OnePlus Nord N30 5G review: The best phone for less than $300

A long-lasting battery and a big display top the Nord's subpar cameras

OnePlus Nord N30 5G review
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

If you don't want to spend more than $300 on a phone, the OnePlus Nord N30 5G fits the bill, with a long-lasting battery and expansive display. Camera performance is inconsistent, so photo enthusiasts will want to pay up for a Pixel 7a or Galaxy A54.


  • +

    Extensive battery life

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    Fast wired charging

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    120Hz refresh rate

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    Very affordable


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    Inconsistent photos

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    No ultrawide lens

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    Fingerprint magnet

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The OnePlus Nord N30 5G is a welcome sight for anyone who needs a new phone but lives with a constrained budget. And that's especially true since it wasn't always clear if the Nord N30 was going to make its way to the U.S.

Earlier this year, OnePlus introduced the budget-minded OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite to other parts of the world, including the UK. At the time, the company didn't disclose any U.S. release plans for that phone, but eventually, it wound up on these shores with a different name, one less color and a slightly slower charging speed. Otherwise, this is essentially the same device available under its original, more cumbersome moniker.

And we're delighted that the Nord N30 is here. As appealing as low-cost phones like the Samsung Galaxy A54 and Google Pixel 7a are, they still cost between $400 and $500. That price may be hundreds less than many flagships, but it's still beyond the reach of some shoppers. The OnePlus Nord N30 shaves a couple hundred dollars more off the price of those phones with only minimal sacrifices to some features.

Striking the right balance between frugality and dependability, the Nord N30 establishes itself as the best cheap phone under $300. Find out how in the rest of our OnePlus Nord N30 review.

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Specs

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Screen size6.72-inch LCD (2400 x 1080)
Refresh rate120Hz
CPUSnapdragon 695 5G
Storage/Expandable?128GB / Yes
Rear cameras108MP (f/1.7) main; 2MP (f/2.4) depth; 2MP (f/2.4) macro
Front camera16MP (f/2.4)
Battery size5,000 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)12:30 (120Hz); 12:42 (60Hz)
Charging speed50W wired
Size6.5 x 3 x 0.32 inches
Weight6.9 ounces
ColorsChromatic Gray

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Price and availability

The OnePlus Nord N30 costs less than $300, though the exact amount you'll pay depends on where you buy the phone. The lowest price is available at T-Mobile, which sells the phone for $264. You'll pay $15 more if you go through Metro By T-Mobile, the discount phone service that T-Mobile owns and operates. 

You can also buy the phone unlocked through OnePlus, where it costs $299. Amazon and Best Buy offer the phone as well. OnePlus says the phone will work with the 5G networks of both Verizon and AT&T if you opt for the unlocked version.

Regardless of where you get your OnePlus Nord N30 from, the phone will feature 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. 

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Design

The low price of the OnePlus Nord N30 becomes pretty apparent when you hold the phone in your hand. It's not that the Nord is cheaply designed — it's just that the plastic materials OnePlus uses won't fool anyone into thinking this is a premium handset. The glossy back of the phone is highly reflective, which can make things  shiny when you're outside. On the downside, it also means the Nord N30 amplifies any fingerprints or dust that accumulate on the back of the phone. Keep a cloth handy if you like your devices looking pristine.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Speaking of the back of the phone, the rear cameras are housed in two separate circular arrays stacked vertically that jut out from the back of the device. It kind of makes the OnePlus Nord N30 look like Wall-E from the Pixar movie turned on his side. OnePlus offers the Nord N30 in a single color — Chromatic Gray — after Nord CE 3 Lite shoppers had a choice of gray or lime.

To accommodate the OnePlus Nord N30's 6.7-inch screen, the phone features a 6.5 x 3 x 0.32-inch frame. That's taller than the 6.2 x 3.0 x 0.32-inch Galaxy A54, and that phone's 6.4-inch screen isn't exactly tiny. At least the OnePlus Nord N30 weighs less at 6.9 ounces — the Galaxy A54 tips the scales at 7.1 ounces.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In a space-saving move, the power button on the OnePlus Nord N30 doubles as a fingerprint sensor. This isn't my favorite approach to fingerprint sensors, and the slightly recessed power button on the Nord N30 can be tricky to find when you first start using the phone. But the fingerprint sensor is pretty responsive at least, and I had no trouble unlocking the device.

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Display

OnePlus may have scaled back on design with the Nord N30, but that doesn't extend to the display — a massive 6.72-inch panel that provides a lot of useable real estate, even with a little bit of a bezel at the very bottom of the screen. OnePlus does turn to LCD for its screen, though that's a pretty common move for a phone at this price.

It's also increasingly common for even budget phones to adopt fast refresh rates, and the Nord N30 doesn't disappoint there. You can switch between the standard 60Hz rate or the High mode, which ramps things up to 120Hz for smoother animations. There's only minimal impact on battery life as we'll explore later on in this OnePlus Nord N30 review, so there's no reason you shouldn't head straight to Settings and set the display refresh rate to High.

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OnePlus Nord N30Motorola Moto G Stylus 5GGoogle Pixel 7a
sRGB (%)152.7153.6129.8
DCI-P3 (%)108.2108.891.9
Peak brightness520 nits564 nits931 nits

The LCD panel doesn't really skimp on color, as I learned while watching the Barbie trailer on YouTube. Margot Robbie's pink ensemble looked as vibrant as it does on other screens, and Ryan Gosling's beach blonde hair stood out. Our testing confirmed that the Nord N30's screen handles color pretty effectively, as its ability to recreate the sRGB and DCI-P3 color spectrums matched that of the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023), another phone with an LCD screen. Colors were a little more accurate on the Nord, though, as its Delta-E rating of 0.09 in Vivid mode beat out the 0.24 score turned in by the Moto G Stylus. (Numbers closer to zero are better.)

OnePlus Nord N30 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If I have a complaint about the Nord N30 display, it's that it could be brighter. We measured peak brightness at 520 nits, so you're really going to have to crank up the display brightness to see the panel in direct sunlight. Compare to that the Pixel 7a, which hit 931 nits on a light meter when we tested that phone. Yes, the Pixel 7a costs $200 more than the Nord N30, but that's an equally big brightness gap.

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Cameras

The OnePlus Nord N30 may be a budget phone, but it doesn't skimp on the megapixels. The Samsung S5KHM6SX03 powering the phone's main lens can shoot at 108MP — similar to what Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra flagship offered not all that long ago. 

OnePlus Nord N30 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Any comparisons to flagship camera arrays stop right then and there, though — the remaining sensors on the back of the Nord N30 are depth and macro lenses. There's no telephoto lens to be found, which is no shock for a budget phone, and no ultrawide camera either, which is a more of a surprise.

To test out the OnePlus Nord N30's cameras, I put it up against the Motorola Moto G (2023), which at $249 is in the same price range as OnePlus' budget device. Outdoors, both phones produced credible if flawed shots of a carousel caught in a mix of bright sunlight and shadow. The Nord compensates for the burst of sunlight streaming in from the left by lightening up the entire photo, which mutes the colors somewhat. It does offer a more focused shot around the edges than what the Moto G musters, but Motorola's phone uses the darker tone to its advantage, calling out details like the rose on the goat's saddle and the red clamshells in the background of the carousel.

The OnePlus Nord N30 performs better once we move in doors, as its shot of a floral exhibit is more balanced than the over-exposed photo taken by the Moto G. The flowers are more colorful in the Nord image — I'm particularly impressed by the blend of pink, purple and white in that rose that's just right of center in the shot — though some of the shadows hide the details of individual flowers.

To gauge the Nord N30's zooming capabilities, I broke out the Pixel 7a, one of the best camera phones you'll find for less than $500. Perhaps it's an unfair comparison, as the Pixel 7a benefits from Google's Super Res Zoom capabilities that tap into AI to remove the fuzziness that can emerge when you use an optical zoom to get closer to a subject. 

The Pixel shot at a 3x zoom remains bright and detailed, while the Nord N30 struggles with light streaming in from the side of the exhibit. The colors of the green grapes and the surface details of the oak barrel are washed out in the Nord's photo.

The comparisons don't get any better for the OnePlus Nord N30 cameras when we turn to the Moto G to test portrait mode. The Nord's software does a pretty good job of separating my daughter from the swing ride behind her, particularly around the edges of her hat. But the problem with the Nord photo is that she looks too pale in it. The Moto G camera does a better job calling out the warmness of both her hair and her skin tone.

I tried out the macro sensor on the OnePlus Nord N30 and was once again reminded how I wish phone makers would leave this lens off their devices rather than inflate the camera count. The Nord's close-up of a butterfly bush in my backyard is not terribly focused, even with me holding the branch steady to keep it from swaying in the breeze. But at least you can clearly make out the individual blossoms in the Nord's shot — the Moto G effort is too dark to be of any use.

I'm actually impressed with the night mode on the OnePlus Nord N30, which measured up well against the Pixel 7a's effort. Don't get me wrong — the Pixel 7a shot is better, as you'd expect, thanks to more realistic colors and a balanced image that accounts for the shadows. But the Nord photo is bright enough, though the OnePlus phone pumped up the colors on some of the stuffed animals and that pink stuffie is a little out of focus. Nevertheless, the Nord N30 effort produces a vibrant shot produced with little help from ambient lighting. 

The same can't be said for the Nord N30's 16MP front camera. Neither it nor the Moto G could handle some unforgiving sunlight, as my eyes are lost in shadow in both shots. But at least the Moto captured some color in my face, and its recreation of my green t-shirt is a little more accurate than the bluish-green the Nord settled on. I look as pale in the Nord's selfie as my daughter did in the Nord's portrait so maybe this is a camera phone that just has a hard time with skin tones.

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Performance

Since the OnePlus Nord N30 features the same Snapdragon 695 5G as the Nord CE 3 Lite, the performance comparisons are pretty much identical. The Nord N30 gets outmuscled by more powerful midrange phones like the Pixel 7a and Samsung Galaxy A54, but it can hold its own against other budget models, particularly those with more modest chipsets. The Moto G (2023) runs on a Snapdragon 480+ 5G system-on-chip, for example, and while we're still reviewing that particular phone as of this writing, you'll not be surprised to learn that its benchmark results trailed what the Nord N30 turned in.

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ProcessorGeekbenc 6 (single core/multicore)3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (fps)
OnePlus Nord N30Snapdragon 695 5G904 / 20777.2
Motorola Moto G 5GSnapdragon 480+ 5G740 / 17635.8
Motorola Moto G Stylus 5GSnapdragon 6 Gen 1929 / 270714.2
Google Pixel 7aTensor G21401 / 336841
Samsung Galaxy A54Exynos 1380950 / 273116.9

On Geekbench 6, the Nord N30 posted single and multicore scores of 904 and 2,077, respectively. That's better than the Moto G's results, but the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023), which costs about $100 more than the Nord, beat out OnePlus in both tests. The same pattern occurred in when we ran 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited graphics test — the Nord beat out the cheaper Moto G while finishing behind pricier midrange devices.

In terms of real world performance, that means you shouldn't count on the Nord N30 to handle power-intensive apps with ease, but it's perfectly fine for everyday tasks. Even playing a pretty graphics heavy game like PUBG Mobile on the Nord N30 was enjoyable enough, with no stutters or delays, even in the midst of some pretty intense firefights. That said, the graphics didn't look as detailed as they do on phones with more horsepower.

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Battery life and charging

OnePlus has earned a reputation as the phone maker to turn to when you want solid battery life and fast charging. It's good to see that approach doesn't change when you opt for one of the company's cheaper devices.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In our custom battery test, where we set a phone's display to 150 nits and then have it surf the web continuously over cellular until it runs out of power, the OnePlus Nord N30 lasted exactly 12.5 hours. That beats the average smartphone's result by a little more than 2.5 hours and lands the OnePlus Nord N30 a spot on our best phone battery life list.

It's worth noting we got that time with the OnePlus Nord N30's display set to the High refresh rate. Locking the screen at 60Hz helped the phone eke out another 12 minutes of battery life. The bottom line: you're going to get all-day battery life and then some from this OnePlus phone.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 OnePlus Nord N30Motorola Moto G Stylus 5GGoogle Pixel 7a
Battery size5,000 mAh5,000 mAh4,385 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)12:30 (120Hz); 12:42 (60Hz)12:12 (Auto); 11:29 (60Hz); 9:21 (120Hz)10:05 (60Hz)
Wired harging speed50W20W18W
Charging percentage (15 mins/30 mins)43% / 76%12% / 23%21% / 43%

It won't take you long to charge the phone either, thanks to the OnePlus Nord N30's support for 50W charging. (This is one area where the Nord N30 departs from the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, as the latter phone offers 67W charging.) Using the charger that OnePlus ships with the N30, a fully drained phone reached a 76% charge after 30 minutes. For context, the Pixel 7a reached a 43% charge when we hooked it up to a 20W charger for half-an-hour.

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Software

The OnePlus Nord N30 features OxygenOS 13.1, which is OnePlus' take on Android 13. Not everyone's a fan of Oxygen OS since it began to integrate the ColorOS from Oppo — both phone makers are under the same roof now — but I don't see what the fuss is about. 

If you want to get mad about something, be irritated that OnePlus only promises one Android OS update to go with three years of software support. That means after the Android 14 update rolls out to this phone, future Android updates are done and dusted. Just because a lot of budget phones are just as stinting with software support doesn't make it less irksome.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G review

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Otherwise, you'll find the same feature set that shipped with the OnePlus CE 3 Lite. That includes the Widget Shelf, which is a tidy place to store app widgets and the 200% Ultra Volume Mode, which doubles the sound coming out of the twin stereo speakers when you boost the volume slider all the way up. I'm a little hard of hearing, and even that audio can penetrate my not-what-they-used-to-be eardrums.

OnePlus Nord N30 review: Verdict

It's important to understand that the OnePlus Nord N30's price tag comes with limitations, the biggest of which is its subpar camera performance. Other low-cost phones deliver more consistent results, and you don't even have to stretch your budget for a Galaxy A54 or Pixel 7a. The Pixel 6a is hanging around for $349, and even though it's an older phone, it takes much better shots than the Nord N30.

Still, the Nord N30 delivers in other ways, chiefly its superb battery and expansive display that also supports a fast-refresh rate. If you'd rather have a long-lasting device than a more consistent camera phone, the Nord N30 is an excellent choice that goes easy on your wallet.

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.