- OnePlus’ Nord range has been targeted at the mid-segment over the years and has competed with the likes of the Redmi Note.
- With the OnePlus Nord 3, however, OnePlus has moved the Nord a step closer to the flagship killer range, not just in terms of pricing but also in terms of specs.
- At its starting price of Rs 33,999, the OnePlus Nord 3 finds itself in the range of devices like the iQOO Neo 7 Pro and its own sibling, the OnePlus 11R. Can it make a space for itself in this new zone?
A few years ago, OnePlus surprised a lot of people when it unveiled a range of devices called the Nord. These were targeted at what OnePlus called the premium mid-segment, which in those days comprised smartphones in the Rs 25,000 – Rs 35,000 segment. But just as it nudged its original flagship-killing, budget flagship devices into the premium range, OnePlus is moving the Nord, too, into a higher price zone.
With the launch of the latest Nord, the Nord 3, the starting price tag of Rs 33,999 is not only the highest ever seen on a ‘regular’ Nord but also placed it actually within touching distance of the OnePlus 11 series – the OnePlus 11R starts at Rs 39,999 – and also against the likes of the iQOO Neo 7 Pro. But does it bring enough to justify its price bump?
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OnePlus Nord 3: Typically minimalistic design…with an alert slider
Its price might have gone up, but the Nord 3 sticks to the staple Nord style template of understated and minimalistic design (the Pac-Man special edition in 2021 was an exception, but then that was a special edition). You get a tall display with tiny bezels, straight sides on a frame that looks metallic but is actually carbonate, and a slightly curved back. OnePlus has talked a fair bit about the almost seamless and narrow bezelled flat display, but it is the back that is going to catch attention.
OnePlus has opted for two textures on the back – a glossy Misty Green and a matte Tempest Gray. We got the Misty Green edition, and although the green shade will get more glances, we think the Tempest Gray shade is slightly more classy.
The phone comes with two massive camera spheres on the back – one which contains one camera and the other containing two. There are also two smaller spheres on the back that look like flashes, but only one of them is a flash; the other is for decoration. The sides are relatively predictable, with the volume controls on the left and the power/display button on the right. The base has a USB Type C port and a speaker grille, while on top is an infrared blaster, a feature that is making its way into the OnePlus product feature set. Many OnePlus fans will be glad to see the Alert Slider on the right.
The display is protected by Dragontrail glass, while the back has Gorilla Glass 5 protection. The phone also comes with IP54 splash resistance. It is definitely on the large side (it is 162.6 mm tall and 75.1 mm wide), but is still slim at 8.2 mm and, while not lightweight at 193.5 grams, relatively light for its size though. In sheer design terms, the Nord 3 is not a departure from the Great Nord Tradition and is very much a chip off the Nord block. It is smart but not really the spectacular makeover some might have expected with that increased price.
OnePlus Nord 3 specs: The hardware’s gone to the gym and got pumped up!
Its design might stick to classic Nord norms, but the spec sheet of the Nord 3 gets right out of the Nord zone and closer to the one occupied by OnePlus flagships. This starts with the display, which is very similar to that of the OnePlus 11R, although it is flat rather than curved – Fluid AMOLED 6.74 inches in size with a resolution of 2772 x 1240px (which OnePlus calls 1.5K) and a refresh rate of 120 Hz.
The processor powering the phone is a MediaTek Dimensity 9000, which was released in early 2022, but remains close to flagship level and was also seen in the very impressive OnePlus Pad earlier. Another pleasant surprise comes in the RAM department.
The Nord 3 comes with a 16 GB/ 256 GB RAM and storage variant, as well as a more ‘regular’ 8 GB/ 128 GB one, a rarity in this segment. What’s more, the RAM is LPDDR5X RAM, which is again not often seen at its price point, while the storage is UFS 3.1. The main camera is the same 50-megapixel Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS seen on the OnePlus 11, although the 8-megapixel ultrawide and 2-megapixel macro cameras are more modest, and selfies are handled by a 16-megapixel camera.
There are stereo speakers for sound, and the battery department comes with good numbers, too, with a 5000 mAh battery with support for 80W charging. This is a seriously power-packed device. It not only ticks most hardware boxes at its price point but also rocks on the software front with Oxygen OS 13.1 running on top of Android 13 right out of the box!
OnePlus Nord 3 gaming and multimedia: Definitely a gaming star
The past few months have seen a number of phones capable of very good gaming being launched at relatively affordable prices, such as the Poco F5 and the iQOO Neo 7 Pro. The OnePlus Nord 3 can be added to that list. The Dimensity 9000 might not be the latest processor out there, but it packs some serious gaming dollop, allowing you to run titles like Call of Duty, Asphalt, and even Genshin Impact at high graphics settings. That bright and large display makes gaming an absolute joy, and the speakers chip in with some very impressive sound.
That combination of display and sound also make the Nord 3 a great phone for those who want to watch videos, shows, and films on the go. This is a very good device for multimedia consumers.
OnePlus Nord 3 Cameras: Main sensor sensation
We will keep it simple – stick to shooting pictures and videos with the main 50-megapixel sensor of the Nord 3, and you will have very little to complain about in terms of color and detail. The sensor does not turn in as good a performance as on the OnePlus 11 and OnePlus 11R but still delivers rich colors (a little too rich at times) and plenty of detail. It even performs reasonably well in low light conditions and shoots decent enough 4K video.
The other cameras, however, are rather ordinary in comparison. The 8-megapixel ultrawide is best used for landscapes in very clear conditions. Even then, it is best not to expect too much in terms of details. The 16-megapixel selfie camera insists on smoothing skin but generally takes decent snaps with slightly saturated colors (wear red, and it will really pop). Please notice that we have not talked about the 2-megapixel macro sensor. It is really not worth the time and space. Use the 50-megapixel main sensor and trim the shot for better results!
OnePlus Nord 3 general performance: Day to day ace
It’s got very good specs, super fast memory (and even a 16 GB RAM version – rare at this price), and runs on one of the cleanest Android interfaces you would find – OnePlus’ OxygenOS. All of those combine to ensure that the OnePlus Nord 3 sails through routine tasks like web browsing, messaging, mail, and social media without any trouble at all. Those who get the 16GB RAM variant can actually run dozens of apps without the phone ever lagging.
Call handling is very good (it also detected our Airtel 5G connection in Delhi right away), and the in-display fingerprint scanner works very smoothly as well. It is a slightly large phone in terms of handling and weight, but given its performance, we do not see too many people complaining. OxygenOS remains uncluttered and easy to use, and OnePlus has also assured users of three OS updates and four years of security updates. And, of course, hardcore OnePlus fans will love the convenience of using the iconic Alert Slider to switch between ring, vibrate, and alert modes!
OnePlus Nord 3 battery and charging: Battery life at 5000 mAh, charging at SuperVOOC
The OnePlus Nord 3 comes with a large 5000 mAh battery, which sees off a day of normal use. That is pretty decent when you consider the size and resolution of the display on the phone. Turning down the refresh rate does increase battery life, but we do not think that is necessary given the fact that the phone can be charged from 0 to 50 percent in about fifteen minutes and all the way to 100 percent in about forty. This turn of speed in charging comes courtesy of support for 80W SuperVOOC charging and an 80W charger in the box.
OnePlus Nord 3 Price: Moving up a level
The OnePlus Nord 3 is available in two RAM and storage variants, and they are available at the following prices:
- 8 GB/ 128 GB: Rs 33,999
- 16 GB/ 256 GB: Rs 37,999
This is quite a step up from the previous Nord, the Nord 2T, which started at Rs 28,490. It also places the Nord 3 close to what many might consider to be the budget flagship category of devices, featuring the likes of the iQOO Neo 7 Pro at Rs 34,999 and, well, even the OnePlus 11R at Rs 39,999, both of which come with the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor. Also snapping at the heels of the OnePlus Nord 3 will be the likes of the Redmi Note 12 Pro+, which has an inferior processor but brings a very good 200-megapixel camera and superfast 120W charging at Rs 29,999.
OnePlus Nord 3 Review Verdict: Should you buy it?
The OnePlus Nord used to be a no-brainer for anyone seeking a premium mid-segment device. The Nord 3 is rather different in terms of both price and performance, both of which bring it closer to being a budget flagship. It faces some very formidable competition, particularly from the likes of the iQOO Neo 7 Pro and the OnePlus 11R, but it packs in enough to take them on.
With its powerful (if slightly older) processor, high RAM variant, high-resolution display, fast charging battery, and very good main camera, the OnePlus Nord 3 is an all-rounder with no major shortcomings (yes, we have reconciled ourselves to the absence of a 3.5 mm audio jack at this price point). The name on the box might say OnePlus Nord 3. The design might scream Nord. But its soul whispers, “OnePlus 11 Lite.” Because that is what this new Nord is, more OnePlus than OnePlus Nord!
- Superb display
- Good performance
- Very good multimedia and gaming
- Fast charging
- Good main camera sensor
- Predictable Nord design
- Mediocre secondary cameras on the back
- Slightly old processor
Design & Appearance
At its starting price of Rs 33,999, the OnePlus Nord 3 finds itself in the range of devices like the iQOO Neo 7 Pro and its own sibling, the OnePlus 11R. Can it make a space for itself in this new zone?