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OnePlus is moving on to the smash-hit original with its new Nord brand with the new N10 5G. Unfortunately, this latest model does not live up to the original name. Although US pricing is not official, there is no reason to buy one in Europe, and this would be true even if it were not for all the launch bugs.
Design, hardware, what’s in the box
Nord N10 is 5G The big. It is larger than the higher-end original Nord and OnePlus 8. It is almost as big as the OnePlus 8 Pro, and longer than the Guardian iPhone 11 Pro Max. It is also 190g, which is great for a budget phone. However, you stop it, the N10 5G is a big boy and should prove popular for those seeking size at a lower price.
The build quality is strong, but it still feels cheap. The phone is adequate, and you can wrench and twist on it without any annoying noise or bending, but the shiny plastic back and frame don’t feel very premium compared to the original Nord, which used similar materials. I can’t tell you exactly what’s different, but there is definitely something about it Feels Different. The N10 5G is also the first phone from the company after OnePlus 6 to feature a rear-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor. Unlike the old Nord, the OnePlus chose to include a headphone jack on the N10 5G, a nice touch. It is also on the bottom side, which is my favorite place for this as it is one of the easiest to keep a phone upside down – which most of our readers do.
I should point out: The Nord N10 5G has absolutely no water resistance, unlike the previous Nord, which the company calls “splash proof” – although that phone has no drawbacks Outspoken IP rating like all OnePlus phones till the recent OnePlus 8 Pro.
In perhaps the biggest change in physical design, OnePlus has removed the alert slider, a trademarked feature in all OnePlus phones since OnePlus 2. First-time owners will not mourn the loss, but it adds to the overall sense that it is not Actually OnePlus Phone. The OP also offered N10 5G microSD-expandable storage, the first for any OnePlus device since the 2015 OnePlus X, and is a misleading move for the feature to re-debut on a mid-range phone. At least this means that you will have plenty of media space if you run out of 128 GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage.
It is also the first phone from OnePlus 2 to have an LCD display measuring 6.49 inches at 1080p and 90Hz. Although you won’t get those inky OLED blacks, it’s great and, depending on its technology, doesn’t suffer issues like low-brightness irregularities or “green-tint”, although it does feel a bit smoother when scrolling. Compared to an OLED. The color and brightness were generally good, although the weather during our testing was not favorable for the best external comparisons.
The screen has a hole-punch camera cutout and a big-ish chin, reminiscent of Xiaomi Pocophone F1. There is a slight drip in brightness around the camera, but it is really noticeable at a bright background angle. In all practical use, this was never an issue for me. The speaker (stereo via earpiece) is normally a smartphone fare. They are sharp, lack bass, and distort a bit at maximum volume, but they are very loud.
I can’t speak to the US packaging, but the EU model comes with a charger and cable. In particular, some OnePlus phones like no bundle case.
Software, performance, and battery life
The Nord N10 5G ships with OxygenOS 10.5, an older version of the company’s Android-based software. This is one of my favorite Android skin, and although it has some issues with how it handles things in-depth, it looks and sounds great. In short: If you are familiar with stock Android (or, indeed, Android at all), then you will be right at home. Although some items are moved around, it is easier to use than something like Samsung’s OneUI.
This is not to say that it lacks features, however. OnePlus is a build-in perk that lets you duplicate apps that do not handle multiple accounts like WhatsApp. There is also a “quick reply in landscape” feature that uses multitasking a lot and is easy to return an instant message when watching a video. However, it only works with some apps. The volume control menu of OnePlus is also better than stock. On a more negative note, OxygenOS also breaks down expected behavior with ultra-aggressive background app management (at least, by default). In practice, this means that notifications may be late for some apps, and you may notice apps that don’t have to work correctly in the background all the time.
The general performance was both better and worse than I expected. This is the first Snapdragon 690-powered phone I had the chance to use, and as long as it was able to keep 90Hz smoothness most of the time, random and sometimes unexpected things, such as the UPS tracking website, would bring it up. Your knees. Nevertheless, it generally seems capable if you’re willing to accept some stutters, and this extends to the game as well. Fortnite was barely smooth on the default settings, and there were plenty of frames, but enough to illuminate # 2 in an online match, which is good enough for me.
The big issue I ran into is a direct deal breaker: randomly, the touchscreen just won’t work when you wake up the phone. It can heal on its own in a few seconds, or it can take a few minutes, and it’s only 20-40 times you turn it on, but it’s a highly annoying and completely unacceptable behavior that you get in almost every encounter. The day is guaranteed. We ran into the issue on two different phones (set from scratch / without backup) after OnePlus told us that it could be a hardware issue, but we did not do so. Now we are told “OnePlus Android is aware of the issue shared by the police and is working diligently to resolve it,” so I hope there will eventually be a certain land.
Previously, we had issues with the phone reliably connecting to a Wi-Fi network, but have recently scheduled an update, and I’ve run into some intermittent issues with the Bluetooth audio device that connects. Disconnecting frequently after occurring. Some apps have a very visible change in color balance when they announce a wider color space while night mode is enabled, as well as being somewhat visible outside of it, and any additional color in the OnePlus settings Calibration does not provide options. The fingerprint sensor can also be awkwardly long to wake up the phone, and sometimes it doesn’t work until you wake the phone with the power button.
Although the model we reviewed is a European import, I had no issues with cellular connectivity in the states tested here, and it was connected to T-Mobile’s sub-6 5G network just fine.
OnePlus’ last major issue so far has been to fix the software update schedule: This phone launches with Android 10, and it will only update to Android 11. On top of that, you are only getting a two-year security patch. Looking at the original Nord is getting better treatment, which is why it is enough to spend an extra € 50 on it. If the Nord N10 5G costs more than $ 300 in the US, OnePlus should be ashamed.
At least the battery life was very good. I was able to pull in 7 hours of screen-on a day with 20% off and half, and I hope I can break 8-9 hours a day, though I’m not as hard on my phone as some people are. The 30W fast charging of the OnePlus remains superb, the N10 lifts the 5G up very quickly when you need it.
Photos taken by the Nord N10 5G were quite good. It has a primary wide-angle, an ultra-wide, a frameless macro and a monochrome camera. Common cavits apply for mid-range cameras: good lighting can take decent photos, poor lighting becomes sloppy. More specifically, it exposes crank faster than ISO, so try to shoot around it and don’t crop if you can help it. I wouldn’t say it’s a “great” camera, but it’s better than I expected.
Photo samples are hard to get these days, an update came right at the end of our review, which improved performance, and the weather didn’t provide much variety.
The lack of OIS on the primary camera was an issue, especially in favor of everyone at the time of prolonged exposure, but the lighting conditions were the best, so keep a steady hand. Colors also seemed off to me compared to other OnePlus phones: more muted than the company’s usually ‘gram-ready look’. The darker details also risked being lost or processed into fruit. Nevertheless, the primary shooter is serviceable, as is the wide angle.
The macro camera, on the other hand, is terrible even in terrible external lighting. I think the extra, cheaper camera gives these phones another number for low-effort marketing, but I would really like them to spend money on something better or give it away Actually Good macro camera mode like the OnePlus 8 Pro.
Left and center: Common monochrome edit photo and one fact after another. right: “Mono” color filter mode.
Like the OnePlus 8’s color filter camera, the monochrome camera is accessible via the previous “mono” filter mode, seemingly adding results from both the primary sensor and monochrome secondary. I didn’t expect this, but the results provide a richer tone than editing a similar photo taken for monochrome in general (especially when it comes to red color), but the details are also a bit mudière. Looks, so it’s a trade.
Should you buy it
Maybe only. OnePlus will not tell us how much the phone will cost in the US, which is the final determining factor for our review, but in the EU you can get the OG Nord for just € 50 more, and it will in every possible way its better. And I was ignoring the touchscreen issue, which is not acceptable in the phone at any cost.
We are keeping our final review score pending US pricing and hoping that the screen issue can be fixed, but I don’t anticipate giving it a higher number.
As I see, there is no reason for people in the EU to buy the Nord N10 5G. And until it hits a really unbelievable price in the US, there’s not much reason for people to buy one when it’s on the ground here as well.
Buy it if:
- You can’t spend € 50 more and get the original, much better Nord and especially want the OnePlus phone.
- You can compromise on performance and updates, among other things.
Do not buy it if:
- You want a proper update schedule, good hardware, or a better camera.
- A non-OnePlus phone will do – there are better options.
Where to buy:
OnePlus N10 5G will be available at the company’s storefront in Europe from November 20: