The OnePlus Nord is a statement phone, even if “settling is okay” is the statement it makes. It might seem strange from a company that frequently says the opposite, but the phone looks like a treat on paper and won’t burn a hole through your pocket. That said, it’s far from the only mid-range smartphone to consider in 2020.
While OnePlus may want you to think it is, we’re still expecting the Google Pixel 4a to make an appearance sometime this year. After all, the Pixel 3a remains an excellent reminder that you don’t have to fork out thousands of dollars for a competent smartphone.
So, if you are in the market for a mid-range device in 2020, should you settle for the OnePlus Nord or hold off for the Google Pixel 4a?
Our early verdict: OnePlus Nord hands-on: New beginnings feel familiar
OnePlus Nord: key specifications
First up, let’s take a look at the OnePlus Nord, which wants to rope in budget-conscious power users.
Aesthetically, the OnePlus Nord is a mild rework of OnePlus’ design language. Unlike those centrally-mounted camera arrays on the OnePlus 8 series, it’s now moved to the top-left on the Nord.
Internally, it features a Snapdragon 765G chipset at its heart, with three different RAM and storage options available. The 6GB of RAM variant with 64GB of storage is exclusive to the Indian market. Users in Europe and India can grab the phone with 8GB or 12GB of RAM with 128GB or 256GB of storage, respectively.
The Nord sports a 6.44-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,080 and a 90Hz refresh rate. An in-display fingerprint scanner is included too.
OnePlus’ famous Alert Slider makes an appearance along the Nord’s 8.5mm thick plastic chassis. The rear and back are covered in Gorilla Glass 5, while a volume rocker and power button complete its side-on profile. The Nord doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone port.
Flipping it over, you’ll find four rear cameras headlined by a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor. That’s the same camera that featured on the OnePlus 7 Pro. Squeezing in alongside is an 8MP ultrawide snapper, a 2MP macro camera, and a 5MP depth sensor. There are two cameras up front, including a 32MP main selfie camera and an 8MP wide-angle shooter.
A 4,115mAh battery keeps the Nord going. It’s certainly not the largest battery we’ve seen in a mid-range phone this year, but it can be charged quickly via OnePlus’ 30T Warp Charge system. OnePlus claims the battery will fill from 0% to 70% in 30 minutes.
The device also includes NFC support, Bluetooth 5.1, 5G capabilities, a dual SIM slot, and OnePlus’ OxygenOS skin running on Android 10.
|Display||6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED
2,400 x 1,080
20:9 aspect ratio
90Hz refresh rate
In-display fingerprint sensor
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
|RAM||8GB / 12GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||128GB / 256GB UFS 2.1|
– 48MP main (f/1.75, 0.8µm)
– 8MP ultra-wide (f/2.25, 119 degrees)
– 5MP depth (f/2.4)
– 2MP macro (f/2.4)
Warp Charge 30T (5V/6A)
No wireless charging
|Dimensions and weight||158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2mm
Google Pixel 4a: rumored specifications
How do the OnePlus Nord specs compare to the Google Pixel 4a? Well, we can’t be completely sure just yet. While the phone has been spotted on certification agency listings, there’s no concrete word on its specifications. There have been plenty of leaks though.
Going on those, it’s possible that the Pixel 4a will ship with the Snapdragon 730 chipset, which is the same silicon used on the Realme X2 and Redmi K30. This suggests the Pixel 4a would be a far less capable performer than the OnePlus Nord.
More recently, there have been suggestions that a Pixel 4a 5G variant may be in the works, which could feature more RAM and the same Snapdragon 765G chipset as the Nord. While RAM figures of 6GB have also been mentioned for both possible Pixel devices, the Pixel 3a launched with 4GB of RAM. If you’re looking for a device that’ll provide the best multitasking experience, the Nord might be a better bet.
Storage could be the source of the Pixel 4a’s biggest performance jump. Google may trade the steady eMMC it used in the Pixel 3a for the faster UFS 2.1 in the Pixel 4a.
As for size, the Pixel 4a will likely be a more compact device compared to the Nord. In today’s age of large displays, the Pixel 4a could feature a conservative 5.81-inch screen. We’ve been told that no Pixel 4a XL will make an appearance this year. If you’re looking for a big Pixel, you may be out of luck.
The Pixel 4a’s smaller size may have an indirect effect on its battery capacity too. Rumors hint at a disappointing 3,080mAh battery, which is decidedly small compared to most of the mid-range devices available at present. In our Pixel 3a review, we noted its battery life as a chink in its otherwise stellar armor, and this could be a similar story with its successor.
Finally, let’s talk about those system updates. As a Pixel, the 4a will be among the first devices to receive key software updates and direct support from its creator, including new versions of Android and features exclusive to Pixels.
OnePlus Nord or Pixel 4a: which should you buy?
The OnePlus Nord starts at €399 (~$462) for the 8GB/128GB version, but if you’re in India you can grab one for ₹27,999 (~$375), albeit with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The Pixel 4a may actually be cheaper than the 3a which launched at €399, further complicating your decision.
On paper though, the OnePlus Nord seems the obvious choice. It packs a faster chipset, more RAM, storage, a bigger battery, larger display, and more cameras than we expect to see from its competitor. Basically, more everything. It’s the choice you should make if numbers and specifications are important to you.
The big crutch for the OnePlus Nord is its lack of availability in the US. OnePlus has stated the phone will not be offered in the US at large, making Google’s upcoming phone all that more appealing. It’s far from the only reason to wait and see what the Pixel 4a has in store, however.
If you’re a patient human who loves snapping star trails or waiting for Google phones to launch, you may just want to hold out for the Pixel 4a. With it, you’ll get a clean, swift Pixel software experience with support directly from Google. There’s also the promise of a more refined imaging experience despite the fewer sensors. You may have to settle for longer processing times and worse performance if you’re a gamer, but if you’re big on capturing moments with your smartphone, the Pixel 4a is probably the no-brainer choice here.
There’s also the wildcard that is the Pixel 4a 5G. Will it launch with better hardware than the standard edition? That remains to be seen.
After years of only releasing top-tier flagships, OnePlus is back in the mid-range category with the OnePlus Nord. It cuts some corners, but we think many people will really like this phone — especially because of its £379 price tag.
What do you think? Will you wait for the Google Pixel 4a, or are you eager to snap up the OnePlus Nord as soon as you can? Let us know in the poll below!