OnePlus Nord: 5 reasons to buy and 3 reasons to skip

OnePlus Nord
(Image credit: OnePlus)

The OnePlus Nord is one of the most exciting phones of the year because of everything that it packs into a phone for less than $500. (The phone starts at £379 in the UK.) You get a big screen that puts the iPhone SE to shame, a whopping six cameras, 5G connectivity, and pretty stellar specs overall for the money. 

But the OnePlus Nord isn't perfect, starting with the fact that you can't buy it in the U.S. If you are thinking about getting the OnePlus Nord — or importing one — here are the main reasons to buy and skip this midrange Android phone.

OnePlus Nord reasons to buy

Here are the top reasons to get the OnePlus Nord when it goes on sale.

Big and smooth 90Hz display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The OnePlus Nord features a 6.44-inch AMOLED display with a pretty swift 90Hz refresh rate. This allows for smoother scrolling, as well as better gaming and video playback. In addition, OnePlus increased the touch sampling rate from 135Hz on the OnePlus 7T to 180Hz on the OnePlus Nord, which should also result in more responsive gaming performance.

Another plus is that the Nord's display is rated for 1,000 nits of brightness. This means you shouldn't have any issues reading the screen outdoors on a sunny day. Last but not least, OnePlus says that the Nord's display has 2,048 levels of automatic brightness, which should help with both eye comfort and battery live.

Six cameras for maximum versatility 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The OnePlus Nord breaks the mold for mid-range phones by packing six cameras — four on the back and two on the front. The rear cameras include a 48MP primary sensor with optical image stabilization, an 8MP ultra wide angle lens with a 119-degree field of view, a 5MP depth camera and a 2MP macro camera.

OnePlus Nord

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Another highlight is Nighscape mode. The OnePlus Nord takes up to nine different pictures at varying exposures and stitches them together in software. Up front, there's a 32MP main sensor and a 8MP ultra-wide camera for taking group selfies with a 105-degree angle.

Really good specs — including 5G

OnePlus Nord 5G

(Image credit: OnePlus)

OnePlus didn't skimp on specs for the Nord. It's powered by a Snapdragon 765G chip that delivers faster CPU speeds and 10% faster graphics than the previous Snapdragon 765. The Nord starts with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but the higher-end configuration includes 12GB and 256GB.

The 5G part of the Snapdragon 765G name means that the OnePlus Nord supports 5G networks, which means you can expect faster download speeds where coverage is available. 

Beefy battery with fast charging

OnePlus Nord warp charging

(Image credit: OnePlus)

The OnePlus Nord should have plenty of staying power, thanks to a fairly large 4,115 mAh battery. Even better, OnePlus includes a Warp Charge 30T charger in the box, which promises to take you from 0 to 70% full in just 30 minutes. 

By comparison, the OnePus 8 Pro has a 4,510 mAh battery, which paced the phone to a stellar 11 hours and 5 minutes on our battery test. Anything over 11 hours is usually good enough to make our best phone battery life list. With its less powerful CPU, we expect even better longevity from the Nord.

An aggressive price

The OnePlus Nord costs just £379 in the UK and €399 in Europe, and OnePlus says that the Nord costs under $500 when you convert pricing. By comparison, the iPhone SE sells for £419, which is not only more expensive but includes just 64GB of storage. The Nord starts with 128GB. 

OnePlus Nord reasons to skip

As good as the OnePlus Nord is, there are a few reasons to think twice about buying this handset.

You can't buy it in the US — at least not yet

OnePlus Nord

(Image credit: OnePlus)

The OnePlus Nord will be sold in the UK, Europe and India, but the company has not announced any plans to launch the phone in the U.S.. In an interview, OnePlus’ head of European Strategy said that Europe and India will be used as a form of test area for the Nord phone. Then OnePlus will decide what "the right next step is."

In the meantime, you can get your hands on the OnePlus Nord in the U.S., but you need to volunteer to perform an "unbiased" review of the device and the pool is very limited. You might be better off trying to import the Nord.

No optical zoom

As impressive as the camera array is on the OnePlus Nord, you don't get a telephoto lens. That means you'll have to rely on the "in sensor" zoom of 2x. This is not a huge concession for such an affordable phone, but we're curious to see how well the digital zoom performs.

Lacks wireless charging

This is another understandable omission given the OnePlus Nord's price. The phone does not support wireless charging, which means you'll have to go the USB-C route if you want to juice up the phone. 

It's a little bit of a bummer, as there are plenty of great wireless chargers that make it easy to just plop your phone down on a dock or mat to power it up. But it's hard to complain too much when you get fast 30W charging out of the box.

Bottom line

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The OnePlus Nord raises the bar for what to expect from a mid-range phone. The design, specs and cameras should deliver the type of experience you'd expect from a more premium handset. The biggest strike against the Nord is its limited availability, but hopefully OnePlus will open things up to the U.S. over time.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.