Oneplus Nord Review: Is the Flagship Camera Setup just a Gimmick?

On July 21, OnePlus unveiled its latest smartphone product in the European market, the Oneplus Nord. After plowing into the flagship smartphone market in the past several years, OnePlus makes an emphatic return into the mid-range in 2020 by launching a product that packs flagship features, including a deluxe camera setup with a competitive price.

But is the OnePlus Nord as good as expected? In this article, we will give you a full picture of the device and shed light on its actual camera performance.

SEE ALSO: Best OnePlus Smartphones for 2020: New OnePlus Nord, OnePlus 8 and More Older Ones

Design

The OnePlus Nord comes with a sizable 6.44-inch AMOLED full display with an aspect ratio of 20:9. A plastic frame is around the display with a metallic coat, and both sides are covered with tough Corning Gorilla Glass 5. From a safety perspective, the slippery glossy finish also increases the risk of dropping the phone while using it.

The weight of the phone is 184g with a thickness of 8.2mm. It’s a bit heavy in the hand, but it’s also on an acceptable level given that achieving more functions at the cost of some weight seems like an irreversible trend in the industry.

The right side of the phone is designed with an alert slider above the power button for selecting different modes including ring, silent and vibrate. The bottom of the phone features a nano-SIM tray, a Type-C slot supporting Type-C earphones and a speaker. With that being said, the Nord ditched a 3.5mm jack.

Cameras

The OnePlus Nord opts for a dual-camera setup with a 32MP primary sensor and an 8MP 105° ultra wide sensor on the front, which is a great plus and serves the need for a group selfie, as Oneplus says it also ensures every face in the shot remains sharp. Compared with its rivals, Oneplus raises the bar as the images look warmer and softer with sufficient light, and are reflected in great detail even with a 5x zoom.

Another surprise about the front camera lies in the video shooting. It supports 4K shooting at up to 60fps.That’s appreciable for extracting a great image from the video and adding flexibility in post-production.

As for the rear cameras, the Nord adopts a quad-camera setup with a 48MP primary sensor with OIS setting, a direct takeaway from its flagship counterpart Oneplus 8, as well as an 8MP 119° ultra wide, a 5MP depth and a 2MP macro.

And here comes the tricky part. We expect flagship-class photo quality from a flagship setup, but the photos appear to be a little noisier and blurrier even under good light conditions and they get pixelated easily when blown up. There is still a considerable amount of sharpness, but it falls short of expectations, especially when it’s touted as one of the main selling points.

In terms of night photography, the Nord features out a smart mode called “nightscape,” which takes up to nine different pictures at varying exposures and stitches them together as a solution to shoot in dimly-lit environments.

But the reality is, the algorithm seems not that smart as it sharpens and lightens up most parts of the frame in relatively bright scenes, thus creating a loss of authenticity. When it comes to a dim environment, details are inappropriately hidden in the darkness as the algorithm seems not to have figured out what the exposure should be. This can be considered a major setback among lots of mid-range products and Nord’s performance is average in this aspect.

As for video shooting, the Nord can shoot 4k video at 30fps, and 1080p at up to 60fps. It also comes with an 8x slow-motion for creative videos. Nothing really stands out, and that’s basically what a mid-range can offer at this price range.

Hardware and software

The Nord is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, and the phone has also thrown in up to 12GB of RAM. It’s a sub-flagship chipset and a downgrade from its flagship counterpart, Oneplus 8, but that doesn’t lead to a slow performance whatsoever as you can tell from playing a glitch-free mobile game.

The phone has thrown in a non-removable battery with a capacity of 4115mAh, and supports 30W flash charging, which can charge the phone from 0% to 70% in half an hour. This can translate to good battery performance, as you can fully use it for a day without bringing an extra pack.

Without any suspension, Oneplus equips the Nord with its Oxygen operation system, which provides a clean user interface and includes all Oneplus features such as dark theme, gesture navigation, Zen mode and more.

The Nord is also 5G-ready – just like most of the newly released products – even though the network isn’t yet fully operational.

To conclude, Oneplus says “pretty much everything you could ask for” about the product, and the company’s got a point. The Nord is a sincere mid-range with premium design, decent cameras, solid processor and durable battery. There is no standout in any aspect – even for the flagship quad-camera setup – but everything does stand out at this price range, which is around 25,000 Rupees ($333) for the 128GB version.