OnePlus Nord 5G review
OnePlus makes an emphatic return to the mid-range
OnePlus has made an emphatic return to the mid-range market with the OnePlus Nord – it's an affordable smartphone that's packed with features. There's a great screen, plenty of power, and a set of capable cameras, all wrapped up in a package that belies its affordable price.
Affordable with flagship qualities
Plenty of camera features
Average battery life
Limited notifications space
No IP rating for water resistance
The difference between 2014 and 2020 however, is that the market has moved on significantly, and OnePlus is no longer the challenger brand looking to upset the apple cart. The OnePlus Nord finds itself in a crowded mid-market filled with equally feature-rich devices, making it tougher for the phone to stand out.
With rival devices such as the Google Pixel 4a, Poco F2 Pro, Realme X50 5G, Moto G 5G Plus and Mi Note 10 Lite, there's never been a better time to be in the market for an affordable flagship device - and it makes the Nord's job that much harder.
The OnePlus Nord price is eye-catching though, and the handset offers plenty for your money. OnePlus says the Nord is "pretty much everything you could ask for", and it's got a point.
There's a sizable display offering a smooth user experience, enough power under the hood, and plenty of cameras, all wrapped up in a premium design. It looks good, it feels good in the hand, and it performs superbly.
With so many cameras – OnePlus has possibly gone a little over the top here – you get a wide range of photography options from portrait and macro to ultra-wide and nightscape modes, plus 4K video recording at 30fps with both the front and rear cameras. There's also up to a 10x zoom, plus slow-motion video recording at 1080p and 240fps.
The negative points on the OnePlus Nord are minor: there's no headphone jack, no IP rating for dust and water resistance, and no wireless charging on offer.
The battery life is average – it should see you through a day, but this is a phone you'll need to be charging every night – and there's not much room for notification icons across the top of the display, thanks to the dual selfie cameras.
The bigger point here is, where does the Nord leave the firm's top-tier handsets? If the OnePlus Nord really is "pretty much everything you could ask for", why should anyone (especially OnePlus' price-conscious fans) fork out considerably more cash for the OnePlus 8 or OnePlus 8 Pro? It'll be interesting to see how the Nord's arrival affects future sales of the brand's flagship devices.
Should I buy the OnePlus Nord?
Buy it if...
OnePlus burst onto the smartphone scene back in 2014 claiming that it had a 'flagship killer' in the OnePlus One, but the prices of its phones have risen over the years to the point where they were no longer low-costs alternatives, but part of the premium pack. The OnePlus Nord takes the brand back to its affordable roots, delivering an almost-flagship experience at a lower price.
The OnePlus Nord is one of the cheapest 5G phones available right now, so even if 5G isn't available in your area just yet, you can be safe in the knowledge that the Nord will be ready for it when it does arrive. Plus you get two years of guaranteed Android updates, and three years of security updates, which all adds up to some nice future-proofing.
Six cameras may be a little over the top, but it does mean the OnePlus Nord offers a wide range of photography options, from ultra-wide cameras on the front and back, a dedicated macro camera and a new night mode, to slow-motion recording and 4K, 30fps video capture on the main rear and selfie cameras.
Don’t buy it if…
Unlike the 8 and 8 Pro, the OnePlus Nord doesn't carry an IP rating, which means there's no guarantees as to its dust- or water-resistance abilities. OnePlus says it's dunked the handset in 30cm of water for 30 minutes without issue, but you'll have to take its word on that.
The OnePlus Nord has dual front-facing cameras, which is nice and all, but they do take up extra space on the front of the phone. As these reside in a punch-hole in the display, it means a chunk of screen real estate has been lost, chiefly along the notifications bar. If you're lucky enough to be extremely popular, or just have lots of game notifications switched on, this may be a problem, as only a handful of icons can be displayed in the remaining space.
The OnePlus Nord battery life isn't bad, but it's also not the best we've seen. You should be able to get a day of use from a full charge with moderate activity, but don't expect more than that. This is a phone you'll want to be recharging each night – and remember, there's no wireless charging support.