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OnePlus explains Nord design, true costs in video interview

The Nord's design was changed at the last minute.

Published onJuly 14, 2020

  • OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has officially revealed the Nord’s design in an interview with Marques Brownlee.
  • The design was changed late — OnePlus originally had a more experimental phone in mind.
  • Pei also described the true costs of features like NFC and IP-rated water resistance.

The OnePlus Nord’s design is a poorly kept secret at this stage, but that didn’t stop company co-founder and director Carl Pei from revealing a few more tidbits about the more affordable phone ahead of its July 21 debut.

In an interview with YouTube creator Marques Brownlee, Pei (who was conspicuously wearing true wireless OnePlus Buds) officially revealed the Nord’s design, which unsurprisingly matches earlier teases. However, he added that the final look was introduced relatively late into the design process — before then, it had an unusual back with three square camera lenses in an L-shaped layout.

OnePlus switched to the more conservative styling out of practicality. The earlier approach worked if OnePlus wanted to be “daring” and treat the Nord as an “experiment,” according to Pei, but the company felt that a familiar design language from other models would help sell more phones. The switch delayed development by about a month, but Pei believed it was worthwhile.

The executive also discussed one of the more elusive aspects of phone design: the true manufacturing costs. He stressed that the bill of materials (that is, the raw component cost) was only one part of the price and didn’t include various operational expenses, but was willing to share key figures.

The interview doesn't leave many surprises for the Nord's formal introduction.

NFC, for instance, costs OnePlus about $4 to add. An IP resistance rating costs roughly $15, mostly for the testing equipment and staff. The Nord won’t be IP-rated despite dust- and water-resistant elements, but that’s partly because it’s not designed for “extreme use cases,” Pei said.

An AMOLED screen is approximately twice as expensive as a comparable LCD, the director added, although the expenses for a 90Hz display have come down thanks to sheer volume. And while headphone jacks don’t cost that much by themselves, there is a “mechanical” cost in terms of the space they occupy.

The interview doesn’t leave many surprises for the Nord’s formal introduction. The exact pricing (besides the sub-$500 target) is still unknown, though, and it’s unclear just how that “highly limited” North American beta program will work. Nonetheless, the chat makes clear that a lot is riding on the Nord’s success. This is OnePlus’ chance to get back to its low-cost roots and expand its audience.

Next: Everything you need to know about OnePlus Nord pre-orders