OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: How are they different?

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Fans of OnePlus phones are pretty devoted to the upstart phone maker, often replacing one OnePlus model with another. There's now a new OnePlus phone in the mix, as the OnePlus Nord has debuted. And this handset will cost a lot less than many of the OnePlus models that came before it.

The OnePlus Nord isn't just about offering a lower price, though — OnePlus has also stressed that it wants to deliver the kind of premium features we've seen from its flagships. That's going to invite comparisons to previous phones, like the OnePlus 7 Pro released a little more than a year ago, to see just what kind of features OnePlus can pack into a newer sub-$500 handset.

Current OnePlus 7 Pro owners may not be contemplating a switch to the OnePlus Nord. But comparing the features of the OnePlus Nord vs. the OnePlus 7 Pro can help us determine just how successfully OnePlus can balance a lower cost with high-end features. And now that we've seen the Nord up close, switching from the more expensive OnePlus 7 Pro may not be that much of a downgrade.

Here's how the two OnePlus phones compare, based on our OnePlus 7 Pro review and our brief time with the OnePlus Nord

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 OnePlus NordOnePlus 7 Pro
Starting price at launch£379/€399$649
Display (resolution)6.44-inch AMOLED (2400x1080; 90Hz)6.67-inch AMOLED (3120 x 1440; 90Hz)
CPUSnapdragon 765GSnapdragon 855
RAM8GB, 12GB6GB, 8GB, 12GB
Storage128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras48MP wide (ƒ/1.75); 8MP ultra wide; 5MP depth (ƒ/2.4); 2MP macro (ƒ/2.4)48MP (ƒ/1.6), 16MP ultra wide angle lens (ƒ/2.2), 8MP telephoto lens (ƒ/2.4) with 3x optical zoom
Front cameras 32MP (ƒ/2.45) and 8MP ultra wide (ƒ/2.45)16MP (f/2.0)
Battery size4,115 mAh4,000 mAh

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Price

The OnePlus Nord is one of the least expensive phones that OnePlus has released in years. The Nord will start at £379 in the UK and €399 in the rest of Europe; a second model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs £469. 

Converting the price of the OnePlus Nord to US currency puts the phone in the neighborhood of $458. (Phone makers usually avoid straight currency conversions and instead adjust prices for local markets — we'd expect the Nord to come closer to $400 if it ever reaches the US.) And that's a lot less than the $649 debut price for the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Of course, it's been a year since the OnePlus 7 Pro has come out, and prices have fallen as OnePlus has rolled out other models. These days, you can get a OnePlus 7 Pro for $499 at OnePlus's online store. That's not much more than what OnePlus charges for the Nord.

That's assuming you can even get your hands on the OnePlus Nord. That's not a problem if you live in Europe, India, Hong Kong or Malaysia, where the phone goes on sale August 4. But OnePlus has no immediate plans to bring the Nord to the US, though that could change in the future.

The OnePlus 7 Pro, in contrast, enjoyed wide availability at launch and was even offered by T-Mobile when it first debuted. These days, you're more likely to find the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro offered through carriers, though you can still find the OnePlus 7 Pro if you look hard enough.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Design and display

The OnePlus Nord teaser video turned out to be accurate — OnePlus' budget phone draws on the company's more premium models for inspiration. Some of the curves may be missing, but the Nord feels like a relatively compact phone with distinctive lines. And its Marble Blue version is particularly eye-catching.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus Nord (Image credit: MKBHD)

The OnePlus 7 Pro set a very high bar for design, particularly with its matte finish and glass trim. We had thought OnePlus might go cheap with the materials used on the Nord, but the phone blends glass and metal for a device that feels anything but bargain basement.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus 7 Pro (Image credit: Future)

You won't have to give up an OLED screen if you opt for the Nord, as OnePlus has turned to an AMOLED panel instead of LCD on its budget phone. The display is smaller — 6.4 inches to the 6.67-inch screen on the OnePlus 7 Pro — but matches a feature OnePlus introduced with the 7 Pro. You'll get a faster 90Hz refresh rate on the Nord, so expect smoother scrolling text and potentially more immersive games.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Cameras

You used to be able to tell the difference between a budget phone and a flagship device just by glancing at the number of cameras on the back. The OnePlus Nord upends that assumption, though, with multiple lenses on both front and back.

In fact, the OnePlus Nord features four rear cameras, with a 48MP main sensor augmented by an 8MP ultra wide angle camera, a 5MP macro lens and a 2MP sensor to aid in portraits. That’s even one more lens than you get with the pricier OnePlus 8. Those are promising camera specs, but photos from past OnePlus handsets haven't always measured up to what the best camera phones can produce.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus Nord  (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Just comparing specs, though, the OnePlus Nord includes four cameras to the OnePlus 7 Pro’s trio of rear shooters, though you could argue that the 8MP telephoto lens with its 3x optical zoom is far more useful than a macro lens or a portrait sensor. Besides the telephoto lens, the OnePlus 7 Pro also featured a 48MP main shooter and a 16MP ultra wide angle lens.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus 7 Pro (Image credit: Future)

The OnePlus Nord offers more front cameras, too, doubling the lenses from the 16MP selfie cam on the OnePlus 7 Pro. As confirmed by OnePlus, the Nord will feature a 32MP main camera and 8MP secondary lens for wider angle shots. In fact, you'll get a 105-degree field of view from that wide angle lens. And unlike the OnePlus 7 Pro, which featured a pop-up selfie lens, the OnePlus Nord's front cameras are right there in the display, always at the ready.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Performance

The arrival of the OnePlus Nord should provide the answer to a debate over smartphone performance: Is it better to have a more current midtier mobile processor or last year's top-of-the-line chipset?

The OnePlus 7 Pro offers the latter — the Snapdragon 855, which was one of the best processors available in 2019. It's since been eclipsed by the Snapdragon 865, and Apple's A13 Bionic processor continues to set the standard for mobile performance. At the time we tested the OnePlus 7 Pro, it could hold its own against the leading flagships of the day, thanks to the 12GB of RAM OnePlus packed into our review unit. Other phones have come along since then — the iPhone 11 series, the Galaxy S20 series, and the OnePlus 7T and 8 models — that outperform the OnePlus 7 Pro.

The OnePlus Nord doesn't figure to join those ranks, as it runs on a Snapdragon 765G system-on-chip. While that's one of the best chipsets in Qualcomm's 7 Series and it's specifically optimized for gaming performance, it's unlikely to be as fast as the Snapdragon 855, even if that latter processor is more than a year old. Benchmarking will tell the tale, though.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus 7 Pro (Image credit: Future)

Even with a less powerful processor, the OnePlus Nord will be able to do something the OnePlus 7 Pro can't — connect to 5G networks. The Snapdragon 765G contains a built-in 5G modem. OnePlus released a separate version of the OnePlus 7 Pro with 5G connectivity, and that model has long since made way for the 5G-capable OnePlus 8 models.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Battery and charging

One area where OnePlus' budget phone could challenge last year's flagship involves battery life. The OnePlus Nord ships with a 4,115 mAh battery as had been rumored prior to the phone's launch. That's a modest upgrade from the 4,000 mAh battery that keeps the OnePlus 7 Pro powered up.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus Nord concept (Image credit: OnePlus)

When we tested battery life by having the OnePlus 7 Pro surf the web over LTE until it ran out of juice, the phone didn't exactly impress. The OnePlus 7 Pro lasted 9 hours and 31 minutes on our test, which is below average for a smartphone. OnePlus doesn't have any handsets on our list of the best phone battery life, but it's possible that with a bigger battery and less power-hungry processor, the OnePlus Nord could improve upon the 7 Pro's performance.

The OnePlus 7 Pro uses the phone maker's Warp Charge 30 technology to charge up quickly. Since then, though, OnePlus has rolled out Warp Charge 30T, which optimized the charging algorithm to boost charging times. The gains have been modest in our testing, but the OnePlus Nord uses this more advanced charging system and promises to provide a 70% charge after 30 minutes.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Software

Like other OnePlus phones, the Nord runs OnePlus' OxygenOS, which is built on top of the latest version of Android. In the case of the Nord, that will be Android 10. The OnePlus 7 Pro debuted with a version of OxygenOS built on Android 9, though the Android 10 update rolled out to T-Mobile versions of the flagship phone earlier this year.

The biggest software change to the OnePlus Nord was confirmed by OnePlus before the phone launch: It will come with Google Duo, Messages and Phone pre-installed. And those latter two apps will be the default messaging and dialer apps for the OnePlus Nord. We imagine OnePlus is opting for Google's apps either because they're better suited for the phone's 90Hz refresh rate or for the Snapdragon 765G processor inside — or a combination of those reasons.

OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Outlook

If you bought the OnePlus 7 Pro a year ago, you're likely going to want to hold on to your phone, given its superior design and still-powerful processor. But the OnePlus Nord may prove to be tempting, especially if OnePlus can finally deliver on the flagship-quality photos it's long promised.

Ultimately, a OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 7 Pro comparison will come down to three different factors. How will the Nord's cameras compare to what the 7 Pro delivers? Will the budget phone last longer on a charge? And will the display be able to match what we’ve seen from OnePlus’ more expensive flagships? Depending on those answers, we'll find out if OnePlus has a real winner on its hands.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.