Category Archives: smartphone

OnePlus and OPPO Set to Launch Same Smartphone

OnePlus LogoOnePlus has been teasing a foldable smartphone since MWC back in February, and as Pete Lau holds senior roles at both OnePlus and OPPO, it’s not entirely unsurprising that OnePlus and Oppo are going to launch the same foldable smartphone. Both companies are part of the BBK empire and I think we can assume that the different brands will play to their strengths and sell in separate territories.

OPPO already has two foldable smartphones, the pocket-sized Find N2 Flip and the larger China-only Find N2, though OnePlus touts its lineage on the new device with the presence of the much-loved alert slider. I think it would be fair to see this as co-development rather than simply rebadging, as each company brings its strengths and experience to the new phone. OPPO with the hardware, OnePlus with the software?

An image has been released and you can see the slider on the side of the phone in the top right. It’s pretty hard to see much else in the photo – maybe volume and power on the other side?

Foldable devices are new and I think everyone worries about the hinge and screen, so OnePlus and OPPO have been at pains to explain all the work, technology and patents that have gone into perfecting the experience. It’s entirely gapless when the phone is closed and 35 patents arose from the development of the hinge mechanism, which built on the foundation of the Find N2’s hinge.

As to a name, the money’s on OnePlus Open and perhaps the OPPO Find N3. No details on price at this time but for comparison, the smaller N2 Flip sold for UK£849. I think we can look forward a folding flagship in the not-too-distant future.

Nord 3 Crosses the Channel

OnePlus LogoGNC readers may remember that when the OnePlus Nord 3 launched in early July, the mid-range smartphone wasn’t available in UK. No official explanation was given, but the good news is that the phone has now crossed the channel and is available for pre-order now at UK£499 for delivery on 18th August, if you pay for express delivery. To sweeten the deal, pre-orders come with a free pair of Nord Buds 2, which are worth £69.

As a quick reminder, the Nord 3 is OnePlus’ mid-range phone for Europe and India, sitting below the OnePlus 11 in the line-up. A MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chipset powers the phone and the UK variant comes with 16 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. 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). All this is powered by a 5000 mAh battery, charged using 80 W SuperVOOC, which will restore the battery level from 0% to 60% in 15 mins.

The main camera is a 50 MP Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS (and that’s the same camera sensor as used in the 11). 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.

Although two colours were announced in July – Tempest Gray and Misty Green – disappointingly it appears that only the Gray is currently available for pre-order. There’s no explanation why at the moment or if the Green will arrive at a later date. Let’s hope it does because the OnePlus greens always look great on the phone.

So, if you are in UK, and you’re looking for a mid-range phone, take a good look at the Nord 3. I haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with this one but I was impressed with the Nord 2 (which my wife currently uses as her daily phone).

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.


OnePlus Teases A Foldable Phone

OnePlus LogoIn true company fashion, OnePlus has announced at MWC that it will be launching a foldable smartphone in the second half of 2023. That’s it. No name, no product, no render, but it does come from the President and COO of OnePlus, Kinder Liu. He said, “Our first foldable phone will have the signature OnePlus fast and smooth experience. It must be a flagship phone that doesn’t settle because of its folding form, in terms of industrial design, mechanical technology, and other aspects. We want to launch a device that aims to be at the pinnacle experience of today’s foldable market.

Given the absence of any real facts, we might consider looking elsewhere with the BBK group. OnePlus already has strategic relationship with OPPO, who in turn have a neat foldable already on the market, the Find N2 Flip. Personally, I don’t think it will be this form factor because it’s just not “flagship phone”. Fantastic for fun loving folk but not flagship, at least not to me.

I’d like to think it will be something more like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold4. That’s more like it.

Having said that, I’m still in two minds about foldables. I’ve seen a first generation Galaxy Z Flip and the crease hadn’t lasted a year, so I’d still be a bit wary. Microsoft’s Surface Duo series seemed to be the way to go but I never actually bought one. It’s difficult to get away from the smartphone plus tablet pairing and so much of the choice is about the camera.

No doubt we’ll continue to hear more about the upcoming OnePlus foldable until it’s finally launched. This is the way.

OnePlus 11 Concept Unveiled at MWC

OnePlus LogoWith the OnePlus 11 out of the door, the company’s been teasing its thoughts on the next generation of smartphone with the OnePlus 11 Concept. Much like a concept car, the 11 Concept shows off what might be the future.

Revealed at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, the most obvious feature is an icy blue flowing back which accentuates the round camera array of the 11. However, this isn’t only for looks, it’s an active cooling system called CryoFlux which can reduce the phone’s temperature by slightly over 2°C during gaming and 1.6°C during charging.

Active CryoFlux is a miniaturisation of the technology used in gaming PCs to keep the CPU and GPU cool: a piezoelectric ceramic micropump circulates the coolant through the pipelines on the back and the clear rear cover provides a beautiful view of the CryoFlux pipelines redistributing heat away from hot spots and critical areas.

In addition to the 11 Concept, the standard OnePlus 11 will be on show, demonstrating the phone’s considerable power from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform alongside the XR2 AR wireless smart viewer to offer an outstanding AR experience. The 11 is the first Snapdragon Spaces-ready phone which offers an AR experience with glasses driven by the smartphone.

If you want to know more or see some of OnePlus’ recently announced products, including the OnePlus Pad and Buds Pro 2, the company is at Mobile World Congress from Monday 27th February to Thursday 2nd March in booth #3M10 in Hall 3.

OnePlus Delivers a Vision for the Future

OnePlus LogoRight on cue, OnePlus delivered its largest launch event showcasing the OnePlus 11 5G smartphone, Buds Pro 2 earphones, Pad tablet and the Keyboard 81 Pro. In some respects there were no surprises but the big takeaway was OnePlus’ ambition to build an ecosystem with phones at the centre.

OnePlus has always had a strong fan base or “community”, as they’d probably prefer but even I was surprised by the numbers. The OnePlus Red Cable Club has 30 million members and you actively have to join; you aren’t automatically enrolled. In comparison, OnePlus has sold 55 million phones, which is nothing compared to Apple’s 2 billion phones, but it means that nearly 55% of owners are in the Club. I think that’s impressive and important. And over 14,000 people watch the live event broadcasting from New Delhi, India.

OnePlus’ new cryptic legend is “1+4+X”. 1 is the phone at the heart of the ecosystem, 4 are the categories of TV, wearables, tablets and earphones. X is entertainment, efficiency and health. There we have it – OnePlus’ strategy for the next few years. It’s not an entirely new approach as there have been hints of this as far back as the early Nord phones.

For comparison, Samsung’s been at this for awhile and have been very successful at it, though some of their gear only interoperates with other Samsung products, cf SmartTags, which I find frustrating. Xiaomi is another useful comparison but hasn’t been as successful in building an ecosystem. Xiaomi have lots of products in different categories but they don’t present as a unified system.

As OnePlus unveiled new products, the presenters often emphasised the interoperability between, say, the Buds Pro 2, and the OnePlus 11. Having devices from the same stable is now an advantage and while the event was really about the high-end offerings, I imagine this will trickle down to the Nord phones and lesser Buds.

With the strategy out of the way, let’s talk about the products, pricing and availability. The specs are well covered elsewhere so I’ll highlight a few of the main features only.

The Phone
The OnePlus 11 5G is largely as expected with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powering a 6.7″ fluid AMOLED QHD+ display with 120 Hz refresh. Two colour ways, Eternal Green and Titan Black. There’s Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos and plenty of clever AI trickery called RAM-Vita to compress unused apps and reserve RAM for particular apps.

Inside is a 5000 mAh battery that will charge from 1 to 100% in 25 mins using the 100W SuperVOOC charger supplied in the box. While OnePlus reckons you’ll get at least 4 years of good battery health, I’m disappointed that there’s no wireless charging – I think that feature was last seen on the OnePlus 9. The phone is WiFi 7 ready and has dual WiFi acceleration to improve download speeds.

The 11G’s cameras are managed by Hasselblad’s 3rd generation of mobile software with hardware assistance and computational photography. The three cameras offer 50 MP OIS for the main lens, a 32 MP 2x optical zoom for portraits (and bokeh) and an ultra wide 48 MP lens. In addition there’s a new colour calibration sensor that really should ensure colours are true to life.

Pricing is
US$699 / 829€ / UK£729 for the 8GB+128GB version
US$799 / 899€ / UK£799 for the 16GB+256GB
Pre-orders are open now with shipping in around 20th February.

The Tablet
The OnePlus Pad is the first tablet from the company and I get slightly mixed messages on this device. OnePlus tout the entertainment credentials of the Pad – big screen, hi-resolution, large battery for video, great sound – but Pad also comes with a stylus and a magnetic keyboard, which makes me feel they’re going after the more work-like Samsung Tab S series. As pricing and availability hasn’t yet been announced we’ll have to see.

The Pad is powered by the Dimensity 9000 chipset with up to 12 GB RAM. The screen is 11.6″ with a 2800×2000 pixel resolution which ought to look lovely. There’s an unusual 7:5 screen ratio and from the pictures, it’s clear that OnePlus expect the Pad to be used in landscape orientation and it comes in a lovely Halo Green to match the Eternal Green of the 11.

There’s a large 9510 mAh battery which will take advantage of 67W SuperVOOC to charge rapidly but the most interesting part is that allegedly the Pad will retain power for a month on standby.

The OnePlus Pad will only be offered with WiFi connectivity as owners are expected to seamlessly connect through to their OnePlus phone.

No details on price but pre-orders are expected in April.

The Earbuds
There’s nothing much to say that hasn’t already been covered in previous articles here on GNC. The Buds Pro 2 will come in three colours; Arbor Green, Obsidian Black and Misty White. Co-created with Dynaudio, the Buds Pro 2s have dual drivers for exceptional sound reproduction and with three external mics, there’s up to 48 dB of a active noise cancellation. When used with the charging case, there’s up to 39 hours of listening and 10 mins of charge gives 10 hours of music.

Pricing is $179 / 179€ / UK£179 and pre-orders are open.

The Keyboard
The OnePlus Featuring Keyboard 81 Pro is an interesting addition to the portfolio. Yes, it’s a high-end mid-sized keyboard with some cool features but it doesn’t really seem to fit into the ecosystem. Yes, it will work with PCs, Macs and other devices but I don’t see what makes this OnePlus special other than a couple of red keycaps. The premium materials are lovely and there are some nifty features like the metal stand, but it would have been nice to see some customisation for the 11 or the Pad. One for the fans, I think.

Price and availability to be announced later.

Overall, a solid launch event from OnePlus with an exciting long term vision for the future and some pretty cool products as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a few of them in for view from the nice folks at OnePlus.

Xiaomi Opens Store in Birmingham, UK

Xiaomi Logo - an orange squircle with stylised white MI lettersIt might be the season to be jolly but it also seems to be the season for new stores. Following on from Nothing’s new bricks’n’mortar shop in London last weekend, Xiaomi are opening a new place in Birmingham, England.

Xiaomi’s latest pad is at 23 New Street, only a few minutes walk from the train station and Birmingham’s famous Bull Ring shopping centre. Opening today, 18th December, there will be all kinds of special offers as you’d expect for a grand opening from company well-know for its keenly priced products. This is their second UK store alongside the London shop at Westfield, White City.

In addition to usual smartphones, tablets, earbuds and smart watches, Xiaomi produce a wide range of other gadgets and gear; everything from luggage and scooters to air purifiers and air fryers. The Xiaomi portfolio is amazingly wide – it’s a gadget-lover’s heaven.

I was impressed with the Xiaomi Mi 12 smartphone when I reviewed it back in the summer – a good device at good price. Hopefully I’ll get a look at the 13-series when they’re available in Europe.

So if you are still struggling to find a gift for someone who’s hard to buy for, it might be worth a trip into Birmingham.