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OnePlus Nord First Impressions: Hype Vs Reality
OnePlus Nord, the most-talked about mid-range OnePlus smartphone has finally been launched today in the first-of-its-kind AR launch event. OnePlus has introduced the much anticipated Nord in three variants; 6GB+64GB variant at Rs. 24,999, 8GB+128GB at Rs. 27,999 and the top-end 12GB+256GB variant at Rs. 29,999. OnePlus Nord will be made available in two colors - Blue Marble and Gray Onyx on nord.oneplus.com starting August 4th, 2020 in India.
You can pre-book the OnePlus Nord starting tomorrow, i.e. July 22nd, 2020 at OnePlus Experience Stores and starting 28th July on Amazon.in. The mid-range smartphone will also be available in an exclusive Early Access sale for OnePlus Red Cable Club members on August 3rd, 2020 on oneplus.in and OnePlus exclusive offline stores.
OnePlus Buds at Rs. 4,990
Alongside the OnePlus Nord, the company has also introduced its first pair of true wireless earphones, the OnePlus Buds at Rs. 4,990 in Gray, White and Nord Blue color variants. The White and Nord Blue color variants will be available in an early access sale on July 31st, 2020 on oneplus.in. These two color variants will be available for open sale starting Aug 4th, 2020 on oneplus.in, Amazon.in, Flipkart.com, all OnePlus exclusive offline stores and Croma and Reliance Digital outlets. The brand mentioned that the Gray variant will be available later this month.
While we haven't got our hands on the OnePlus Buds, I spent some time with the OnePlus Nord to see if it justifies the hype build around the product. Let's find out.
Design- Nothing Exceptional But Gets The Ergonomics Right
The hype created around the OnePlus Nord's design was just mind-boggling. Sadly, the outcome did not manage to meet our expectations. The OnePlus Nord fails to bring something new to the table except the new blue shade that looks stunning. I feel that the Nord's design lacks originality. It isn't distinctive and seems to be inspired from Oppo and Realme smartphones, especially the recently launched Realme X3 SuperZoom and the Realme 6 Pro.
The Nord has the familiar glass back panel which is a smudge-magnet. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 layer. The vertically stacked quad-lens camera setup sits at the top-left corner. The right side of the device has the signature Alert Slider and the power button. The volume rockers are placed on the left side and a microphone is placed at the top of the device.
The Nord is the first-ever OnePlus device with a dual-lens selfie camera. You can spot an earpiece grill at the top centre. The dual nano-SIM card slot, Type-C charging port and a speaker grille are positioned at the bottom.
What impressed us about the OnePlus Nord's design is its ergonomics. Despite flaunting a big screen, the Nord snuggle fits in your palm. The compact form-factor makes it quite appropriate for one-hand use. We are testing the ‘Blue Marble' variant and the phone is also available in the dark grey shade which is called- Gray Onyx.
Overall, if you prefer a clean and ergonomic design, the Nord is the answer. It is a decent looking phone with good ergonomics but fails to bring a distinctive design.
Display- 90Hz AMOLED Panel With Full HD Resolution
The Nord flaunts a decently sized and good quality AMOLED panel that produces vibrant colors. The screen feels brighter and colors look punchier than the LCD panel on the Realme X3 SuperZoom. The phone has a 6.44-inch Full HD (2400 x 1080pixels) 90Hz refresh rate AMOLED panel. It feels responsive and fluid. The panel is also bright enough to be comfortably visible outdoors. The 20:9 aspect ratio screen offers support for sRGB and Display P3 color profiles and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 layer. Overall, OnePlus has managed to offer one of the best display on a mid-range smartphone.
Camera- 48MP Quad-Lens Camera Setup
For cameras, the OnePlus Nord boasts a quad-lens rear camera setup featuring a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor with F/1.75 aperture and 0.8μm Pixel size. The big sensor is both OIS and EIS enabled and captures 12MP pixel-binned shots. It is supported by an 8MP wide-angle lens with f/2.25 aperture and captures images with 119° field-of-view. The third lens in the configuration is a dedicated 2MP macro sensor and the fourth lens is a 5MP depth sensor with f/2.4 aperture. The camera can record 4K videos at 30fps, 1080p videos at 30/60 fps, Super Slow-motion 1080p videos at 240fps and Time-lapse videos (4K 30fps and 1080p at 30fps).
The OnePlus Nord is the first OnePlus device to offer a dual-lens selfie camera. The dual punch-hole camera at the front houses a 32MP Sony IMX616 sensor. The fixed-focus sensor has a narrow aperture with a size of f/2.45 and supports EIS. It is paired with an 8MP wide-angle lens with the same aperture size with a field-of-view of 105°. Interestingly, the front camera can record 4K videos at 30/60 fps, 1080p videos at 30/60 fps and time-lapse videos.
As far as image and video quality is concerned, the cameras on OnePlus Nord seem to do a good job. The colors are not overly saturated and images/videos show crisp details. We will show the samples and talk about the camera performance in detail in our comprehensive review.
Hardware And Software
The OnePlus Nord is powered by the 5G-enabled Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chipset. We are testing the 12GB + 256GB variant and it feels blazing fast. OnePlus Nord comes running on the latest Oxygen OS 10.5 and is easily the most optimized OnePlus handset till date. The Nord feels unbelievably fluid. The animations are smoother, UI feels very responsive and the Android 10 gestures are a delight to use.
The software user experience is very close to a stock Android device and the Nord almost feels like a Google Pixel-series device.
Some of the most-used apps like Phone, Messages, etc. are replaced with stock Google apps but you also get the signature Oxygen OS features such as the customization options, OnePlus photo gallery, OnePlus Switch, OnePlus Community app and the File manager. Overall, the software on the OnePlus Nord simply feels like a more refined version of the Oxygen OS. The company has also claimed that the Nord will receive two years of software updates and three years of security updates.
Battery And Connectivity
The OnePlus Nord can easily last a day with moderate to heavy usage. The phone draws power from a modest 4,115mAh battery which gets support from the same Warp Charge 30T that powers the premium OnePlus 8-series devices. It can full charge the device from 0% to 100% in less than 60 minutes.
As far as connectivity is concerned, the OnePlus Nord is a 5G-enabled smartphone. OnePlus claims download speeds of up to 3.38Gbps, thanks to an integrated Snapdragon X52 5G Modem-RF system. We can debate about the lack of 5G infrastructure but it still won't stop brands from launching 5G phones in India. The Nord supports Bluetooth 5.0 and ships with a dual SIM-card slot that can take two nano-SIM cards.
Should You Buy The OnePlus Nord?
The OnePlus Nord ticks all the boxes of a good mid-range smartphone to fill the gap in the sub-30K price segment. We liked the compact form-factor of the device, the fluid 90Hz AMOLED screen and the clean software experience. The well-optimized software is undoubtedly the highlight feature of the new OnePlus smartphone. This is one area where most brands have largely failed to deliver at this price-point. We will test the smartphone's performance in detail in our comprehensive review so stay tuned.