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OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: What's different?

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8
(Image credit: Future)

After what's felt like an eternal drip feed of leaks and teases, the OnePlus Nord has fully broken cover at last. And while there are so many questions around this device, one that particularly interests us is how the company's new entry-level handset compares to the also reasonably priced, yet slightly more premium OnePlus 8, which came out earlier this year.

The OnePlus Nord starts at £379, which roughly translates to $482 (OnePlus isn't offering the device in North America, at least for now.) The price difference works out to be about $200 between the two devices, and for that, you lose out on the OnePlus 8's Snapdragon 865 processor and larger display. But you still get tons of features for what you'd spend on the Nord, including 5G connectivity.

Read on in this OnePlus Nord vs. OnePlus 8 comparison for a deeper analysis of how these two devices compare, and which one is a better buy — if you're able to buy the Nord at all, that is.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: Price and availability

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8

OnePlus Nord (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The OnePlus Nord starts at £379 (or €399 in the rest of Europe), and for that you get 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. Spend £469, and you'll get double the storage and 12GB of RAM, which is actually in line with the best configuration of the OnePlus 8 Pro.

The OnePlus Nord will miss North America, at least for now. However, it will be offered throughout most of Europe, including the United Kingdom. If the device succeeds in other market, it's possible it'll make it stateside.

The OnePlus 8 starts at £599 in the U.K., and $699 in the U.S.; that becomes $799 for the higher storage and memory version.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: Specs

OnePlus NordOnePlus 8
Base price£379, £469$699, $799
Display6.44-inch AMOLED (2400x1080; 90Hz)6.55-inch AMOLED (2400x1080; 90Hz)
CPUSnapdragon 765GSnapdragon 865
RAM8GB, 12GB8GB, 12GB
Storage128GB, 256GB; not expandable128GB, 256GB; not expandable
Rear cameras48MP main (ƒ/1.75); 8MP ultrawide; 5MP depth (ƒ/2.4); 2MP macro (ƒ/2.4)48MP main (ƒ/1.75); 16MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 2MP macro
Front cameras32MP (ƒ/2.45) and 8MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.45)16MP (ƒ/2.0)
Battery4,115 mAh4,300 mAh
Charging30W wired30W wired
SecurityIn-display fingerprint, 2D face unlockIn-display fingerprint, 2D face unlock
Operating systemAndroid 10 with OxygenOS 10.5Android 10 with OxygenOS 10.5
Size6.23 x 2.88 x 0.32 inches6.3 x 2.9 x 0.31 inches
Weight6.5 ounces6.3 ounces

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8

OnePlus Nord (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: Design

Right off the bat, it's easy to tell one of the major differences between the OnePlus Nord and OnePlus 8 — the size. The new model has a slightly smaller display that measures 6.44 inches to the OnePlus 8's 6.55-inch panel. The slab of Gorilla Glass 5 that shrouds the Nord's screen is also flat, while the OnePlus 8's cover glass incorporates a prominent curve.

That might sound like a downgrade, but curved glass can actually be quite frustrating to live with, because it makes the device more difficult to grasp, and also makes the screen more prone to accidental taps. 

The OnePlus Nord is available in two colors — Blue Marble and Gray Onyx — though both lack the matte finish that is available on the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro.

The OnePlus Nord is surprisingly a tinge heavier than the OnePlus 8, tipping the scales at 6.5 ounces to the more expensive phone's 6.3 ounces. However, the Nord is shorter, both in terms of length and width, while also measuring a hair thicker.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8

OnePlus 8 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: Display

Factoring out that the OnePlus Nord's display is a tenth of an inch smaller than the OnePlus 8's, the cheaper phone's panel is actually an improvement, at least in one way, from its brethren.

While both devices employ 90Hz refresh rates and full-HD resolutions, the Nord's actually has a faster touch response rate of 180Hz, compared to the OnePlus 8's 130Hz. That should make taps and swipes a tinge more responsive, whether you're thumbing around Oxygen OS or playing games.

Otherwise, we found the OnePlus 8 had an excellent panel when we tested it a few months ago, with a Delta-E color accuracy score that actually edged the likes of Apple's iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung's Galaxy S20. The OnePlus 8's screen is bright, offers a range of display modes if you'd like to opt for a more natural or saturated color profile, and generally has no obvious flaws. If OnePlus can execute at the same level with the panel in its entry-level Nord, it'll have yet another winner on its hands.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: Camera

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8

OnePlus Nord (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Interestingly, you'll find more lenses on the back of the cheaper OnePlus Nord than you will on the OnePlus 8. Whereas the pricier model has only a triple-lens setup, consisting of a primary 48-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilization alongside 16-MP ultra wide and 2-MP macro ones, the Nord has four rear cameras.

The Nord's stack is a mishmash of cameras. Two of them — the main 48-MP one and 2-MP macro — are carried over from the OnePlus 8. The other two, however, appear unique to this model. The Nord's ultra wide lens is rated at 8 MP, while another sensor used to assist in depth processing is rated at 5 MP.

Even at the front, the Nord packs more lenses than you might expect. Instead of one 16-MP shooter like the OnePlus 8 has, the Nord has a 32-MP main camera as well as an 8MP ultra wide one, presumably for group selfies.

That's six cameras in total for a phone that costs less than $500, indicating you'll be able to use this midranger for a wider range of shooting scenarios than you might expect. That said, we caution that lens quantity doesn't automatically translate to image quality. While OnePlus has made strides in recent years, it has further to go — particularly with respect to its post-processing — if it really wants to close the gap with the like of Apple and Google, whose iPhone SE and Pixel 3a dominate this class of cheap camera phones.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: Performance

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8

OnePlus Nord (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This is likely to be the biggest gap between the two phones. The OnePlus 8 benefits from Snapdragon 865 power, placing it within an elite class of the year's fastest Android phones, alongside the Samsung Galaxy S20 series. The OnePlus Nord, meanwhile, uses Qualcomm's lower-tier Snapdragon 765G silicon.

Mind you, the 765G is still speedy in its own right, and even supports 5G connectivity, just like the pricier OnePlus 8. Furthermore, both devices have 8GB and 12GB RAM configurations that either come with 128GB or 256GB of storage, which offers some peace of mind even for those who opt for the cheaper phone. But those who want the utmost power and performance, particularly for multitasking or playing strenuous games, are going to want the OnePlus 8 for its added oomph.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8

OnePlus Nord (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: Battery life and charging

Here's one area in which we expect the OnePlus Nord to outperform its more expensive sibling. The OnePlus Nord carries a 4,115-mAh battery, which is a bit smaller than the OnePlus 8's 4,300-mAh power pack. However, it charges using the same Warp Charge 30T technology, so it should top up just as fast.

Nevertheless, we wouldn't be surprised to see Nord to outperform the OnePlus 8 in terms of longevity because it has a similarly-sized battery and a more efficient chipset. The Snapdragon 765G could help the new OnePlus device beat the already impressive 11-hour, 4-minute result the OnePlus 8 achieved in Tom's Guide's custom battery test, where websites are streamed over an LTE connection at 150 nits of screen brightness.

Just like the OnePlus 8, the OnePlus Nord lacks the ability to charge wirelessly. To get that feature, you'll need a OnePlus 8 Pro.

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 8: Outlook

The OnePlus Nord is shaping up to be a truly impressive value, making shockingly few compromises despite its relatively low price compared to OnePlus' other handsets. So long as you don't need the best processor in the world, or luxuries like wireless charging, the Nord looks to be a well-rounded midrange smartphone that isn't that far off OnePlus' more premium offerings. It has some of the same cameras you'll find in the OnePlus 8, and even the same 90Hz refresh rate for its display.

We're currently testing the OnePlus Nord, so you can look forward to an update to this face-off with a verdict in the coming days.