“For a phone that only costs $228, the OnePlus Nord N300 5G has a lot of good going for it, but it's not perfect.”
- Sleek and lightweight design
- 90Hz refresh rate on a large 6.56-inch display
- Nice tactile haptics
- Great selfie camera
- Expandable storage via microSD
- 5,000mAh battery with 33W fast charging
- Lower-res screen resolution
- 2MP depth camera doesn't add much
- Won't get updates after Android 13
- Only available on T-Mobile
OnePlus is a popular brand in the Android world, particularly for value. Who doesn’t like to get a device that packs in some bang for your buck, after all? The Nord N300 5G is the latest in OnePlus’s Nord series, and all things considered, at $228 from T-Mobile, it’s quite good for a budget smartphone.
Though my primary device is an iPhone 14 Pro, I’ve been using the OnePlus Nord N300 5G a bit over the past few weeks, and it’s proven to be pretty decent. The Nord N300 5G has good performance, a large display with a nice refresh rate, and fast 33W charging. It also has a sleek design that’s lightweight and just feels good in the hand. For a super affordable budget smartphone, there’s a lot to like in the OnePlus Nord N300 5G.
The design of the OnePlus Nord N300 5G is very similar to Apple’s more recent iPhones, like the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro. This means flat edges all around the sides, with a glimmering sheen that makes it look like it’s made from aluminum. However, the entire chassis of the N300 is wrapped in a plastic material that has a slight texture to it, so the phone itself is very lightweight. You’ll find the SIM card/microSD card tray and volume buttons on the left edge, the power button on the right, and the headphone jack, speaker grill, and USB-C charging port at the bottom.
The OnePlus Nord N300 5G only comes in “midnight jade,” which is basically black. While the plastic is more matte than glossy, I found that it still picked up finger smudges quite easily as I’m handling the device. Not as bad as a glass back, though, and it’s easy enough to wipe clean, but still worth noting. I’d advocate for a case, just because the plastic makes the Nord N300 feel slippery anyway. The back features the OnePlus logo in the center, and the top left corner houses the dual rear camera system.
The size of the N300 is a bit larger than I prefer (I even think my 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro is too big sometimes), coming in at 6.5 x 3.0 x 0.3 inches with a 6.56-inch display. It’s far from a compact phone, but at 6.7 ounces, it never feels too heavy or unwieldy to use.
The power button on the right side also houses the fingerprint scanner. I found this to be an awkward type of placement, however, and I tend not to use it. There is also a facial recognition sensor in the front-facing camera that works very well. But unfortunately, it’s not quite as secure as something like Apple’s Face ID. Like the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, face unlock on the OnePlus Nord N300 5G is only available for unlocking the lock screen. If you want to unlock a banking app, password manager, etc., you have to use the fingerprint sensor.
The OnePlus Nord N300 5G features a 6.56-inch IPS LCD screen with full HD. The resolution is 1612 x 720 pixels with 269 pixels per inch (ppi) density. Technically, that’s a bit low considering the size of the display, but when factoring in the price point, it’s not terrible. As you use it, things may look high-resolution at first, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice some things may appear soft and low-res due to the lower density.
The N300 also has peak brightness at about 480 nits and a refresh rate of 90Hz. Considering that the standard iPhone 14 has a measly 60Hz refresh rate, the N300 has some advantages for the price, though the iPhone 14 still beats the brightness at 1,200 nits.
One thing I did notice right away when I unboxed the OnePlus Nord N300 5G is that, although the display goes from edge to edge, there is a very thin bezel that actually separates the display glass from the frame. There’s also a slight bezel from the display edge to what you actually see on the screen when the device is in use. During normal use, you probably won’t think much of it, but it may catch your eye from time to time.
The OnePlus Nord N300 5G is equipped with the octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 810 chip. While this sounds more impressive on paper than, say, Apple’s 6-core A16 in the iPhone 14 Pro, it isn’t entirely the case. Think of it more like a dual quad-core system, and various tasks are split between both, depending on the type of task and how resource-intensive it is. In this case, the lower power core set is used for the majority of tasks that may be performed, and once you need to do something more advanced, the other, more powerful core will be utilized.
Other specs of the Nord N300 include 64GB of base storage, though this is expandable up to 1TB through the use of a microSD card. The N300 also has 4GB of RAM, which is on the lower end for most Android phones, though on par for the low price range.
The Nord N300 comes with OxygenOS, which is a custom version of Android that is exclusive to all OnePlus phones. This version of OxygenOS is based on Android 12, and even though I’m a relative newcomer to Android (I’ve only really used iPhones since 2008), I found it pretty easy to navigate. These days, I mostly use my devices for social media, messages, and keeping up with emails, which the N300 is perfectly capable of doing. The display is very responsive, OxygenOS feels snappy overall, and it’s also pretty quick with tasks like basic photo editing.
One thing I particularly liked was the haptic feedback on the N300 as I typed on the keyboard, as well as the feedback when navigating with gestures. It’s nice, gentle feedback that has enough tactility without being overly obnoxious. I was pleasantly surprised with the haptic engine, considering the cost of the phone.
However, I did notice that once I put in the supplied T-Mobile SIM card, the N300 automatically downloaded numerous carrier apps. As someone who has come from an iPhone for over a decade, I found this to be a little annoying and, in a way, gross. It’s not surprising for a phone sold as a T-Mobile exclusive in the U.S., but it’s still not something I like to see.
I’m not expecting top performance from the Nord N300 when it comes to gaming, but in my testing, it did OK. There is a bit of stuttering in graphically intensive games when the settings are maxed out, but that’s to be expected given the chip that the phone uses. For simple games, it’s totally fine, but for games like Genshin Impact and Diablo Immortal, the settings may need to be toned down for the best results. In fact, you can’t even enable the “Ultra” setting for graphics in Diablo Immortal on the N300.
It is important to note that the OnePlus Nord N300 5G is only slated to get one major software update in its lifetime, and that’s it. Since it ships with OxygenOS based on Android 12, it will get Android 13 later on, but nothing after that. OnePlus will continue to support two years of security updates, but nothing more. This isn’t a huge surprise given the price, but even then, it’s hard to defend a single-update policy for any smartphone in 2022.
You can also access T-Mobile or Metro’s 5G network with the OnePlus Nord N300 5G, making this one of the more affordable options for handsets with 5G capabilities. My area has T-Mobile’s faster ultra-capacity network, and I had no problems with the connection on the N300. My speeds varied, but I could get over 100Mbps most of the time, though my iPhone 14 Pro seemed to be lagging in that department, oddly enough.
Though the back of the OnePlus Nord N300 5G makes it look like a dual camera system, that’s not really the case. The rear camera includes a 48MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture, and underneath it is another 2MP depth sensor with f/2.4. It’s an odd choice, but it’s supposed to help the main camera with better focus and dept- of-field bokeh. The front-facing selfie camera has a 16MP sensor and f/2.0 aperture.
Photos taken with the rear camera were a mixed bag when compared to my iPhone 14 Pro and Google Pixel 7. This is expected given the $228 price of the Nord N300 compared to the significantly higher costs of a Pixel 7 or iPhone 14 Pro, but that expectation doesn’t make the camera particularly great. If you’re just looking at it from a budget phone perspective, the N300’s photos are… fine.
I took a photo of a gorgeous sunset where, in reality, the clouds off in the distance were lit up with a bright orange color, while other wisps of clouds were more pinkish in hue, and everything was against a muted blue sky. The iPhone 14 Pro and Google Pixel 7 seemed to capture a more realistic version of what I was seeing with my own eyes, while the Nord N300 washed out the orange with more shades of pink, which is not how the sunset actually looked. With this sunset that I captured, the N300 was the most disappointing.
I also tried taking a photo of my Disneyland Club 33 travel mug in my kitchen, using only natural light on a mostly cloudy day. The iPhone 14 Pro and Google Pixel 7 were great at capturing what it looks like in reality, though the iPhone seemed to lean more on the warmer side while the Pixel is slightly cooler. However, the N300 made the colors brighter and more vibrant, which feel much more artificial than what you see in real life. It also went way more on the cool side, which is not accurate to reality.
Portrait mode pictures taken with the N300 are also just okay, and nothing too impressive. I was honestly expecting more considering that there is a standalone 2MP depth sensor, but the background blur in portrait images is too subtle for my tastes. Plus, it’s not like the N300 has a telephoto or ultra-wide lens either, which I’m used to for portrait mode on the iPhone, which produces better results overall. This is where it’s clear that the N300 is a $200 phone and not a $1,000 phone.
Oddly enough, the 16MP selfie camera is better for portraits, as the depth effect is stronger and more noticeable with the front-facing camera than with the rear. Colors also feel balanced, and it doesn’t come out too over or underexposed, which is a plus. If you’re a big selfie person, then the N300 camera is surprisingly good for the price.
Those who like to shoot a lot of video may be disappointed with the N300, though. Because of the MediaTek Dimensity 810 chip, video recording is limited to a max of 1080p resolution at 30fps, even though most other phones these days are capable of shooting 4K at 60fps.
OnePlus packed a massive 5,000mAh battery in the Nord N300. With my light to moderate use (which mostly just involves doom-scrolling these days), this battery lasts for at least two days before I feel like I need to put it on the charger. Of course, this usage time may be shortened if you do a lot of heavy gaming or stream video and audio. Still, though, if you are mostly just concerned about the battery getting you through an entire day without having to worry about plugging it in, the Nord N300 will easily last a full day at least.
Though the N300 does not support Qi-compatible wireless charging, it does have 33W fast charging. And unlike most phones today, you get a 33W power adapter in the box, along with a USB-C cable — though you can always use a cable you already have, too. With the 33W fast charging feature, you should go from zero to 100% in about an hour and a half. When you think about the $228 price, that’s pretty impressive, also considering how large the battery is.
The OnePlus Nord N300 5G is only available through T-Mobile and Metro. Unfortunately, you can’t buy it unlocked, and it’s only available in the U.S. with no plans to make it available in other markets. OnePlus Nord N300 5G only comes in a 64GB model with 4GB of RAM, and you only have one color, which is midnight jade. It costs $228.
Considering that the OnePlus Nord N300 5G is on the lower side of the price spectrum, there are a couple of other budget-friendly Android phones that are worthy competitors for it. You can pick up the Google Pixel 6a for $400, which offers flagship-level performance for a relatively affordable price. The screen is a 6.1-inch OLED display, so it’s already a higher resolution than the N300, though the refresh rate is only 60Hz. It also has the Google Tensor chip that is also in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and this is a powerful chip that gives you optimal performance with Android 12. You’ll also get several years of updates, which is already going to be more than the N300. And, of course, the cameras on the Pixel 6a are certainly a step up above what OnePlus has in the Nord N300 — and you get cool features like Magic Eraser.
Another competing option is the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G. This is one of Samsung’s more budget-friendly Galaxy devices, as it comes in at only $449. It also has a large 5,000mAh battery like the OnePlus Nord N300 5G, and you can get about two full days of use from it. The Galaxy A53 5G also has a 6.5-inch super AMOLED screen with 2400 x 1080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, giving it an edge over the N300 — though it is almost $200 more. Don’t forget about the cameras, either! On the Galaxy A53 5G, you have a 64MP main camera, 12MP wide angle, a dual pair of sensors for depth and macro, and the front-facing camera is a whopping 32MP.
All things considered, the OnePlus Nord N300 5G is not a bad phone at all. It’s super affordable, and packs in a good amount of power and performance for the price. It has a large 6.56-inch LCD screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, which is even higher than the standard iPhone 14. OxygenOS is simple enough to use and quite snappy with the MediaTek Dimensity 810 chip, and you can expect to get at least Android 13 on it later down the road. I’m also a big fan of the haptic feedback, which I wasn’t expecting from a midrange device. Plus, the battery is simply massive at 5,000mAh, and the 33W fast charging is impressive.
Of course, the Nord N300 has its flaws, too. The 269ppi is a little low considering the size of the display, and coming from an iPhone 14 Pro with 120Hz ProMotion, the difference is very noticeable. I’m also not a big fan of how my photos came out with the 48MP camera, and I really expected more from the 2MP depth sensor for portrait shots. The 16MP selfie camera is better than the rear, especially for portraits, so at least that’s a little bit of redemption.
If you’re looking for a relatively affordable Android device that is less than $250, then the OnePlus Nord N300 5G is a good pick. Just don’t expect it to have all the bells and whistles of other Android smartphones or Apple’s own iPhone lineup.
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