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OnePlus Nord N200 5G review: Affordable 5G at a price

OnePlus Nord N200 5G trips at the budget phone championship finish line

OnePlus Nord N200 5G
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G comes close to budget phone perfection, but it's marred by a couple of major sacrifices.

For

  • Gorgeous, premium design
  • Vivid 90Hz display
  • 5G support
  • Affordably priced
  • microSD and 3.5mm headphone jack

Against

  • Cameras are below average
  • Only one software update
  • No water/dust resistance

Laptop Mag Verdict

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G comes close to budget phone perfection, but it's marred by a couple of major sacrifices.

Pros

  • + Gorgeous, premium design
  • + Vivid 90Hz display
  • + 5G support
  • + Affordably priced
  • + microSD and 3.5mm headphone jack

Cons

  • - Cameras are below average
  • - Only one software update
  • - No water/dust resistance
  • -
OnePlus Nord N200 5G specs

Price: $240
OS: Android 11 / OxygenOS 11
Display: 6.4-inch FHD+ LCD (2,400 x 1080)
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 480
RAM: 4GB
Rear cameras: 13MP wide (ƒ/2.2); 2MP macro (ƒ/2.4); 2MP monochrome (ƒ/2.4)
Front camera: 16MP (f/2.05)
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 10:37 (60Hz); 10:28 (90Hz)
Size: 6.4 x 2.95 x 0.32 inches
Weight: 6.6 ounces  

OnePlus has slowly become more synonymous with genuine flagship phones than budget flagship killers in recent years, but last year’s OnePlus Nord N10 5G showed the company still had some budget phone chops. Now the OnePlus Nord N200 5G drops the price even lower to just $240.

If we were judging phones on design alone, the Nord N200 would have rocketed its way to the top of my best budget phones, and the inclusion of 5G at under $250 breaks new ground. But as is often the case, what’s on the inside counts and the Nord N200 hides a few cracks under that beautiful facade.

Depending on your priorities, you may not care about its shortcomings as the OnePlus Nord N200 5G delivers in a number of key areas, but read on to see why some will want to skip the latest budget offering from OnePlus.

 OnePlus Nord N200 5G: Price and configurations 

The low price is the attention-grabber for the OnePlus Nord N200 5G which starts at just $240 with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and 5G support. 

If you worry about picking the right color or configuration for your phone, then the OnePlus Nord N200 5G is perfect for you. It comes in a single Blue Quantum hue and there are no upgrade options for storage. 

T-Mobile and its prepaid Metro by T-Mobile sub-brand are the only carriers selling the OnePlus Nord N200 5G, but you can also buy it unlocked directly from OnePlus or Best Buy.

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

OnePlus Nord N200 5G: Design 

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G makes an incredible first impression; the Blue Quantum matte finish on the back gives it the same reflective color-shifting look found on the more expensive OnePlus models. It is a gorgeous look, especially when it catches the light just right. 

Picking up the phone reveals a nice heft; the back is plastic, but that is a positive for durability. Moreover, the Nord N200 5G doesn't have the slippery plastic feel of some budget phones. With its 6.49-inch display, it’s not a small phone, measuring 6.4 x 2.95 x 0.32 inches, and given the plastic back, it weighs slightly less than you would expect, at 6.7 ounces.

This stacks up favorably to some similarly budget-priced competitors like the Moto G Power (6.5 x 3 x 0.37 inches, 7.3 ounces) and the OnePlus Nord N10 5G (6.4 x 2.9 x 0.45 inches, 6.7 ounces). The Nord N200 is positively slim by comparison, contributing to a more premium appearance.

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Despite having a large display, the phone is pleasant to hold given the slimmer frame and rounded edges. I could use the phone one-handed without issues. The fingerprint sensor is located in the power button on the right side of the phone. Having just come off using the Galaxy Z Fold 2, I was already used to this position, but it’ll take some slight adjustments if your current device has a back panel or in-display fingerprint reader. I’m partial to the side placement as I can have the phone unlocked before it is out of my pocket; for those that like facial recognition, I was surprised by how well it worked on the Nord N200. You need decent lighting and it can’t be used for secure apps (e.g. banking), but it rarely failed me.

Taking a trip around the rest of the phone, there are volume up and down buttons on the left side and along the bottom is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB Type-C port. I would normally ignore the existence of the SIM tray on the right side of the phone, but in this case, it also houses a microSD slot, allowing you to add up to 256GB of additional storage.

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G isn’t a bold new design from OnePlus, but it is nonetheless a remarkable achievement for a phone in this price range. There are some definite shortcomings to the Nord N200, but even though it occasionally disappoints, it looks good doing it.
 

OnePlus Nord N200 5G: Display 

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G features a 6.49-inch, FHD+ (2400 x 1080) IPS LCD display. Almost as amazing as the presence of 5G in a sub-$250 phone is the 90Hz refresh rate, something Apple has yet to bring to even its top-tier flagships. 

I watched the new trailer for the upcoming “Foundation” series on YouTube at 1080p and came away impressed by an LCD that lacks HDR certification. It produces a very crisp image with plenty of detail and it held up well to the often challenging lighting in the trailer. 

The mottled exterior of each spaceship was shown in excellent detail along with the flared blue of their reactors, but there is something missing. I’m accustomed to that HDR pop you get from an OLED panel, particularly in a space scene like these where the inky blackness should be enveloping the ships. The LCD just can’t hit those black levels or vibrant colors. It’s an excellent LCD and easily eclipses competitors in this price range, so set your expectations properly and you’ll be happy.

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Our lab testing of the display was even better than I had anticipated. The OnePlus Nord N200 5G reproduced 113.8% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. That’s in a different universe than the Moto G Power (69.3%) and the OnePlus Nord N10 5G (88.4%). 

The results of the Delta-E color accuracy test (lower is better) brought things down to earth with the OnePlus Nord N200 5G at 0.26. The Moto G Power came in just ahead at (0.25), while the OnePlus Nord N10 5G walked away with the gold (0.22). 

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G will hold up alright in bright environments with a maximum of 415 nits of brightness in our testing. The Moto G Power (438 nits) finally scored a win while the OnePlus Nord N10 5G (406 nits) slotted in just behind.

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

OnePlus Nord N200 5G: Performance 

Up to now, it had been hiding it pretty well, but the OnePlus Nord N200 5G’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 processor cements this as a budget phone. Paired with 4GB of RAM, this is the minimum of what I would deem to be acceptable on even a budget Android phone in 2021. The 64GB is a bit disappointing, but you do have the microSD slot so for $10 to $20, you can double or triple your storage.

Budget processor though it may be, the Snapdragon 480 held up quite well to most of my daily tasks. I had no trouble launching a couple of dozen Google Chrome tabs and running a Netflix video in the background. I caught the occasional stutter here and there, but nothing that was reproducible 100% of the time. Considering I stuck to the 90Hz refresh rate, I was really surprised that it managed to keep up as well as it did. 

It should perhaps go without saying, but if your idea of gaming is anything more than puzzle or card games, you are going to need to look elsewhere. 

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 1,602 seemed to back this up well. That gave it a solid edge on the Moto G Power (1,437) with its older Snapdragon 662, but the Snapdragon 690-powered Nord N10 5G (1,843) was too much for both of them.

Graphics benchmarks tell the tale of the gaming prowess of the OnePlus Nord N200 5G even better than my quickly abandoned efforts at PUBG on the phone. It managed a mere 5.8 frames per second in the Wild Life Unlimited 3DMark test. That was still enough to beat the Moto G Power (2.2 fps) and the OnePlus Nord N10 5G (4.8 fps), but there are no real winners here.

Basic tasks are absolutely fine with the OnePlus Nord N200 5G; OnePlus may have some optimizations to do with the animations to make things even smoother, but for a phone in this price range, it is impressively smooth. 

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

OnePlus Nord N200 5G: Audio

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G has mono speakers, which is to be expected at this price point. The speakers perform about as you would expect. Volume isn’t a problem, but clarity starts to fall apart above roughly 80%. It was fine for watching a video in a relatively quiet room, but if you are listening to music or want to be immersed in your video, you will want a pair of wireless headphones. Alternatively, you could plug into the 3.5mm headphone jack.

I stuck with the “Foundation” trailer for my audio testing as the often quiet voiceover punctuated by the occasional orchestral flourish made for an interesting combination for these little speakers. While I could hear the audio throughout my 12 x 18-foot listening space, it didn’t fill the space with booming sound. The voiceover sounded excellent, effectively capturing the deep intonation by Lee Pace, but the music lacked any of the punch that should have been present.

Bluetooth 5.1 and the 3.5mm headphone jack are your friends; don’t rely on these speakers unless you have no alternative.

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

OnePlus Nord N200 5G: Battery life and charging 

Like many other budget phones in this price range, battery capacity is one area where the Nord N200 can go toe-to-toe with flagships. Featuring a massive 5,000mAh battery that’s on par with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, you would assume the Nord N200 could last for days. This is where some of the other components take their toll, for example, using an LCD rather than OLED. As a result, the Nord N200 merely manages to match the competition.

In its full 90Hz setting, the OnePlus Nord N200 5G managed 10 hours and 28 minutes oin our tests, which involves constant web browsing over cellular (T-Mobile) at 150 nits. Dropping to 60Hz boosted this to 10:37, so doing so is not worth the decreased refresh rate. That’s nowhere close to the Moto G Power (14:04) and is even handily beaten by last year’s OnePlus Nord N10 5G (11:48).

This lined up with my experience using the phone. On most days, I was able to power through a normal 7:30 AM to 10:30 PM schedule without a problem, typically plugging the Nord in with 15-20% remaining. During a normal day with a review device, I’m running Netflix and/or YouTube streaming for 90 minutes to two hours, web browsing, using social media, gaming, and then capturing some photos and videos. 

When you do need to charge, the OnePlus Nord N200 5G supports 18W wired fast charging which comes in the box. It's nice this is included, but it could be a disappointment to OnePlus fans who are accustomed to much faster charging from the company. Last year’s budget OnePlus Nord N10 5G was capable of 30W charging and the OnePlus flagships now deliver 65W fast charging. In our testing, the Nord N200 hit 16% after 15 minutes and reached 32% in 30 minutes. 

OnePlus Nord N200 5G cameras

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

OnePlus Nord N200 5G: Cameras 

A glance at the back of the OnePlus Nord N200 5G may have you thinking it sports a similar triple camera array to pricey flagships like the OnePlus 9 Pro. Sadly, that isn't the case. Instead, this is where you start to feel its budget price. The primary sensor is a wide-angle 13MP at f/2.2, which isn’t a great start. Things go aggressively downhill from there with a 2MP macro at f/2.4 and a 2MP monochrome also at f/2.4. 

I tried to set my expectations properly with this phone; it’s less than $250 and isn't going to hold up to $400 to $500 phones let alone flagships. Still, I was disappointed. The primary 13MP camera is mediocre even in full daylight and falls apart completely in remotely challenging lighting conditions. Here are a few samples of a pond in the middle of the day; the shot from the primary is blown out and the colors are off. The camera gives you a 2x up to an 8x digital zoom option, but as you’ll see, you shouldn't use those as the colors get worse and focus fails.

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G 1x zoom

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G 2x zoom

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G 8x zoom

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G 1x zoom

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G 2x zoom

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G 8x zoom

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G 1x zoom

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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My feelings on macro lenses remain unchanged. It can be kind of fun to use, but most people won't need it. The monochrome lens should be offering additional data for the primary lens, but the results are obviously underwhelming. 

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G macro

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G macro

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G macro

The front-facing camera is a 16MP sensor with an unusual f/2.05 aperture. Even with the beauty mode turned off (it’s on by default), it manipulated the image in some way. In these samples, you’ll get a better feel for its struggle to balance lighting; it was in HDR mode for all of these shots and couldn’t deal with the shifting light.

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G front-facing camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G front-facing camera samples

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OnePlus Nord N200 5G front-facing camera samples

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If a good camera appears on your priority list then the OnePlus Nord N200 5G isn’t the right choice. If you love OnePlus then stick with its own Nord N10 5G; it produces significantly better images and includes an ultra-wide camera.

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

OnePlus Nord N200 5G: Software 

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G runs Android 11 with OxygenOS 11, the Android skin from OnePlus. While OxygenOS has taken some notes from Samsung’s One UI in recent years, it still offers a largely stock experience with more extensive customization options than you’ll find in the standard Android. Some of that is changing with Android 12.

With that said, the OnePlus Nord N200 5G has one huge disadvantage when it comes to software — the updates promised by OnePlus. You will only receive one major Android OS update to Android 12, which is due to launch in just a few months. You also receive three years of security updates, so the phone isn’t being abandoned after the update this fall, but two major updates should be the minimum, even for budget phones. 

OnePlus Nord N200 5G

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Bottom line

The OnePlus Nord N200 5G is the best sub-$250 phone I’ve used. I’m still blown away by the fit and finish OnePlus delivered in a phone this cheap, but there are a couple of tradeoffs I couldn't live with.

Chief among these is the camera. If you have any aspirations to take photos or videos with your phone then you will need to leave them at the door as the Nord N200's cameras fall flat. It’s always possible for OnePlus to improve the software, but don’t buy the phone counting on that happening. 

Software support is my other major critique. I know it’s a budget phone, but you only get one software update which is arriving within a few months of this phone launching — that's unacceptable.

If you can look past those two flaws, this is an otherwise fantastic phone that is equal to others that cost twice the price, but for most people, these concessions will be too big to ignore.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.