OnePlus Nord hands-on review

GSMArena team, 21 July 2020.

Cameras

The Nord comes with a total of six cameras, the most for any OnePlus phone. Four of them are on the back while two are embeded in the display.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

The rear camera array consists of a 48MP f/1.75 Sony IMX586 main camera with a 6P lens and OIS, an 8MP f2/.25 fixed-focus ultrawide camera, 2MP f2.4 fixed-focus macro unit, and finally a depth sensor. If you wanted to be realistic, you could say the phone only really has three cameras on the back, as the depth sensor doesn't take any pictures. And you'd be correct, but that doesn't look as good on the spec sheet.

In case you are curious about the order of the cameras, on the back, the top-most lens is the ultrawide, followed by the main wide camera, the depth sensor, and finally the macro camera at the bottom. The portrait mode effect worked even with the depth sensor covered, which further suggests that it was mostly included to make the numbers.

You can record video at up to 4K at 30fps from the main as well as the ultrawide camera. Mind you, the later lacks the resolution for true 4K recording, particularly after the heavy crop applied, so there's a lot of interpolation going on. There's also an option to record cropped 21:9 videos for a more cinematic look but there's no 24fps mode to complete the effect. There's also no 60fps option in 4K and you can only record 60fps at 1080p on the rear cameras.

On the front is the dual-camera setup, consisting of a 32MP f/2.45 fixed-focus Sony IMX616 camera on the right along with an 8MP f/2.45 fixed-focus ultrawide camera on the left. Both the wide and ultra-wide cameras can record videos in 1080p 30fps but the standard wide camera can also record 60fps video in 1080p and 4K, making it the only camera on this phone to record 4K60 video. We wonder then what prevented OnePlus from enabling 4K60 for the rear cameras.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

We can't show any sample images for now but it should be relatively easy to find out how the Nord camera performs. OnePlus has reused the main and macro cameras from the OnePlus 8. However, the ultrawide on the back and both the front cameras are new for a OnePlus phone, and we will have to wait for the review before showing you how they perform.

A flat 90Hz screen

The OnePlus Nord has a 6.44-inch, 2400x1080 resolution AMOLED display. Like the OnePlus 8, this panel refreshes at 90Hz. However, unlike the two flagship models, the Nord has a flat panel, which doesn't look as fancy but is better for image quality and usability.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

We can also confirm that the Nord has a hardware proximity sensor, similar to the OnePlus 8 series, so you won't have the screen wake issue during calls found on the OnePlus 7 series that utilized a software solution for sensing proximity.

A single speaker and a linear vibration motor

The Nord has a single loudspeaker at the bottom. Not ideal for videos or games but it gets reasonably loud and sounds decently. There's no headphone jack nor is there any adapter or headset (except France) provided in the box. OnePlus will, however, happily sell you those separately, alongside the new OnePlus Buds.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

The USB-C port on the Nord is only USB 2.0 compatible, which means data transfers aren't as fast as with USB 3.1 devices.

The OnePlus Nord also has the linear vibration motor found on the OnePlus 8 phones. This allows it to reproduce more precise clicks and taps with the vibration motor without the vague buzzing you find on most other phones.

OxygenOS 10.5

Our OnePlus Nord was running OxygenOS 10.5 at the time of writing. The software seemed identical at first to the OnePlus 8 but it has some minor differences. The one that piqued our curiosity the most was the inclusion of Google's Phone and Messages app instead of the OxygenOS versions of those apps. We are not sure why OnePlus chose to include these apps on the Nord and we couldn't get an explanation from OnePlus at the time of publishing.

The Nord also lacks the Dolby Atmos feature found on the OnePlus 8 series. Instead, it has Dirac Audio, which is implemented similarly to Atmos on the OnePlus 8 series. The EQ is more elaborate on the Nord and we are not sure if this is coming to the OnePlus 8 devices as well.

Nord comes with a whole new set of clock styles for its ambient display mode. This includes our favorite Text clock, which displays the time as text. There are seven additional clock faces. Again, none of these are present on the OnePlus 8 series and we are not sure when they will be coming, if at all. (Update: The clock faces have now been added to the OnePlus 8 series in the latest update.)

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

Lastly, the Nord has a 4,115mAh battery. The phone come with the same 30W Warp Charge 30T charger as the OnePlus 8 series, but it has no wireless charging support.

Conclusion

Lack of time and embargoes prevent us from going too in-depth on this occasion but our first impressions of the OnePlus Nord are positive. It looks like a OnePlus phone, it swims like a OnePlus phone, and it quacks like a OnePlus phone.

What that means is that the Nord is up to the standards that we have come to expect from OnePlus. It offers a premium design and build, quality display, good performance, and a clean, user-friendly interface.

OnePlus Nord hands-on review

Things like camera quality and battery life are yet to be properly tested and we intend to do so for our full review. Neither blew our mind in initial usage but we would like to revisit those with more objective testing.

All in all, OnePlus' return to the mid-range segment is a promising one, even if we aren't getting a flagship killer anymore.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

OnePlus Nord Issue List & Deficiency list. 24 total issues . Think before you buy OnePlus Nord.. Issues list: 1. During phone call screen get locked and you have to unlock again to do anything like disconnect call. 2. After every c...

I can't understand why you're calling it terrible When the prices go down velvet would be a affordable midrange phone with premium look Also you didn't tried gcam on your v30 anyway. The stock camera app is terrible it adds lots of...

If my LG V30 has a garbage selfie camera I can only imagine how terrible your G6 one is. And of course I'm going to complain about the price. Nobody wants to wait a few months for an already terrible phone just to buy it used.