OnePlus Nord 3 5G review: Improved in every possible manner


By Sneha Saha: Another day and here comes another Nord phone from the house of OnePlus. After waiting for a really long time, we finally get to see the real successor to the OnePlus Nord 2. The company took a lot of time to bring the Nord 3, but now that it is finally here, I feel that it is a true successor to the Nord 2, which was unveiled back in July 2022. I have been using the OnePlus Nord 3 for the last 10 days and it is a pretty good upgrade over the Nord 2 in every possible way. In fact, even when we compare the OnePlus Nord 3 to Nord 2T, the latest phone is a much-polished version in almost all departments. So, that’s good news for consumers who were waiting for the Nord 3 for a long time.

The OnePlus Nord 3 has been launched in India with a starting price of Rs 33,999. For this price, the Nord 3 is a good deal, but when we apply the launch offers, the deal becomes even better. Just like all other OnePlus phones, the Nord 3 will be available for purchase on Amazon, OnePlus India online store and partner stores across the country.

When compared to its predecessor, the Nord 3 comes with a much more powerful processor, better-tuned cameras, and also feels premium for the price. Now, since the competition in the under Rs 35000 price segment is tough, the question is — can the OnePlus Nord 3 stand out in the crowd? After using Nord 3 for about 10 days, I feel it is a strong candidate in the price segment, but if it is the best of all, that is a question I will answer in this review. Read on to find out everything about the latest OnePlus Nord smartphone.

OnePlus Nord 3 design and build

The OnePlus Nord 3 comes in two colour options — Misty Green and Tempest Gray. The one I received for the review is the Gray model and it looks really classy. I personally do not like phones in vibrant colours and that is why I prefer the Gray version, but if you do like funky-coloured phones, there’s the Nord green option as well.

The design of the OnePlus Nord 3 is inspired by the Nord 2T but the two phones do not look exactly the same. OnePlus has tweaked some parts of the design. For instance, the Nord 3 doesn’t include a camera module. Instead, there are separate camera sensors that sit separately on the top left corner of the rear panel. Next to these sensors, there are LED lights that help users click better low-light photos. In the middle of the rear panel sits the OnePlus brand logo. While its design from the back looks super clean, the sandstone feel adds to the overall look. But it should be noted that the back only offers a sandstone-like feel, and the texture isn’t similar to the flagship OnePlus phones. But I must give it to OnePlus in this for trying to stand out in the crowd.

The back panel, although it looks good, feels quite slippery. So, if you are clumsy at handling your phone, it is better to use the phone with a cover. That way, even if you drop the phone by mistake, it won’t be damaged much. Now, while the phone feels slippery sometimes due to the back panel design, the boxy-designed sides balance out. The sides of the Nord 3 are somewhat inspired by the latest iPhone models. The boxy side design offers a good hand feel and hence the phone doesn’t slip out of the hand too much.

The front design also feels clean with a hole punch at the top corner of the screen and slim bezels on the sides. To my surprise, the chin is also quite slim, which overall enhances the overall viewing and browsing experience. On the top left there’s the alert slider and beneath that is the screen lock button. On the left, there’s the volume button. During my usage, I felt it was somewhat difficult to reach the alert slider, which is situated at the top right side. OnePlus, in my opinion, could have placed the slider a bit lower.

Coming to the build quality, the Nord 3 in simple words feels solid. The phone feels extremely sturdy in the hands and is also pretty lightweight. I could use the OnePlus Nord 3 all through the day to browse social media platforms, play games, capture lots of photos and watch content very easily. The phone, though, seems a bit large to comfortably inside the jeans pocket.

OnePlus Nord 3 display

The OnePlus Nord 3 comes packed with a 6.74 inch Super Fluid AMOLED display that offers up to 120Hz refresh rate and 93.5 per cent screen-to-body-ratio. During the review period, I used the OnePlus Nord 3 rigorously, which included watching a lot of content on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar and also browsing social media platforms. In almost all situations, the screen of the OnePlus Nord 3 looked adequately bright. Just in daylight, the screen sometimes looks reflective, but not so much that you won’t be able to read WhatsApp messages. Now, if you are an avid gamer or consume a lot of content, you are going to love the Nord 3. The screen offers punchy colours and looks vibrant in almost all lighting conditions. While the brightness level is taken care of, I missed the presence of a curved display on this OnePlus phone.

Most Android phones these days, especially at this price point, offer curved displays. And I personally believe that a curved display adds premiumness to the device. Unfortunately, the OnePlus Nord 3 comes packed with a flat display, which also makes it feel solid in the hands, but a curved screen would have made the deal much better. Underneath the display sits the fingerprint sensor that unlocks the phone quickly. For security, there’s also face unlock support.

Besides the slight drawbacks, I liked the Nord 3 screen. Whether it’s watching movies on Netflix, browsing social media platforms or playing games, the Nord 3 display manages all of it quite well. I found the display vibrant in both indoor and outdoor situations. Inside a room, the brightness level of around 50 per cent seemed sufficient, while under the scorching Delhi sun, 70-80 per cent brightness looked good to me. The new Nord also offers great viewing angles. Additionally, the screen touch and swiping from one app to another was also quite smooth, thanks to the 120hz screen refresh rate. I used the phone at the highest refresh rate and didn’t feel the battery getting too impacted.

OnePlus Nord 3 performance and battery

The Nord 3 is a great upgrade over the OnePlus Nord 2T, which launched last year. Well, not just on paper, the company has also tuned the user interface quite a bit, which makes multitasking and gaming super smooth on this one. Before getting into real-life usage, let’s take a look at the specifications first:

The Nord 3 is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC paired with up to 16GB LPDDR5X and 256GB UFS3.1 of internal storage. The phone comes in two variants – 1) 8GB LPDDR5X RAM and 128GB internal storage and 2) 16GB LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage. The phone also comes with stereo speaker support, which gets quite loud and produces crisp audio. In fact, the speakers were much louder than my primary iPhone 13 Pro as well.

As far as the overall performance is concerned, the Nord 3 offers a smooth experience for multitaskers and also gamers, plus the ones who are hooked to social media platforms like Instagram a bit too much. During the review period, the OnePlus Nord 3 was able to keep up with day-to-day tasks without any hiccups. Whether it’s switching between apps, browsing social media, sending emails or chatting on WhatsApp, the smartphone is capable of handling all of it very easily. Overall, the OnePlus phone was able to manage to multitask pretty well. The same goes for gaming. What is even better is that the phone doesn’t heat up even after extending gaming sessions. Now, I play a lot of casual and high-end games, like Asphalt 9, BGMI, Temple Run and more. Despite having multiple apps and browsers open on Chrome, the phone didn’t slow down at any point in time during the review period.

On the software front, the OnePlus Nord 3 runs on OxygenOS 13.1 based on the Android operating system. Overall, the OxygenOS 13.1 looks quite clean compared to Xiaomi’s MIUI and even Vivo’s FunTouch OS, but comes with some third-party apps that you can uninstall if needed. It brings several interesting features including — customisable Always-On Display faces, Zen Space, One-handed mode, flexible windows and more. The company has confirmed that the Nord 3 will get three major Android OS updates and four years of security updates.

Now, coming to the battery performance, the OnePlus Nord 3 offers a bigger battery setup when compared to the Nord 2T. It is backed by a 5000mAh battery with support for 80W SuperVOOC fast charging support in the box.

It is good to see that OnePlus still includes chargers in the box, while competitors like Samsung and a few others are getting rid of them. Secondly, it is also good to see that there’s no compromise on the battery front. The Nord 3 easily lasts slightly more than a day of rigorous usage, which includes browsing social media and the internet, chatting on WhatsApp, sending emails, voice calls, running games, and watching videos on YouTube. The smartphone takes around 40 minutes to fully charge, so, you will never have battery issues with this one for sure.

OnePlus Nord 3 camera performance

OnePlus Nord 2T’s camera performance was pretty decent, but with the Nord 3, that has gotten much better. Not just on paper, OnePlus has tuned the real-life camera performance quite a bit with the OnePlus Nord 3. Before talking about the real-life camera performance, let’s check out the specifications: The Nord 3 has a primary 50-megapixel camera using a Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS. Then there is an 8-megapixel Sony IMX355 wide-angle camera and a 2-megapixel macro camera. On the front, the phone includes a 16-megapixel camera for selfies and video calls.

During the review period, I clicked several photos using the Nord 3 and, to my surprise, the phone clicked good-looking photos with lots of details and great colours. Shots clicked in daylight looked the best and showed natural-looking colours. Details also looked good when you see the photos without zooming in. But when you do zoom into the photos clicked with the Nord 3, some details go missing, but that’s also the case with most phones at this price point. Photos clicked in indoor situations looked decent but missed some details and looked somewhat grainy. I must mention that if you post everything you click on your Instagram and Facebook, the OnePlus Nord 3 is an ideal device for you. The photos that the phone clicks look Instagram-worthy and don’t need editing, which is probably what most youngsters want these days.

The ultrawide camera also clicked photos with vibrant colours and a good amount of detail. There’s a portrait mode that captures pretty good-looking shots with great edge detection, which separates the subject from the background quite clearly. The macro mode also does a fairly good job and clicks decent photos in daylight, but not so much in a limited-light setup. Not just that, the phone also managed to click pretty good low-light photos as well, and whenever the lighting was tricky, the Night Mode helped to improve the overall photo. Photos clicked in low light showed pretty good colours as well.

Selfies shot with the Nord 3 also look good but there is some smearing of details. However, what I like here is that the phone doesn’t make the face too white and there is not that much skin smoothening. The portrait selfies also look good, but the edge detection isn’t all that great.

Overall, OnePlus has tuned the camera of the Nord 3 quite a bit when compared to its predecessor, the Nord 2T. So much so that the Nord 3 looks like one of the best camera smartphones in the price segment right now.

OnePlus Nord 3 review: should you buy it?

Finally, we come to the question that everyone wants to know: should you buy the OnePlus Nord 3? After spending about 10 days using the Nord 3, there’s no doubt that it is one of the best smartphones you will find in the price segment right now. With the launch offers, the deal becomes even more tempting.

The newly launched OnePlus Nord 3 looks like a solid device with sturdy build quality and a sleek design. It not just looks powerful on paper but also offers great real-life performance. It handles multitasking, extensive gaming and social media browsing really well and the best thing is that the phone never lagged during the review period. The Nord 3 also clicks pretty good photos with a good amount of detail and colours in almost all lighting conditions. The Nord 3 even clicks stunning selfies, which will not need edits before sharing on Instagram. With all of these, the Nord 3 also offers great audio performance and even lasts for one full day very easily. Overall, the Nord 3 is undoubtedly a great deal with very few areas for improvement — like a bit cluttered software — for the price tag. But the launch offers make it an even better deal to consider.

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