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OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T: Which should you buy?

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T
OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

OnePlus Nord

OnePlus Nord

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.

OnePlus Nord

Insane value

Vibrant 90Hz AMOLED panel
Snapdragon 765G has reliable performance
Clean software with fast updates
Great 48MP camera, decent dual selfie cameras
All-day battery life and 30W wired charging
5G connectivity
Plastic chassis
Not available in the U.S.
Single speaker

OnePlus 7T

OnePlus 7T

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.

OnePlus 7T

All about the power

Vibrant 90Hz AMOLED panel
Snapdragon 855+ has incredible performance
Clean software with fast updates
Versatile cameras that take excellent photos
All-day battery life and 30W wired charging
Stereo speakers
No 5G connectivity
Final set of units up for sale

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 is a particularly great choice in 2020 — it edges out the Nord in a few key areas.

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.

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OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

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OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

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OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

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OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

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OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

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

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

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.

The Nord offers reliable performance, but the OnePlus 7T is the outright winner here.

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.

OnePlus NordOnePlus 7T
Operating systemAndroid 10
OxygenOS 10.5
Android 10
OxygenOS 10.5
Display6.44-inch 90Hz Fluid AMOLED
2400x1080 (20:9)
HDR10+
Gorilla Glass 5
6.55-inch 90Hz Fluid AMOLED
2400x1080 (20:9)
HDR10+
Gorilla Glass 5
ChipsetSnapdragon 765G
1 x 2.4GHz A76
1 x 2.2GHz A76
6 x 1.8GHz A55
7nm
Snapdragon 855+
1 x 2.96GHz Kryo 485
3 x 2.42GHz Kryo 485
4 x 1.80GHz Kryo 485
Adreno 640
7nm
GPUAdreno 620Adreno 640
RAM6GB/8GB/12GB LPDDR4X8GB LPDDR4X
Storage64GB/128GB/256GB UFS2.1128GB/256GB UFS3.0
MicroSD slot
Rear camera 148MP (IMX586), 0.8um
f/1.75, OIS
4K at 30fps
48MP (IMX586), 0.8um
f/1.6, OIS
4K at 60fps
Rear camera 28MP wide-angle, f/2.25
119-degree field-of-view
16MP wide-angle, f/2.2
117-degree field-of-view
Rear camera 32MP macro, f/2.412MP telephoto, f/2.2
OIS, 2x zoom
Rear camera 45MP portrait lens, f/2.4
Front camera 132MP, f/2.45 (IMX616)
0.8μm, EIS, fixed focus
16MP, f/2.4
1080p video, fixed focus
Front camera 28MP wide-angle
f/2.45, 105-degree field-of-view
Connectivity5G Sub-6, SA and NSA
Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.1
NFC, AptX HD, A-GPS
4G
Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, AptX HD, A-GPS
Battery4115mAh
Non-removable
3800mAh
Non-removable
ChargingUSB-C 2.0
Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)
USB-C 3.1
Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)
AudioUSB-C
Single speaker
USB-C
Stereo speakers
Water resistance
SecurityIn-display fingerprint (optical)In-display fingerprint (optical)
Dimensions158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm
184g
160.9 x 74.4 x 8.1mm
190g
ColorsBlue Marble, Grey OnyxGlacier Blue, Frost Silver

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T cameras: More the merrier

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

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.

OnePlus Nord has six lenses, but the OnePlus 7T has cameras you'll actually 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 Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

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.

Both phones will get the Android 12 update and three years of security patches.

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

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7T

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

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.

Get the Nord if you want to maximize value; buy the OnePlus 7T if you want better performance.

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.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor covering Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone manufacturers, and writes about the semiconductor industry, storage servers, and audio products. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.