OnePlus, the Chinese smartphone that made a name for itself by selling flagship Android handsets at low prices, is about to go back to its roots with a new product line, called Nord.
The prices of OnesPlus smartphones have crept up in recent years, taking away what many fans loved about its early, sub-$300 phones. Now, the company's flagship cost up to $999.
OnePlus Nord: Price and release date
To help win back support from fans shopping on smaller budgets, OnePlus is about to launch a new line of phones called Nord. Although a lot of details have leaked out (and been shared by the company itself) in recent weeks, the first Nord phone will be revealed in full during an online augmented reality event on July 21.
It was first thought the new phone would be called the OnePlus 8 Lite or the Plus Z, until OnePlus itself confirmed the new Nord name. This sets the new phone apart from all that have gone before, as it's the first time OnePlus has used a word instead of a number to name a handset.
Instead of going up against flagship handsets from Apple, Samsung and Google, the first Nord phone is expected to rival models like the iPhone SE, Google Pixel 3A (and upcoming 4A), and mid-range phones from Samsung's popular A series.
As for a release date, we expect to see the Nord go on sale shortly after the July 21 debut. The company says the handset will come to Europe and India first, with a "highly limited beta program" for sale in the US. So, while it sounds like OnePlus at least has plans for the US, availability (outside of importing the phone yourself) looks to be very limited at launch.
As for the price, OnePlus says buyers can expect to spend less than $500. That could mean $499, but we think that would be a cynical move from OnePlus, undercutting its guide price by a single dollar. So we reckon $349 or even $299 is closer to the mark, perhaps with a larger storage option taking up the $499 slot.
OnePlus Nord: Design
The company has already shown off its new phone, but initially only with the most fleeting of glimpses in an advert published on YouTube, embedded below.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei then showed off the phone more clearly in a video interview with YouTuber Marques Brownless. Featured in non-functioning prototype form, the Nord handset in this video has blue and gray color options, a vertically-aligned read camera system with four lenses, a USB-C port for charging, and a pair of front-facing cameras located in the top-left corner of the display.
We're certainly interested by the dual front cameras, and are keen to see how the Nord will make use of these. We wonder if OnePlus will take the same approach that Google did with the Pixel 2, which added a useful wind-angle lens to its front camera, making it easier to take group selfies.
It's a smart-looking phone but isn't a design that will stand out much from any other on the market – at least from what we have seen so far. What's crucial for the OnePlus Nord is its price, of course, and its software. Both of which, we hope, will be revealed on July 21.
Pei wore a pair of wireless earphones in the interview, which we expect to be be called OnePlus Buds, ready to rival the Apple AirPods and a whole host of other truly wireless earphones.
OnePlus Nord: Specifications
OnePlus has built a reputation for delivering market-leading specs in its smartphones. And, while the Nord is unlikely to rival $1,000 flagships, it is hoped to pack a decent punch for its price.
What we know for now is that it is powered by a Snapdragon 765G chip – so yes, 5G is a feature of the Nord. This should provide excellent performance for the price.
Elsewhere, it has been rumored that the Nord will use a large 6.55-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1080p resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. There is also expected to be at least 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, a large 4,300 mAh battery with support for 30W fast charging (something OnePlus has always excelled at), and NFC for contactless payments.
OnePlus Nord: Camera
As mentioned earlier, and confirmed by OnePlus, the Nord will have four rear camera lenses and two at the front. The latest rumors claim the rear system will include a large 48-megapixel main image sensor, plus 8MP wide angle, 5MP macro and 2MP portrait lenses. Meanwhile, the front camera system is expected to be equipped with a 32MP main sensor, plus a second 8MP sensor, but it isn't yet known what lenses will be used.
We hope to learn a lot more during the AR launch event on July 21 – which takes place in the Nord AR App, available for Android and iOS – especially about OnePlus' plans for selling the Nord in the US.