OnePlus has officially announced the Nord, its first serious attempt at a midrange handset since 2015’s ill-fated OnePlus X. Yet, despite the fact that it starts at just £379 (around $480), the phone shares a lot of the DNA of the $699 OnePlus 8 released just a few short months ago, which, along with the OnePlus 8 Pro, was the company’s flagship handset for this year.
It’s still got a 1080p OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate, Sub-6GHz 5G, Warp Charge 30T fast charging, and the same 48-megapixel main camera sensor as the OnePlus 8. That’s not to say there haven’t been concessions made to reach this lower price point, the most important of which is that the Nord is powered by a slower Snapdragon 765G processor, but in a lot of other cases the compromises are small.
The Nord will be available in both blue and gray with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage for £379 / €399 or with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for £469 / €499 (around $594). It’ll be widely available starting August 4th in Europe, but OnePlus plans to sell some of the handsets early today via its own website and at a John Lewis pop-up on July 31st. It’s only coming to Europe and India for now, although OnePlus says it has plans for a limited beta launch in the US. You’ll have to wait until next week for our full review, but for now here are my initial impressions based on using the 12GB RAM model.
If offering similar specs to the OnePlus 8 in a midrange phone sounds like a recipe for stealing some of the 8’s thunder, then you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. In fact, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei told me that’s almost the point. Although he says the two phones are targeting different markets, he doesn’t want the company to be afraid of competing with itself.
“It’s never been a fear because I believe that if you’re not the one disrupting yourself then all your competitors on the market will feel free to disrupt you,” Pei says.
What does a phone that’s “disrupting” its own lineup look like?
In a lot of respects, it looks like a handset with broadly similar features, just offered with slightly lower specs. The Nord’s screen is a great example. It’s still got a 90Hz refresh rate, it’s still OLED, and it’s still 1080p, but it’s also a little bit smaller at 6.44-inches and it doesn’t curve round the edges of the device like the 8’s did. That makes the phone feel a little less premium, but the impact on day-to-day usage is minimal.