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OnePlus Nord vs older OnePlus phones: Should you upgrade?

The OnePlus Nord is a decent mid-ranger, but is it a worthwhile upgrade if you're packing an older OnePlus flagship?

Published onMay 15, 2021

OnePlus 7 Pro vs OnePlus 6T vs OnePlus 6 back at angles

The OnePlus Nord packs in some great modern hardware at an affordable price. It’s a compelling option for those eager to upgrade but who have been put off by increasingly high price tags. In fact, if you’re an old OnePlus customer, the Nord’s $380 retail price is much closer to the company’s original value proposition.

Going head-to-head with the OnePlus’ flagship series was never in the Nord’s mission statement. But does the inexpensive mid-ranger offer a worthwhile upgrade to some of OnePlus’ older flagships? Here’s a rundown of how the phones compare to help you decide.

Our verdict: OnePlus Nord review

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 5 and older

If you’re (somehow!) still rocking the OnePlus 5 or an even older OnePlus handset, there’s little doubt that the Nord represents a compelling upgrade option. Believe it or not, the Nord’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor offers comparable, if not better performance than the Snapdragon 835 and older variants. It’s also built on a more efficient manufacturing process, meaning longer battery life.

Not forgetting all the phone’s modern benefits, including 5G network support, more RAM (if you need it), a much more flexible camera package, a bigger 90Hz AMOLED display, in-display fingerprint scanner, and faster 30W charging. Going forward, the Nord will see longer support for future Android versions too. All-in-all, it’s a pretty great time to upgrade your aging OnePlus handset without breaking the bank.

Read more: OnePlus phones: A history of the company’s entire lineup so far

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 6

OnePlus 7 Pro blue vs OnePlus 6 red

Comparisons with the OnePlus 6 aren’t as one-sided. On the performance side, the OnePlus 6 and its Snapdragon 845 processor hold a marginal lead over the Nord. Although it’s not a lead you’ll notice much for day-to-day tasks, unless you’re a serious gamer. We wouldn’t recommend upgrading for performance alone, but the Nord’s larger battery and more efficient processor make it a longer-lasting option.

Again, the Nord supports faster 5G data, although you’ll want a 5G contract to benefit from that. There’s also speedier 30W versus 20W charging and a slightly more flexible camera package that includes a wide-angle selfie option. Not forgetting the benefits of a 90Hz display and a more discrete in-display fingerprint scanner.

While it’s a smidgen slower at gaming, the Nord includes enough modern features to make it a decent affordable upgrade over the OnePlus 6, even after just a couple of years. Although if you’re really a fan of the headphone jack, the Nord will disappoint.

OnePlus 6 review: The spiritual successor to the Nexus

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T’s hardware is virtually identical to the 6, so you can virtually copy and paste the above here.

However, the OnePlus 6T sports Corning Gorilla Glass 6, ahead of the OnePlus 6 and Nord’s Gorilla Glass 5. The 6T also boasts an in-display fingerprint scanner, a tad larger 3,700mAh battery, and slightly more screen real estate, which all takes away from some of the points we previously awarded the Nord.

There are still definitely worthwhile reasons to update from the 6T to the Nord, particularly if you’re looking to benefit from 5G data, dislike the notch, or are just looking for a more modern design. But the OnePlus 6T remains a solid handset and is still a compelling mid-range pick if you can find one new. Although the Nord is more future proof.

OnePlus 6T review: Fundamentally great

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro

OnePlus 7 red back panel with camera and logo

At just over two years old, the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro are still very competitive high-end models. Although the Nord still sneaks a new feature or two past the more affordable of the 7 series.

For example, there’s no 90Hz display on the standard OnePlus 7, it still has the slower 20W charging option, and a considerably more basic main and depth-sensor rear camera and single selfie setup. Instead, it’s the OnePlus 7 Pro that’s more of a complete feature match for the Nord. The 7 Pro has the benefit of a 3x telephoto camera lens and both offer much better gaming performance thanks to their high-end Snapdragon 855 processor.

We wouldn’t recommend downgrading from the OnePlus 7 Pro to the mid-range OnePlus Nord. However, the plucky budget option scores a few designs wins over the OnePlus 7 that probably makes it the better package overall. I personally wouldn’t sell my OnePlus 7 for a Nord, but I would opt for the latter if I was in the market for a new affordable OnePlus phone.

OnePlus 7 review: The true ‘flagship killer’ | OnePlus 7 Pro review: Bigger and brighter, but is it better?

OnePlus Nord vs OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro

OnePlus 7T Pro front

The OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro are still close to the cutting edge of OnePlus technology, and the Nord really pinched many of its features from these phones.

All three offer 90Hz AMOLED displays, 30W fast charging, high-end Bluetooth codecs, Gorilla Glass 5, plenty of RAM, in-display fingerprint scanners, and the latest OxygenOS version. But the OnePlus 7T and 7T Pro also benefit from better camera setups, slow-motion video recording, and the Pro model has a fun motorized selfie camera instead of a notch or punch-hole in the Nord’s case.

The only thing they’re missing is 5G support and the Nord’s wide-angle selfie camera, but those really aren’t worth moving from flagship to mid-tier performance for. Instead, the OnePlus 8 series is a more appropriate, albeit more expensive 5G upgrade path for existing 7T series owners.

OnePlus 7T review: The pro you always wanted | OnePlus 7T Pro review: Very good, but too similar?

Looking back at the OnePlus series, it’s clear that OnePlus has done a great job bringing previously high-end hardware to a more affordable price point. Customers with an OnePlus 6T or older generation handset will certainly find plenty of good reasons to upgrade to the Nord.

OnePlus Nord Angled view of the home screen on a table
OnePlus Nord
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.

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