OnePlus Nord N20 5G is in the house and there is a lot to love here for a cheap Android phone. The successor to the Snapdragon 690-powered Nord N10 5G, the Nord N20 has a Snapdragon 695 with an improved CPU and the same GPU. Apart from the internal enhancements, there is a better camera, a 60Hz AMOLED screen instead of a 90Hz LCD and 33W SuperVOOC charging. It also comes with a brand new design that actually reminds me a bit of the OnePlus X (that’s right; we’ll be back to those days).
There is a lot to unpack here. It’s very good, something bad, and honestly most of the bad disappears when you include the price point of the intended market.
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OnePlus Nord N20 5G: Specifications
|OnePlus Nord N20 5G
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 695
|RAM & stock
|Battery & charging
|In-display fingerprint scanner
|Rear camera (s)
|Front camera (s)
|OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11
About this hands-on: OnePlus US shared the OnePlus Nord N20 5G with us for review. OnePlus had no input in this hands-on.
OnePlus Nord N20: Design and display
I would like to be aware that in my opinion this is the most beautifully designed OnePlus device that we have seen in a very long time. I wish this was the OnePlus 10 Pro; it looks so good. The Nord N10 5G looked like a plastic-like version of a premium OnePlus device with a smaller camera body. In other words, if you kept a Nord N10 next to a OnePlus 9 Pro, it was clear that Nord was the cheaper sibling.
Not so anymore. The Nord N20 has a flat back and flat sides, something we have not seen in a OnePlus device since the Snapdragon 801-powered OnePlus X. Despite the 8-series processor, the X was actually the company’s first attempt at mid-range, so the throwback is appropriate.
The blue color sparkles in the light and it is lovely to look at. This is a device that looks and feels premium.
The OnePlus Nord N20 5G retains the headphone jack. I did not test it, because honestly I have not used a headphone jack for years. But the opportunity is there for users who want to, and that’s what matters.
Like its predecessor, the Nord N20 does not have my favorite OnePlus feature, the alarm slider to turn on and off notification sounds. On OnePlus 10 Pro and other flagships, it has sound, vibration and silent settings. You will not find it here, so you will need to switch audio modes from the software as you do on all other Android devices.
The OnePlus Nord N20 5G has a 6.43-inch 2,400 x 1,080 AMOLED display that has a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Thanks to AMOLED technology, you get true black and more vibrant colors than the backlit LCD that was on the N10. But as is usually the case with budget phones like this, it comes with a trade-off. The screen is actually prettier, but it does not have the 90Hz refresh rate that we saw on the N10.
I do not want to go too deep into the refresh rate, because honestly this is a phone under $ 300, and the scope of this article is not to compare it to the 120Hz screen on the OnePlus 10 Pro. That would be stupid. The OLED screen is beautiful, but it is not as smooth as the screen on the N10. Devices outside the US come with a better positioned 90Hz AMOLED that would have been a good upgrade to this North series, but the US market has fewer options when you go down in budget. So you get a 60Hz AMOLED instead. The phone also comes with a hole punch which is a bit smaller than the one on the predecessor.
In the end, I love the design of this device, and for the price, I also like the screen. This is a phone that feels good to have with, and I reckon that average consumers shopping in this price range will also agree on these points.
The OnePlus Nord N20 5G has a 64MP f / 1.8 camera that needs work
Okay, I’ve praised the design, so now it’s time to look at something that does not work. It’s the camera. I have no doubt that OnePlus will improve this with a few updates in the first few weeks of availability, but you should not trust this to happen.
The OnePlus Nord N20 5G has a 64MP main sensor with an f / 1.8 aperture, and that’s it. There is no ultra-wide sensor and no telephoto lens. It has a couple of sticker cameras, including a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro lens, both of which will give you zero value throughout the life of the phone. We call them sticker lenses because they might as well be stickers, and they only serve the purpose of allowing OEMs to say it’s a three-lens camera.
Let’s first go straight into samples, including some from the 16 MP front camera.
I did not get too crazy as this is only a handy article and I have only had the phone for a short period of time. You have some pictures in low light from when I was out eating, and some night pictures. There are some issues here. First, we will compare one of these photos with a roof with the iPhone 13 Pro. Yes, I know it’s silly to compare a $ 300 phone to a thousand dollar phone, but this is not about hardware quality. It’s about color reproduction.
|OnePlus Nord N20 5G
|iPhone 13 Pro
To be clear, I originally had no intentions of taking this picture with my iPhone at all, and to be clear, it’s the iPhone that is accurate, while Nord is completely washed out. The reason I pulled out my iPhone was that I saw the results on the North and realized how bad they were. It’s really bad.
Here’s the problem. In my opinion, smartphone cameras require a lot of trust. Even with a $ 300 smartphone, the user will use that camera and they need to know what they are getting when they take the phone out of their pocket to get that picture. The biggest mistake is taking a picture and not knowing if you are getting the desired result. Other pictures looked fine. This one looks awful.
Other shortcomings of the camera are quite typical of a midranger like this. The night pictures do not handle difficult lighting very well and it is difficult to focus on certain parts of pictures like flowers.
33W SuperVOOC charging is fast
This year’s OnePlus 10 Pro comes with 80W SuperVOOC charging (and 65W SuperVOOC in the US), but we should not ignore how fast 33W SuperVOOC is on a device under $ 300. The North N10 supported the Warp Charge 30T, and I noticed relatively slow charging speeds when connecting the 33W SuperVOOC charger. Honestly, it’s neither here nor there as the charger comes in the box, so you probably will not use a Nord N20 charger to charge a Nord N10, or vice versa.
I compared the charging speed with the OnePlus 10 Pro, which actually uses 65W SuperVOOC in the US, so to be clear, 80W charging is not used here.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G took 73 minutes to charge from 0-100% for its 4,500 mAh battery, which is pretty good. With dual wattage, the OnePlus 10 Pro takes up half the time, which should come as no surprise. You also get up to 80% in less than 45 minutes, so you still get a lot of juice in a short amount of time.
The performance is solid, but step by step
OnePlus Nord N20 5G packs a Snapdragon 695 chipset and 6GB LPDDR4x RAM along with 128GB UFS 2.2 storage. This is a modest improvement over the Snapdragon 690 that was in the North N10, especially considering that its predecessor had the same RAM and the same amount of storage space, even though the storage in the N10 was UFS 2.1. You also continue to keep the microSD slot on this unit.
|OnePlus Nord N10 5G
|1,847 th most common
|OnePlus Nord N20 5G
Considering the price, I feel you get more than you pay for here. The biggest competitor in the space will be Motorola’s Moto G, and I do not think they are as competitive as they used to be. Even the latest Moto G costs $ 100 more than this, and it includes an HD 90Hz screen, 6GB of RAM and a Dimensity 700.
Oddly enough, the Nord N20 also runs Android 11, which seems like a strange choice as Android 13 is around the corner. OnePlus promises a major update, which will then bring this device to Android 12 in the future. The device should have launched with Android 12 in 2022, which would then give some water to the update promise – otherwise OnePlus just plays catch-up. The company also promises a total of three years of security updates.
There’s a lot I love about the OnePlus Nord N20 5G, and there are some I do not. Let’s start with the bad.
The camera is unacceptable. The reason it is unacceptable is not to do with low light performance or overall image quality. If that were the case, it would be a matter of managing expectations. This is unacceptable because you do not know if you are getting a good image or not. Things may be okay most of the time, but then you will take the wrong color in the wrong lighting and suddenly you will not be able to capture the memory as you remember it.
The screen feels shaky if you are used to a higher refresh rate, but the AMOLED screen certainly looks beautiful. And I have to say that if I choose between this 60Hz AMOLED screen or the 90Hz LCD screen on the Nord N10, I will choose this one. Your opinion may vary, and yes, a 90Hz AMOLED would have served the best of both worlds.
And of course, the design of this phone is just amazing. I was not kidding when I said that I think this is the most beautiful phone since the OnePlus X. It’s a touch of the Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro with the frosted back, a touch of the LG Velvet with the lack of a large camera body, and but it’s still definitely OnePlus. You will feel good carrying this around. 33W SuperVOOC charging is also pretty cute. Many companies still do not include charging with this watt in flagships, let alone lower mid-range devices.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G is available now from T-Mobile for $ 282 full price, or for free if you add a new line. At that price, it becomes difficult to see errors, although some choices on the phone can be considered questionable. The US smartphone does not have a lot of good options under $ 300, and if you worry about the experience beyond the simple spec sheet, the OnePlus Nord N20 ticks that box and lets you get a phone that apparently works for what it says , it can do. The former Nords have done well in the US market, and there is nothing here that basically prevents them from doing it again. So if you are looking for a budget smartphone, the OnePlus Nord N20 is worth considering.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G seems to follow the Nord N10 in the US market but makes some curious decisions in the process like a lower refresh rate but AMOLED screen, Android 11 and more.