You can now buy 5G on a budget, thanks to the new Samsung Galaxy A71 5G and the OnePlus Nord. Both phones provide 5G connectivity at an affordable price, and they also pack a range of other welcomed features. These include beautiful displays, modern designs, strong batteries, and reliable performance, making them both better than you’d expect from their modest price tags.
The question is, which one is better? To find this out, we take a closer look at their specs and compare how they perform across six categories. This will determine which one provides more value per dollar, and it should also help you decide which is the right budget Android smartphone for you.
|Galaxy A71 5G||OnePlus Nord|
|Size||162.5 x 75.5 x 8.1mm (6.40 x 2.97 x 0.32 inches)||158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2mm (6.23 x 2.89 x 0.32 inches)|
|Weight||185 grams (6.53 ounces)||184 grams (6.49 ounces)|
|Screen size||6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus||6.44-inch Fluid AMOLED|
|Screen resolution||2,4000 x 1,080 pixels (393 pixels per inch)||2,400 x 1,080 pixels (408 ppi)|
|Operating system||Android 10 (under One UI 2)||Android 10 (under OxygenOS)|
|MicroSD card slot||Yes||No|
|Tap-to-pay services||Google Pay, Samsung Pay||Google Pay|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G|
|RAM||6GB, 8GB||6GB, 8GB, 12GB|
|Camera||Quad-lens 64-megapixel wide, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 5MP depth rear, 32MP front||Quad-lens 48MP wide, 8MP ultrawide angle, 5MP depth, and 2MP macro rear, dual-lens 32MP and 8MP ultrawide angle front|
|Video||4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 960 fps||4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 480 fps|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes (in-display)||Yes (in-display)|
Fast charging (25W)
Warp Charge 30W (up to 70% in 30 minutes)
|App marketplace||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Network support||Most major U.S. carriers||Most major U.S. carriers|
|Colors||Prism Cube Black, Prism Cube Sliver, Prism Cube Blue||Blue Marble, Gray Onyx|
|Prices||$600||379 British pounds ($480)|
|Buy from||Google, Verizon, US Cellular||OnePlus|
|Review score||3.5 out of 5 stars||3.5 out of 5 stars|
Design, display, and durability
It may offer a considerable discount over Samsung’s premium phones, but the Galaxy A71 5G is still a stunner. It comes with an impressive and sizable edge-to-edge display with a punch-hole selfie at the top-center, as well as a rectangular camera bump on its reverse side that recalls the Galaxy S20. By contrast, the OnePlus Nord doesn’t look quite as sleek, with its dual-lens selfie camera in the top-right corner taking away some of the luster of its otherwise attractive curves.
The Galaxy A71 5G also houses a larger, 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, in contrast to the OnePlus Nord’s 6.44-inch AMOLED screen. Both devices have the same resolution at 2,400 x 1,080, so they provide roughly the same level of definition. That said, the slightly larger size of the A71 5G — as well as its enhanced AMOLED tech — means that it looks a little more arresting than its OnePlus rival.
The two phones are roughly the same size, although the A71 5G is a touch taller and wider. On the other hand, its fractionally lighter and thinner, so both phones feel very comfortable to hold, particularly in comparison to some of the bigger Androids on the market right now.
Another similarity is that both phones lack an official IP rating. Therefore, it isn’t clear whether they can withstand any appreciable exposure to water or dust. Despite this, we’re calling this round as a narrow win for the A71 5G, due to its prettier looks and slightly more enticing display.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
Performance, battery life, and charging
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G and the OnePlus Nord run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, although the two phones differ in terms of the RAM that comes under their respective bonnets. Samsung’s device ships with 6GB of RAM as standard, while the OnePlus Nord uses 8GB by default and can be bumped up to 12GB for extra money. This is likely to give it a slight advantage in the performance stakes, and it may be able to handle the latest games and apps a little more smoothly than the A71 5G.
That said, the Galaxy A71 5G boasts a larger battery. It weighs in at 4,500mAh, while the OnePlus Nord offers 4,115mAh. This allows it to last well over a day of heavy usage before requiring a refill, while the OnePlus Nord can manage around a full day. OnePlus’ phone does have the advantage of 30W fast charging, however, enabling it to hit 70% in roughly half an hour. The A71 5G supports only 25W fast charging, although this will still be fast enough for most purposes.
This round is therefore a tie, due to the slightly better performance of the OnePlus Nord being canceled out by the longer-lasting battery of the A71 5G.
In yet another example of sameness, the OnePlus Nord and the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G both have rear cameras with four lenses. The A71 5G combines a 64MP wide lens with a 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, and 5MP depth lens. The Nord has the same setup, but its wide lens provides 48MP, its ultrawide provides 8MP, and its macro lens provides only 2MP.
Specs can be deceptive with smartphone cameras, but the available evidence indicates that the A71’s camera is noticeably better. Our review of the A71 5G found that it does capture bright, colorful, and dynamic photos in good light, although struggles a bit in night settings. The OnePlus Nord, however, is fairly inconsistent. As we wrote in our review, it has a tendency to underexpose shots, which often results in a loss of detail. Its macro lens is also of relatively low quality and doesn’t focus as well as it should.
To be fair, the OnePlus Nord does let you capture 4K video at 60 fps, while Samsung’s phone can manage only 30 fps. This slight superiority isn’t enough to compensate for a disappointing camera, so this round is another win for the A71 5G.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
Software and updates
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G and OnePlus Nord both make use of Android 10, albeit with their own propriety skins of Google’s OS running over the top. OnePlus’ OxygenOS is arguably one of the best Android mods available, providing a clean and seamless user interface that’s easy to navigate and use. It also offers a number of exclusive features, such as Zen Mode, which is a do not disturb function that lets you switch off notifications and tune out various other distractions.
As for the A71 5G, it uses Samsung’s One UI 2. This is another very good Android skin, and it includes a wider range of options and functions than OxygenOS. This might make it more preferable to people who want greater customization for their phones, whereas others may find it a little too complicated. As with the Android versus iOS debate, your preference may very well come down to what you’re already used to.
In terms of updates, the OnePlus Nord may have a very slight advantage over the Galaxy A71 5G. Samsung has a less-than-good reputation for the timeliness and speed of its updates, and it hasn’t confirmed how long the A71 5G will be supported. This is in contrast to OnePlus, which has confirmed two years of Android updates and three years of security updates. Thanks to this assurance, we’re giving this round to the Nord.
Winner: OnePlus Nord
As the name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G supports 5G. And even though it doesn’t feature “5G” in its name, the OnePlus Nord also supports 5G connectivity. This is where the similarities end, since the A71 5G supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands, while the OnePlus Nord doesn’t support the faster mmWave band. The lack of support here could make a big difference in a year or so, as 5G becomes more available.
Other than the 5G compatibility, neither phone really has a standout special feature. They’re both pretty much cheaper versions of more premium phones, and both do a fairly good job of offering modern smartphone features at affordable prices. However, because the A71 5G offers full support for 5G connectivity, we’re giving this round to Samsung’s phone.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
Price and availability
The OnePlus Nord is available in the U.K. from OnePlus, Amazon, Three, and John Lewis stores. Prices start at 379 British pounds (about $480). OnePlus has said it won’t launch the phone in the United States, so Americans will need to ship it from outside the country.
The Samsung Galaxy A71 5G starts from $600 and is available from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, as well as most major online retailers.
Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy A71 5G
It may be around $120 more expensive, but the Samsung Galaxy A71 5G is a better smartphone than that OnePlus Nord. It looks better, and it has a more attractive display, a more capable and consistent camera, and a bigger battery — it really is a fully future-proofed 5G phone. It also performs roughly as well as the OnePlus Nord, which can really boast only confirmed updates as a significant superiority.
The OnePlus Nord is still a rock-solid budget smartphone and is worth buying if you want to save a bit more money. The A71 5G is just better overall, so it gets the win in this head-to-head.
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