I spent a week with the OnePlus Nord. Here's the good and bad news.

The king of Android is going back to its roots with this sub-$500 phone that's packing 5G, six cameras, and a 90Hz display.

So OnePlus has a new phone again. If you read Input you've probably heard of the OnePlus Nord. We spoke with OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei last week and he gave us an exclusive look behind the curtains into the the design philosophy for the new Android phone.

Now, we've finally held the Nord in our hands, set up our Google account and poked around OxygenOS, and know the phone's full specs. We've also confirmed the Nord's limited launch in India and Europe (at least for now). And yes, the Nord costs less than $500.

The Nord is a mid-range phone, which is usually another word for "ehhh." But like OnePlus' flagship phones, the Nord doesn't feel like a compromise. It doesn't feel cheap, even though it's aggressively priced.

Let's talk specs first before anything else:

  • Display: 6.44-inch AMOLED display (2,400 x 1,080 resolution at 408 ppi) with 90Hz refresh rate
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip with 5G
  • RAM/Storage: 8GB of RAM + 128GB of storage or 12GB of RAM + 256GB of storage
  • Battery: 4,115 mAh with Warp Charge 30T fast charging
  • Rear cameras: 48-megapixel (f/1.75) main lens with OIS, 8-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.25), 2-megapixel macro camera (f/2.4), 5-megapixel (f/2.4) depth sensor
  • Front cameras: 32-megapixel main lens (f/2.45) and 8-megapixel ultra-wide (f/2.45)
  • SIM slots: 2 nano SIMs
  • Fingerprint reader: In-display optical sensor

These are good phone specs! But I have two questions. How much of a performance hit does the Snapdragon 765G chip take compared to the Snapdragon 865 chip, which is in flagships like the OnePlus 8 Pro and Galaxy S20 Ultra?

The Geekbench 5 scores will be lower for sure, but will it matter? OnePlus is betting it won't. The 90Hz refresh rate and optimized OxygenOS (Android 10) could make the Nord feel faster and smoother than another mid-range phone with the same chip.

That's a lot of cameras on the back.Raymond Wong / Input

My other question is: how good are the cameras? OnePlus says the main camera is using the same image sensor as the OnePlus 8. I'll have to do my usual shootout to see if the camera is up to snuff.

An ultra-wide camera on the front for group selfies.Raymond Wong / Input

Solid build quality — OnePlus has always been known for its well-made phones and the Nord doesn't disappoint. The front and back are made of Gorilla Glass 5 and the frame is cut from plastic. It's a solid phone and doesn't feel like it'll snap in half. And don't you worry, the Nord may be a mid-range phone, but it's still got OnePlus' signature Alert Slider.

Noticeably missing is a headphone jack. Most mid-range phones tend to still have one. *Shrug*

The Alert Slider (thankfully) didn't get the axe.Raymond Wong / Input

The color OnePlus sent me is called Blue Marble. It's pretty and has hints of iridescence at different angles. There's also a Gray Onyx version of the Nord. That one looks boring as hell.

Ridiculously cheap — The phone and specs all look fine (stay tuned for a review), but the thing that's really shocking is how cheap it is. While the Nord isn't launching in North America, the prices in India and Europe are astonishingly affordable.

In India, the Nord starts at 27,999 INR (about $374); in Europe at 399 Euros (about $456); and in the UK at £379 ($479). That's all well under $500, which is pretty tight for a phone with these specs.

How well does it stack up? — I'll be running the Nord through its paces as my daily driver for the next few weeks. Want to know something about the phone? Hit me up on Twitter @raywongy. I rarely get this stoked for a mid-range phone since Samsung pumps a new one out like every other week. It's time to see if the Nord lives up to the hype.

Performance is hopefully not sluggish with the slower Snapdragon 765G chip.Raymond Wong / Input
The back is glass, but there's no wireless charging.Raymond Wong / Input
Is a 6.44-inch screen big enough?Raymond Wong / Input