OnePlus and other smartphone companies made more powerful smartphones than the OnePlus Nord in the year 2020. But because of the OnePlus Nord’s unique combination of features, price, and design finesse, this is a smartphone that’s not to be missed. The potential for OnePlus in the near future is far more important than the release of this one phone – but it’s this one phone that gives us every indication that OnePlus has a future with great potential.
5. Graphic Design
OnePlus got smart about graphic design rather early, they’ve had decent design on basically every smartphone since the start. In the last couple of years, OnePlus really sharpened their graphic style, and clarity of intent. OnePlus Nord reveals OnePlus as a company that’s as intelligent about design evolution and refinement as it is about hype.
OxygenOS is the name OnePlus uses for their ever-so-slightly modified version of Google’s Android. The OnePlus take on Android has only gotten better over the past several years, but it wasn’t until OnePlus Nord that I realized the potential for the OS as a brand.
SEE TOO: Our full OnePlus Nord review
OxygenOS is still Android, but it represents the OnePlus guarantee that they’re dedicated to keeping your phone up-to-date. Updated, that is, with not just Google’s latest innovations in Android delivered with OnePlus’s developers’ signature of approval.
Some smartphone companies in the past got applause for delivering a nearly vanilla (or entirely vanilla) version of Android to their smartphones. Now, especially now that Google has the Pixel smartphone lineup, delivering a vanilla Android makes a smartphone feel more like it’s playing second fiddle to Google’s Pixel. OnePlus seems to understand that, so they take the best that Google has to offer than modifies or adds to the package in the ways in which they see fit for the OnePlus experience.
3. Top-level industrial design
The OnePlus Nord does not look as cheap as it is inexpensive. For the most part, OnePlus seems to have delivered a smartphone that looks and feels like it’s made the most of the hardware it had to work with. Better than that, this phone feels like every piece of hardware is welcomed as a part of the phone, rather than integrated only after it was decided that the device would be required to have a certain set of specifications.
Included in the experience that is the industrial design of this phone, there’s a case. OnePlus doesn’t want you to have to purchase some off-brand throwaway case for this phone they put so much effort in to designing. As such, they’ve included a protective case for the phone in the box – and not just any case. NOTE: You’ll see the case in every photo in this article save the one immediately above this paragraph.
This might seem like a small deal to some people, especially those users that plan on buying their own more extravagant protective case for the phone in the future. OnePlus does, indeed, make some awesome protective cases for this phone if you’re not all about what’s included in the box, but this case is interesting.
2. The case in the box
The case included in the box is clear, but it has a variety of textures and intentionally applied flourishes. When encasing the phone, this case feels like it was always part of the design of said phone. It’s almost as if the designers made the phone to look and feel like this, then took the case off only because the phone is shinier sans case.
The case has wings. In the upper right and left and bottom right and left, in all four corners, are slightly raised bits of case. Because of the way this case was designed, the phone can feel every bit as sleek as it does without the case, but the screen remains protected because it’s lifted off the ground (should it fall face down).
There’s also a plug. The plug at the bottom of the case allows the USB-C port to remain protected whenever it’s not being used to charge the phone. I sort of wish this was a default feature on most cases, really.
1. 90Hz baseline
If OnePlus wasn’t clear on the matter before, here with a $400 phone, delivering 90Hz image refresh rate on a display makes it an absolute must-have for all smartphones going forward. If it seems like overkill, remember that The Razer Phone was released in 2017 with a 120Hz image refresh rate display.
Also of note: OnePlus has a OnePlus Nord Beta Program rolling right now with testing for North America squarely in its sights. OnePlus will almost certainly deliver OnePlus Nord-like smartphones to the United States in the very near future – just you wait.