There is always one of them.

You know, the type who arrives at a discotheque in an immaculate suit, when everyone is dressed casually.

The one who sits with a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations when everyone is reading Harry Potter.

The Gray Ash OnePlus Nord is a bit like that.

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A different shade…and not just of Gray

No, we are not in the habit of covering variants just because they sport a different color. For at the end of the day, that is what the Gray Ash variant of the Nord is – the same specs, pretty much the same design as the original Nord. Just a different color.

Wait, did we say “just”? That was most unjust.

For the Gray Ash variant of the Nord represents something more than just a different shade of, well, gray. The latter half of 2020 has been a colorful one for OnePlus when it comes to smartphones. The brand that was generally known for its darker shades suddenly turned to the bright and light side. With spectacular results.

It was not as if the other side of the color spectrum had been abandoned altogether – the 8 Pro and 8 DID come with a Black Onyx variant but even those were on the glossy side. So when the 8T also came out with Lunar Silver and Aquamarine Green shades, the feeling in tech town was that OnePlus was moving on to the light side. The one with bright, clearly well-defined logos. Pleasant definitely, but not like the subtly undercut frosted glass finish of the OnePlus devices we had seen a year or so ago. That era seemed to have passed,

Not quite.

A gentle gray whisper in a bright crowd

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The Gray Ash Nord gently – VERY gently, without hollering or screaming or shining in fourteen different textures in different light conditions – reminds us that there is another OnePlus. One that has not gone away. One which does not scream for attention when placed on a table and yet feels right at home in the palm of your hand. One which does even flaunt its logo but keeps it hidden, seemingly under its brushed matte finish (such frosted glass feels), emerging only when the light falls on it from a certain angle. OnePlus has referred to it as a “raw, industrial vibe” but we think that if the vibe is anything, it is of a boardroom. Or a library.

Yes, it has the exact same specs as the earlier Nord – the same rather nice (if not crazy bright) 6.44 inch AMOLED display with a double punch hole notch; the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 chip, and oodles of RAM and storage under the hood (12 GB/ 256 GB is the only variant); the same 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 main sensor with OIS and 8-megapixel ultrawide, the same 5-megapixel depth sensor and 2-megapixel macro sensor with a 32-megapixel and 8-megapixel front-facing camera combo; the same 4115 mAh battery with support for 30T fast charging and the same 30W charger in the box. Yeah, all that is there. And so too, rather regrettably, is Oxygen UI over Android 10 – not the new one that we have seen in the OnePlus 8T. And it comes in the same size and relatively compact frame. With the same Rs 29,999 price tag.

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But it looks very different from any OnePlus that we have seen in 2020. And given the sort of the year 2020 has been, something different is welcome. No, it is not that we have anything against the OnePlus devices we have seen this year – read our reviews if you believe us not. It is just that in a world full of bright colors and gloss, the Gray Ash Nord reminds us of the subtle joys of a quieter shade of…gray.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, If Green and Gloss don’t Get You, Gray Ash is a Must

We do not see it appealing to those who want their phones with a bit of shine and glitter on them. But then it is not for everyone. It is for those who do not want to settle for the routine. And by that very weird logic, it is perhaps in terms of color, the most traditional OnePlus of the year – powerful, classy, quiet…and gently different.

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More at home in a boardroom than in a pub.

Blending in with the books rather than the blokes.

The suit at the disco.

The classic in the bestseller list.

The Gray Ash in the Nord.

Not for everyone. And that is not a bad thing.

Not at all.

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