On the surface, they seem two devices that are rather different. One is a (slightly senior now – a year is a long time in tech) budget flagship and the other is an out and out upper mid-segment smartphone. And yet they are linked by the most basic factor of all.
The price tag. Both start from Rs 24,999
So it was hardly surprising that notwithstanding the projected differences in positioning, people were asking how the brand new OnePlus Nord compared with the slightly older Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro. Well, let us find out, shall we?
Design: Distinct meets divisive
In terms of design, the Redmi K20 Pro and the OnePlus Nord come from two very different schools of thought. We got the relatively subtle black shade of the K20 Pro for this comparison, but the phone also comes in shades of red and blue that grab attention like few phones have in recent times, thanks to the flame-like gradient patterns on the back (check some product shots in our review).
The Nord, on the other hand, broadly sticks to convention, but its marble Blue shade makes it stand out. We also find it remarkable how in spite of having a bigger battery and display, the Nord is actually thinner and lighter than the K20 Pro. Both have distinct button arrangements – the Nord has a textured slider alert button while the K20 Pro gets a power button in red, that stands out. All said and done, we think the K20 Pro will turn more heads. Even now. That said, the Nord will sit comfortably with those who want a phone that looks good without getting into the “bling” zone (the selfie camera popping out of the top of the K20 Pro with blinking lights is a great example of how polarising the device’s design is). Yes, the Redmi K20 Pro has a metal frame and the Nord a plastic one, but we did not see either phone gaining a particular advantage from this in terms of every day usage.
We are calling this one a tie, one which could be totally swayed by your mood!
Displays: Refresh rate or refreshing sight
We expected the Nord to take this one with its 90Hz refresh rate and a bigger 6.44-inch display as compared to the 6.39 inch and 60 Hz one on the Redi K20 Pro, but the Xiaomi phone brings its own aces to the table. The K20 pro seemed to have deeper colors and was more visible in sunlight. And then it had the benefit of coming without a notch at all – something that might matter to a lot of consumers.
This is not to say that the OnePlus Nord display was inferior. The 90 Hz refresh rate did make a difference when we got into scroll mode, and could perhaps become a bigger factor as time passes and more apps support it, but as of now, it does not make a killer difference. So rather surprisingly, this one is a tie.
Processor: Older flagship meets new upper mid segmenter
No other spec defines the difference in positioning of these two devices like the chip powering them. The OnePlus Nord comes with perhaps the best chip in the mid-segment – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G. It is terrific for most tasks, but it still is not a classic flagship chip, which the Snapdragon 855 on the Redmi K20 Pro is. We do not think too many people would have complaints with the 765 G, but in terms of benchmark scores and overall performance, there is no doubting that it is a notch below the 855.
Winner: Redmi K20 Pro
Memory and storage matters: The Nord bytes!
In terms of storage and memory, the Nord has an edge. It has three RAM and storage variants – 6 GB/ 64 GB, 8 GB/ 128 GB and 12 GB / 256 GB. Against this, the Redmi K20 Pro currently has two – 6 GB/ 128 GB and 8 GB/ 256 GB. Neither phone has expandable memory, but the Nord scores on giving users more options, although the Redmi does have a slight price edge (but that’s another section).
Winner: OnePlus Nord
Cameras: The Nord’s left in the Red(mi)
Which brings us to one of the most discussed parameters of this comparison – the cameras. On paper, the force seems to be strong with the Nord, with four cameras at the back (48MP + 8 MP UW +5 MP Depth + 2 MP Macro) and two in the front (32 MP + 8 MP UW).
The K20 Pro in comparison has three cameras at the back (48 MP + 13 MP UW + 8 MP Tele) and has a 20 megapixel pop up camera for selfies. Both phones share the same main sensor – the Sony IMX 586.
In terms of performance, however, the K20 Pro’s cameras are a clear step ahead of the Nord. We got more vibrant colors and more detail and the extra megapixels in the ultrawide did make a difference. The 8-megapixel telephoto also gave use more variety than the depth and macro sensors on the Nord did.
The Nord, however, turned in a decent low light performance (sometimes bettering the K20 Pro) and while its dual selfie cameras did not give it the sort of edge that we expected over the K20 Pro’s single snapper, they did come with support for 4K video, something the Redmi’s selfie snappers lacked.
In terms of video, we felt the Nord had a slight edge over the K20 Pro – perhaps the OIS being a factor here (the K20 Pro has no OIS). Still, all said and done, we think the K20 Pro has better cameras right now. Yes, we wrote “right now” because we are reasonably sure that the Nord will improve in the coming days, given OnePlus’ gift for constantly improving cameras with software upgrades.
Winner: Redmi K20 Pro
Gaming: You are good, Nord, but (Red)Mi am a flagship
That difference in processors? It is not noticeable in routine tasks. But get on to heavy-duty gaming and the K20 Pro’s Snapdragon 855 makes its presence felt. The Nord is not a pushover but if you are into heavy-duty PUBG or Asphalt sessions, the K20 Pro will serve you much better. The Nord was not really meant for high-end gaming, although it does come with a gaming mode.
Winner: Redmi K20 Pro
Software: Ad ons, or Oxygen?
One of the biggest attractions of the Nord is its uncluttered interface, courtesy OnePlus’ Oxygen OS. The Redmi K20 Pro on the other hand comes with MIUI 11 (an upgrade to 12 is expected soon) and sometimes gets ads in the notification area. Both UIs have their own adherents, with some liking the spartan Oxygen OS and some liking the feature-rich MIUI and both brands also have a good record of updating their devices. That said, we can see the ads swaying some people towards Oxygen OS. Which is why we give this round to it. Plus the case of promised two major Android upgrades and three years of security upgrades from OnePlus.
Winner: OnePlus Nord
Connectivity: The future and the past
Both phones share broadly similar connectivity options, but they differ in two very interesting ways. The Nord has an eye on the future and comes with 5G connectivity, although that service is not expected to be available in India for a while at least. The K20 Pro sticks to 4G but adds a 3.5 mm audio jack to the mix, something that a number of flagships are foregoing. Would you prefer a slice of the future or one from a very comfortable past? We are calling this one a tie again!
General performance: Twenty of K Pro is One Plus Nord
In terms of routine everyday performance, there’s not too much to separate the two devices. Both handle routine tasks well and are very good at multi-tasking. We felt the K20 Pro had a slight edge in the sound department but it was not a very significant one. In terms of call handling too, we again felt the K20 Pro was marginally better. That said, the Nord sometimes felt just a little snappier to use. A lot depends on perceptions here. But in general terms, the difference is hard to spot. Yes, another tie!
Battery: Stamina or speed?
When it comes to battery, the choice between the K20 Pro and the Nord boils down to a simple speed against the stamina equation. The Nord has the larger 4115 mAh battery as compared to the 4000 mAh one on the K20 Pro, but the Nord’s display’s higher refresh rates and slightly larger size make it last about a day of normal usage, something which the K20 Pro beats very comfortably (we got more than a day time and again). However, the Nord comes with 30T Warp Charge and a 30W charger in the box. The K20 Pro on the other does support 27W charging but only has an 18W charger in the box. The K20 Pro will last longer but the Nord will get recharged faster. Take your pick. We are calling this a tie.
Price: Gigabytes for giga bucks!
Both the Nord and the Redmi K20 Pro start at Rs 24,999. However, while the base Nord configuration is 6 GB/ 64 GB, that of the Redmi K20 Pro is 6 GB/ 128 GB. The Nord, however, wins back ground on its top variant which is priced at Rs 29,999 for 12 GB 256 GB. The top variant of the Redmi K20 Pro comes with the same price but has 8 GB/ 256 GB. We are calling this one a tie – in pure price terms, the K20 Pro makes more sense if you have a budget of Rs 25,000, while the Nord seems better if you can stretch your budget to Rs 30,000.
So, who wins?
There are some who might feel that the Nord comes off badly in this comparison. It certainly does give ground in crucial areas like cameras, gaming, and processor, although it wins in terms of OS and faster charging and some might prefer its slightly more conventional design, not to mention the promise of 5G. The Redmi K20 Pro certainly delivers excellent value for the money it charges, especially with its recent price drop. Yes, we did expect its processor to give it the edge in gaming, but its cameras were a massive surprise. All in all, we must confess that we were amazed at how well the Redmi K20 Pro performed given the fact that it was more than a year old.
So, should you go for the new kid on the block or the hardy veteran? As we said earlier, the key point, however, to remember here is that the two devices are targeted at different segments – the Redmi K20 Pro is for those who are looking at a budget flagship, while the Nord is an out and out upper mid-segment player with no real flagship pretensions.
We can see the mid-segment crowd preferring the Nord simply for its more conventional feel and the clean interface, and well, some folks do seem to think that 5G is around the corner and want to be prepared. That said, for those chasing big numbers and performance and looking for a phone to flash, the Redmi K20 Pro still rocks.
You could be One Plus with the Nord. Or be (O)K with a Pro that’s got the same numbers as the year, even though it was released a year ago!
It is all down to what you want. As always.