With the Nord, OnePlus is once again turning its attention to the mid-range segment. The phone comes with exciting hardware features and clean software with the promise of quick updates, and the best part is the pricing: retailing for around $450 in global markets, the Nord costs several hundred dollars less than the OnePlus 8 series.
It is a big deal when you consider just how similar the Nord is to the OnePlus 8. Here's a rundown of all the ways the Nord is better than the OnePlus 8, and why you're better off picking up OnePlus' mid-range phone.
The Nord has an AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate
OnePlus didn't make any compromises when it comes to the display side of things with the Nord, and the result is that you get a 6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED panel on the phone with 90Hz refresh rate, just like the OnePlus 8. The high refresh rate display is just as fluid in daily use and is a standout feature on the Nord.
You get the same set of customization options for the display as the OnePlus 8 series, and the Nord even comes with HDR10+. While 90Hz or 120Hz panels are now the norm in the high-end segment, there aren't many devices that offer a 90Hz AMOLED panel in the sub-$500 niche. That makes the Nord that much more enticing in this category.
You get the same 48MP camera as the OnePlus 8, and dual cameras up front
The Nord has six cameras in total, two more than the OnePlus 8. At the back, you'll find a 48MP Sony IMX586 primary lens that's identical to the OnePlus 8, and there's an 8MP wide-angle lens, 2MP macro module, and 5MP portrait lens. The front is where things get particularly interesting; the Nord is the first OnePlus device to offer two front cameras, with a 32MP primary lens joined by an 8MP wide-angle module.
The front camera is of particular interest because the 32MP sensor is of a higher resolution than the 16MP module on the OnePlus 8. You get better photos from the primary lens, and the versatility of the wide-angle shooter, making the Nord a better option if you take a lot of selfies.
OnePlus Nord to the left, OnePlus 8 on the right
Because the Nord has the same 48MP camera at the back as the OnePlus 8, it takes photos of the same caliber. The camera handles daylight shots particularly well, and while it needs further tuning to reduce noise in low-light shots, it has a great foundation.
Same OxygenOS software with three years of updates
While OnePlus always holds its own when it comes to the hardware, it's the software side of things where the company has pulled out a considerable lead over the last two years. OxygenOS is the best third-party skin on Android, and the lack of any bloatware coupled with a clean interface and useful features make it a delight to use.
That's why it's great to see that the Nord has the same great OxygenOS software experience as the OnePlus 8, and OnePlus is committing to two platform updates and three years of security patches. That puts the Nord on an equal footing with OnePlus' flagships, and that's a big deal for a phone available for under $500.
Most mid-range phones do not get two platform updates, nor do they receive three years of security updates. By committing to the same update cycle as its flagships, OnePlus is putting the Nord on the same level as Google's mid-range Pixel 3a series and the iPhone SE.
You're not missing out on 5G connectivity
With the Snapdragon 765G chipset, 5G is no longer limited to flagship phones. Qualcomm's mid-range chipset enables 5G connectivity for $500 phones, and the Nord is one of the first phones sold in global markets to feature the chipset. The phone has the same 5G bands as the OnePlus 8, making it just as future-proof.
As the Nord is not available officially in the U.S., the phone lacks 5G bands for U.S. carriers. That said, if you're picking up the Nord in European markets, it features the relevant bands for connecting to carriers in the region.
The Nord delivers all-day battery life and 30W fast charging
OnePlus has one of the best fast charging standards currently available in Warp Charge 30T, and that's what you get on the Nord. The 30W standard allows you to charge the phone's 4115mAh battery from zero to 70% in just 30 minutes. The battery life itself is identical to the OnePlus 8, and the fact that the Nord also gets 30W wired charging puts it on an equal footing to OnePlus' flagships.
There's really no reason to buy the OnePlus 8 anymore
The Nord is proof that OnePlus can deliver a great mid-range phone. It had to cannibalize the OnePlus 8 to do so, but the result is that the Nord makes exciting features like 90Hz panels and 5G connectivity that much more accessible.
Considering the value on offer with the Nord, there really isn't any reason to pick up the OnePlus 8 anymore. Having used both devices side-by-side, I can confidently say that the Nord is a much better choice. Sure, the phone isn't running the Snapdragon 865, but there really is no difference in day-to-day use with the Snapdragon 765G.
The only other compromise OnePlus made has to do with the design, with the Nord featuring a plastic mid-frame. There is a chrome finish that mimics the feel of metal, and if you're going to use a case with your phone, this won't be an issue. With the Nord, you're getting all the latest tech that makes OnePlus' flagships stand out, but for under $500. That makes the Nord one of the best mid-range phones you can get right now.
It's all about the value
The Nord delivers all the features you're looking for in a sub-$500 phone in 2020. You get a gorgeous 90Hz AMOLED display, robust internal hardware, 48MP camera at the back with dual 32MP + 8MP cameras on the front, clean software with three years of updates, and 30W fast charging.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
Serious question, how can reviews vary so much? I realise it can be down to personal preference and cost etc but the reviews on this phone literally seem to vary wildly between it being the best midrange phone going to avoid as it's basically trash! The cameras are panned in some reviews saying they sub par compared to the 8 but you say they basically the same. The build quality has been panned as having a weak frame that breaks easily to being really great. Most reviews basically say it's simply been over hyped and doesn't live up to the hype. I'm guessing without having seen the phone is it's probably a great phone looking at the specs and features for the price and that some (not all) reviewers are spoilt by using all the high end phones and can be a bit skewed in their views and forget that the average buyer doesn't have access to every phone on the planet. This isn't a criticism and I'm glad we can get different reviews on new phones but it does get kinda confusing at times. You seem to have high praise for this phone Harish, would you recommend it over other phones in at a similar price?
I would recommend it. Having used hundreds of budget and mid-range phones, I really like what the Nord has to offer. And a few of the other reviews I've read had a lot of positives as well, so I don't know who's saying it is trash. The chassis itself is made out of polycarbonate, but the internals are solid, and the camera is very decent for what it costs.
I think a part of the reason reviews tend to lean towards positive especially in India is the fact that they have priced it to move. At a starting price equivalent to $333 it offers way better value than most of the mid-tier competitors considering you get a clean (and fast) skin like Oxygen OS and assured OS updates. If OnePlus can up their camera game they could eclipse the Pixel mid range completely.
The phone does have a few weaknesses. The structural materials could be better, and OnePlus should have taken a loss on that, and keep the price low. Jerryrig video was painful.
I was going to wait for it, to eventually come to the US, but I pulled the plug, and ordered a Moto edge 5g, after jerryrig video, especially after a launch day price, of $449. NFC, check, amoled, ditto, 765G, good enough camera. The Nord may have comparable performance, but structural problems made me go elsewhere. The 8, has better lasting value, as 2.1 storage won't be able to keep pace with advancements in newer, more advanced software configurations, and demand. The 8 will stay more relevant longer.
Reg Joo @$499 for the Moto Edge 5g there is zero chance I would get the OnePlus Nord! Good find.
And now there is also the Moto g 5g plus too that costs £300 in the uk
#1 reason is marketing 😋
You forgot one important issue of those us in North America: the Nord is not available in the US or Canada. The 8 is. Importing the Nord it isn't worth it due to the missing bands - especially if you use AT&T. Doesn't matter how great it is if it's unavailable.
And although the US is far from the biggest market, it is important to note that Android Central has dismissed other phones because they lacked US availability.
The Nord cameras have the same physical sensor as the Oneplus 8, but the sensor is just a link in the chain which includes software, color calibration, the SoC ISP, and any machine learning that might be a part of the package. The photos I've seen from the Nord main camera have been mostly decent (as long as the lighting is good), but too many are mediocre or downright poor. And since the question was not answered in any other article; why is the Nord being treated so lovingly while almost identical phones are being treated so harshly? Is it bias?
This is my point, it's hard to know exactly what to make of this phone as the reviews seem to vary so wildly. Maybe saying some trashed the phone is a bit harsh but let's say less than complimentary having actually used it, basically calling it just another mid range phone to some reviewers who seem to want to overlook any shortcomings to make it appear like some kind of game changer. I like the look of it and I'm not a particular camera user (they all seem fine to me) but the thing that does trouble me is seeing the bend test on Jerry rig everything, it seemed to break rather too easily and he seemed to make excuses for this and brush it off when he has trashed phones for less. Specs can't make up for a bent/broken phone.
Well, there is one reason for US consumers to buy the OnePlus 8: it is available to buy in the US. The OnePlus Nord is not. Sure, you could buy the international model of the Nord, but you will sacrifice some function as it may or might not work with your carrier. Especially if you want 5G capability.
The camera is mostly solved by adding the Pixel camera app (which I did on my 7T). The other big problem is the plastic frame. I personally don't think it would be a problem for myself, can't think of a single time the frame of a phone keep it safe from me destroying it. You are more likely to break the glass on front and back before you bend your phone hard enough to make a difference. But the biggest issue is it is not going on sale in the US. At least not yet anyway. Hopefully they build on the phone and bring it to the US next year.
Unless you care about the gimmickry 90hz refresh rate, 5G (I do not) or Android why would anyone pick this over the iPhone SE? If these phones were the only choices, I'd pick the iPhone SE over the OnePlus Noord because the SE has Apple's latest and greatest A13 bionic chip which equals flagship performance even if it's slightly undercloked, it has IP67 water resistance, wireless charging and a better cameras along with far superior software support making the iPhone SE better value than the OnePlus Noord.
All good points but the small screen size and low resolution of the SE make it a massive turn off in comparison.
Beno, I actually agree with you. Now I love what my Nokia brings to the table for a phone that is 2 years old with the Android One program, but the fact that Apple brought wireless charging (whether people use it or not), better cameras and water resistance at a reasonable price point is HUGE. One feature that never gets discussed is the speakerphone. Why is it that speakers are loud enough for videos, etc. but for phone calls they always seem to get lower/ harder to hear?
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