The OnePlus Nord is finally here. It is possibly the most hyped phone of 2020. With this phone, OnePlus hopes to recreate the hysteria that started it all with the OnePlus One in 2014. But, does the Nord achieve the True North for OnePlus? Is it worth all that hype?
OnePlus Nord: fresh new colour, tried-and-tested design
What’s nice about the OnePlus Nord is this Blue Marble colourway. It looks pretty good on that glossy Corning Gorilla Glass 5-protected back panel. In fact, even the front is protected by Corning Glass 5. My only gripe is, the mid-frame is made of plastic with a fake metallic polish. I really don’t like that finish as it is intended to make you believe that it is made of aluminum. That apart, the Nord doesn’t have any IP rating but comes with requisite rubber seals to provide some bit of protection.
On the rear, you also have a raised vertical module with four cameras inside it. This design language is reminiscent of Realme’s industrial design and, therefore, there’s that sense of deja vu that crops up. Additionally, as is the case with almost every raised module, it causes the dreaded ‘table wobble.’ But worry not, all the official cases have a raised lip around the camera module to get rid of that wobble.
There’s a dual-SIM tray, a Type-C port with USB 2.0 spec, a single speaker grille, and a mic at the bottom. On top is another mic. What’s conspicuously missing is a headphone jack, which is a major letdown. As for the buttons, you get a power button on the right and a volume rocker on the left. And, of course, there’s the awesome alert slider that has been the marquee feature of OnePlus phones.
Thanks to the slightly curved rear glass it fits in the hand nicely. It is slightly thicker and heavier than the OnePlus 8 but it has a smaller profile thanks to the smaller display. Regardless, you won’t have a problem with how the phone feels in your hand.
I do miss the headphone jack but the design is definitely the strongpoint of the OnePlus Nord and it is bound to ruffle a few feathers.
OnePlus Nord: display is standard 1080p fare
The Nord has a 6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED 1080p panel with a 90Hz refresh rate. And, there’s Corning Gorilla Glass 5 cover protection on top of it. I must say this, I didn’t like the quality of the screen protector that you get in the box. I removed it in an instant.
The flat panel reminded me of the panel on the OnePlus 7T actually. Only difference is, instead of a waterdrop notch, there’s now a dual punch-hole camera on the display. I’m not a fan of these dual punch solutions but thankfully you get an ultrawide selfie camera and not a shitty depth sensor. Anyway, this punchole is on the top left corner and gets hidden away in landscape mode while playing games.
This display supports Widevine L1 and can playback HDR-ready content on Netflix as well. There’s a fast in-display fingerprint scanner and a very good linear vibration motor for precise haptic feedback. In fact, I wrote the entire Unboxing and first impressions of the OnePlus Nord on my review unit! And, lest I forget, you get an improved touch response of 180Hz as well. For context, the OnePlus 7T had a touch response rate of 135Hz.
Spec-for-spec, this display is as good as the one on the OnePlus 7T and the OnePlus 8. I need more time with it to determine if there are any typical issues that are highlighted with OnePlus displays. *cough* OnePlus 8 Pro black crush issues *cough*
OnePlus Nord: cherry-picking the right hardware
By the way, the Nord has a SD765G inside, which has support for 5G whenever it becomes available. You can achieve speeds of up to 3.3GBps with the X52 modem. I’m yet to fully push the limits of the SD765 chip. I’ll save that for the full review. But, all you need to know is I’m coming from a OnePlus 8 Pro and can’t really tell a difference in performance. It is as smooth and as fast the 8 Pro, and that’s where OnePlus has played a masterstroke I feel.
And yeah, you get three variants of the Nord: 6/64GB, 8/128GB and 12/256GB. The RAM is of the LPDDR4X kind and the storage is UFS 2.1 type.
As for the battery, it is a 4115mAh unit with support for Warp Charge 30T wired charging speed. As expected, you can’t charge the Nord using a wireless charger. Wait for my full review on my verdict on the battery life.
OnePlus Nord: 6 cameras too many?
OnePlus is confident of the four-camera stack on the rear, it says “If you don’t like the cameras, we’ve messed up.” Well, I’ll tell you if I like it or not once I’ve tested it thoroughly. For now, let’s just take a look at the specs, features, and a few initial samples.
So, the main camera is a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor attached to an f/1.75 lens, which is optically stabilised. It is ably supported by an 8MP ultrawide, 2MP macro, and 5MP depth camera. To be honest, OnePlus could’ve easily skipped the Macro and Depth for a telephoto. But, well…telephoto cameras and lenses are expensive. Not to mention it’ll take up more space internally, making the phone fatter.
On the front, you have a fixed focus 32MP selfie camera and an 8MP ultra-wide angle camera.
I shot a few pictures from the phone. At first glance the images looked fine. But I did notice a few glaring problems with some of the pictures. Can’t share them now, more in the full review.
OnePlus Nord: software experience is the differentiator
The one reason why I would recommend a Nord, without even testing it, is for the Oxygen OS experience. I got a clean UI with absolutely no hiccups. The customisation options are aplenty. And, there’s no bloatware or notification spam or pesky Cleaner apps.
Furthermore, OnePlus has promised 2 years of assured software updates and 3 years of security updates. What more could you ask for?
By the way, for some odd reason, OnePlus has replaced the Phone, Messages, and Contacts app with Google’s first party apps. As for the software, I’ll talk more about any interesting changes in my full review.
OnePlus Nord: Closing thoughts
In the couple of days I’ve had with the phone, I’m actually glad that OnePlus has managed to provide the same level of smoothness and speed that you get with its more expensive flagships. This relentless persistence to unify user experience is what sets OnePlus apart.
Moving on, while Rs 24,999 is the pricing of the base 6+64GB variant, note that it will be available only in September. The 8+128GB variant is available for Rs 27,999 and the 12+256Gb for Rs 29,999. What do you guys think?
Regardless, fans and new audiences are going to enjoy the overall Nord experience. I am sure of that. What are the bits that will not appeal to them is what I am going to find in my review. Keep checking this space for more.
What do you guys think of OnePlus’s new pursuit of the True North? Do let me know in the comments section below. Along with your recommendations for phone comparisons that you’d like to see, of course.