I have always considered OnePlus a unique brand, because of the focus it has had on its products. It is usually selling just one series of phones and working on another, so both the sales and product teams have very few distractions. It goes doggedly after the success of its latest at a time when even top leadership in some brands will fail to pinpoint what their last launch was. But OnePlus is now confident, or desperate, enough to come up with a distraction, one that, if successful, could propel it to a whole new league. This is where the OnePlus Nord comes in, the new affordable smartphone that will try to break the company’s one series at a time rhythm.
OnePlus Nord: What is new?
The OnePlus Nord is a more affordable OnePlus. But that said, this is not the first affordable OnePlus. In fact, it was this kind of mid-level pricing with top of the line specs that endeared OnePlus to millions of users across the world. So the Nord is in many ways a return to roots for OnePlus. So the most interesting aspect is the Rs 24,999 starting price point, a range OnePlus has not played in for a while.
The design is essentially OnePlus and looks like the phones the company has launched in recent times. While this familiarity means the design is not really something we haven’t seen before, it is among the most stylish phones at this price point and the blue coloured review unit I got was more than a head-turner. However, what is more, important is that nowhere does this phone look or feel like a budget phone. In fact, you can pass this off as a premium phone and that could well be a selling point. The phone comes with the unique OnePlus notification slider. The vertical quad-camera module is towards the side and this different from its elders in the OnePlus family.
The OnePlus Nord offers a dual selfie camera setup. While I am questioning the very relevance of selfies in a world where everyone is wearing masks, this 32MP + 8MP combo offers a wider view too for those who want to bring in more faces into those photos.
The OnePlus Nord also offers 5G via its Snapdragon 765G processor. While this does not mean you can upgrade to 5G in a country like India where the new generation of networks seems like a distant dream, it will have you ready whenever that time comes. For now, the OnePlus Nord is clearly the most affordable 5G device for Indian users.
OnePlus Nord: What is good?
The OnePlus Nord does not use a top of the line Snapdragon processor from the 8 series. But having used the phone for well over a week, I am thinking, does everyone really need the top-end processor, because I did not miss it one bit. OnePlus has done a good job of fusing this phone to its processor to ensure there are no stumbles or stutters when it comes to processing capabilities. Also, this is a pretty cool phone, one that does not let its thermal footprint get out of control when you are pushing the processor to do more.
The camera is an aspect the OnePlus has always promised a lot with but struggled to get right from the start. With the OnePlus Nord, the company is offering a good quad camera set up at the back — 48MP main camera + 8MP ultra-wide + 2MP macro + 5MP depth sensor. And it seems to have got most of it right. This camera gave me a great experience, even though there is not much to experience it with these days with all of us stuck at home. Still, the OnePlus Nord offers one of the best colour reproductions I have seen in recent times, especially with its stunning greens. The camera can do ultra-wide, but a with a bit of noise, especially in low-light conditions. The macro mode really impressed me, even though everyone seems to be doing it now. This offers great detail, especially when the light is good. The nightscape and portrait mode are pretty good. I also need to highlight that this camera software offers more filters than the OnePlus 8 series and if you want, you can create a signature style of your own.
The OnePlus Nord offers a stunning 6.4-inch Fluid AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate. While this phone might not be meant for gamers, a lot of the casual ones who might pick up this phone will be happy with the experience. The colours pop out of the screen and experience is great even when you are watching a movie.
The 4,115mAh battery can easily last you a day with everything you want to do with this phone. If you run out of juice, the Warp Charger can get you back up to 100 per cent in a well under an hour.
OnePlus Nord: What to keep in mind?
The OnePlus Nord is one of those phones that does not present a lot of issues, at least in my 10 days with it. However, one thing I did notice was that while the screen is sharp and vivid, but it lacks the brightness of the 8 series phones. I did notice this a few times under the bright Delhi sun.
Then there is the camera bump, which is quite a protrusion if you ask me. So as soon as you get the phone, put on a cover to keep the rear panel even and protect this camera.
OnePlus Nord: Who should buy this phone?
While OnePlus touts itself as a phone for geeks, a lot of the users I know are average people who just want a dependable phone that has the right features when the times comes to use them. Also, a lot of OnePlus users I have seen are those who push their phones well into their third year, which is quite something when it comes to Android devices. The OnePlus Nord offers a great upgrade for those regular users who just need an Android phone that works, will work for a few years and will be there with a trick or two when needed.
For me, the OnePlus Nord is now the best phone to buy in the Rs 20,000 to Rs 35,000 segment and actually poses a threat to the OnePlus 8 as it will make users think about what is really that they are paying extra for. With the top-end model offering 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, there is a lot of reasons to push your budget a bit and opt for this. If you too are going to use the phone for a couple of years, you better get the storage you need for this long haul.
The OnePlus Nord is closer to what the OnePlus was as a concept. You buy this phone and you feel you have got more than what you paid for. That is what OnePlus stood for and that is what the Nord is offering.
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