Android Central Verdict
The Nord 3 is one of the best mid-range packages you'll find today. OnePlus made wholesale changes to the hardware, and the Nord 3 has a larger screen that gets brighter, is much more powerful in daily use than its predecessors, takes better photos and videos in just about any scenario, and lasts longer. There isn't an area where you won't notice an improvement over the Nord 2T, and the best part is that you're not paying a hefty premium here. In short, the Nord 3 distils the essence of a mid-range phone, and it does so while looking good.
Good 120Hz AMOLED screen
Same 50MP camera as OnePlus 11
Powerful hardware is great in daily use
IP54 ingress protection
Faster software updates than previous years
Stellar battery life with fast 80W charging
Sub-par macro lens
Still no wireless charging
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The launch of the OnePlus Nord back in 2020 was a pivotal moment for OnePlus as it allowed the brand to expand its portfolio and target a mainstream audience. Three years later, the Nord series is the lifeblood of OnePlus, so much so that its entire strategy in North America relies on the success of the entry-level Nord N devices.
It's a similar story in OnePlus's largest market, India. The Nord and Nord CE series are among the best-selling OnePlus phones in the region, and while the flagship OnePlus 11 and 11R continue to sell well in their own right, they don't even come close to Nord devices.
In that context, it's easy to see how the Nord 3 is one of OnePlus's most important phones of 2023. Although OnePlus rolled out the Nord 2T last year, it was a mid-cycle refresh at best, and didn't offer any meaningful upgrades over the Nord 2, which in itself was an iterative upgrade over the original Nord.
Thankfully, the Nord 3 has major upgrades across the board: it uses a larger 6.74-inch AMOLED panel and goes up to 120Hz, has beefier hardware in the form of MediaTek's Dimensity 9000, a better 50MP camera at the back, and a larger 5000mAh battery. I used the phone sporadically over the course of the last three months, and here's why I think it is a great candidate if you're in the market for a new mid-range phone.
OnePlus Nord 3: Specs and pricing
OnePlus launched the Nord 3 in July 2023, and the phone is now up for sale in select global markets. In the U.K., you can get your hands on the device for £499 ($618), and it's available in a single 16GB/256GB model. In France and other European countries, the 8GB/128GB edition of the Nord 3 is available for €449 ($479), with the 16GB/256GB model selling for €549 ($586).
Over in India, the Nord 3 is available for ₹33,999 ($408) for the 8GB/128GB version — ₹5,000 ($60) more than what the Nord 2T retailed for last year — and there's a 16GB/256GB edition that's going for ₹37,999 ($456). The Nord series continues to be much more affordable in India than other regions, and it needs to do so for OnePlus to retain its edge in the mid-range segment.
Like other devices in the Nord series, the Nord 3 isn't coming to North America; it gets the Nord N30 instead.
|Category||OnePlus Nord 3|
|OS||OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13|
|Display||6.74-inch 120Hz AMOLED panel, 2772 x 1240, HDR10+, 1,450 nits, Dragontrail glass|
|Chipset||MediaTek Dimensity 9000, Mali-G710 MC10, 4nm|
|Storage||128GB/256GB UFS 3.1|
|Rear camera 1||50MP f/1.8 Sony IMX890, 1.0um pixels, OIS, 4K at 60fps|
|Rear camera 2||8MP f/2.2 Sony IMX355, 1.12um pixels, wide-angle|
|Rear camera 3||2MP f/2.4 macro|
|Front camera||16MP f/2.4, 1.0um pixels|
|Ingress protection||IP54 dust and water resistance|
|Connectivity||Sub-6 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, USB 2.0|
|Security||In-screen optical fingerprint sensor|
|Audio||USB-C, stereo sound|
|Battery||5000mAh battery, 80W charging|
|Dimensions||162 x 75.1 x 8.2mm, 193g|
|Colors||Misty Green, Grey|
OnePlus Nord 3: Design
The Nord 3 has a refined design that allows it to stand out from the Nord 2 series. The camera arrangement at the back is unchanged, but it doesn't have a large island that juts out the frame any longer — you just get dual rings around the cameras, with one housing the 50MP main lens, and the other featuring the wide-angle and macro lenses. The LED flash module sits to the right of the camera rings, and the cleaner look makes the Nord 3 look much more elegant.
I also like the muted color options this time around. The Nord 3 is available in green and black colors, and the green variant has a dull luster that further adds to the phone's premium credentials. Unlike its predecessors, the Nord 3 switches to flat sides — like most mid-range phones these days — but you get rounded edges that make it easier to hold and use the device. The sides also have a matte texture that feels great, and to round things off, the alert slider is intact.
A new addition this year is IP54 ingress protection, and while it isn't quite the same as IP68 that you get in the Galaxy A54, it gives the Nord 3 better resistance against the elements, and that's always welcome. There's also a dual-SIM slot as standard, and you get an IR blaster and stereo sound here.
The Nord 3 uses the same materials as the 2T, so you get a glass back with a plastic mid-frame, and while the phone is larger thanks to a bigger screen and 5000mAh battery, it's only heavier by 3g, and coming in at 193g, it doesn't feel heavy or unwieldy to use in the least. I like the weight distribution and in-hand feel, and don't really have any negatives on the design front.
OnePlus Nord 3: Display
OnePlus used the same 90Hz AMOLED panel on all Nord devices until now, and that's thankfully changing with the Nord 3. The device features a larger 6.74-inch AMOLED panel that goes up to 120Hz, and it is fantastic — this is easily the best display on a Nord device to date. It has a wide 2772 x 1240 resolution, and that's down to the razor-thin bezels on the sides; the Nord 3 sports one of the thinnest bezels not just in this category, but on any phone.
The AMOLED panel goes up to 1,450 nits for HDR content, and in daily use, there are absolutely no issues with brightness or color fidelity. Colors are vibrant out of the box, and there are three modes available if you want to tweak the color balance. You can switch the refresh between 60Hz and 120Hz, or use the auto mode to change it on the fly.
OnePlus worked with MediaTek in rolling out a few features like boosting colors and increasing clarity of older photos and videos, and while this works effectively on the likes of the OnePlus 11, there's no compatible utility to take advantage of the features on the Nord 3. That hasn't changed with subsequent software updates either, and even on the latest OxygenOS 13.1 build, there's no way to leverage these features.
That said, you do get HDR10+, and the feature works pretty well in streaming platforms, widening the color gamut and increasing brightness in zones where it's required. There's stereo sound here as well, and while you don't get identical channels, it makes a difference — particularly when streaming content on the go.
Having tested a lot of mid-range phones in recent months, the Nord 3 effortlessly manages to hold its own in this category, and the larger screen combined with ultra-thin bezels and smooth 120Hz refresh rate make it the total package.
OnePlus Nord 3: Performance
The internal hardware is another area where the Nord 3 has received a significant boost, with OnePlus upgrading to MediaTek's Dimensity 9000. The 4nm platform is significantly faster than the Dimensity 1200/1300 that was used in the last two Nord releases, and it uses Arm's recent Cortex X2 and a combination of A710 and A510 cores instead of the older A78 and A55.
The Mali-G710 is also on another level entirely from the Mali-G77 that was used in the Nord 2T, and this allows the Nord 3 to deliver incredible performance in visually demanding games.
|Category||OnePlus Nord 3||Infinix GT 10 Pro||Redmi Note 12 Pro+|
|Geekbench 6 (single-core)||997||1132||948|
|Geekbench 6 (multi-core)||3276||3434||2378|
|3DMark Wild Life (score)||7325||4550||2275|
|3DMark Wild Life (FPS)||43.9||27.25||13.6|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme (score)||2316||1324||634|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme (FPS)||13.9||7.95||3.8|
Where the Nord 3 scores big is gaming; the Mali-G710 allows the phone to deliver stellar figures not just in 3DMark but also real-world gaming. The phone tends to throttle after 15 minutes, but it still delivers lag-free gaming without noticeable overheating.
Like all other OnePlus phones, the Nord 3 doesn't take full advantage of the hardware to run titles at 90fps or 120fps, with games locked to 60fps across the board. This is true across the manufacturer's portfolio, and while Samsung and other Android brands let you play at least a few titles at 120fps, you just don't get that here.
The phone retains the same RAM and storage modules as the 2T, so you get either 8GB or 16GB of storage paired with 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. It has the same Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and NFC connectivity, and the USB-C charging port is limited to the USB 2.0 standard.
You get an in-screen optical fingerprint sensor, and while it's fast to authenticate, it is located a bit lower on the screen, so you have to awkwardly maneuver your thumb to unlock the phone. I didn't have any issue with the vibration motor either, and while it doesn't offer the same level of feedback as the likes of the OnePlus 11, it does a good job in its own right.
The battery has been upgraded along with the hardware, and the Nord 3 has a larger 5000mAh battery that uses a dual-cell configuration. It charges at 80W, and while I would have liked wireless charging, it takes just 15 minutes to hit a 60% charge, and that more than offsets the lack of any wireless charging.
A full charge takes just 34 minutes, and like the OnePlus 11, the Nord 3 is one of the fastest-charging phones available today. What makes this a particularly stellar choice is that the larger battery allows it to easily last over a day comfortably, and I never had to worry about running out of charge even with heavy use. More often than not, I charged the device every alternate day. The best part about the charging is that you get the 80W charger bundled in the package.
OnePlus Nord 3: Cameras
The Nord 3 has a 50MP main camera — just like the Nord 2T — but the sensor has picked up a huge upgrade. The phone now uses the Sony IMX890 sensor, same as the OnePlus 11 and 11R. A bugbear with earlier Nord devices was that they wouldn't shoot 4K at 60fps, even when the hardware was able to do so. Thankfully, the Nord 3 solves this problem, and it lets you shoot 4K at 60fps from the main lens.
The auxiliary cameras haven't received as much attention; the 8MP camera is decent enough at taking wide-angle shots, and it now has a 112-degree FoV. The 2MP macro lens is still present, and it's still pretty much useless — I don't understand the reason for its inclusion other than to drum up marketing around the device. Anyway, the camera interface is unchanged as well, and you get the usual set of shooting modes, filters, and effects.
As you'd imagine, the Nord 3 takes excellent photos in daylight situations. Shots have great dynamic range and good color accuracy, and while the contrast was a bit on the higher side at launch, OnePlus rolled out a series of software updates with camera tweaks, and the device is closer to the OnePlus 11R in this regard.
In a similar vein, the phone does a magnificent job in low-light situations, delivering photos with accurate colors, good dynamic range, and little to no noise levels. Night mode is triggered automatically in conditions where there's less ambient light, and it controls highlights and shadows well, eking out detail while maintaining natural colors.
Basically, the Nord 3 offers a sizeable camera upgrade over the Nord 2 and 2T, and it manages to utilize the camera hardware to its full extent. That's no small feat, and while the Pixel 7a still has the edge, the Nord 3 comes close — making it one of the best OnePlus phones of 2023.
OnePlus Nord 3: Software
There isn't much to talk about on the software side of things; the Nord 3 runs OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13 out of the box, and the software is identical to what you get on the OnePlus 11. It is heavily customized, but you get the ability to select accent colors according to the phone's background or choose your own, and there's a decent amount of customizability.
The software is optimized to the hardware, and there's zero lag or stability issues in daily use. This is a big deal, as the integration with ColorOS affected OxygenOS stability for much of the last two years. With OxygenOS 13.1, the UI is stable, doesn't have any major bugs, and is just as effortless to use as the OnePlus 11.
A big issue with earlier Nord devices was that they just didn't get software updates on time. OnePlus is addressing that particular issue with the Nord 3, and the phone is slated to pick up the Android 14-based OxygenOS 14 beta build in October, with a stable release set to arrive in early Q1 2024. The Nord 3 will also get three Android OS updates and four years of security updates, and that's more than previous Nord devices.
OnePlus Nord 3: The competition
The obvious challenger to the Nord 3 is the Galaxy A54. Samsung's 2023 mid-ranger isn't too different to its predecessor, and while the hardware isn't quite on the same level as the Nord 3, you get reliable cameras, excellent battery life, and good software with plenty of customizability.
And while it's a year old, the Pixel 6a continues to be a terrific choice, particularly now that it is available for just ₹24,999 ($300). You get an outstanding camera that takes better photos than the Nord 3, and the internal hardware is fast in daily use. Sure, you don't get a 120Hz screen, the battery doesn't last as long, and there's 6GB of RAM as standard.
OnePlus Nord 3: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You want a mid-range phone with powerful hardware
- You need a phone with a terrific camera
- You need a vibrant 120Hz AMOLED screen with ultra-thin bezels
- You want all-day battery and fast charging tech
You shouldn't buy this if:
- You want a phone with wireless charging
- You need good auxiliary cameras
It's not often that we get a phone with huge upgrades across the board, but that is the case here. The Nord 3 has a larger screen with better refresh and more vibrant colors, faster hardware that handles anything you throw at it, larger battery that easily lasts a day and a half, and a cleaner design that looks more modern.
But the biggest upgrade is the cameras; I tested all the devices in the Nord portfolio thus far, and the Nord 3 has the best camera of the lot — by a significant margin. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the fact that it uses the same IMX890 sensor as the OnePlus 11, but it's more than that; the switch to Dimensity 9000 and its terrific ISP allowed the phone to produce standout photos and videos in just about any situation, and it has one of the best cameras in the mid-range category.
Ultimately, the Nord 3 fulfils the promise of the original Nord: you get a lot of flagship-tier features on this device, and it does so while undercutting its closest rivals.
With sizeable upgrades across the board, the Nord 3 is one of the best mid-range phones money can buy today.
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.