Following on the heels of the OnePlus 10 Pro, OnePlus has released another phone aimed at bargain hunters. The OnePlus Nord N20 is a $282 budget-friendly handset with features that are usually reserved for more expensive devices, such as an AMOLED screen and 33W fast charging.
All of this is encased in a lovely home. Despite the fact that its body is made of plastic, the Nord N20 appears to be much more expensive. The gold accents around the two large camera lenses, the deep blue hue of the rear, and the flat sides all combine to create an eye-catching design.
What will you see here?
Price & Availability
In 2020, the OnePlus Nord N10 cost $299, while the OnePlus Nord N200 cost $239 in 2021. At $282, the OnePlus Nord N20 is right in the middle. It has 128GB of storage space and 6GB of RAM. This is a lot of phones for under $300.
Unfortunately, for the time being, the Nord N20 is only available through T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile. If you find that too restrictive, OnePlus has offered that the phone will be available elsewhere in the near future.
The OnePlus Nord is less expensive than the Moto G Stylus (2022), which costs $299. That phone, as the name suggests, has a stylus, but it is comparable enough to the Nord N20 that you could consider it as an option.
The design of the OnePlus Nord N20 is very pleasing to the eye. The clean and, dare I say, professional aesthetic, particularly in the deep blue colorway, appeals to my sensibilities. The two large camera lenses, encased by light gold accents, catch your eye right away. The phone’s smooth plastic back has a sparkly effect that makes it almost glitter in the sun.
The flat sides also contribute to the premium appearance. The Nord N20 is 2.9 inches wide, making it easy to hold without the edges digging into your hand. One advantage of plastic phones is their lightweight — the Nord N20 weighs only 6.1 ounces, which feels favourably light.
The OnePlus Nord N20 also includes a 3.5mm headphone jack & in-display fingerprint sensor, both of which are appreciable. The power and volume buttons also have a solid and clicky feel to them. However, because this is a low-cost phone, compromises must be made. The shoddy vibration motor, which is noisy and feels cheap, is one of the most noticeable hardware trade-offs to me. You can’t have it all at this price.
The OnePlus Nord N20’s AMOLED display, which measures 6.43 inches and has a refresh rate of 60Hz, impressed me. With an FHD+ resolution, all types of content look fantastic. Even with the Nord N20’s Gentle colour calibration, videos like Blade Runner 2049 and the Thor: Love and Thunder teaser trailer are vivid and vibrant.
The Nord N20 easily outperforms the Moto G Stylus (2022) in color reproduction. However, both phones are nearly identical in terms of maximum brightness. They are very visible in all conditions except direct sunlight, where they become extremely difficult to see, even with sunglasses.
When compared to the Moto G Stylus (2022) and iPhone SE, the Nord N20 had the lowest Delta-E colour accuracy score (2022). Both phones have IPS LCD displays, but the Nord N20’s AMOLED panel attains deeper blacks.
The Nord N20 smartphone from OnePlus is powered by the new Snapdragon 695 octa-core chipset. It comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, which can be expanded up to 512GB via a dedicated card slot. The phone runs a customised version of OxygenOS built on top of the Android 11 operating system. The new Nord phone has a triple camera setup for imaging, consisting of a 48MP primary sensor, a 2MP sensor, and a 2MP sensor. The phone’s front-facing camera is 16MP, allowing you to take selfies, shoot videos, and make video calls.
The main camera is… adequate. When there’s plenty of light, you can get some detailed images, though colours can feel colourless at times, and it struggles with high-contrast scenes. The dedicated Night mode tries to add more sharpness and color in low light. However, your photos will still be fuzzy or straight-up hazy, depending on how motionless your hands can be when pressing the shutter button. The Nord N20 5G lacks the sharpness and natural colours of the Pixel 5A, but it can still take passable photos.
The Nord N20 is powered by a Snapdragon 695 processor. This is an octa-core system-on-chip with a top speed of 2.2GHz and an X51 5G modem that supports sub-6GHz and mmWave. This chip does not support Wi-Fi 6 so the connectivity standard is still reserved for more expensive phones.
The Nord N20 outperforms the Moto G Stylus (2022). In addition, the Snapdragon 695 has far fewer performance troubles than the Moto’s Helio G88, making the Nord N20 far more enjoyable to use.
Even though the Nord N20’s performance is adequate, it struggles with higher-end gaming. You can run on lower the settings in Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Mobile to achieve a playable frame rate. Simpler games, such as Dead Cells, were not as taxing.
The OnePlus Nord N20, as the name suggests, supports 5G connectivity, but only at sub-6GHz. There is no mmWave or C-band in this area. T-sub-6 Mobile’s network is fairly reliable, so you’re not missing out on much by opting for the Nord N20.
With a 4,500 mAh battery, the OnePlus Nord N20 should last a long time on a single charge. OnePlus’ flagship, the OnePlus 10 Pro, is among the longest-lasting Android flagships, so users have high hopes for this Nord N20 review. And particularly OnePlus didn’t let them down.
In terms of charging, the OnePlus Nord N20 outperforms the best cheap phones with a 33W output. That completely outperforms the Moto G Stylus (2022). Oneplus Nord regained 56% of battery charge after 30 minutes versus the Moto got 21%.
The Nord N20 comes with a 33W charger, so you won’t have to spend any of the money you save on a separate charger.
Aside from the cameras, the Nord N20’s other major flaw is its software. The phone is powered by Android 11 with Oxygen OS 11 on top. Android 11 is a fantastic platform, and Oxygen OS 11 was fairly stable in my testing. However, the issue here is one of timing.
Android 11 has been out for over a year and a half, and Android 12 has been available since last fall. I asked OnePlus about the Nord N20’s update policy, and the company told me that the Nord N20 will only get Android 12 with three years of security patches.
Phone manufacturers had months of connectivity to the betas in the months prior to the release of Android 12. To that extent, OnePlus should be ashamed. Any company could do updates as poorly as Motorola. However, OnePlus certainly tried. Your Nord N20 will be safe for at least three years.
In terms of what the software can do, Oxygen OS 11 has some nice customization options as well as a clean look. The improvements in version 12 on the OnePlus 10 Pro should arrive in due course. For example, the Nord N20 gets access to the 3 different dark mode options that were present on the 10 Pro.
The OnePlus Nord N20 is unquestionably the best phone for the money at $282. Even with subpar cameras and a shamelessly poor software update policy, this phone is a good buy if your phone budget is up to $300.
The trade between the Nord N20 and the Moto G Stylus (2022) blows fairly evenly. The Nord has a better look and feel, not to mention a better performance and display. However, the battery doesn’t last as long and the cameras are pretty bad.
Then there’s the software support. Again, didn’t think a phone manufacturer could do worse than Motorola, but OnePlus did. You’re only guaranteed to get a six-month-old version of Android. That’s pitiful.
However, if you’re on a tight budget and in need of a new phone, the OnePlus Nord N20 should be at the top of your list. If you have more leniency,$429 iPhone SE (2022) or $449 Galaxy A53 are more fully-featured alternatives. Otherwise, the OnePlus Nord N20 is the mobile to get if money is no object.