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OnePlus Nord Thoughts: when looking beyond the hype

Our Thoughts, mini-review, comparison between Nord and its competitor’s

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OnePlus Nord Thoughts

As of reading this post, I am quite sure you guys have already gone through a plethora of reviews/views about OnePlus Nord from well renowned international and local technology websites or Tech YouTubers. So, by this post, we intend to provide a clear idea about OnePlus Nord’s real-life performance and its mini comparison against Redmi K20 Pro, Realme X3 series and Realme X2 Pro as its main competitor in the Indian market and comparing it with POCO F2 Pro, Realme X2 Pro and other alternatives in the international market to help you find the right smartphone for your specific needs.

Here in this post, we do not want to compare these phones by reading their specs; instead, we are analyzing these phones based on their real-life output. First of all, we didn’t own or use most of these devices. We are sharing our thoughts based on the contents we watched or read about OnePlus Nord’s and its competitors.

Introduction

OnePlus Nord is one of the most exciting smartphones of 2020 because OnePlus were finally returning to its more affordable price range. But instead of making a flagship killer as they did in their earlier years, they are now making a decent mid-range smartphone that will never impact sales of their premium offerings. By doing so, they have to make a lot of compromises. Here in this post, we are talking about everything you need to know about OnePlus Nord and comparing it with the current generation flagship killers at this price range, and we will try help you to choose the right product for you.

OnePlus Nord Thoughts: when looks beyond the hype

Pricing

We have to make sure you guys are updated with the pricing of these phones to make a good comparison. The OnePlus Nord has 3 storage variants in India, 6+64GB priced at Rs.24,999, 8+128GB priced at Rs.27999 and 12+256GB priced at Rs. 29,999 respectively. But the 6+64Gb will only available in September onwards and also I would not recommend anyone to buy 64Gb variant due to non-expansibility of storage. So it is better to say Nord start at Rs.27,999.
Competitors Price:
Redmi K20 Pro 6+128GB Priced at 27K and 8+256 GB at 30K. The 6+128GB variant going to offer at just 23K in the Flipkart BIG shopping days( August 6-10, 2020)
Realme X2 Pro 8+128Gb Priced at 32K, but it is available for 29K on the Flipkart BIG shopping days.
Realme X3 SuperZoom starting at 27K for 128GB variant and Realme X3 starting at 25K for 128Gb variant

In Global Markets OnePlus Nord is available in two skews, the 8+128GB variant is priced at 379 Pound(399 euro or 480 dollars), and 12+256GB variant is priced at 469 Pound( 499 euro or 590 dollars)
The leading competitor in the market will be POCO F2 Pro with 400 euro($550) starting price for 6+128GB variant and Pixel 4a series.

Design

OnePlus Nord’s looks great in our opinion, and especially the Nord blue colour variant is an eye-catcher. OnePlus opted for a plastic frame instead of the aluminium frame seen in premium phones to cut the cost with a metallic paint job over it, it affects the phone structural durability, but honestly who cares…, but you will lose premium feel offered by the metallic finish. In contrast, this plastic frame makes it weigh lesser(184g) compared to competitors 190g or above weight.

Size and Weight Comparison
OnePlus Nord : 158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm , 184 g, 6.44 inch Display
Redmi K20Pro : 156.7 x 74.3 x 8.8 mm , 191 g, 6.39 inch Display
POCO F2 Pro : 163.3 x 75.4 x 8.9 mm , 219 g, 6.67 inch Display
Realme X2 Pro : 161 x 75.7 x 8.7 mm , 199 g, 6.5 inch Display
Realme X3 Series : 163.8 x 75.8 x 8.9 mm , 202 g, 6.6 inch Display

The OnePlus Nord is competitively a smaller phone along with k20 Pro(Mi9T Pro) compared to big phones like POCO F2 Pro(K30 Pro), Realme X2 Pro or Realme X3 series. Among K20 Pro vs OnePlus Nord, OnePlus Nord’s is more single-hand usage friendly duo to its narrower but lengthy design compared to K20pro model.

OnePlus Nord Thoughts: when looks beyond the hype
OnePlus Nord Thoughts: when looks beyond the hype

OnePlus Nord comes with glass sandwich design with a dual punch-hole display on the front. I am not a big fan of dual punch hole, because it affects the screen real estate. As of now, the single punch hole on the left corner is my favourite implementation of selfie camera. In terms of looks, I have no complaint about OnePlus Nord, it is a subjective matter, so it depends on personal preference. For someone looking for a smaller, lightweight Phone you will probably need to look for OnePlus Nord or K20PRO. But the Pixel 4a will be a better option for such users.

Display

OnePlus Nord’s has a great Fluid AMOLED panel from Samsung with accurate colours and excellent brightness level. The display quality is somewhat similar to Realme X2 Pro, POCO F2 Pro or Redmi K20 Pro. But the Realme X3 and X3 superzoom fall apart in this segment due to its LCD and deficient maximum brightness level which make it hard to use in outdoor conditions. Here the Xiaomi’s offerings( Redmi or POCO) are still stuck at 60hz compared to 90hz panels on the OnePlus Nord or Realme X2 Pro, even though Realme X3 series offers 120hz refresh rate, I will personally opt for AMOLED 90hz panel over it any day. If we compare good 60hz AMOLED vs 120hz LCD panel, I will personally go for 120hz LCD if the panel is good enough. But here in this case due to low maximum brightness level, I will opt for 60hz AMOLED in Xiaomi’s offerings over realme X3 series.

The Redmi k20 pro and POCO F2 pro offers Full-screen experience due to pop-up selfie camera. Realme X2 Pro comes with waterdrop notch and Realme X3 series, OnePlus Nord comes with dual punch hole displays.

There are some reports about green and pink tint issues in the OnePlus Nord panel. Still, the problem is only affected in a meagre number of units so if you are buying OnePlus Nord test the display thoroughly in the ten days of the return period.

Performance

OnePlus Nord comes with Snapdragon 765G which is an excellent mid-range SoC from Qualcomm. It is capable of delivering enough power to your daily needs. SD765G, coupled with 90Hz refresh rate and Oxygen OS, makes the OnePlus Nord run faster and smoother. But doesn’t expect as smooth as OnePlus 8 because of the massive difference between SD765G and SD865 SoCs and slower UFS 2.1 storage compared to UFS 3.0 in OnePlus 8, which makes app opening slower.

We know that most of you guys couldn’t understand these terms, so it is better to relate its performance with other phones out there. In terms of CPU SD765G is slightly better than SD845 seen on the OnePlus 6 series or the POCO F1. There are plenty of SD845 devices out there, and we took POCO F1 for the comparison because it is quite popular and probably you guys used or seen it, due to its lower price tag. So SD765G CPU performance is lower than SD855 (K20Pro) or SD855+ (Realme X3 series and Realme X2 Pro) or the latest SD865 (POCO F2 Pro). You couldn’t notice the difference for typical day to day tasks until you compare each other. But if you are a power user, you can easily see it.

When it comes to SD765G graphical capabilities, it comes with Adreno 620 GPU. It can handle regular offline and online games without any hassle. But I would not recommend this Adreno 620 GPU to any hard-core gamers out there. In games like PUBG, you will be limited to HD+High settings. As of now, OnePlus Nord even doesn’t support for Smooth+ Extreme settings, so Nord is limited to maximum 45FPS as of now. But other SD765G phones support extreme frame rates in smooth settings, So probably firmware updates will fix this. But Still, you couldn’t access high graphic settings in such large games.

In contrast, SD855 seen in Redmi K20Pro can use every high setting in PUBG. The Adreno 620 in the OnePlus Nord is inferior to the Adreno 630 scene in SD845 devices like the OnePlus 6T or POCO F1. So if you are a Hard-core gamer, please stay away from OnePlus Nord

Realme X2 Pro vs Realme X3 SuperZoom vs OnePlus Nord

By reading this, you may think the SD845 is a better chip than SD765G seen in OnePlus Nord. Not really…, The SoC in Smartphones not only includes CPU and GPU, but it also includes various things like ISP, DSP, wireless Modem, etc. SD765G has the latest technologies compared to older SD845. It also is the first SoC with Integrated 5G modem in the market

When you take Benchmark comparisons, SD765G overall score will be similar or slightly lower than SD845. SD765G has slightly better CPU but due to a better GPU in the SD845 make it overall a better performer. For better understanding, you can expect SD765G phone scores around 310-330K in Antutu V8 Compared to 320-340k with SD845. In our comparison, the competitors have SD855, SD855+ and SD865, which can score 440-460K, 480-500K and 570-600K respectively.

But some may say Antutu benchmark is not a great benchmarking tool and can easily be manipulated, So we can also use Speed Test G made by Gary Sims (android authority) which is an independent Benchmark tool, so manipulation is not possible.

Infogram credit:android authority

Software Experience

Oxygen OS in the OnePlus Nord is its main USP(Unique Selling Point) over the competitors. Oxygen OS offers excellent user experience with very clean, modern, fast, smooth user experience with no ads and bloatware. Many of us consider as it is best android skin out there and folks like me prefer it even over stock Android. Both MIUI for POCO(seen in both K20Pro or POCO F2 Pro) and Realme OS will push ads and have a lot of bloatware in their User Interface. Between MIUI and Realme OS I think MIUI offers slightly better user experience. You can check out our detailed guide to remove ads and debloat MIUI and Realme UI if you are going for their devices.

Camera Performance

OnePlus Nord’s has one of the best camera performances in this price segment. Even though it has 4 cameras on the back and 2 on the front, I consider it has 2 cameras on the rear and 2 on the front. The rest two are for extra numbers for marketing. The macro camera on the back is similar to the OnePlus 8 macro camera, and like every 2MP macro camera out there it is terrible and not usable. The 5MP depth camera also doesn’t seem to provide any noticeable difference in-depth detection for the portrait shots from the sample pictures I saw.

When we consider only the rest 4 cameras, they usually have more true to life colours compared to most of the phones in this price segment. The primary 48MP IMX586 sensor takes good quality pictures with good dynamic range and natural-looking colours. Even though it is the same sensor from OnePlus 8 the details are slightly lower due to the inferior ISP(image signal Processor) seen in SD765G. I think only the Pixel 3a or upcoming Pixel 4a  can beat it in overall output. Also, the POCO F2 Pro comes close. Realme offerings have better details but always produces oversaturated or punchier non-natural looking colours. The Redmi K20Pro is better than Realme Offerings but still falls behind POCO or OnePlus Nord.

The 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens on the Nord is not so impressive. But it keeps natural-looking colours. We think all of the competitors mentioned above produce better-detailed ultra-wide-angle shots than OnePlus Nord. But Realme offerings fail to get the colours right.

Redmi K20 Pro vs OnePlus Nord vs POCO F2 Pro

The K20Pro, Realme X3, X2 Pro offers 2X telephoto camera, which also helps in better portrait blur effect, the realme X3 superzoom offers 5X lossless periscope camera. Even though these telephoto camera results are not good, it is better to have it, instead of a non-usable macro camera. Especially considering you could get excellent results by using Gcam mods due to these good quality sensors.

When it comes to the front camera, the OnePlus Nord 32MP primary selfie camera produces great photos in this price range. Also, it offers 4k video recording capabilities with good EIS to make it the best phone for selfie-takers and vloggers out there in this price segment. The picture quality from the 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens is also good, and it is even capable of 4k recording.

In brief, I think OnePlus Nord has a better overall camera performance after Pixel offerings and POCO F2 Pro. That doesn’t mean other phones mentioned above have a terrible camera, and they also have a very good camera for the price they offered. If you use a good Gcam port, you can easily get better results from all of these phones.

Battery life and Charging

OnePlus Nord comes with 4115mAh battery and supports 30W Warp Charge 30T, Warp Charge 30T can charge device 0-70% in just 30 minutes, and it will take around 55 minutes to charge the device fully.

Expect POCO F2 Pro(offers great battery life) all of these phones provide average battery life, but the battery life from pixel offering is below average. In terms of charging the Realme X2 Pro can be fully charged in just 35minutes. Pixels get charged at 18W compared to other Phones here, the Realme X3 series, POCO F2 Pro can be fully charged around an hour, and Redmi K20Pro can be fully charged around 1 hour 5-10 minutes with 27W Charger. But Redmi K20Pro is shipping with 18W charger in-the-box, which will take around 1 hour 45 minutes to charge the device fully. So you have to spend around 1000₹(15$) to get 27W Charger.

Sound quality

OnePlus Nord’s single speaker output is good but not great. Usually, OnePlus Phones have good stereo speakers with good quality sound. You will miss this in OnePlus Nord. On Comparison OnePlus Nord speaker is similar to other options in this price range. But the Realme X2 Pro provides stereo speakers with better audio quality.

But OnePlus Nord or even all the OnePlus Flagships still misses the support for Hi-Res output through headphones. They use default DAC comes with the Snapdragon processor. In contrast, all the competitors mentioned from Xioami and Realme offers Hi-Res DAC. So if audio quality through headphone Jack is crucial to you, you have to spend some money on good quality DAC out there.

Miscellaneous

  • The haptic feedback on the OnePlus Nord is very good. It will not beat pixel’s haptic feedback. But still better than Xiaomi or Readme’s offerings. But don’t expect it to be as good as the haptic feedback from OnePlus 8 series.
  • Both Xiaomi and Realme offer AOD(always on display) for their phones with AMOLED panels. Oneplus Nord misses it as like every OnePlus Phone out there, but they officially confirmed it is coming with Android 11 update.
  • Oneplus Nord is a new smartphone, So it’s official update cycle will last more days than already one-year-old competitor mentioned above or even with the newer competitors, OnePlus is very good at providing software updates for the longer period.

Verdict

OnePlus Nord is a decent mid-range smartphone with Oxygen OS on board. The oxygen OS makes it to stand out from other mid-range smartphones. If someone is looking for a great mid-range phone with excellent software experience with good cameras and decent battery life OnePlus Nord is a no brainer, But we would not recommend it to any hardcore gamers, power users out there due to the mid-range SD765G SoC powers it. Instead, you can opt for devices with a much better processor in the same price range.

In India, if you are a hardcore gamer or a power user, we recommend Realme X2 pro or Redmi K20 pro over OnePlus Nord. You can also use Gcam to improve the camera performance or use customs ROMs for better user experience.

In the Global market, we think POCO F2 Pro with slightly higher price tag offers much better value with the excellent performance provided by the SD865 and with slightly better cameras. But like we side OnePlus Nord main USP is its Oxygen OS, So if you weigh software experience moreover anything, Nord can deliver your adequate performance needs.


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Image Credits : Oneplus | Amazon

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