OnePlus is a smartphone brand that’s known for pushing the envelope when it comes to performance. Every year, the company has launched new flagship smartphones with the latest Snapdragon 800 series processor, massive amounts of RAM, and new optimizations in its OxygenOS software. With every year bringing new hardware advancements, OnePlus smartphones have become progressively more expensive. OnePlus started its journey with more affordable smartphones, though. They were the ones to coin the term “flagship killer” which is now used to describe any high-performance smartphone with a potentially market-disrupting price. OnePlus has now seemingly returned to its roots with the OnePlus Nord, the brand’s first affordable mid-range smartphone in years.
The Nord isn’t OnePlus’ first foray with mid-range smartphones. The company previously toyed with the idea 5 years ago with the OnePlus X which launched shortly after the OnePlus 2. Unfortunately, the company’s “Never Settle” mantra came back to bite them with how much they had to compromise to deliver the OnePlus X. With the substantial hardware advancements in the 5 years since, OnePlus is now comfortable returning to the mid-range smartphone space with a device that, on paper, doesn’t compromise as much. Is the OnePlus Nord the true successor to the OnePlus X? I’ve had the device for nearly a week now, and while our full review will come later, for now, I can give you my first hands-on impressions of the device.
Note:I received the Blue Marble OnePlus Nord (12GB of RAM + 256GB storage) from OnePlus on July 15th, 2020. I have used the device as my daily driver since receiving it.
OnePlus Nord: Specifications
Dimensions & Weight
158.3 x 73.8 x 8.2 mm
6.44″ FHD+ Fluid AMOLED
20:9 aspect ratio
90Hz refresh rate
sRGB and Display P3 support
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G:
1x Kryo 475 (ARM Cortex-A76-based) Prime core @ 2.4GHz
While the OnePlus Nord marks a new path for the company to follow, the design is reminiscent of the company’s previous devices. An imprinted OnePlus logo in a glass back, an alert slider on the side, and minimal bezels are all generally hallmarks of the OnePlus design language. Back when the OnePlus Nord was just a OnePlus 8 Lite or a OnePlus Z, it had an entirely different design. This fact was corroborated by Carl Pei recently stating in an interview with MKBHD that the design of the OnePlus Nord was changed last minute, and some other prototypes were also shown off that did not bear familiarity to existing OnePlus smartphones.
The OnePlus Nord features a dual-camera cut-out on the 1080p AMOLED panel, pushing notification icons about a quarter of the way across the screen. It’s more or less a completely bezel-less experience, and just like other OnePlus devices, there’s no headphone jack to be seen here. The phone doesn’t attract any fingerprints and the weight distribution feels equal from top to bottom. It’s got a smooth glass feel on the back, and I’ve opted to use mine in a case most of the time because it’s somewhat slippy. The display also doesn’t get very bright, so it’s a bit harder to use in direct sunlight.
Likewise, there are no other bells and whistles here either. The only port you get is a USB-C port, and the only buttons you get are a power button and volume rocker. There’s the coveted OnePlus alert slider present on the right-hand side of the device too.
The quad-camera arrangement on the back of the device creates a rather noticeable camera bump, which the clear case given in the box does help alleviate. The clear case has an arrow of sorts on the back which is meant to signify pointing towards north. However, that clear case also comes with a cover flap for the charging port that I will soon be ripping off.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Mishaal Rahman, received the device in Onyx Black.
OnePlus Nord Cases
Alongside the OnePlus Nord, the company has also launched three different cases that you can purchase for your new device. There is also one, clear gel silicone case included in the box as well. The cases on offer are a blue sandstone case, a clear gel case, and a black sandstone case. The blue sandstone case debuted with the OnePlus 8 series earlier this year, while the other two have been part of the OnePlus brand for years.
The original OnePlus One had a sandstone back, and ever since then, people have been vying for a comeback. While it doesn’t appear that OnePlus intends on launching a smartphone with a sandstone back anytime soon, the company has been releasing sandstone cases for years now. The OnePlus 8 series debuted a blue sandstone case, which has also come to the OnePlus Nord.
OnePlus includes a rather neat case in the box, but there’s also a clear gel case that adds even more protection that you can pick up as well. It’s also entirely clear, while the one included in the box is not.
It’s exactly like the blue sandstone, except that it’s black.
Included gel case
Personally, I love the included case in the box except for one thing… that really annoying charging flap. It can be difficult to pry out once it’s in, and it feels entirely unnecessary. I’ll probably be cutting mine off in the future.
Pricing and Availability of the OnePlus Nord
The OnePlus Nord can be purchased in Europe, the UK, and India at a starting price of €399/£379/₹27,999 for the 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage variant. Paying €499/£469/₹29,999 will get you 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, though it’s up to you if it’s worth it or not. You can order the Nord in Blue Marble or Gray Onyx from nord.oneplus.com starting August 4th in Europe, India, and Asia. Although there will be no U.S. release this time around, OnePlus invites 50 people to participate in a beta program to experience the device.
What are your thoughts on the OnePlus Nord? Let us know in the comments below!