The OnePlus Nord has one of the strongest overall packages in the mid-range segment. With a stunning 90Hz display, reliable Snapdragon 765 chipset, clean software with fast updates, all-day battery with 30W charging, a great 48MP camera, and 5G connectivity, it covers the basics. The plastic mid-frame is a bit of a letdown, but overall the phone has a lot to offer.
The OnePlus 7T continues to be an excellent phone in 2020. The hardware is just as fast as the latest phones, the 90Hz AMOLED panel is still sublime, the stereo speakers are great for gaming, the software is getting continual updates, and the cameras have a lot going for them. If you're looking for a powerful $500 phone, make sure you pick up the OnePlus 7T while it's still available.
All about the power
With the Nord, OnePlus is making an ambitious play in the mid-range segment. The phone has solid fundamentals and offers reliable performance, and the value on offer makes it one of the best phones for under $500. With the OnePlus 7T now selling for $499, let's find out if you should pick up the Nord or opt for last year's bestseller.
Both the OnePlus Nord and 7T deliver outstanding value
The Nord has the distinction of being the first OnePlus phone to be available for under $500 in over two years. The phone absolutely nails the basics, offering a 90Hz AMOLED panel, solid performance, 30W fast charging, and clean software with regular updates.
The OnePlus 7T also delivers the exact same features, and you also get outstanding gaming performance thanks to the Snapdragon 855+ chipset, a metal chassis, and more usable cameras. In fact, the OnePlus 7T is an even better deal in 2020 as it's down to just $499. With the Nord available in select global markets — it's not launching in the U.S. — the 7T is the default option if you want a OnePlus phone for $500.
Let's start with the design. Both phones have a similar design language with flowing lines, but the OnePlus 7T has its own identity because of the camera housing at the back. The Nord has an oblong housing that's similar to the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, but the DSLR-like design for the cameras on the 7T makes it stand out.
Then there's the fact that the 7T has a metal chassis with a glass front and back, with the Nord instead featuring a plastic mid-frame. This was one of the ways OnePlus cut down on costs with the Nord, and while the phone has a chrome finish that's meant to mimic the feel of metal, it is made out of polycarbonate. The OnePlus 7T has no such shortcomings, and it feels more premium.
There's a similar difference at the back, with the 7T offering a wonderful matte texture that makes it a delight to hold the phone. The Nord, meanwhile, has a glossy finish at the back, and while I like the Blue Marble hue on the Nord more than the frosted glass Glacier Blue design of the 7T, the 7T nails the in-hand feel.
Up front, the Nord has a wide hole-punch cutout because of the dual cameras, and it is more distracting than the waterdrop cutout on the 7T. Thankfully, both phones have displays with flat edges, and you don't have to worry about curved screens here. The Nord has a 6.44-inch display while the 7T has a marginally larger 6.55-inch panel.
Both phones feature AMOLED displays with 90Hz refresh rate, and they're evenly matched in this area. The 7T, however, ekes out another win because it comes with stereo speakers, with the Nord offering a single speaker at the bottom.
OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T hardware: Everything you need
You know you're not going to be short-changed when picking up a OnePlus phone, and the Nord excels at the basics. There's a Snapdragon 765G under the hood, and it is just as reliable as the Snapdragon 855+ on the 7T for most day-to-day tasks. You'll only see a difference during extended gaming sessions, with the Snapdragon 765G not quite able to keep up with the SD855+ in this particular area.
Otherwise, the Snapdragon 765G is a reliable workhorse. But if you are looking to pick up a phone for playing games, the 7T is a better choice. The 7T also has newer UFS 3.0 storage modules, with the Nord using UFS 2.1 storage. Neither phone has a 3.5mm jack, water resistance, or wireless charging.
The OnePlus Nord is available in 8GB/128GB and 12GB/256GB options around the world, and there's also a 6GB/64GB model that's exclusive to India. The 7T starts off with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and there's a second variant with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.
The Nord has a larger 4115mAh battery (versus 3800mAh on the 7T), but both phones deliver roughly the same battery life. You get 30W fast charging as standard, so there's not much to differentiate between the two phones here. The Nord also has 5G connectivity, so if you must have a 5G phone in 2020, it is the default option.
|Header Cell - Column 0||OnePlus Nord||OnePlus 7T|
|Operating system||Android 10|
|Display||6.44-inch 90Hz Fluid AMOLED|
Gorilla Glass 5
|6.55-inch 90Hz Fluid AMOLED|
Gorilla Glass 5
1 x 2.4GHz A76
1 x 2.2GHz A76
6 x 1.8GHz A55
1 x 2.96GHz Kryo 485
3 x 2.42GHz Kryo 485
4 x 1.80GHz Kryo 485
|GPU||Adreno 620||Adreno 640|
|RAM||6GB/8GB/12GB LPDDR4X||8GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||64GB/128GB/256GB UFS2.1||128GB/256GB UFS3.0|
|Rear camera 1||48MP (IMX586), 0.8um|
4K at 30fps
|48MP (IMX586), 0.8um|
4K at 60fps
|Rear camera 2||8MP wide-angle, f/2.25|
|16MP wide-angle, f/2.2|
|Rear camera 3||2MP macro, f/2.4||12MP telephoto, f/2.2|
OIS, 2x zoom
|Rear camera 4||5MP portrait lens, f/2.4||❌|
|Front camera 1||32MP, f/2.45 (IMX616)|
0.8μm, EIS, fixed focus
1080p video, fixed focus
|Front camera 2||8MP wide-angle|
f/2.45, 105-degree field-of-view
|Connectivity||5G Sub-6, SA and NSA|
Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1
NFC, AptX HD, A-GPS
Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, AptX HD, A-GPS
Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)
Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)
|Security||In-display fingerprint (optical)||In-display fingerprint (optical)|
|Dimensions||158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm|
|160.9 x 74.4 x 8.1mm|
|Colors||Blue Marble, Grey Onyx||Glacier Blue, Frost Silver|
OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T cameras: More the merrier
Both phones have the same 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor at the back, but the Nord is missing the ability to record 4K video at 60fps. And while OnePlus outfitted four lenses at the back of the Nord, you'll only ever use the 8MP wide-angle lens other than the 48MP module. The 2MP macro lens is not worth the hassle, and the 5MP portrait lens is limited in its use.
By contrast, the OnePlus 7T has three cameras at the back that are actually usable. The main 48MP camera takes great shots in just about any lighting condition, the 16MP wide-angle lens holds up just as well and retains the same color profile, and the 12MP zoom lens gives you lossless shots at 2x zoom.
As for final image quality, there is little to no difference between the two phones when it comes to the 48MP sensor. The Nord picked up three updates over the last three weeks to fix the camera, and the resultant images are now on par with the 7T. Where the 7T wins out is the auxiliary lenses, with the wide-angle and zoom lens delivering vibrant shots.
Up front, the Nord has a 32MP primary camera with an 8MP wide-angle lens, and the secondary lens makes a huge difference when taking group selfies. The OnePlus 7T has a single 16MP shooter that takes decent enough shots. Interestingly, the Nord has 4K video recording at 60fps for the front camera, but the sensor itself has fixed focus.
OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T software: Clean software, regular updates
OnePlus continues to differentiate its phones by delivering bloat-free software, with both the OnePlus Nord and 7T offering the same OxygenOS 10.5 build. You get the same set of software features on both phones, and the UI is optimized to take full advantage of the 90Hz panel.
What's interesting is that both phones will get two platform updates and three years of security updates. With the OnePlus 7T being the first phone with Android 10 out of the box, that means the phone will also pick up the Android 12 update at some point next year, just like the Nord. So even though the 7T launched ten months ago, you're not really missing out in this area.
That's welcome news if you are looking to pick up the 7T right now. You'll get the same set of platform updates as the Nord, and when you factor in the beefier hardware on the 7T, it ends up becoming the better choice here.
As for OxygenOS 10.5, you get Android 10's default gesture navigation, system-wide dark mode, and powerful notification management. Combined with OnePlus' own features like Zen Mode, gaming mode, native screen recorder, and all the customization options, you get powerful software that sets the tone for other manufacturers.
OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T: It all comes down to availability
Look, there is no wrong choice here. The OnePlus Nord is a fantastic phone if you're looking to maximize value, and with the device available for just ₹27,999 ($375) in India, you're getting incredible value. The only other OnePlus phone that comes close to it is the OnePlus 7T.
Let's take a look at the commonalities first. Both the OnePlus Nord and 7T have a vibrant 90Hz AMOLED display with flat edges, all-day battery life with 30W fast charging, and same great software with two platform updates and three years of security patches. The Nord wins out in terms of value as it starts off at the equivalent of $375 in India and $450 in other markets, you get 5G connectivity, and it is marginally more compact.
The OnePlus 7T has stereo speakers, a metal chassis, much better gaming performance, and more usable cameras. The 7T is a particularly decent option in 2020 as it started selling for just $499 earlier this year. However, the main issue with the phone is availability. OnePlus doesn't usually sell its last-gen phones, and with the focus firmly on its 2020 flagships, the OnePlus 7T is very limited in its availability.
In the U.S., you're limited to the T-Mobile version, with the unlocked model already sold out. You're also out of luck if you plan on buying the 7T in the UK, and in India, OnePlus is selling the 8GB/256GB model, which is available for ₹37,999 ($505). It is clear that the phone won't be restocked once OnePlus runs out of units, so if you've been waiting to get your hands on the 7T, now is your last chance to buy the phone. With the Nord not coming to the U.S., the 7T is your best option if you want a OnePlus phone for $500.
As for the Nord, it is available in India, the UK, and other global markets, and you can get your hands on the 8GB/128GB option for £379 ($480) in the UK, €399 ($450) in Europe, or ₹27,999 ($375) in India. You are not getting a metal frame and missing out on sustained gaming performance, but otherwise the Nord is just as great a package, and if you're looking to save some cash, it may just be the phone for you.
The new standard for value
The OnePlus Nord delivers the best features from OnePlus flagships for several hundreds of dollars less, making it the ideal mid-range phone in 2020. You get a 90Hz AMOLED panel, 30W fast charging, great 48MP camera, and clean software with fast updates. It may not be as powerful as the OnePlus 7T and it has a polycarbonate chassis, but the Nord nails the fundamentals.
All about the power
Still a fantastic choice in 2020
The OnePlus 7T may have launched 10 months ago, but the phone has aged very well, and is still one of the best options in this segment. The Snapdragon 855+ chipset is just as fast in day-to-day use, the 90Hz panel is sublime, you will get platform updates to Android 12 — just like the Nord — and the OnePlus 7T has a better design. If you can stretch your budget, the 7T is the better option.
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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.