Over the past month, Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus has taken to Instagram to post quirky memes and rather eccentric videos in order to tease its upcoming mid-range phone.
OnePlus is clearly taking a new route here, straying from its standard marketing techniques that include glossy photos and aesthetically pleasing promotional clips in an attempt to attract and relate to the younger crowd — specifically, Gen Z.
On Tuesday, the company followed suit by officially unveiling the OnePlus Nord via an event that, due to the pandemic, was held mainly through augmented reality.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to purchase the Nord in the U.S. when it’s released internationally on August 4. As of now, the phone will only be available in Europe and India through the OnePlus site.
In Europe, the Nord will start at 399 Euros, which converts to about $457 USD. So, we can likely expect the device to be priced at under $500 once it hits “shelves” here. And, even though it’s technically considered a budget phone, the OnePlus Nord packs some fairly high-end specs.
Here’s what the OnePlus Nord has to offer
On the front, the Nord sports a large 6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED 2400 x 1080 display (408 PPI). The screen has a 20:9 aspect ratio and also features a 90Hz refresh rate out of the box, but you can switch that down to 60Hz to preserve battery life. In addition to Face Unlock, the Nord also incorporates an in-display fingerprint sensor for an extra layer of security.
The right side of the device is home to a power button that can be set to trigger Google Assistant with a long press. OnePlus also added an alert slider underneath it which allows you to switch between ring, vibrate, or silent modes. The volume rocker sits on the left side, while at the phone’s base, you’ll find a dual nano-SIM card slot, speaker, and USB-C port.
As for its imaging prowess, the Nord has a quad-camera setup on the back that includes a 48-megapixel sensor (f/1.75 aperture) — the same sensor featured on the more premium OnePlus 8 Pro. To accompany the main sensor is a 119-degree 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens (f/2.25), a 2-megapixel macro lens (f/2.4), and a 5-megapixel depth sensor (f/2.4).
On its face, the Nord features two selfie-friendly camera sensors. There’s a 32-megapixel main sensor (f/2.45) and a 105-degree 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle lens (f/2.45). This latter option is essentially meant for group selfies so that you don’t have to uncomfortably cram everyone into one photo. You can also use the rear camera to record video in 4K at up to 60 fps.
Much like the OnePlus 8 Pro, the Nord also supports Nightscape mode for photos taken in low light. This feature essentially takes the best nine photos shot at different exposures to produce one brighter image.
As for what’s powering this mid-range affair under the hood, that would be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chipset. So, that means the Nord has support for 5G — if it’s available in your area. 5G is certainly not the highlight feature of the device, seeing as how it’s a bit tough to find network support as of right now. But if you don’t plan on upgrading your phone for a few years, then the additional feature is worth it.
Additionally, the Nord has a 4,115mAh battery that can be charged using the included OnePlus Warp Charge 30T power adapter and Warp Type C-cable. According to OnePlus, this can charge your device up to 70 percent in only 30 minutes.
In terms of software, the Nord runs its own OxygenOS 10.5 skin on top of Android 10. So, you’ll have access to features like Dark Theme 2.0 (which is just another way of saying “dark mode”) and Zen Mode which helps push you to take breaks from your phone by locking you out for 20 minutes. It also comes with a bevy of Google apps pre-installed on the device, including Duo, Phone, and Messages.
And, I haven’t forgotten about color options — you can take your pick between Gray Onyx and Blue Marble. Both variants are also available in two memory/storage configurations: 8GB/128GB or, if that’s not enough, 12GB/256GB. There’s also a 6GB/64GB configuration for the Gray Onyx model but that’ll only be available in India.
An enjoyable experience, so far
In my short time with the OnePlus Nord, I can easily say it doesn’t feel like a budget phone as far as its design is concerned. Instead, it looks and feels quite high-end for its price. Unlike the plastic back and lone camera sensor you’d typically find on most budget phones, the Nord’s glass exterior and rear quad-camera setup lend it the aura of a flagship model. It also maintains that signature OnePlus style with its pill-shaped camera module and branding on the back.
I’m a huge fan of the Blue Marble color, too — it’s a super fun, unique color with a discrete shimmery, metallic accent to it. This is definitely a color I’d want to show off. So, yes, I refuse to put a case on it (even the clear one that comes in the box).
The 6.44-inch display is perfect for my small hands, too, allowing me to scroll and type comfortably with one hand. At 6.5 ounces, it’s also lightweight, which makes it easy to take photos without having to feel like the phone is going to slip out from my grip.
As for the display quality, colors on the screen are bright and pop even when in bright sunlight. And, while I would’ve preferred a smoother 120Hz refresh rate, 90Hz is certainly high enough. Scrolling through social media apps, texts, and emails feels fast and smooth.
For now, the OnePlus Nord is shaping up to be a phone I’d likely recommend if you’re in the market for an affordable Android device. Of course, I’m still going to have to spend a bit more quality time with it to test out features like its camera, and battery life to see how it holds up over time.
As I mentioned before, the OnePlus Nord is only available in Europe and India starting on August 4 through the OnePlus site. But the company has opened up a limited beta program for North America, with 50 slots available for people to sign up for a chance to receive the phone.
I’ll have a lot more to say about the Nord as I continue to use it as my daily driver, so you’ll have to be patient for the final verdict. Be sure to check back soon for our full review.