OnePlus makes distinctive smartphones. From OxygenOS and the notification slider on the side of the body to the premium materials and value-driven prices, you have always known what you’re getting with a OnePlus phone. It’s a secret sauce that makes the company so revered among phone fans.
The new OnePlus Nord N10 5G departs from this established formula and meets only two of the familiar OnePlus mainstays mentioned above. Over the past few days, I’ve swapped between the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, the OnePlus Nord, and the Google Pixel 4a to see how these alterations affect the new model.
While you can compare the three phones using only specs and price, what about the differences that only show up through everyday use? That was the mission here, and I discovered the N10
The OnePlus N10
The difference really comes in holding the phone. There’s a flex and a degree of “hollowness” in the OnePlus N10 5G’s rear panel, something that’s entirely absent from the OnePlus Nord, and from the tightly-made Pixel 4a too. It’s heavier and thicker than the other two phones, all of which add up to it feeling cheap and rather old. Not what you want from a brand new phone. The N10 5G’s shifting color is attractive, but we’ve seen it done before, and done better, on phones like the Honor 20.
OnePlus has dropped its most recognizable design feature from the N10 — the notification slider. This handy little switch changes between silent, vibrate, and ring modes without digging into the software, and ensures it’s quickly reversible too. It’s present on the Nord, the OnePlus 8 Pro, and the OnePlus 8T, yet not on the N10. It makes it less like a OnePlus phone, and rather more generic.
In the U.K., the OnePlus Nord N10
Don’t compromise on performance
Materials and modern design may not matter to everyone, but performance really should. Adequate speed makes your phone easy to live with, and avoids any frustration doing everyday tasks. I was shocked by the often ponderous performance provided by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 inside the N10, and continue to be impressed by the Snapdragon 765G in the Nord.
The N10’s lack of zip is noticeable throughout the operating system, right down the key taps and the associated haptic vibrations getting out of sync when you type quickly. These days I rarely “hurry” a phone by repeatedly tapping a button because I think it hasn’t registered my intent, but I did with the N10. Crowbarring in a speedy
It’s tempting to pass the lethargy off as a “cheap phone thing,” but there really isn’t any need to make that excuse today, when the Pixel 4a and OnePlus Nord do not suffer from the same problem. Even OxygenOS — OnePlus’s own Android user interface — can’t save the day entirely, because it is OxygenOS 10.5 rather than OxygenOS 11 found on the OnePlus 8T, making it out of date. The Nord is similarly afflicted, but the Pixel 4a has the very latest version of Android 11 which has masses of speed, so any shortfall in performance from the phone using a Snapdragon 730G isn’t noticeable.
Oddly though, and something that makes me question the general software optimization on the Nord N10
Only one camera winner
On paper, the OnePlus Nord N10
Taking pictures with the respective night modes revealed a massive difference between the phones. On a particularly foggy night, the Pixel 4a’s Nightscape mode caught the fog in its photo, while the Nord tried admirably but ended up with a lot of noise. The N10’s photo is arguably the most “realistic,” given it was late at night when the photo was taken, but that doesn’t make it desirable.
It’s hard to split the OnePlus Nord and the OnePlus Nord N10
Yes, the Nord phones have more features, but no, that doesn’t make them better than the Pixel 4a. However, they both take decent everyday casual photos and at this price, are suitably impressive.
Battery and security
Each phone lasted an entire day on a single charge, with energy to spare at the end of it, although not enough to see any of them last a second full day. The OnePlus Nord and N10 5G’s Warp Charge 30 fast-charging system is a handy feature, pushing the battery to 70% capacity in about 30 minutes. It’s welcome, but not really a strong reason to buy on its own. None of the phones have wireless charging.
The Nord’s in-display fingerprint sensor is the fastest secure unlocking method here, with the N10 5G’s rear sensor being a little hard to quickly find with your finger due to its small size and the phone’s wide body. The Pixel 4a’s rear sensor usually needs a couple of tries before it unlocks the phone, but I do like the haptic feedback tap when it does.
Is the Nord N10 5G a true OnePlus phone?
It does say OnePlus on the back of the Nord N10
I used each phone for about the same length of time, and once my SIM was out of the Nord N10
My SIM could have easily stayed in the 5G has no meaning in my local area, and it isn’t a feature for regular people to worry about right now, especially at this price. If you’re really that desperate for
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