Laptop Mag Verdict
OnePlus' Nord N10 5G is a budget-friendly smartphone with premium features, but the performance compromise could be a problem for power users.
Decent 6.5-inch display
Long battery life
Inconsistent image quality
No wireless charging
Only sub-6Ghz 5G
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Search any best smartphones list and you'll find a name you might not recognize: OnePlus. Samsung, Apple, Google and LG are mega-corporations so how has a company founded in 2013 kept up with these giants? It is all about delivering value. Since debuting its first smartphone, OnePlus has gained in popularity by selling premium devices at lower prices than competitors. Past OnePlus phones have neatly fit into the premium and upper mid-range categories; with the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, the company is aiming to bring value to the budget market.
The OnePlus Nord N10 5G, a follow-up to the Nord sold in Europe earlier this year, packs some impressive specs for the price. Selling for £329 (US pricing is TBD), the Nord N10 has a 6.5-inch, 90Hz LCD display, quad camera, dual speakers, 5G support and a premium glass-clad design. Those features alone help the N10 stand out among a growing crowd of affordable phones.
OS: Android 10 with Oxygen OS
Display: 6.5 inches LCD, 2400 x 1080-pixel; 90Hz
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 690
Storage: 128GB (expandable to 512GB)
Rear camera: 64MP wide (f/1.79); 8MP ultra-wide-angle (f/2.25); 2MP macro (f/2.4); 2MP monochrome (f/2.4)
Front camera: 16MP (f/2.05)
Battery: 4,300 mAh
Size: 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.45 inches
Weight: 6.7 ounces
To no surprise, some corners were cut to keep the price down. There is no wireless charging, 5G is limited to the slower variants, and the phone's frame is made of plastic. Those are all easy to overlook at this price. What might be trickier to ignore are the inconsistent cameras and the Snapdragon 690 5G SoC, which delivers only average performance.
OnePlus Nord N10 5G: Price and availability
Let me first get a few things out of the way. Yes, the OnePlus Nord is coming to North America. Unfortunately, OnePlus hasn't revealed U.S. pricing and availability yet.
We do know, however, that the Nord N10 5G will be available in Europe starting at £329, or about $425. If I had to guess, the Nord N10 5G will cost either $400 or $450 in the U.S. when it launches here.
OnePlus Nord N10 5G: Design
This doesn't feel like a $400 smartphone. While the frame is made of plastic, the rear is clad in glass, a simple touch that gives the Nord a premium edge.
There isn't anything particularly interesting about the phone's design. What stands out most is the glossy back panel, which catches every reflection, subtly revealing lighter shades of the blue hue hiding beneath.
The dark blue tones in the Midnight Ice finish are only noticeable under certain lighting conditions. In a dimly lit room, the phone looks inky black. Get some fresh air on a clear day and the navy stands out a bit more. I'm struggling to pinpoint this exact color but "as close to black as blue gets" is the best I've got.
On the rear of the Nord N10 5G is a rounded rectangular camera module in a vertical orientation, which houses four cameras and a flash. To the right, is a circular fingerprint sensor under which is a silver OnePlus logo. The fingerprint sensor works fast and reliably, and in general, I prefer it over an IR camera or in-display touch sensor.
Gently curved edges make the phone easier to hold, as do the slim bezels around the display. For a 6.5-inch phone, the Nord N10 5G is relatively comfortable to grasp, although the glossy finish is slippery and trimming down the bottom display bezel could have reduced the footprint even further.
Allowing those bezels to be so thin is the hole-punch camera in the top-left corner of the screen. I hope we start seeing under-display camera tech, but should it never come to fruition, the hole-punch gets my vote over the notch found on the iPhone.
More premium phones have aluminum or stainless steel frames whereas the Nord uses plastic. The cheaper material doesn't bother me, and it helps the phone maintain a lightweight chassis (along with keeping the price down).
On that note, the Nord N10 5G weighs 6.7 ounces and measures 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.45 inches, making it lighter and smaller than the 6.7-inch Motorola One 5G (7.3 ounces, 6.6 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches) and the 6.5-inch TCL 10 5G UW (7.4 ounces, 6.4 x 3 x 0.4 inches). The Pixel 4a 5G is lighter (5.9 ounces) and smaller (6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches) than the Nord N10 5G.
OnePlus Nord N10 5G: Display
The Nord flaunts a 6.5-inch, 2400 x 1080-pixel (HD+) LCD display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and 90Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling. The panel isn't as vivid or bright as OLED screens, but I enjoyed browsing the web and watching shows on it nonetheless.
OnePlus did a great job calibrating the panel; the backgrounds on my favorite websites were a crisp white as I browsed Chrome, allowing the other colors to pop more. If you prefer warmer or darker tones, a simple slider in the display settings lets you easily change the white balance. It's a feature I'd like to see on more devices.
Everything was crisp and colors looked natural when I watched a trailer for the upcoming movie Free Guy. I could see minute details, like the stubble on Ryan Reynolds' chin or the shards of glass scattering across the floor when the protagonist breaks through a wall on a motorcycle. The neon signs throughout the video game world were a splattering of bold colors. I preferred the punchier tones on the Pixel 5 I compared the OnePlus against, but this is a good screen for a budget-friendly phone.
It's also worth mentioning the 90Hz refresh rate. Few phones at this price boast refresh rates above 60Hz, so this is a definite advantage for the Nord. What exactly does it mean? With a faster display, animations or any fast-moving objects look smoother. The difference will be obvious to some and less so for others.
According to our colorimeter, the Nord N10 5G covers 88.4% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, making the panel more colorful than the one on the TCL 10 5G (74.5%) but slightly less vibrant than the Pixel 4a 5G's display (91.3%).
When it comes to the display brightness, the Nord N10 5G holds its own. With a peak luminance of 405.7 nits, the Nord N10 outshines the TCL 10 5G (385 nits) and is about as bright as the Pixel 4a 5G (411 nits). The Motorola One 5G has a clear advantage, however, hitting 590 nits.
With a Delta-E of 0.22 (lower is better), the Nord N10 5G has a more color-accurate screen than the Pixel 4a 5G (0.3), TCL 10 5G (0.23) and Motorola One 5G (0.25).
OnePlus Nord N10 5G: Audio
The stereo speakers on the Nord N10 5G get loud and sound decent. Tora's "Similar" filled my living room without distorting at peak volumes. The ethereal vocals were somewhat hollow but no worse than what I'm used to from smartphones. More importantly, the vocalist's falsetto was never piercing and the instruments were nicely balanced, particularly the electric guitar, which drifted around the vocals without obscuring them.
When I skipped to the band's song "Paramount," the bass was weak, but the vocals were crisp and none of the instruments were overshadowed. Overall, the speakers are good for watching movies or TV shows, however, if you want the best audio when listening to music, grab a pair of wireless headphones or Bluetooth speakers.
OnePlus Nord N10 5G: Performance
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 5G SoC and 6GB of RAM, the Nord N10 is less powerful than the Nord released earlier this year, but a step up from the Nord N100 announced alongside the N10.
I had mixed results using the Nord N10 5G. In normal use, the phone was zippy, quickly loading apps and flipping through graphics-heavy websites. However, the Nord froze on several occasions. At one point, I couldn't play music on YouTube Music after using the fingerprint scanner to login. The device was nonfunctional for several seconds when I was unable to close the YouTube Music app or go back to the home page. I'm not sure what caused these issues — the phone or certain apps — but they spoiled an otherwise speedy browsing experience.
When it comes to storage, the Nord N10 5G has a solid 128GB of onboard space, which can be expanded to 512GB with a microSD card.
The Snapdragon 690 is the first 600-series chip in Qualcomm's lineup with 5G support, but there is some fine print. The Nord N10 5G will only support the slower sub-6Ghz 5G, not the fastest mmWave standard. That means the Nord N10 5G will benefit most from the growing 5G network in the U.S., but not enjoy the superfast speeds found scattered throughout a handful of urban areas.
The Nord N10 5G did a solid job on our performance benchmarks. Starting with Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the Nord N10 5G hit 1,843 on the multi-core test. The Pixel 4a 5G fell just short (1614, Snapdragon 765G) of the mark, whereas the Motorola One 5G (1,952, Snapdragon 765) and TCL 10 5G (1932, Snapdragon 765G) narrowly edged ahead.
Shifting to graphics, the Nord N10 5G scored a 2,173 on 3DMark's Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL 3.1 benchmark. That result isn't enough to put the Nord ahead of the Pixel 4a 5G (2,959) or the TCL 10 5G UW (3,301).
OnePlus Nord N10 5G: Battery life and charging
Helped by a large 4,400mAh battery, the Nord N10 5G's endurance is excellent. The phone should easily last you a full day on a charge and have enough juice in the morning to wake you with an alarm.
The phone lasted for 11 hours and 48 minutes on our battery test, which involves continuous web browsing over T-Mobile's network with the display brightness set to 150 nits. That is much longer than the runtimes of the Pixel 4a 5G (8:12) and the Motorola One 5G (9:14). The TCL came up a bit short of the Nord N10, powering down at 11:15.
Getting the Nord back to 100% from 0% doesn't take long thanks to 30W fast charging. It took the Nord N10 only 15 minutes to regain a 39% charge and 30 minutes to get up to 69%. Some quick math will tell you that the Nord N10 should reach a full charge within an hour.
There is no wireless charging option on the Nord N10 5G, a feature found on pricier devices. As someone who charges their phone throughout the day, I prefer using fast charging via the USB-C port. However, I recognize the convenience of plopping your phone down on a mat before you turn in each night.
Like its older sibling, the Nord N10 comes with OnePlus' optimized charging feature. When turned on, the Nord N10 5G will track when you charge your phone then limit how much your phone is charged for most of that time. Why would you want that? Because charging to 100% can reduce the longevity of the battery, so stopping it short of those strenuous higher percentages helps prolong the capacity of the lithium-ion cell.
OnePlus Nord N10 5G: Cameras
The Nord N10 has a quad-camera setup, which is not something you find often at this price.
Digging into the specs, the N10 has a 64-megapixel, f/1.79 main wide-angle camera, an 8MP, f/2.25 ultra-wide-angle camera, a 2MP, f/2.4 macro lens for close-up photography, and a 2MP, f/2.4 monochrome camera.
What's missing? Those who want zoom range will bemoan the lack of a telephoto lens. I don't mind so much. I've rarely used the 2x zoom lens on my Pixel 4 XL and generally find an ultra-wide-angle lens to be more practical.
The Nord N10 5G's cameras are hit-or-miss. Some photos I took looked great but the four lenses are too inconsistent for anyone who wants to use the OnePlus as their primary photo-taking device.
These first two pictures (flip through gallery) were taken with the main camera. In the first shot, I let the OnePlus Nord decide what to focus on. As you can see, the image is dark; it's hard to make out the red color in the center tree or the yellow in the one on the right side. When I told the camera to focus on the red tree, the OnePlus brightened the entire image. It's a more pleasing shot but the colors are oversaturated.
These photos on the America-Canada border show how well the cameras cope in bright conditions. The blues in the sky and water are realistic and the camera dealt with the afternoon sunshine admirably in most of these shots.
The first image (above) was taken with the main camera at the default focal length while the second was shot with 2x zoom. While it brings the stunning yellow tree in the center of the frame closer, the zoomed-in image isn't nearly as sharp.
The ultra-wide-angle lens is useful and the picture quality is solid. In this photo, the secondary lens captured the USA and Canada flags while the main camera could only see halfway up the flag poles.
I like this black-and-white shot I took with the monochrome lens. It's sharp; you can see some texture in the rock and details in the hair.
I didn't find Nightscape mode to be very useful. Enabling the setting didn't brighten this picture much. Yes, the Nightscape shot is the better of these two, but it's nowhere near the transformation seen with Night Mode on the Pixel 4a 5G.
I'd post the above selfie to Instagram. There is a nice amount of detail in my face, the colors are accurate, and the blue in the sky is nicely captured.
OnePlus Nord N10 5G: Software
Oxygen OS 10.5.3, OnePlus' proprietary software, is one of the best Android 10 skins around. It adds useful tools without bogging down Google's streamlined OS with extraneous features or conspicuous branding.
What tinkering OnePlus did to the Android UI resulted in a clean interface that is fluid and easy to navigate. There aren't any new features worth mentioning as part of this review, but those who have never owned a OnePlus should be aware of what you get when you buy from the brand.
That includes a few first-party apps, including a custom File Manager with a password-protected "Lockbox" and a community forum where you'll find tips and support for your phone. There is also an app locker feature that puts a password on apps so others can't pry, and a Parallels feature clones apps so you can run them in dual mode with multiple instances open at once. When Fnastic mode is enabled, the OnePlus Nord becomes optimized for gaming.
Oxygen OS has its own gestures system that lets you take screenshots with a three-finger swipe or open controls when the screen is turned off. Once enabled, you can draw different letters on the Nord N10 5G's screen when the device is sleeping to instantly open apps. For example, when I assigned the letter V to open the camera, all I needed to do to grab a quick photo was to scribble on the dark screen and wait for the camera app to launch.
Performance hiccups and inconsistent cameras aside, the Nord N10 5G has been a trusty companion over my week or so of testing. The display, while short of OLED quality, is great at this price and I've been happy with the battery life and fast charging. I also take my hat off to OnePlus for crafting an affordable device that genuinely feels premium (despite a plastic frame).
Where does that put the Nord N10? We're waiting on official US pricing, but anything below $500 would make it a compelling option. Having said that, those who want better image quality should consider the $499 Pixel 4a 5G. It has a smaller 6.2-inch screen and worse battery life, but the cameras are second-to-none at this price. If you can stretch your budget, go with the more powerful Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, which has dropped to $599 in recent deals. If you like what OnePlus is serving, consider the OnePlus 8T ($749) as well.
The Nord N10 5G might not be a perfect phone, but it is undoubtedly one of the best in this price range. With a large display, premium design, flexible (if mediocre) quad cameras, and long battery life, the OnePlus Nord N10 5G earns my recommendation for budget shoppers who need a reliable device with modern features.
OnePlus Nord N10 5G Specs
|Rear camera||64MP wide (f/1.79); 8MP ultra-wide-angle (f/2.25); 2MP macro (f/2.4); 2MP monochrome (f/2.4)|
|Display||6.5-inch LCD (2400x1080)|
|Storage||128GB (expandable to 512GB)|
|Front camera||16MP (f/2.05)|
Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.