Nord has a strong feature set, and our initial impressions are generally positive, but the real test will come when we perform our deep dives into performance, the cameras, and battery life to find out whether this is a mid-range marvel or a misstep. The Chinese manufacturer has had the OnePlus Nord (previously rumored to be called the OnePlus 8 Lite and OnePlus Z) hype train on the tracks for a while, drip feeding us a number of specs, and even shots of the handset, ahead of its July 21, 2020 launch.

There's more to come, then, from the Nord brand, but the new OnePlus smartphone is the first – and for now, only – device bearing the name. The teasing headlines included an 'affordable' sub-$500 price, four rear cameras, two front cameras, 5G connectivity, a Snapdragon 765G chipset and a 90Hz screen. That's for the 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage model, with the 12GB / 256GB OnePlus Nord price coming it at a still-affordable £469 / €499 (around $590, AU$850). For those in India, the OnePlus Nord will also be available in a third configuration - 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage which will cost 24,999 Rupees (with the other two variants costing ₹27,999 and ₹29,999 respectively). At these prices, the OnePlus Nord is cheaper than the new iPhone SE, Samsung Galaxy A51 5G, Mi Note 10, LG Velvet, Motorola Edge and last year's Google Pixel 3a XL, and will potentially be cheaper than the rumored Google Pixel 4a as well.

The Realme X50 5G and Mi Note 10 Lite are cheaper than the Nord, which both come with the same Snapdragon 765G chip, but make a few small compromises in other areas to achieve their lower prices. At launch the OnePlus Nord will be available in the UK and 27 other European countries, plus India, Hong Kong and Malaysia. While the handset will go on general sale on that date, OnePlus will be holding pop-up sale events in the weeks between the phone's launch and its release, giving fans a chance to buy the device early. The OnePlus Nord design belies its affordable price. It makes for a solid, premium-feeling device in the hand, and it's a similar size to the OnePlus 8, meaning the OnePlus Nord can be used one-handed – although those with smaller hands may struggle to stretch their thumb to the top of the display. The phone is available in two colors, and while the Gray Onyx finish is a little dull-looking, the second option is likely to be more appealing – it's called Blue Marble, and it certainly makes a statement, as you can see in our pictures. It's one of the ways OnePlus has kept the price of the Nord down, and while it claims the handset has been plunged into 30cm of water for 30 minutes and survived, you might want to be a little careful. This is raised by a couple of millimeters from the back of the handset, as on the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, but unlike on its more premium siblings, the camera block is in the left corner, rather than central. The OnePlus Nord has a 6.44-inch AMOLED display with a 20:9 aspect ratio, Full HD+ (2400 x 1080) resolution, and a 90Hz refresh rate for fluid scrolling performance. The headline feature of the OnePlus Nord is its 'flagship' camera setup. There are a total of six cameras on the handset, four on the rear and two on the front, the most OnePlus has ever put on a smartphone. The main camera on the rear is indeed borrowed from a flagship phone – the OnePlus 8. As for the battery, the OnePlus Nord comes with a 4,115mAh power pack with support for Warp Charge 30 charging, which should get you from 0% to 70% in 30 minutes using the bundled cable and power adapter in the box. Under the hood, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G chipset sits at the heart of the OnePlus Nord, and while it's not the same flagship chip as found in the 8 series phones, we've seen it perform well in other handsets, such as the LG Velvet and Motorola Edge. When it comes to RAM and storage you have two options, with the phone available in 8GB / 128GB and 12GB / 256GB configurations. We got our hands on the 256GB version, and found the usable space to be 236GB, but 128GB will likely be more than enough for many, and the additional RAM is probably only going to come into its own during intensive gaming sessions. The OnePlus Nord comes with 5G support, which means you can take advantage of next-generation network speeds when they become available in your area, if 5G hasn't rolled out for you just yet. OnePlus promises that the Nord will get two years (from launch date) of software updates – which means it'll be in line for the Android 11 update later this year, and Android 12 in 2021 – plus three years of security updates. On paper the OnePlus Nord looks to have a strong feature set, and our initial impressions are generally positive, with the phone having a premium look and feel, a bright screen and plenty of power under the hood. The real test will come when we perform our deep dives into the Nord's performance, cameras and battery life, and it's only then when we'll know whether the OnePlus Nord is a mid-range marvel or misstep. The OnePlus Nord just got announced to the world, and we've already spent some time with the brand new handset. From the noises OnePlus is making, the Nord will eventually become a series of mid-range phones, which is in some ways a return to where OnePlus got started. While we can't give you a full verdict on the OnePlus Nord after so little time with it, we can tell you that it appears to tick a lot of the boxes you'd want from an affordable mid-ranger – and starting at just £379 in the UK, it's undercutting a lot of its rivals in the market. Full marks to OnePlus for what it's managed to do with the design of the OnePlus Nord – this is a phone that looks and feels like it costs way above its £379 starting price. The display is sharp and bright, the bezels are kept to a minimum (thanks in part to an in-screen fingerprint sensor), and the phone looks refined and polished from the back as well – it's the Blue Marble version we have, but Grey Onyx is available too. When it comes to the screen, we have a 6.44-inch, 2400 x 1080 pixel AMOLED display that runs at a pleasing 90Hz refresh rate. OnePlus says that it's worked on some behind-the-scenes trickery to get scrolling and video looking as smooth as possible, and we've been impressed with the appearance of the display in the short time that we've spent with it so far. Based on the time we've spent with the phone so far, it looks like a phone that's worth getting on your shortlist if you're in the market for a new handset – and it comes with the latest version of the OnePlus OxygenOS built on Android, which we're big fans of. The OnePlus Nord comes packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB or 12GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB of internal storage space. Around the front of the phone, OnePlus is making much of the dual-lens 32MP wide + 8MP ultrawide selfie camera, which it says should fit far more inside a frame and mean you can leave your selfie stick at home. We haven't been able to put the cameras to the test yet, but on paper at least they look like solid performers. OnePlus Nord: price and availability A couple of preorder windows for the OnePlus Nord have already passed, but you've still got plenty of opportunity to get your hands on this phone. At the same time, you should find the OnePlus Nord available to preorder on Amazon as of now. If you want to go up to the 12GB memory / 256GB storage version of the OnePlus Nord, that's going to set you back £469.