Despite its budget price, OnePlus Nord has a toughened glass and metal case
OnePlus has lifted the lid on its latest smartphone, known as OnePlus Nord. Launched four months after the flagship OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro were unveiled, this new handset is the first in an entirely new line of products which will carry the same name as the new smartphone. OnePlus Nord is designed to be more affordable than OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, which start from £599 and £799, respectively.
But a smaller price tag doesn’t mean a smaller list of features – this is OnePlus we’re talking about. The Shenzhen-based start-up made its name with its so-called “Flagship Killers” – handsets that included top-tier features typically found on high-end competitors from Apple and Samsung that cost twice as much. Over the years, OnePlus’ smartphones have steadily increased in prices as it has moved from imitating features from rival devices for a smaller price, to introducing innovative new features on its own line of flagship smartphones.
Five years after the company was founded in China, OnePlus became the first company to launch a 5G-enabled smartphone in the UK, beating out more-established (and more liquid) players like Samsung and Apple. It also brought high-refresh rate displays to the mainstream with the OnePlus 7 Pro – a feature that Samsung included in its Galaxy S20 earlier this year and Apple is tipped to bring to the iPhone in September.
Inevitably, these bold new steps added to the cost of OnePlus smartphones. The OnePlus 8 Pro is an eye-watering increase on the £329 it charged for its top-tier OnePlus 3 back in June 2016. If there are any OnePlus 3 owners out there who haven’t been keeping up with the company over the last four years …they’re going to be shocked when they realise how much the upgrade to the latest from OnePlus is going to set them back.
Or rather, they would’ve been …until the OnePlus Nord.
OnePlus Nord has a 6.44-inch AMOLED display, which is pretty sizeable for those with small hands (and pockets)
OnePlus chose the name “Nord”, which means “North” in a number of European languages including French, Danish, German, Italian and Swedish, as it sees this new affordable handset as a return to its root – its true north, if you will.
As such, you’ll find some top-tier features included in this smartphone (it shares its main camera with the £599 OnePlus 8) but at a much more affordable price. Like the iPhone 11 is to the iPhone 11 Pro, or the Pixel 4a was supposed to be to the Pixel 4, the OnePlus Nord hopes to offer the best balance between cost and experience – taking some features from the OnePlus 8 and leaving others to keep the price down.
OnePlus Nord starts from £379 for a version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of non-expandable storage. If you fancy something slightly faster, the top-end model costs £469 and ships with 12GB of RAM – that’s more than the standard version of the Samsung Galaxy S20 – and 256GB of storage.
Both of these versions of the handset are available in Blue Marble and Grey Onyx colourways.
OnePlus Nord is immediately recognisable as a OnePlus phone thanks to the vertically stacked camera
OnePlus CEO Pete Lau said: “The OnePlus Nord is an important milestone for OnePlus, as we always look for new ways to share the best technology with more people around the world. We are excited to finally bring a more accessible OnePlus smartphone that confidently stands alongside other products in the OnePlus family. The OnePlus Nord combines a flagship camera along with our signature features such as the 90 Hz Fluid Display, OxygenOS, and Warp Charge 30T to deliver a best-in-class smartphone experience.”
So, what does the OnePlus Nord offer?
Powered by the Qualcomm-designed Snapdragon 765G 5G chipset, OnePlus Nord will be able to take advantage of superfast 5G networks being rolled out across the UK. If you’re planning on keeping your next smartphone for three or four years, 5G compatibility is great way to ensure you’re not left behind as 5G coverage expands over the coming months and years.
On the back, OnePlus has kitted out the smartphone with the same 48 MP Sony IMX586 sensor as the flagship OnePlus 8, complete with a large f/1.75 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS) to reduce blur and shakiness in both photos and videos. There’s also an 8MP ultra-wide angle camera, a macro camera, and a depth sensor for Portrait Mode-style images with bokeh blur in the background.
Flip the smartphone over and it seems OnePlus has taken inspiration from one of our favourite features from the Google Pixel 3 – ultra-wide selfies. As fun and arty as you can be with a rear-firing ultra-wide camera, the ability to fit groups of friends into the viewfinder without needing arms like Mr Tickle or (worst still) a selfie stick is brilliant feature you’ll struggle to live without.
Nord is the first OnePlus-designed device to ship with a dual front camera set-up. The company says it’s using “advanced image processing algorithms to ensure exceptional clarity and enhanced details”. The main selfie camera boasts a 32MP resolution, which is the highest resolution front camera on any OnePlus phone. The main front camera also supports high-quality video capture at 4K up to 60 fps. The ultra-wide camera is 8MP.
Just like the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, OnePlus Nord also supports Nightscape – OnePlus’ version of Google’s Night Sight or Apple’s Night mode.
OnePlus Nord is only available in two colours – Blue Marble, pictured above, and Grey Onyx
OnePlus has fitted its budget-conscious new handset with a 90Hz AMOLED display. While that’s not quite as smooth as the 120Hz on the OnePlus 8 Pro, it should still offer butterier system animations and faster-paced gameplay than smartphones with 60Hz panels, like the iPhone 11 Pro. At 6.44-inches, it’s not the biggest screen available for boxset binges on the train, but it should still fit in most jean pockets.
Powered by OnePlus’ own OxygenOS 10.5 out of the box, the OnePlus Nord includes features like Dark Mode, Zen Mode (which cuts you off from any distractions), and a range of customisation options that let users tweak everything from icon shapes to fingerprint animations. OnePlus says it has coded 300 software optimisations into OxygenOS to make it feel smoother and more responsive. As with all OnePlus flagship devices, OnePlus Nord will receive two years of software updates and three years of security updates.
So, expect to see Android 11 running on OnePlus Nord in the coming months.
Finally, OnePlus Nord supports the Chinese firm’s Warp Charge 30T system, which is also featured on OnePlus flagship products. The superspeedy wired charging option promises to take the OnePlus Nord’s 4,115mAh battery from empty to 70% in just half an hour. OnePlus says you’ll be able to achieve these speeds – even if you’re scrolling through social media or playing an intensive video game while the phone is charging,
And what about the cost-cutting? Well, to achieve that £379 price tag, OnePlus has trimmed a few of the features found on the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro. First of all, the Nord doesn’t have the same flagship Snapdragon processor as its pricier siblings, so don’t expect this smartphone to set any speed records.
It also doesn’t have an official IP rating for water resistance, although OnePlus says you can knock a drink over the Nord and you won’t need to dash to Tesco to buy a bag of rice. There’s also no wireless charging, no reverse wireless charging to top-up a pair of earbuds or help a friend with a smartphone running low of battery power.
OnePlus Nord is available through a series of small pop-up events. Details can be found here.
After these events, OnePlus Nord will be available on sale from the OnePlus website, John Lewis, Three and Amazon UK from August 4, 2020.