Having used the OnePlus Nord for a period of ten days, we looked into all the things our readers asked us to check up on, and here are the answers.
The embargo has lifted and we are finally allowed to talk in length about the OnePlus Nord. It's certainly a conversation starter and one that doesn't feel like it belongs to the mid-range segment at all. With the Nord, OnePlus has managed to deliver the same OxygenOS experience but at a much lower price, and more importantly, with less powerful hardware. We have our review up, of this highly anticipated smartphone, which you can read to see how the smartphone fared in our test process. And in this article, we will pick the burning questions about the OnePlus Nord, which our dear readers asked us during an Instagram AMA.
OnePlus Nord: Frequently Asked Questions
In India, the OnePlus Nord is priced Rs 25,000. Is it justifying that? Do we need to go for other alternatives?
The OnePlus Nord is priced the lowest in India, and that’s because the company will be releasing a 6GB RAM + 64GB storage variant in September which will be exclusively available in India. That’s what will be priced at Rs 24,999. At present, you can only get your hands on the 8+128 and 12+256GB variant priced Rs 27,999 and Rs 29,999 respectively. And in this price, there are quite a few options to choose from like the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro, Realme X3 SuperZoom and the Vivo V19. Some of these are out and out flagships while some are strictly mid-range. The Nord blows away the mid-rangers in this segment with superior performance, well-tuned camera and more importantly, the overall software experience. And as for the flagships in this segment, the Nord falls short of beating them on benchmarks, but OxygenOS on the Nord makes it easier for us to recommend.
The Nord spec-sheet isn’t extraordinary by any means. It’s what the phone does with the hardware that cuts this one out from the rest. So considering the same smooth OxygenOS experience was so far restricted to a price range above Rs 35,000, having this under Rs 30,000 certainly justifies the price tag.
Can the Nord survive three years of usage compared to other OnePlus phones without a performance drop?
OnePlus smartphones usually last well over three years provided there’s no physical damage on the phone. Having used the Nord for just ten days, we are not fully equipped to answer how this will hold up in long term use. But OnePlus does promise two years of software support and three years of security updates, which is something no other smartphone in this price range offers unless it’s an Android-One based Nokia device. That certainly makes us hopeful this will hold up for the next few years and won’t beg for a replacement.
Does it have the same vibration motor as the OnePlus 8?
The OnePlus Nord uses a linear vibration motor, the same as what most other smartphones offer in this price range and below, while the OnePlus 8 uses a haptic motor. The primary difference between the two is that linear only vibrates on a single axis while haptic motors vibrate on two axes, giving a more realistic rumble as compared to a linear motor. Having said that, the intensity of the OnePlus Nord’s vibration motor is higher than most mid-range smartphones so you do feel stronger feedback while typing.
Is the frame plastic or aluminium?
The frame of the OnePlus Nord is plastic, polished in such a way that it feels like metal. It’s something we believe OnePlus had to choose to keep the costs lower, and while it doesn’t really hamper the experience of using the smartphone, I’d be more careful when using it outdoors. A case is always a good idea, and the one that comes in the box is good enough as a basic layer of protection. OnePlus also bundles a screen-guard on the display, which seems like its of poor quality. We suggest you get a third-party one for better protection.
Does PUBG Mobile lag even a bit on the OnePlus Nord?
Because of the compact display, the OnePlus Nord is not the best smartphone for gaming in this segment. The small screen makes it difficult to move your fingers around the button layout but having said that, games themselves run butter smooth on the OnePlus Nord. We played a couple of rounds of Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile, and in both cases, the frame rate stability was at 100 per cent. Which means, there was literally no frame drops, and as such, no lag while gaming.
However, PUBG Mobile won’t run at the highest graphics settings on the OnePlus Nord. It only supports HD graphics with High Frame rate, despite having an HDR display and a chip that supports HDR gaming. It’s unknown why the phone cannot support richer graphics, and it’s likely because of thermal issues that the feature is presently not supported. Lowering the graphics to Smooth or Balanced improves the median frame rate to 40 FPS, while at HD graphics, the game runs at 30FPS.
Can the OnePlus Nord shoot slo-mo videos from the front camera?
The OnePlus Nord rocks a 32MP+8MP dual camera stack on the front, which is drilled into the top left corner of the display. The megapixel count is certainly impressive for a mid-ranger, but it can’t perform all the functions it offers in the rear camera stack. You can’t take slofies with the OnePlus Nord, as there’s no option for slo-mo videos from the front stack. There’s also no Nightscape mode on the front camera stack. But weirdly enough, it can do 4K videos at 60 FPS which the rear camera setup cannot do as of now.
Are OnePlus dialer and the messaging app also available in the Nord apart from the Google replacements?
The OnePlus dialer and messaging app are replaced by stock apps from AOSP which is made by Google. OnePlus said this helped make things run smoother on the Nord, and you can’t switch to the company’s own dialer and messaging apps. In the Dialer app, you don’t really miss out on much, and although the UI is different, it is just as smooth and responsive as before. The messaging app lacks the useful categorisation feature where text messages are divided into transactions, OTPs and promotional for better navigation. That is missing on the Nord.
Why is the price so less?
The OnePlus Nord offers the same OxygenOS as its flagship siblings, but there are areas where OnePlus has cut corners to keep the price affordable. The reasons for the affordable price is in the choice of materials that make up the smartphone. The flagship 8-series this year offers curved displays while the Nord sticks to the flat surface. The 8 Pro even goes a notch higher with 120Hz refresh rate, while the Nord sticks to 90Hz, which owing to economies of scale, would be cheaper for OnePlus to source.
Additionally, the OnePlus Nord opts for a plastic frame instead of an aluminum frame which brings down the costs of making the phone, by a good margin. The phone also doesn’t have an official IP rating but according to the company, the phone is fitted with the necessary gaskets and rubber layerings for ingress protection.
Moreover, the OnePlus Nord’s camera stack is mostly the same as other mid-range offerings. There’s no telephoto lens like in the OnePlus 8 or the OnePlus 7T, and the Nord relies on UFS 2.1 storage and LPDDR4X RAM modules, which are a generation older right now. Also missing is wireless charging and stereo speakers, which once again reduces component costs.
OnePlus Nord Alternatives: Redmi K20 Pro or Realme X3 SuperZoom?
As we used the OnePlus Nord for more than a week, it doesn't feel like anything extraordinary. Nothing in it is really the cutting edge in 2020, which is what we have come to expect from a OnePlus device. But even with the compromises in place, OnePlus ensures you get the same experience of using a OnePlus device. That is it's biggest USP. But as far as the hardware is concerned, there are better options out there. The most obvious is of course, the Realme X3 SuperZoom. It's sort of compromised on its own, and lives under the shadow of other Snapdragon 865-powered flagships, but at Rs 24,999 it's far more lucrative on paper. A Snapdragon 855+ SoC, Larger 120Hz display and a 64MP quad camera with a periscope telephoto lens. There's also the Redmi K20 Pro that is still available and remains to be one of the best-designed smartphones in this segment. But between the RealmeUI, MIUI and OxygenOS, I'd choose the latter, any given day.
You can also check out our dedicated camera review where we put all the major features to test, comparing it against both the OnePlus 8 series and the Nord's nearest rival – The Realme X3 SuperZoom.
OnePlus Nord Price and availability: Should you wait for the 6GB+64GB variant?
The weird thing about the Nord in India – You can snag this phone at Rs 24,999, and it's something you can only do here in India, but you have to wait for more than a month to actually purchase it. It's also the one that has the least amount of RAM and storage. 6GB RAM with 64GB storage. In comparison, for Rs 27,999 you get the 8GB RAM with 128GB storage while the 12GB RAM+ 256GB storage can be yours for Rs 29,999. That's the one we have used so far and the experience is akin to using the OnePlus 8. We do expect some drop in performance when dropping down to the 6GB RAM variant, but whether it impacts the overall experience significantly is something we will have to wait and see as and when the variant goes on sale.
The 8GB+128GB and 12GB+256GB variants are going on sale on August 4. The phone will be made available in flash sales. Amazon is also hosting its Prime Day Sale where Prime members will get an instant 10% discount when checking out with HDFC cards along with no-cost EMI options and exchange offers.
Reading all this, if you still think the Nord is the one you want, there's an early access sale happening and you can technically buy the phone before others by heading to this link.