OnePlus launches its affordable Nord smartphone, virtually

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The launch of the OnePlus Nord, which starts at €399 or £379, was a virtual AR event.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

OnePlus has launched the new OnePlus Nord via what it proudly billed as ‘the world’s first AR smartphone launch’. I was there, virtually, to see the launch event happening on my handset’s screen. Access to the event was via an app, and according to statistics shown within it, around 150,000 people were watching with me.

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The event attracted a large online audience using the OnePlus AR app.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The launch was in some respects like any other: a tour of the Nord’s features. But in other respects it was very different, with the ability to move around the various graphics and scenes to get a better view — from above, from one side or the other, from the back or the front. Screenshots don’t really do an AR experience justice, but I took some anyway.

The Nord is very much a return to the original heartland of OnePlus, as the handset is billed as delivering a high-quality experience for an affordable price. The 5G-ready handset is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G 5G mobile platform and comes in two versions, with either 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage or 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, priced at £379 and £469 respectively.

This is considerably lower in cost than either of the other two 2020 OnePlus phones: the OnePlus 8, which starts at £599, and the OnePlus 8 Pro, which starts at £799.

Yet even at this price, OnePlus says the Nord features a flagship camera, and there’s even a camera ‘first’ for OnePlus.

The main rear camera uses the same 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor as the flagship OnePlus 8, with its light-grabbing f/1.75 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS). There’s also an 8MP ultra-wide angle camera, a macro camera, and a depth sensor. OnePlus says that in nightscape mode, which is available on both the front and rear setups, the OnePlus Nord will take up to nine different pictures at varying exposures and weave them together in seconds to produce clearer, brighter, and more dramatic photos in low light.

Despite its budget price, the Nord provides a first for OnePlus with its dual front cameras. The main 32MP camera is the highest resolution front camera on any OnePlus phone, and its capabilities include 4K video capture. It’s supported by an 8MP ultra-wide angle camera with a 105-degree field of view.

The Nord features a pretty much edge-to-edge 6.44-inch AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, while the OnePlus alert slider sits on the right edge, allowing you to quickly flick between ring, vibrate and silent modes.

There are two colour variants at launch, Blue Marble and Gray Onyx. The Blue Marble variant I’ve been looking at is a sort of eggshell blue colour, with a pearlescent finish. The back is made from Gorilla Glass.

The Nord supports Warp Charge 30T, which OnePlus claims can take the 4,115mAh battery from empty to 70% in half an hour. And, replicating the intelligent charging seen in recent flagship OnePlus handsets, the Nord minimises the amount of time the battery spends at 100% to enhance its health.

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The true wireless OnePlus Buds cost €89 or £79.

Image: OnePlus

Along with the Nord, OnePlus launched its OnePlus Buds, the company’s first true wireless earphones. The £79 OnePlus Buds support Warp Charge, and ten minutes of charging the buds in their case will deliver 10 hours of audio experience, with a fully charged case providing 30 hours of music playback.

Three active microphones in each bud reduce ambient noise, and the buds have Bass Boost and Dolby Atmos support, plus an IPX4 rating for water resistance.

The OnePlus Nord will be available from August 4 from OnePlus and at Three and John Lewis. Customers visiting Amazon can pre-book the OnePlus Nord starting July 21. OnePlus Buds will also be available to pre-order from OnePlus for £79 from July 21.

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Image: OnePlus

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