OnePlus ups the mid-range game with Nord 3

OnePlus LogoSurprisingly, it’s been nearly two years since OnePlus launched the Nord 2 back in the pandemic, and while Covid 19 has now waned, OnePlus has gone on stronger with the continued success of the Nord series plus the introduction of entirely new products such as the Pad tablet. Keeping pace with progress, OnePlus today launched the Nord 3 5G smartphone, conveniently providing an upgrade path for the phone’s fans who are beginning to think about a new device.

As is OnePlus’ style, the phone’s been comprehensively teased for several weeks, continuing with the tagline, “Pretty much everything you could ask for” and, to be honest, they’re not wrong: my wife has been using a Nord 2 and she’s very happy with it. If the Nord 3 upholds this level of price, performance and materials, OnePlus will continue to have a winner on its hands.

As before, the Nord 3 sits atop OnePlus’ mid-range devices, below the OnePlus 11 but above the Nord CE 3 and N-series of phones, so I think we should be expecting a well-specified device with quality materials that most smartphone users will be pleased to use. For people new to OnePlus’ products, the Nord series tends to be for European and Indian markets, whereas the N-series goes to the Americas.

Moving onto the specs, the Nord 3 continues with MediaTek as silicon supplier and specifically the Dimensity 9000 chipset. For those unfamiliar with MediaTek, it’s a Taiwanese firm and is the third-largest fabless IC designer in the world with chips in thousands of products round the world. The Dimensity 9000 is their flagship ARM chipset and is very much on a par with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 in terms of performance (which is in the OnePlus 10T).

In terms of RAM and storage, there will be two variants with some variations between territories – 8 GB+128 GB, 16 GB+256 GB. On the screen front, the Nord 3 sports a 120 Hz Super Fluid AMOLED display measuring 6.74″ with a resolution of 2772 x 1240 pixels (450 ppi). That’s a bigger, faster and more detailed screen than the Nord 2, and it’s further improved by the removal of the bezel giving a seamless flat display. That’s a good upgrade.

Taking in the camera array round the back, it appears from the twin black circles that there are only two cameras, but further inspection reveals that there are two lenses embedded in the lower disc, similar to the CE 3. The main camera is a 50 MP Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS and that’s the same camera sensor as used in the 11, so it’s a top notch unit. In addition, there’s a 112° ultra wide camera and a 2 MP macro lens for close up detail. On the front, the selfie cam is a 16 MP sensor, which is a drop from the Nord 2’s 32 MP. For video, the Nord 3 will do up to 4K video at 60 fps. The OnePlus camera app supports the usual plethora of camera modes and filters – HDR, Nightscape, Portrait Mode, Video Portrait, Pano, Macro, Slo-mo, Time-lapse, etc. And for adventurous people, there’s dual-view video which will record from both the front and rear cameras simultaneously.

Powering the Nord 3 is a pair of 2,500 mAh batteries for a total of 5,000 mAh. The twin batteries  which takes advantage of 80 W SuperVOOC and will charge 0 to 60% in 15 mins – that’s quick. Both battery size and charging speed are a step up from the Nord 2: back then it was Warp charging! As expected, it’s a USB C port on the bottom, but while there’s no 3.5 mm audio jack, there are stereo speakers. Somewhat surprisingly, it looks like the IR-blaster is making a return. Cool. Size-wise, the Nord 3 is 163 x 73 mm x 8.1mm which is pretty much the same size as the previous Nord 2. It weighs in at 193g, give or take.

There are only two different phone colours this time  – Tempest Gray and Misty Green and from the the pictures, both look pretty good.

As would be expected, the Nord 3 supports 5G offering nearly 3 Gb/s in perfect conditions and there’s the usual dual-SIM tray for those looking to have, say, separate personal and business SIMs. Of course, there’s still OnePlus’ signature alert slider.

The Nord 3 comes with OxygenOS 13.1 which is based on Android 13 and OnePlus is now committing to three major Android updates and 4 years of security updates. I think that’s great to hear and in an increasingly resource-aware world, it means that you could be using the Nord for three years without worry. Being OxygenOS 13, the Nord 3 comes with many of the same software features as its siblings, the 11 and CE 3.

Let’s talk pricing….

OnePlus Nord 3
8 GB + 128 GB: 449 €
16 GB + 256 GB: 549 € (with a 499 € July special)

The Nord 3 is available to pre-order now from OnePlus for 16 EU countries plus India and Middle East. It’s not yet coming to the UK for “logistical challenges” which I expect is code for “problems caused by Brexit, the stupidest thing any country has done in modern history”. The unconfirmed UK price is £499 which I think is for the 16 GB version.

So far, what I’ve seen looks good…if you can get your hands on one. The Nord 3 is a step up from the original and continues to slot in neatly below the OnePlus 11 but above the Nord CE 2. With the 11 priced from 849 €, there’s clear water between the two in pricing and I’m struggling to think of the differences between the 11 and the Nord 3: Snapdragon Gen 2 chipset, better second lenses, Hasselblad camera tweaking…there’s not much really. Is it a “flagship killer”? Not in the sense of having unbeatable specs, but definitely in terms of thinking about what’s really relevant in your phone and what it’s worth.

Here’s the launch video.