Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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OnePlus Nord 3 5G Review: Levelling Up

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G has officially launched as a successor to the Nord 2T (Review) in India. The new Nord flagship gets massive upgrades on paper over the model it replaces. OnePlus has packed MediaTek’s flagship-series SoC and a primary camera sensor from the OnePlus 11 (Review). The Nord 3 continues to offer SuperVOOC charging, a beefy battery and a 120Hz display. However, the upgrades do come with an increase in cost over the outgoing model.

With all that is on offer, does the OnePlus Nord 3 5G offer the best value for your money? Here is our full review to help you find out.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G price in India

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G has been launched in India in two storage options. The base model offers 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and is priced at Rs. 33,999. The variant we have for review comes with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and is priced at Rs. 37,999.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G design and display

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G, with its design and colour options, looks like a premium version of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G (Review), which was launched earlier this year. The new phone has slightly curved edges for the glass back which is Corning Gorilla Glass 5. We have the Misty Green colour which looks quite good but attracts fingerprints and smudges easily due to the glossy finish. I prefer the Tempest Grey colour, which has a matte-textured finish. Both colour options come with an IP54 rating for basic water and dust resistance, something that was missing in the previous model.

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G has a flat plastic frame with a matte finish. Its right side has the fan-favourite Alert slider and the power button. The volume rocker is on the left side. On the bottom edge, there is room for a USB Type-C port, primary speaker grille, microphone, and a dual-SIM slot. At the top, there is also an IR emitter which can be used to to control appliances in your home.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G OnePlus Nord 3 5G

OnePlus Nord 3 5G continues to feature an alert slider

 

I like the overall in-hand feel of the OnePlus Nord 3 5G. The slight curvature of the rear panel around the edges ensures that the frame does not feel very sharp when playing games or holding the phone for long periods. Weight distribution is also good and it does not feel top-heavy. For the spec sheet nerds out there, the Nord 3 5G weighs 193.5g and measures 8.15mm in thickness.

On the front, the handset features a tall 6.74-inch ‘Super Fluid’ AMOLED display. Unlike the slightly more affordable Realme 11 Pro+ 5G (Review) and Motorola Edge 40 (Review), the OnePlus Nord 3 5G offers a flat display instead of a curved-edge one. The bezels are fairly thin, including the chin, which helps offer more screen and provides an immersive viewing experience.

Content viewed on the OnePlus Nord 3 5G’s 10-bit AMOLED panel with a 1.5K resolution (2772×1240 pixels) looks crisp. The display also produces vivid colours, and with HDR10+ support on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, you get those deep blacks. The dual speakers feature Dolby Atmos enhancement and offer rich sound. They also get loud enough to fill a small room.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G 9 OnePlus Nord 3 5G

OnePlus Nord 3 5G has a fairly thin chin bezel

 

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G’s display offers a touch sampling rate of up to 1,000Hz and features a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate. During my time with the device, I did not notice any stutter while scrolling and the animations felt smooth.

The Nord 3 5G has an in-display fingerprint scanner which is fairly quick to authenticate and unlock the phone, although it is placed a bit low for my liking. Alternatively, you can use the less secure but more convenient AI-based face recognition for authentication.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G specifications and software

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G gets the flagship-grade MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC which is based on a 4nm fabrication process. The SoC features a Mali G-710 GPU and is paired with up to 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM along with 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. There is no microSD card slot or headphone jack. The handset supports eight 5G bands, Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. The OnePlus Nord 3 5G packs a 5,000mAh battery and offers 80W fast charging support.

In terms of software, the OnePlus Nord 3 5G boots Oxygen OS 13.1 based on Android 13. OnePlus’ custom skin is known to offer a bunch of personalisation and customisation options. You can not only change wallpapers and themes but also adjust the icon shape, size and the fonts. Oxygen OS 13.1 supports Android’s Material You theme, which allows you to match the system and UI colours to that of the wallpaper. You can check our OnePlus 11 review, where we have shared our experience with the new Oxygen OS 13 features.

The Nord 3 5G comes preloaded with a bunch of OnePlus and Oppo apps, such as Zen Space, Community, O Relax, OnePlus Store, Clone Phone, etc. There are very few preinstalled third-party apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Spotify.

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OnePlus Nord 3 5G runs on the latest Oxygen OS 13 update.

 

OnePlus has promised to provide three major Android updates and four years of security patches for The Nord 3 5G. This is the longest support that a Nord smartphone has ever received at launch.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G performance and battery life

During my time with the OnePlus Nord 3 5G, I played a bunch of games while performing other routine tasks on the device. The experience was quite fluid, to say the least. Apps loaded quickly and gaming performance was also excellent. I played Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) and Asphalt 9: Legends on the phone, both of which ran smoothly. BGMI supported up to Ultra HD graphics with an Ultra framerate. However, if you want to use the Extreme frame rate option, you will need to set graphics to HDR.

RAM management on the 16GB RAM variant of the Nord 3 5G was excellent as apps remained in memory and continued to load from where I had left them. Of course, heavy games such as BGMI did reload after switching back to it after a while. The area around the camera module did get slightly warm while playing games for long periods but it was nothing alarming.

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G scored 8,47,115 in AnTuTu (v10), which is slightly less than the lower-priced Poco F5 (Review), which scored 10,94,798 points with its Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2 SoC. The phone scored 863 and 2,978 points in Geekbench 6’s single-core and multi-core tests. 

There is the new iQoo Neo 7 Pro (First Impressions) which is priced roughly the same as the Nord 3 5G. It features a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC and while we are working on the full review, our initial AnTuTu test of the Neo 7 Pro returned a score of 12,63,884 points, whereas, in Geekbench 6 it scored 1,727 and 4,459 points in the single-core and multi-core tests. 

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OnePlus Nord 3 5G does not get hot while playing games

 

In terms of battery life, the OnePlus Nord 3 5G can last a full day on one charge. The average screen-on time (SoT) that I got was about eight hours and 30 minutes on days with medium usage. On days when I played games and shot photos and videos, the SoT dropped to seven hours and 15 minutes. In our HD video loop test, the Nord 3 5G lasted for about 21 hours and 12 minutes. The phone takes about 40 minutes to charge from 1-100 percent using the bundled adapter.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G cameras

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G features a triple-camera setup on the back. This includes a 50-megapixel Sony IMX890 primary camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS), an 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera.

The primary camera’s daylight performance is quite impressive. You get good details and dynamic range and colours look vibrant. It managed to capture some detailed and colour-accurate shots even when it was quite cloudy or raining outside.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G primary camera samples (tap to see larger size)

 

Oddly, the Photo mode in the camera app tends to adds some pink hue over human skin tones. Portrait mode shots on the other hand offer good background blur while getting the skin tones right. In low light, there’s a good balance of exposure between the highlights and shadows. The good thing here is that the night sky does look grey and not dark blue. So far, the OnePlus Nord 3’s primary camera performance is one of the best that I have seen in its segment.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G camera samples (Top row: Portrait mode, Photo mode; Bottom row: Low-light camera samples)

 

The ultra-wide camera, though, is quite average. For starters, the colour temperature is different compared to the main camera with slightly cooler tones. As expected, details are weaker, especially around the distorted edges. The 16-megapixel front camera’s daylight performance is good for the price. It gets human skin tones right most of the time and the portrait mode blur looks natural too.

OnePlus Nord 3 5G camera samples (Top row: Ultra-wide; Bottom row: Front camera)

 

Recorded videos from the OnePlus Nord 3 5G is quite impressive for the price. The rear camera can capture up to 4K 60fps videos. The dynamic range performance is quite good and so are the colours, which are close to natural. The front camera gets the segment-standard video recording limit of 1080p 30fps, which is quite okay with natural colours and passable dynamic range performance.

Verdict

The OnePlus Nord 3 5G checks almost all the boxes to be a potential contender for the best smartphone under Rs. 40,000 in India, at the moment. It has a bigger and better display than its predecessor, a flagship-grade performance unit and a capable set of cameras. Software experience also is pretty clean and feature-rich.

The only downsides that I see are the underwhelming ultra-wide camera and the fact that it only gets a basic IP rating. The slightly affordable Motorola Edge 40 and the Samsung Galaxy A34 5G (Review) offer IP68 and IP67 ratings, respectively.

The price of the Nord 3 5G has also gone up by a few thousand rupees compared to the outgoing model. The 16GB RAM variant sits quite close to the OnePlus 11R (Review), which is priced at Rs. 39,999 and offers a curved-edge AMOLED display and a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC, with a similar set of cameras and slightly faster 100W charging. However, if you want an all-rounder smartphone without stretching your budget too much, I think the OnePlus Nord 3 5G is still a great buy.


From the Nothing Phone 2 to the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, several new smartphones are expected to make their debut in July. We discuss all of the most exciting smartphones coming this month and more on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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