OnePlus is becoming more Samsung-like right before our eyes
The "Never Settle" company is sort of settling with the new budget-like Nord N10 5G and Nord N100 Android phones.
We’re big fans of the OnePlus Nord. For the price ($335 to $455 depending on region), its features punch far above its mid-range class, where it makes other value-friendly devices like the Pixel 4a seem lazy by comparison.
After months of speculation, OnePlus has announced two Nords — the Nord 10 5G and Nord N100 — coming to Europe first and North America later (TBA). While the original Nord, spearheaded by now former co-founder Carl Pei, redefined mid-range phones, the new Nords are unequivocally more budget-ish devices. It's the next logical move as OnePlus's looks to expand its global footprint. Doing so also makes OnePlus more Samsung-like than ever before with devices that hit a wider spectrum of price points from budget to premium.
Nord N10 5G — This is the more powerful of the two. The rear’s made of glossy plastic. The N10 5G’s got a 6.49-inch FHD+ display with 90Hz display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 chip, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 4,300 mAh battery with Warp 30T fast charging. It’s also got 5G in case that wasn’t already obvious from the name.
On the back, the N10 5G has a quad-camera system: 64-megapixel main, 13-megapixel ultra-wide, 2-megapixel macro, and 2-megapixel monochrome sensor. The front has a single 16-megapixel selfie camera.
Nord N100 — The N100 is less exciting and is OnePlus’s most stripped-down smartphone to date with many questionable feature choices. The N100 has plastic back with a matte finish, a 6.52-inch 60Hhz display with HD+ resolution, Snapdragon 460 chip, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. Battery life is larger than the N10 at 5,000 mAh, but fast charging is capped to 18-watts as opposed to even OnePlus’s own 30-watt Warp charging. The N100 doesn’t have 5G.
The triple-camera system on the back is unusual. Along with the main 13-megapixel camera, there’s a 2-megapixel “bokeh lens,” which we can only presume is for portrait photos, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. The front’s got an 8-megapixel shooter.
So those are the specs. They look okay on paper. Not great, but not as impressive as the regular Nord’s features. Both phones ship with OxygenOS 10.5 (based on Android 10) and OnePlus has confirmed to Input that they’ll be updated to OxygenOS 11 (Android 11).
Dead features return! — There is some good news: both nords come with fingerprint sensors on the back, headphone jacks (it’s backkk!), and microSD card slots for expanding storage. The latter is a feature that OnePlus only ever included in the OnePlus X.
More affordable — OnePlus clearly has one objective with the Nord N10 5G and N100: conquer the budget market. While we don’t know what North American pricing is yet, the UK pricing for the N10 5G (£329 or about $428 USD) and N100 (£179 or about $233 USD) suggests some more affordable prices.
Read between the lines and OnePlus is obviously trying to reach a wider audience. Having originally started out as a brand that catered exclusively to tech-savvy users, OnePlus is now looking for new shores to conquer as it grows. Neither of these Nords are even worth considering if you’re an enthusiast who demands a flagship Android experience — the OnePlus Pro line will surely continue to push innovation forward (and potentially get more expensive along the way) — but if you’ve got less cash to spend then perhaps these might be acceptable. It’s hard to know how much OnePlus has really compromised until we try them for ourselves.
It’s also unclear whether or not either of the N10 5G and N100 come with any third-party apps or services pre-installed. OnePlus landed itself in the hot seat this past summer when it pre-installed Facebook apps and services on new Nord and OnePlus 8 phones. With the OnePlus 8T, the company walked back on its partnership with Facebook and confirmed to Input new phones would no longer come with Facebook apps or services pre-installed; Netflix still comes pre-installed though. OnePlus stopped short at confirming the change would be “forever” or that other apps/services would be pre-installed on other future devices. We’ve reached out to OnePlus for comment and will update this story if we get a response.
With a portfolio of budget, mid-range, and premium phones, OnePlus can no longer lay claim to being an underdog. The new mission is to become a household name. The new Nords are the first steps in helping it become another Big Phone Company that aims to sell phones at every price level possible. For the company's sake, we hope it doesn't lose sight of putting customers first.