OnePlus Nord Review: Excellent 5G Android Phone, Great Value

OnePlus Nord: Software, User Experience, Pricing, and Review Summary

OnePlus Nord Software And User Experience

We really like OnePlus’ take on Android 10. OxygenOS 10.5 (as it’s called) is quick, smooth, and always a pleasure to use. Most importantly, it’s almost stock. The Nord basically runs the same software we enjoyed on the OnePlus 8, now with over 300 optimizations. All the helpful customizations and features carry over, including video enhancer, Reading Mode, Night mode, Zen Mode, face unlock, and optimized charging.

The launcher is particularly great. Not only did OnePlus add the Google Discover feed as the leftmost page earlier this year (finally), but the search feature in the app tray is one of our favorite tweaks. As soon as you tap on “Search apps” you get a series of auto-generated buttons for app categories like Social, Music & Video, Photo, Reading, et cetera. It makes navigating the app tray even faster.

OnePlus Nord 22

Besides Google’s apps (now including the dialer and Messages) and OnePlus’ apps, the Nord is pretty clean out of the box. Netflix comes pre-installed, but that’s fine -- most people won’t really mind. Not everything’s perfect, though. After all these years, OxygenOS still lacks a proper always-on screen option. There’s what OnePlus calls Ambient display, but you have to lift the phone up or tap the screen to check the time and notifications.

OnePlus Nord Pricing And Competition

The OnePlus Nord will be available in Europe and India starting August 4 for €399 / £379 / ₹27999 (8GB / 128GB) and €499 / £469 / ₹29999 (12GB / 256GB) in either Blue Marble or Gray Onyx. India will also be getting a 6GB / 64GB version (Gray Onyx only) for ₹24999 early september. We’re not converting these prices into US dollars since the results vary wildly whether converting from Euros, British Pounds, or Indian Rupees.

Still, as a point of reference, the price in India for the 12GB / 256GB model is about $400. That’s just incredible value. On July 21, OnePlus also made the Nord available to 50 US customers through a limited beta. Let us know in the comments if you’re one of the lucky few. Since it’s not officially coming to the US -- at least for now -- you’ll have to import this handset if you really want it. Just be mindful of the missing US bands.

OnePlus Nord pricing

The Nord’s main competitor -- and likely the reason it’s not destined for the US (carrier relationships and all) -- is the OnePlus 8 ($699). Is it worth $200 more, though? Other than the lesser processor, plastic mid-frame, and lack of stereo speakers, the Nord is a better value. The OnePlus 7T ($499) is another solid option if you don’t care about 5G but still want flagship-level performance.

If you’re looking for Snapdragon 765G-equipped competition, the LG Velvet ($599) just launched on AT&T and will be coming to T-Mobile and Verizon soon. The Moto Edge is currently available for pre-order with a $200 discount ($499). It’s unlocked, with sub-6GHz 5G support for the US. And if you can live with a gaming phone, consider the RedMagic 5G ($579). It packs a Snapdragon 865 and works on 5G in the US.

Those of you living abroad have a plethora of near-$500 options with 5G, like Vivo’s X50-series, Redmi’s K30-series, Poco’s F2 Pro, Nokia’s 8.3 5G, ZTE’s Axon 11 5G, and Oppo’s Reno4 Pro 5G. Choose wisely!

OnePlus Nord Review Summary

The OnePlus Nord is an excellent phone on its own, but when you consider the sub-$500 price, it becomes a fantastic option -- assuming it's available in your area or you don't mind importing it. Sure, you can get a Poco F2 Pro with a Snapdragon 865 for about $550, but it lacks a 90Hz display, OIS on the main camera, and that snappy OxygenOS experience. It’s OnePlus’ balanced approach that makes the Nord such an exceptional handset. Ultimately, it’s just greater than the sum of its parts.

OnePlus Nord 08

We like the Nord’s beautiful screen, versatile cameras, flagship-worthy performance, solid battery life, and polished software -- not to mention the unrivaled value. Still, there’s room for improvement. That plastic mid-frame has absolutely no place in a OnePlus phone -- even the OnePlus X was metal and glass. We also really want OnePlus to bring wireless charging to its entire product line. It’s time.

And please OnePlus, bring the Nord to the US. Do it now -- carriers be damned. We’re all jonesing for an affordable, well-rounded 5G handset, especially during this crazy pandemic. Do you really want Apple to own this segment

  • Really nice 90Hz display
  • Good enough cameras w/ OIS
  • Excellent performance
  • Stock Android
  • Great value
  • Plastic mid-frame, really?
  • Not sold in the US
  • No wireless charging
  • No headphone jack

Related content