OnePlus Nord is going all-in on Google apps — here’s why

OnePlus Nord
(Image credit: MKBHD)

The OnePlus Nord will come with Google’s Phone, Messages, and Duo apps installed as the native calling and messaging software for OnePlus’ upcoming budget phone. 

Via the medium of a video on the oneplus.nord Instagram account, OnePlus noted that Google Duo, Phone and Messages will be the default communications apps on its phone. Usually, OnePlus uses its one Oxygen OS apps for such functions, so this move is an unusual one. 

And it’s not something OnePlus went on to qualify. However, the video was accompanied by subtitles that championed how the use of Google apps will help deliver a super-smooth experience with the Nord.

“We thought we were the smoothest Android experience out there,” the subtitles said. “But then Google gave us Duo, Phone, and Messages. Smoothest-est it is.”

It’s an odd statement but it would appear that OnePlus believes Google’s communications apps will deliver a better experience than its own Oxygen OS native apps will on the Nord. This could be down to Google’s apps being better suited for the mid-range Snapdragon 765G chipset it’ll use; OnePlus phones have previously used high-end Snapdragon 8-series chips. So OnePlus probably has more experience calibrating its own apps for top-level silicon rather than chips with less performance.

Or OnePlus might have decided that Google’s apps work better with the Nord’s 90Hz refresh-rate display. Set to measure in at 6.4 inches and sport an AMOLED panel running at a resolution of 2400 x 1080, the Nord will likely have an impressive screen that OnePlus will want to show off by having apps that work perfectly with it. And, in this case, they could be Google apps. 

Furthermore, Google’s communication apps could have features that OnePlus feels its own software might be missing. For example, Google Messages will provide access to end-to-end encryption using RCS (rich communications services), according to 9to5Google

And Google Duo will provide the OnePlus Nord with a native video calling app, something that it doesn’t have pre-installed with its current handsets. It’s worth noting that it’s easy enough to download Duo for OnePlus phones, but having it baked in by default makes the whole process seamless. 

Our experience of OnePlus apps and the Oxygen OS user interface it applies over Android has always been underlined with how responsive and fast everything feels, either on par with the likes of the Pixel 4 or surpassing it in some apps and services. But with OnePlus opting for a slower chipset for the Nord, maybe it had to take a fresh look at how well it own apps work. 

We’ll get a proper insight into OnePlus’ approach to the Nord tomorrow. And overall we’re expecting a rather impressive mid-range phone. Not only will the Nord have a decent chipset and display, but it will also come with 5G support, a quad rear-camera array, and a large battery with fast charging. We’re expecting it to be a strong rival to the iPhone SE 2020 and the upcoming Pixel 4a

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.