OnePlus Nord hands-on review

GSMArena team, 21 July 2020.

Retail box

The Nord packaging is a departure from what we are used to seeing from OnePlus. While the company had white boxes for years before moving on to red boxes in 2019, the Nord comes in an all-black box with the series signature light blue accents.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

Aside from the color scheme, the rest of the packaging is quite similar to other OnePlus phones. You get a semi-clear soft case, a charger, and the cable. We feel OnePlus missed a trick here by not including matching blue and black accessories - similar to the custom packaging of the McLaren Editions - but the additional cost of that would have inflated the phone's pricing. The McLaren Editions got away with it because they were quite expensive to begin with.

OnePlus Nord packaging - OnePlus Nord hands-on review OnePlus Nord packaging - OnePlus Nord hands-on review
OnePlus Nord packaging

The silicone case provided in the box is, as always, a welcome addition. It fits the phone perfectly and provides sufficient protection. We are glad that OnePlus did not plaster its name in big bold letters this time around as it did for the OnePlus 8 series cases.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

At the same time, the case still has a large portion of it covered up by a translucent pattern that, at the risk of sounding ignorant, we don't recognize nor particularly like. We are also not a fan of the USB flap, that constantly gets in the way when you are trying to plug in a charger.

If you want to step up your official case game, OnePlus also has several additional options. Among the standard ones are the two Sandstone cases. The first is in a striking shade of Nord Blue that compliments the phone well and makes you feel less bad about covering up such a good-looking phone. It is, however, quite slippery as the texture on the back offers very little grip.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

The black-colored Sandstone case looks identical apart from the color and is the less exciting option. Strangely, though, it had a much better grip even though the texture felt similar to touch.

The last one is the clear bumper case. This one is a bit odd as it's quite similar to the case that comes with the phone. It's stiffer but not inflexible. Apart from that, it's just a plain old clear case. If you think the bundled silicone case is not clear enough then this could be ideal. No annoying USB flap, either.

Design

The OnePlus Nord is an attractive phone. The most striking thing about our particular unit is the color, which OnePlus calls Blue Marble. It's the perfect shade of cyan that we have longed to see on phones again since the days when Nokia dominated the market.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

The only thing that this particular reviewer isn't fond of is the iridescent sheen to the glass. The back of the phone reflects light in a colored pattern that distracts from the beautiful shade of blue that we have here and doesn't work very well together. Just the blue without any fancy color patterns would have been ideal.

The camera cluster on the back is now arranged on the left side, much as has become tradition lately. It's also a sizable bump, so the phone never quite rests flat on a hard surface.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

The frame of the phone is made out of plastic and has been painted in a shiny chrome finish with a matching shade of blue. It looks quite nice and feels quite convincingly like metal.

Chrome-finished frame - OnePlus Nord hands-on review Chrome-finished frame - OnePlus Nord hands-on review Chrome-finished frame - OnePlus Nord hands-on review
Chrome-finished frame

The front of the phone will likely be controversial for some people. OnePlus has adopted not just the hole-punch design but a pill-shaped cutout for the dual front cameras making their debut on a OnePlus phone. OnePlus hides this cleverly with all the new stock wallpaper that the phone comes with but there's no hiding it outside the homescreen. We don't mind it personally from an aesthetic perspective but the two cameras do take up valuable space on the status bar, which now looks cramped and busy.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

Some of you may have already noticed the similarities to the Realme X50 Pro design. Indeed, even the dimensions of the two phones and the display specs are quite similar. Is the Nord just a reskinned X50 Pro? OnePlus would probably deny that but it's quite possible the sister companies shared some of the R&D load and the Nord is even manufactured in Oppo's manufacturing facility in India.

Realme X50 Pro 5G
Realme X50 Pro 5G

Speaking of dimensions, the Nord isn't particularly small nor light. It's slightly thicker, wider, and heavier than the OnePlus 8. The difference on paper isn't much but the OnePlus 8 feels much thinner and lighter in hand, in part due to the curved display. The difference make the significantly more expensive OnePlus 8 feel more premium but by no means does the Nord feel bad.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

The Nord is quite nicely built in its own right. The curvature of the sides and the finish make for a delightful user experience and the weight feels more reassuring than burdensome. A premium look and feel is something we have come to expect from OnePlus now and it's good to see the Nord delivers it in spades.

Unfortunately, the Nord has no official IP rating for dust and water-resistance. That's not shocking since most phones in this segment are like that. Plus the company promises it can withstand the occasional splash even though it will not commit to fixing the phone if things end up bad.

That aside, the Nord is a well-built, well-designed smartphone with a premium look and feel that stays true to the company's generally high standards.

Reader comments

  • Iamgroot

Hw iz sound, quality

  • Pralhad

20 GB

  • Pralhad

I bought the same day before yesterday and it's awesome...so u can go wid this