In the Nord Zone: Five Challengers to the OnePlus Nord!

Taking on the new Never Settler

by: - Last updated on: July 25th, 2020

After months of building up hype, OnePlus has finally released the Nord. And the smartphone comes pretty much with the hardware that many leaks and reports had suggested. Which might have killed the suspense around it a little, but is not a bad thing, because it sure packs quite a punch.

oneplus nord alternatives

The Nord-ic Challenge…and the Nord-ic Challengers!

You can read our first impressions of the device here but in case you missed it or are just in a hurry, the OnePlus Nord is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset which is a fairly new SoC from Qualcomm. It comes in three RAM and storage variants – 6 GB / 64GB, 8GB/ 128 GB, and 12 GB/ 256 GB. The phone sports a 6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate and an in-display fingerprint scanner, protected by Gorilla Glass 5.

There is a quad-camera set up on the back consisting of a 48 megapixel Sony IMX 586 main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor, a 5-megapixel depth sensor, and a 2-megapixel macro lens. The phone is the first OnePlus to come with dual selfie cameras and bears a 32-megapixel main sensor and an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor on the front. It runs on Android 10 which is topped by OnePlus’ Oxygen UI and comes with 5G support. Keeping everything going is the task of a 4115 mAh battery that comes with support for 30W Warp Charge. All of this at a starting price of Rs. 24,999 for the 6 GB/ 64 GB variant, with the 8 GB/ 128 GB priced at Rs 27,999 and the 12 GB/ 256 GB variant at Rs 29,999.

Quite a deal, many are saying. But that does not mean that the Nord does not have challengers. There are a number of brands that have been trying to make an impact in the Rs 25,000-30,000 price segment, and the Nord will find them in its way as it tries to get back to where OnePlus once belonged (well, we HAD to quote The Beatles). Yes, we do not exactly know how good the OnePlus Nord is – the review is in progress – but no matter how good it is, it will have to deal with these five challengers that stand in what we call The Nord Zone:

1. Realme X3 SuperZoom: That zooming feeling!

Rs 27,999

realme x3 superzoom review

The Realme X3 is pretty much an all rounder-kinda device which is likely to tick all your specs boxes in its price segment. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor which is paired with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage (there is a 12 GB RAM/ 256 GB storage variant as well), comes with a 6.6-inch full HD+ display with a high 120 Hz refresh rate. The device performs well even when pushed with high-end gaming.

But what makes the Realme X3 SuperZoom really special is right there in its name– the super zooming cameras. There is a quad-camera setup on the Realme X3 SuperZoom that consists of a 64 megapixel Samsung GW1 main sensor, an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor, a 2-megapixel macro sensor and – this is special – an 8-megapixel periscope sensor with OIS. The last is not a “spectator sensor” which you do not see functioning in real-time. It actually is one of the biggest guns the Realme X3 SuperZoom has. This 8-megapixel sensor brings in 5X optical zoom plus OIS which means your photographs will be a lot more stable even after you have zoomed and minor shakes will not really take too much away from your pictures. And if that does not get you close enough to your subject, the phone also has 60X digital zoom, which will probably get the job done.

Along with its zoom abilities, the cameras on the Realme X3 SuperZoom churn out really detailed pictures and with realistic colors. The phone has a dual-camera set up on the front with a 32-megapixel main sensor and an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor as well, and they deliver decent snaps too. Some might find the design of the Realme X3 a little mundane and even though it comes with a 120 Hz refresh rate, the display of the device is a little washed out. But other than that the Realme X3 SuperZoom does not really “fall behind” in any other department. It is powered by a 4200 mAh battery which comes with support for 30W fast charging. It runs on Android 10 which is topped with Realme UI. And it runs a “real flagship” processor. All of this comes with a starting price of Rs. 27,999, which puts the Realme X3 SuperZoom right in the OnePlus Nord zone.

(Note: You also get the Realme X3 with the same Snapdragon 855+ chip, but without the zoom camera, for Rs 24,999 with most other specs remaining largely similar. Quite a deal again if you are after a flagship chip)

2. Redmi K20 Pro: The beauty and the beast

Rs 24,999

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They say “old is gold” and that fits perfectly in the case of the Redmi K20 Pro. The phone might be a year old but its spec and price combination is still proving to be a headache for many newbies in its segment. And that goes for the all-new OnePlus Nord as well. The smartphone has the most distinct design in the category by a mile. The flame pattern on the back paired with that 6.39 inch tall, notch-less (yep, no punch holes, nothing!), super AMOLED, FHD+ display makes it eye candy. Xiaomi has also thrown in some very good sound, as well as a 3.5 mm audio jack, making it a perfect device for binge-watching and playing games.

The smartphone runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and is available in 6GB/128 GB, and 8 GB/ 256 GB variants. The 855 which might seem a little old but is still very much a flagship performer (we saw that on the Galaxy S10 Lite a few months ago!), and can handle heavy-duty games and other power-hungry tasks effortlessly even now. The K20 Pro is one short in numerical terms when it comes to camera sensors, both on front and back but packs in a lot of photography muscle nevertheless.

There is a triple camera setup on the back that comprises a 48-megapixel main sensor (similar to the one on the Nord – a Sony IMX 586), an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor (yes!) and a 13-megapixel ultrawide sensor, so no token depth and macro sensors here. The Redmi K20 Pro not only offers good detail and colors but is also very consistent in the picture and video departments. On the front, it has a 20-megapixel camera that pops out of the frame, with blinking lights as well, and takes some very good selfies! It has been updated to Android 10, with MIUI on top, and has a 4000 mAh battery under the hood with support for 27W fast charging. For a starting price of Rs. 24,999 at the time of writing, it remains a pretty sweet deal.

3. Oppo Reno 3 Pro: The selfie expert

Rs 29,999

oppo reno 3 pro review 9

Just when Oppo was moving the Renos out of the OnePlus zone and into the Realme and Redmi upper mid-segment, OnePlus launched a device that now follows it right back. But the Reno 3 Pro is more than capable of putting up a fight which is why it is in this list. The Reno 3 Pro might be the most mainstream looking Reno ever, but the phone does have a few tricks up its sleeve that makes it an option worth considering. Being an Oppo device, the cameras, not surprisingly, are the strong points of the smartphone.

It comes with a quad-camera setup on the back with a 64-megapixel main sensor, a 13-megapixel telephoto lens with 2X optical zoom, an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. But that’s not all, Oppo has gone heavy on megapixels on the front as well. There is a pair of sensors nestled in a double punch hole on the display, where the main sensor comes with a whopping 44 megapixels with a 2-megapixel secondary depth sensor (the first phone in the world to feature a dual punch hole 44-megapixel camera set up). And they all deliver some seriously good photography.

It is not just about cameras, though, the Reno 3 Pro has a 6.4 inch full HD+ AMOLED display which produces deep contrast and rich colors. Some might turn their noses up because the phone is powered by a MediaTek Helio P95 processor but it is paired with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage (there is a 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage variant as well) and can handle most of your high-end games with ease. Not just that, it comes with a 3.5 mm audio jack, which is slowly disappearing in this segment. It has Oppo’s ColorOS 7 based on Android 10 and is powered by a 4025 mAh battery which comes with support for VOOC 4.0 which is 30W fast charging. The Oppo Reno 3 Pro comes with a starting price of Rs. 29,990, which puts it against the highest specced Nord, but we know there are folks who might not mind paying slightly extra for those megapixels.

4. Realme X2 Pro: The fast charging powerhouse

Rs 29,999

realme x2 pro master edition review 3

A monumental hurdle for the OnePlus Nord is the Realme X2 Pro. It is a device that keeps giving and once you read this, you will understand why. The smartphone brings a 6.5 inch super AMOLED HD+ display to the table with a 90 Hz refresh rate. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ processor which comes with 6 GB/ 64 GB, 8 GB /128 GB storage and 12 GB/ 128 GB variants. This means the phone can not only handle all of your heavy-duty chores with ease but will make sure your eyes stay pleased with what is being offered on the screen. To top this off, the phone also has dual stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos sound support which adds to your music, gaming, and binge-watching experience – and there’s a 3.5 mm audio jack too for good measure.

The Realme X2 Pro has a quad-camera setup on the back consisting of a 64-megapixel main sensor, a 13-megapixel telephoto sensor with 2x optical zoom, an 8-megapixel ultrawide sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The primary camera also has 20x hybrid zoom to get you closer to your subject. Realme has a formidable camera reputation and the cameras on the X2 Pro live up to it, delivering some very detailed images. There is a 16-megapixel shooter on the front for selfies and video calls, which again is a very good performer. The phone when launched was running on Android 9 topped with RealmeUI but has since been updated to Android 10. Another jewel in the Realme X2 Pro’s crown is its battery and support for fast charging. The phone comes with a 4000 mAh battery with support for a massive 50W fast charging which means the phone can charge from zero to 100 percent in slightly over half an hour!

The device comes with a starting price of Rs. 29,999 which might seem a little high for a 6 GB/ 64 GB RAM variant but on paper, it is easily the most powerful device in this list, thanks to the combination of the display, cameras, and of course, that processor.

5. Samsung Galaxy A51: The surprising bestseller

Rs 25,250

samsung galaxy a51 review 5

Surprised to see the Samsung Galaxy A51 on this list? Well, on paper, some would think the Galaxy A51 is not quite in the league of the devices mentioned before but the Galaxy A51 is actually the highest selling Android phone in the world in the first quarter of 2020. And if that does not tell you why it is a proper threat to the OnePlus Nord, we do not know what will. One of the key features of most Samsung smartphones is the display and the brand has used the same display magic when it comes to the Galaxy A51.

The phone comes with a 6.5-inch super AMOLED full HD+ infinity-O display which is a typical Samsung AMOLED display with bright colors and deep, rich contrast. The device is powered by Samsung’s in house Exynos 9611 processor which is paired with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB and storage and 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, depending on the variant you choose. High-end games might be a struggle on the phone but it will sail through most of your day to day tasks with ease. The Galaxy A51 sports a quad-camera setup on the back comprising a 48-megapixel main sensor, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor, and two 5 megapixel sensors, one for depth and one for macro shots.

The phone does well in good light conditions and captures a lot of detail. The colors might be on a slightly saturated side but they are never off the charts. On the front, the phone has a 32-megapixel camera, which is a very steady performer. It has a 4000 mAh battery that powers the phone with support for 15W fast charging and runs on Android 10 topped with OneUI 2.1. The starting price of Rs. 25,250 for the 6 GB/ 128 GB variant might seem a bit on the high side lot for the specs that the phone offers, but hey that’s what they said when it was launched. It turned out to be the highest-selling Android device of its quarter. There are always takers for a consistent device from Samsung, and the Galaxy A51 still ticks off the basics thoroughly (yes, it has a 3.5 mm audio jack too). It not only comes with perhaps the best display in this list but also comes from a brand that many still trust instinctively.

No, it might not challenge the Nord on paper. But in the market? You never know.

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