OnePlus Nord: functional is the new exceptional

The OnePlus mid-range is here, promising to bring all its experience in a more affordable format and price. Gets it? I say yes.

After months and months of leaks – fortuitous and not so much – OnePlus will soon put its long-awaited mid-range terminal into circulation. The OnePlus Nord arrives as a somewhat more modest terminal, But also with an attractive price, dedicated to solving for many a functional bet.

The OnePlus Nord aims to flaunt the mid-range throne beyond an openly limited and mediocre one. The recipe for it? Get notable in the most impeccable tasks that mobile has to do in 2020, But somewhat stretch the experience with small gifts that you hope to see only in the high range .

This approach is almost the opposite of the latest iPhone SE, which has become Apple’s ‘cheap phone’ in 2020. It maintains a design and screen size of no less than six years ago – but with water resistance – the best processor on the market with modest memories and a unique camera that works like a charm in less challenging situations. The OnePlus Nord instead opts for a modern design, A more modest chip with memories to bore and multiple cameras in front and behind. It colors it, yes, with more modern features such as the 90 Hz screen, fast charging at 30 W and 5G.

OnePlus has great differences with the specialists in saving up to the last euro. Both Realme and Xiaomi – although here more in the case of the Redmi sub-brand – have an eminently online presence. They are the kings of the comparative tables. To put a quarter and a half of specs at the best price. To the touch – physical and digital – things change, and the experience has not been, Historically, as polished as the one presented by OnePlus.

But also with the heavyweights of which, with the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. It is already part or tries to do so. OnePlus does not sell an ecosystem, yet at least, of applications. That will rarely interest us and that are often duplicated, like several of the manufacturers on Android.

With the OnePlus Nord, the youth brand sells and has endeavored to export from its high ranges, Three large blocks of features that are the most valued by its users. According to themselves, these are:

  • A great camera , which will always be at the foot of the canyon on any mobile worth its salt.
  • A truly seamless experience .
  • A quality you can trust.

In short: a quality experience where the experience of the smartphone really counts for the vast majority of the population. That is, make it easy, also from the minute of your purchase. The OnePlus Nord comes from 399 euros , a price war ground promising a high-end experience. Do you have it? Let’s see.

The hand of OnePlus on the current situation

We started something at the end this time, In what I would say is one of the cornerstones of the already likely success of the OnePlus Nord. I’m clearly talking about your pricing scheme. And it is that OnePlus has in 2020 three products in its catalog and three major cost steps. My question here is whether the OnePlus 8 remains relevant enough When it costs slightly more than 300 euros than the Nord, But it hardly contributes so much more about it.

Both OnePlus and Xiaomi have risen this year on the shoulders of 5G to take the final step in terms of price. Approaching and touching the 1,000 euro price barrier is something they have been trying to capitalize on for years. Part of the fault is, of course, the configuration with a modem and external antennas that Qualcomm proposes this year to support the New Radio in the high range: the Snapdragon 865 requires it, Unlike the more modest 765G that has it integrated.

This allows us to unfold the offer towards a range that practically reaches the levels. We saw in the first generations of OnePlus in terms of price. But also to rise in characteristics to almost everything that the terminals with more innovation onboard propose. My question here is what is the cause and consequence: OnePlus has mobiles at a thousand euros due to the 5G situation, of course much more profitable. Especially if we take into account the manufacturing arm contributed by his friends at Oppo and BBK.

Be that as it may, The OnePlus Nord covers a more than obvious gap in the OnePlus catalog, and it does not seem that it does so with a bet based on simply presenting old functions with cheap components, but decides to go a little further . We will see if their approach is totally correct, or if they could still have adjusted something else.

OnePlus Nord from the outside

The OnePlus Nord is presented as a device of similar dimensions to the OnePlus 8, and also some of its characteristics will be identical. The truth is that this Nord feels like a smartphone somewhat more contained in dimensions and surprisingly comfortable in its use with one hand. Especially when you factor in the sizes these devices have gone to lately.

It is not all experience. And it is that the OnePlus Nord closes, as we mentioned in the first test, with finishes markedly lower than the flagships. The goodbye to the pleasant matte brushing, the water-resistance of the Pro model, the oleophobic treatment of its screen, the high-quality OLED … make the OnePlus Nord feel like a different terminal.

More mid-range. Lower. But not necessarily worse. And it is that this terminal responds to a huge sector of users, Who demand Pixel operation in an economic format in a package without major blemishes. The feeling here is that of having something very similar to a Nexus brought to 2020 in hand, And part of the fault is the adaptation of the OnePlus software with Oxygen OS . Functions yes, but based on utility and always with simple integration.

The OnePlus Nord is suspiciously similar to existing mid-ranges like the Oppo Reno3 Pro . It maintains some of the OnePlus own customizations . Among them, the Alert Slider, that small button that allows us to silence the mobile with the screen off. But also other features of the latest Oppo terminals: double front camera and many sensors on the back.

As I was advancing, The screen is not the same in this OnePlus Nord as the one we see in the OnePlus 8. Not so bright nor so decent in general, but more than in line with this price range. In return, it receives the 90 Hz that they introduced with the OnePlus 7 Pro, A little over a year ago now, providing a more fluid and generally pleasant experience.

For what else; for whom

OnePlus claims that it is with the OnePlus Nord that they dare in their approach to the mid-range since, According to them, it is now that technology allows it. And not before. That is to say, having a high-mid-range chip with 5G opens the doors to the experience that they pursue and try to transmit.

OnePlus Nord

Photo: David Ortiz

The truth is that they are right. At least in 90% of the tasks that are carried out with the mobile. Using simple applications, navigating menus and the web are activities that now have a new image 90 times every second. But we must not forget that the Snapdragon 865 is a chip so superior to the Snapdragon 765G that we see here, That having tried both the difference is perceptible in a relatively simple way and without the need to enter games.

The Snapdragon 765G is, in effect, A chip comparable to the Snapdragon 845 in terms of CPU and the Snapdragon 835 in terms of GPU. Or what is the same, from 2 and 3 years ago respectively.

Snapdragon 730Snapdragon 765GSnapdragon 865
CPU cores2 Cortex A76, 6 Cortex A552 Cortex A76, 6 Cortex A554 Cortex A77, 4 Cortex A55
GPUAdreno 618Adreno 620Adreno 640
AI?5.4 TOPS15 TOPS
5GNotSA and NSA, Sub-6 and mmWaveExternal: SA and NSA, Sub-6 and mmWave
Process8 nm7 nm7 nm
AdApril 2019December 2019December 2019

Rather, We could position the Snapdragon 765G as a more efficient and powerful version of the Snapdragon 730 – which we do comfortably focus on the mid-range -, which also incorporates 5G.

In terms of memory, OnePlus leaves behind the recent and fast LPDDR5 and UFS 3.0 memory standards that we saw in the last high-end. We settle for the penultimate LPDDR4X and UFS 2.1 which, really, give an already great experience and allow us to contain the price relatively.

Here OnePlus sins in the West with one of Oppo’s ‘tics’: bringing memory versions that seem practically an overkill. 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal memory in a terminal of 400 euros , Which go up to 12 and 256 GB in the 500 version. Although they are a guarantee for the future, perhaps many would be interested in settling for a somewhat more basic 6 and 64 GB like the one that is launched in India for a few tens of euros less.

OnePlus Nord Review
Photo: David Ortiz

If we add this to the fact that the first promotions with. This device is already appearing, They could be a serious blow to the myriad of Xiaomi and Realme proposals that populate this price range.

As for its battery, more than correct with 4,115 mAh and a fast charge that allows It to be charged at the same speed as its high-end, thanks to a maximum power of 30W. We can expect between 4 and 6 hours of screen , Which in my day to day is guaranteeing to reach the night without limitations , and in fact it lasts a day and a half without too many problems. The 90 Hz does not seem to be impacting too much in this section, although It is also true that autonomy does not shine exceptionally here.

Sound wise, the OnePlus Nord doesn’t feature stereo speakers here. Unlike other inexpensive mid-range terminals, It also forgets about the headphone jack – we’ll come back to this soon – which pushes at least to look at its great OnePlus Buds. Remember that these are integrated, In the latest updates of the terminal, with the device software and allows you to customize the controls and others.

Six eyes (worth two)

We return to one of the central claims of OnePlus for its new mid-range terminal, Which is none other than its camera, as they say, flagship level. They base this on the fact that the main sensor is the same as that of the OnePlus 8. The ‘downside’ is that this is also the same as that of the OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7. In fact, The Sony IMX 686 they mount is quite common since It’s been in entry-level terminals for over a year, so there’s not much muscle here.

OnePlus Nord Review
Photo: David Ortiz

The true high-end sensor that we see in 2020 is the one that mounts the OnePlus 8 Pro, Larger, and with better performance in multiple situations. In return , OnePlus has done a great job on this sensor, for years, and is indeed a worthy candidate to defend the vitaminized mid-range it represents.

But OnePlus raises the game in terms of total cameras with the OnePlus Nord, even above its proposals. Simply, I imagine and as I said, Because it is based on a platform that already exists in one of the Oppo terminals. We have six cameras in total, the four rear being:

  • 48 MP wide angle , 1/2 “in size, f / 1.8 aperture and dual stabilization (OIS + EIS). Sensor identical to the main OnePlus 8.
  • 8 MP smaller ultra wide angle and f / 2.3. Different sensor, lower, than the OnePlus 8.
  • 5 MP depth and f / 2.4, for blur effects.
  • 2 MP f / 2.4 macro for very close-range photography.

As we see, we really find two relevant cameras and two that seem to play accumulation. A tactic that seems wasteful in several ways: it fatigues the user, Increases costs and worsens the use of space in something that is hardly used. And soon we will see why.

OnePlus Nord Review
Photo: David Ortiz

In the same way, on the front, we find two cameras, for the first time in OnePlus. In my case, I prefer to have a larger portion of the screen always available. They are as follows:

  • 32 MP 1 / 2.8 “wide angle with f / 2.5.
  • 8 MP 1/4 “(!) Size ultra wide angle with f / 2.5.

Here again just looking at the characteristics of the sensors .we can expect an ultra-wide-angle with more than limited performance. Indeed, suspicions are met especially outdoors. Its main camera, however, is not bad at all. Let’s look at a few samples from the main sensor.

OnePlus 8

The sensor used by OnePlus already has a great performance insufficient light. This is far from being the best in backlighting and more complicated situations.

OnePlus 8

Ultra wide angle, HDR auto

The results decline in the wide angle, which as we mentioned already has a much lower sensor. And in the face of backlight distortions, so are your lenses. However, it will allow us to take useful photos when the scene has decent lighting.

OnePlus 8

Ultra wide angle, HDR auto

We see that as the light falls, The only camera that gives us already decent results – by 2020 standards – will be the main one …

OnePlus Nord

… which continues to provide good shots in low light situations for this price range.

OnePlus Nord

Macro camera, auto

But simply the macro sensor is of such a fair quality and with so little play when focusing that We can really easily end up with images of this style. The main sensor is generally more than sufficient for this type of photography.

Remember that you can access all the photographs in this article in their original resolution by clicking on them, Or by accessing this gallery where you will find some extra shots.

conclusion

The OnePlus Nord is far from completing a full flagship powerhouse that rivals high-end at a bargain price. In several respects, too. The truth is that it does not matter if the experience is great –which it is–, and I really believe that we are facing one of the rounder proposals in this price range.

Great autonomy, fluidity, performance, comfort and photographic capabilities in its price range. The OnePlus Nord is in search of the experience, and it really achieves what. I would say is an almost perfect option for many, and that it probably will be even more as its price evolves.

The 5G proposal is not yet as striking as it could be, But along with generous memories, it seems that we have a mobile here for almost everyone and for a while . OnePlus selects a good mix of basic features to note, and more advanced ones to stand out. The OnePlus is more functional than striking : it has done well.

Pros

  • Comfortable , accessible and quality design.
  • Performance just enough for it worth paying.
  • OnePlus experience , at a lower price.
  • It keeps its screen at 90Hz even if it ‘cuts’ in being flat : all advantages.
  • Solid autonomy colored with a fast charge.

Cons

  • Too much camera , with fill sensors with very sad results.

A more modest and even cheaper option is missing .

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