OnePlus Nord N30 5G Review: Affordable 5G With A Special 108MP Camera

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Review: Better Shooter, Lesser Display, Same Great Value

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G - Starting at $299
The OnePlus Nord N30 5G is a decent 5G budget phone that boasts a 108MP camera with lossless 3x zoom.

Product Pros
  • Affordable 5G
  • Capable 108MP shooter
  • Excellent speakers and headphone jack
  • microSD expansion
  • Impressive battery life and fast 50W charging
  • Clean and refined software
    Sharp, bright display with 120Hz refresh
    ×Fast 80W charging and included plug
    ×Excellent performance with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
    ×Alert slider is back
Product Cons
  • Uninspired design
  • IPS display
  • No ultrawide camera
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Over the years, BBK Group (the parent company for Oppo, OnePlus, Realme, Vivo, and IQOO) has perfected the art of binning components and making similar phones across brands from a standardized set of parts. This is nothing new. Xiaomi spearheaded this approach, sharing parts between its Xiaomi, Redmi, and Poco brands, and sometimes even releasing handsets that have nearly identical specs but are cosmetically different.

Which brings us to today’s phone, the OnePlus Nord N30 5G, also known as the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite in Europe. This handset is based on last year’s Realme 10 Pro and is related to this year’s Oppo F23. It shares its relatives’ 6.72-inch IPS display, Snapdragon 695 SoC, and 5000mAh battery. But, the N30 5G is the successor to the OnePlus Nord N20 5G we reviewed (and recommended) in 2022.

And while the N30 5G gains a tricked-out 108MP camera, it loses its predecessor’s lovely 6.43-inch AMOLED screen. So, was this substitution worth it? What else has changed, if anything? Does this budget phone still deliver the same excellent value? Let’s find out...

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Hardware And Design

Design wise, the OnePlus Nord N30 5G has a lot in common with last year’s sleek N20 5G, including the iPhone-like flat sides and twin round camera pods. Unfortunately, between the glossy, fingerprint-happy faux-glass back and forgettable Chromatic Gray finish, the N30 5G doesn’t look or feel nearly as premium as its predecessor. It’s not a terrible design by any means, but it’s arguably a step backwards.

Things could have been different. The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite – the N30 5G’s European identical twin – comes in an additional Pastel Lime colorway, which is absolutely striking. But apparently, here in North America, we can’t have nice things, so we only get the boring hue. And that’s just a bummer, because stylish design is what made last year’s N20 5G stand out in a sea of lackluster Moto Gs.

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At least the two oversized lens rings – which actually house three shooters (108MP main, 2MP macro, 2MP depth) – plus the ornate LED flash, bring some excitement to N30 5G’s rear panel. In front, the display is larger (6.72 vs 6.43-inch) and smoother (120Hz vs. 60Hz), but last year’s beautiful AMOLED panel gives way to an IPS screen with a top center punch hole for the 16MP selfie camera and a massive chin below.

As for the button and connector layout, it’s classic OnePlus. You’ll find the power/lock key (which doubles as a capacitive fingerprint sensor) on the right, plus a speaker, USB Type-C port, primary mic, and headphone jack along the bottom edge. The left side is home to the volume rocker and combination nano-SIM / microSD tray, and there’s a secondary mic on top. In addition, the N30 5G is IP54 dust and splash resistant.

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G Specs And Features

Processing and 5G Platform Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G + integrated Snapdragon X51 5G Modem
Display 6.72" FHD+ (20:9) IPS LCD, 2400x1080 resolution, 120Hz
Memory 8GB LPDDR4x
Storage 128GB UFS 2.2 + microSD
Rear-Facing Cameras 108MP f/1.75 Main PDAF - 2MP f/2.4 Macro - 2MP f/2.4 Depth
Front-Facing Cameras 16MP f/2.4
Video Recording Up to 1080p @ 30fps, 720p slow-mo
Battery 5000 mAh, 50W wired charging, no wireless charging
OS Android 13 With OxygenOS 13.1
Dimensions 165.5 x 76 x 8.3mm
Weight 195 grams
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1+LE, NFC, USB-C, LTE, sub-6GHz 5G
Colors Chromatic Gray
Pricing Find the OnePlus Nord N30 5G @ Amazon, Starting at $299

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Display Quality

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G uses a rather ordinary 6.72-inch FHD+ IPS display (2400 x 1080 pixels, 391ppi) with a 20:9 aspect ratio and a 120Hz refresh rate. It delivers vibrant colors, good contrast, and decent viewing angles, but maximum brightness leaves room for improvement – at least in direct sunlight. Overall, this display gets the job done, and other than the excessive chin, we have no major complaints.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Camera Performance And Image Quality

When it comes to imaging, the OnePlus Nord N30 5G’s main shooter is the star of the show. It pairs a 108MP 0.64-micron 1/1.67-inch sensor (with PDAF) with a six-element f/1.75 lens (without OIS). This sensor (Samsung ISOCELL HM6) is unique in that it supports both 9-in-1 pixel binning (12MP output,1.92-micron pixels), and sensor cropping for lossless 3x digital zoom (12MP output, 0.64-micron pixels).

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Like last year’s N20 5G, the N30 5G also includes a pair of questionable 2MP f/2.4 lenses in lieu of an ultrawide, along with the same 16MP f/2.4 1.0-micron selfie camera. The first 2MP shooter is for macro, which is mostly useless since it lacks autofocus; the second one is a depth sensor, but it’s unclear how necessary it actually is. An ultrawide camera would really have made more sense and offered more value.

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G main camera

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G (2x zoom)

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G (3x zoom, lossless)

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G (6x zoom, maximum)

As you’d expect, the N30 5G’s main camera is pretty decent. Generally speaking, it handles color balance, exposure, and dynamic range quite well. But it’s the lossless 3x zoom that really shines – as long as there’s enough light – with shots looking fine up to the 6x maximum zoom level. In the dark, though, the main shooter is quite noisy. Thankfully, night mode really helps, and turns mediocre low-light pictures into serviceable ones.

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G main camera (night mode)

Overall, this 108MP camera is a definite upgrade over last year’s middling 64MP setup, thanks especially to the lossless 3x zoom and low-light performance improvement, but the other shooters are basically unchanged. For closeups, you’re still better off ignoring the macro and using the main camera’s lossless 3x zoom. Selfies remain pleasant, but aren’t anything spectacular.

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G macro

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OnePlus Nord N30 5G selfie camera (portrait mode)

Shooting modes include portrait, night, and panorama (main/selfie), plus pro (manual), macro, text scanner, hi-res (108MP), and extra HD (main only). The N30 5G captures stabilized video with stereo audio at up to 1080p 30fps, plus slow motion (720p 120fps), time lapse (1080p 30fps), and dual-view (720p 30fps). Extra HD stacks multiple 108MP frames and uses image processing to generate even sharper 108MP (1x) and 48MP (2x) photos.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Audio, Data, And Call Reception

We used the OnePlus Nord N30 5G primarily on T-Mobile and Telus’ sub-6GHz 5G and 4G LTE networks in San Francisco and Vancouver (Canada), and didn’t experience any problems. Calls sounded clear and data speeds matched our expectations. The N30 5G is available for T-Mobile / Metro but also unlocked (like our review unit), and supports sub-6GHz 5G and 4G LTE bands for all major US carriers.

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On the audio front, the N30 5G features stereo speakers (bottom edge plus earpiece) with Dirac audio enhancement. These sound fantastic, and are a big improvement over the N20 5G’s mono speaker. As a bonus, there’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack with a quality DAC and an amp powerful enough to drive high-impedance headphones. If you’d rather go wireless, the N30 5G supports aptX HD and LDAC lossless audio over Bluetooth.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Performance And Battery Life

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G packs the same Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695 6nm mid-range 5G SoC as its predecessor, but comes with 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM (vs. 6GB previously) and 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage (plus microSD support up to 1TB). We ran a few benchmarks (see our results below), and as you’d expect, the N30 5G basically matches the N20 5G in terms of performance. No surprises here.

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Subjectively however, the N30 5G feels faster and more responsive than last year’s N20 5G. This is likely due to the higher 120Hz refresh rate and newer, more optimized version of OxygenOS. Just don’t expect the same ultra-smooth experience you’ll find on a OnePlus flagship. That being said, the N30 5G handled our usual collection of productivity and entertainment apps without skipping a beat.

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Battery life is outstanding. The large 5000mAh cell and efficient 6nm chip make for a winning combination. We’re still running our battery life tests, but we fully expect this handset to last two days on a charge with moderate use. Filling back up is a breeze, too. The N30 5G supports 50W SuperVOOC fast charging and ships with a 50W charger in the box. Obviously, there’s no wireless charging here.

The remaining specs are pretty standard for a mid-range Snapdragon-equipped device, and include sub-6GHz 5G, CAT 15 LTE, dual-band WiFi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.1 (LE), NFC for contactless payments, and A-GPS / BDS, GLONASS / Galileo / QZSS – plus the usual array of sensors. Haptics feel pretty cheap, but get the job done. The side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor is quick and reliable, and so is face unlock.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Software And User Experience

OnePlus usually delivers great software, and overall, that’s still true with the Oneplus Nord N30 5G. It runs ColorOS-based OxygenOS 13.1 on top of Android 13. So basically, this is Oppo’s ColorOS skinned to look like OxygenOS. And while it’s not nearly as quick and responsive as Oxygen OS used to be before it was merged with ColorOS, it’s still clean and refined, and a pleasure to use.

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This includes OxygenOS’s helpful customizations, which you can read more about in our OnePlus 8T review. Go ahead, we’ll wait. With the N30 5G, OnePlus is promising one OS upgrade and three years of security updates. Thankfully, the unlocked handset we reviewed came with just OnePlus and Google apps pre-installed, plus Netflix. We expect T-Mobile’s version to have more bloatware, so keep this in mind.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Final Verdict

There’s no doubt that the OnePlus Nord N30 5G is a decent 5G budget smartphone. It boasts a capable 108MP shooter with lossless 3x digital zoom, fantastic stereo speakers, outstanding battery life, and good software. The headphone jack, microSD expansion, and supplied 50W brick are all welcome extras too. But while the N30 5G still offers great value, it isn’t a significant upgrade over last year’s N20 5G.

If anything, the design isn’t as stylish and colorful as before, the IPS screen is a step back (despite the smoother 120Hz refresh rate), and the continued lack of an ultrawide camera is disappointing. But if you don’t mind these limitations, the N30 5G will be available unlocked for $299 from OnePlus, Amazon, and Best Buy starting today (June 15), and T-Mobile will offer the N30 5G for $264 or free with a new line. That's a nice, budget-friendly price for a decent 5G handset.

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