OnePlus’ Nord series has been nailing the midrange smartphone segment since its debut with the original Nord. The Nord 2 was arguably one of the most successful midrange devices of 2021. So I was eager to see what OnePlus had in store for us this year with the Nord 3. On first impressions, it does not disappoint. But is it an improvement over its predecessors, and how does it compare to other smartphones in the midrange category? I will try to answer all this and more alongside the pros and cons in this OnePlus Nord 3 5G review.
OnePlus Nord 3 Review
Table of Contents
The OnePlus Nord 3, launched alongside the Nord Buds 2r (review), comes in two configurations, i.e., 8 GB RAM paired with 128 GB storage, retailing at INR 33,999, and 16 GB RAM paired with 256 GB storage, retailing at INR 37,999 here in India. There are two color options, Misty Green and Tempest Gray. The device I’ll review in this article is the 16 GB RAM variant in Tempest Gray.
Before beginning with the review, let’s look at everything you get inside the box of the OnePlus Nord 3.
- OnePlus Nord 3 smartphone
- Rubber Phone Case
- Pre-applied screen protector
- 80 Watt SUPERVOOC Charger
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- SIM ejector tool
- Quick Guide
- Red Cable Club Membership card
- OnePlus Nord stickers
OnePlus Nord 3: Build and Design
To start, let us go over the physical attributes of the OnePlus Nord 3. The first obvious thing you would notice about the device is that it looks more refined compared to its previous iterations.
The phone itself is 8.15 mm thick, and it is protected by the Dragontrail glass covering the front, while Gorilla Glass 5 protects the back. Depending on the color variant, the back will be textured or glossy. Even though the phone weighs 193.5 grams, the distribution is done so well that it does not feel heavy and is comfortable to hold.
As for protection against dust and water, the Nord 3 has an IP54 rating, which should be ample for light rainfall.
At the top of the phone, you can find the secondary speaker grill, an IR blaster, and a secondary mic. Since I use the IR blaster on my Xiaomi phone to control devices around my house, having this feature on a OnePlus phone was a pleasant surprise.
The bottom houses the primary speaker grill, USB Type C charging port, the primary mic, and the SIM tray. You can insert two SIM cards at a time, but there is no room for SD card expansion.
You get the power button and alert slider on the phone’s right side. With the aluminum construction, both feel great to use. The volume buttons are located on the left side.
At the back, you can find the primary 50 MP camera on the top, and the 8 MP ultra-wide and 2 MP macro camera encapsulated in a single module below it. Both modules are accompanied by flash and ambient light sensors. The back is slightly textured and elegantly curves into the flat sides of the phone.
I do have mixed feelings regarding the build and design of the Nord 3. On one hand, the phone feels dense when you hold it, giving it a premium appeal. Nothing flexes or bends or feels cheap. The clicky power button and the metal alert slider add to this aesthetic. And the rounded corners on each side help to keep the phone manageable even with a large display.
On the other hand, I am not a fan of the rear camera module. It is the same design we saw on the cheaper Nord CE 3 Lite. It seems like OnePlus is trying to create a distinction between the Number series and the Nord series. Overall, Nord 3 has an excellent design if you can look past the camera array.
OnePlus Nord 3: Display
The display of the OnePlus Nord 3 is one of its most attractive aspects. It is a flat 1.5k AMOLED display with a resolution of 2772 x 1240 stretched across 6.74 inches. The bezels are kept to a minimum and are uniform from all sides. The screen is also home to the in-display fingerprint scanner.
It looks like OnePlus heard its consumers this time and went all out with the display, as these specifications are identical to the more expensive OnePlus 11R (review). Even the refresh rate has received a bump of up to 120Hz compared to the 90Hz on the Nord 2T. But there is no DC dimming available here. On some apps, the refresh rate automatically switches to 60Hz even when locked at 120Hz. Hopefully, these things get fixed soon with software updates.
The display also supports all the modern standards that one could ask for, like HDR 10+ support in popular streaming services and 10 Bit color depth. It covers 100% DCI-P3 and sRGB Color Gamut. All this results in a beautiful, vibrant, and detail-rich viewing experience. No matter the type of content you are viewing, you will thoroughly enjoy it on this display.
I also did not face any issues with the viewing angles of the phone. As for brightness, the Nord 3 can reach a peak brightness of 1400 nits. But how does that translate to real-world usage? Even on scorching sunny days in Delhi, I had no issues viewing the display outdoors.
OnePlus finally managed to deliver one of the best displays we have seen on the Nord series yet. I could not get enough of viewing my favorite shows and movies on this device, even going back to watch some good old colorful Bollywood movies to see how good they look on the display of this device.
Though I would like to add that you should use the phone in Brilliant or Natural mode if you do not like saturated colors. The placement of the fingerprint scanner could also be higher as you have to adjust the phone every time you want to unlock it.
OnePlus Nord 3: Sound and Haptics
A phone’s display is one part of the equation; the other is the sound, so let’s talk about the audio quality of the OnePlus Nord 3. It comes with dual stereo speakers, which has become the norm for most smartphones.
They offer ample loudness, which should suffice most of your listening needs. I enjoyed that whatever genre of music I was listening to, I could crank up the volume to the max and not face any distortions. But bass-heavy songs are not its strong points, as I missed that punchy, oomph feeling in the sound from the speakers.
The dual speakers of the Nord 3 are also Dirac-certified and come with Dolby Atmos. So you can select between different sound profiles to get a more immersive audio experience.
You will have to connect a Bluetooth headphone to take advantage of that. Do note that there is no headphone jack on this device. As for the haptics and vibrations, you get the O haptics that uses the X-axis linear vibration motor to offer tight, precise, and good vibration feedback.
These vibrations are quite nicely integrated with the animations in Oxygen OS. I wish more brands implemented haptics like this.
OnePlus Nord 3: Performance
The Mediatek Dimensity 9000 processor powers the OnePlus Nord 3. This is an octa-core processor with a maximum frequency of 3.05GHz. The chipset is based on a 4-nanometer architecture, which is also quite energy efficient. It is coupled with 8 or 16 GB of the latest LPDDR5X RAM and UFS 3.1 storage.
All of this jargon means that the performance of Nord 3 is top-notch and should keep up with whatever intensive task you decide to throw at it. To learn more, let us look at how well it performs in benchmark and gaming.
Benchmarks are not a good representation of the device’s real-world performance, but they can help us understand how well the device can perform if pushed to its extreme. So here are the benchmark results of the OnePlus Nord 3:
- CPU Throttling and Heating Results: The CPU throttling test helps to measure how much the CPU suffers in performance under continuous stress. We ran the CPU throttling test twice on Nord 3, and performance didn’t dip below 80%. This shows the stability of the processor.
Though things take a turn when you enable the High-Performance Mode from battery settings, turning it on boosts the device’s performance, and the stability goes down to 60%.
- Geekbench: Geekbench measures the single-core and multi-core score of the CPU. In Geekbench, the Dimensity 9000 gained a 1018 score in Single core and 3200 in multi-core, which puts it on par with Snapdragon 888+. It also scored a respectable 5805 in GPU score.
- Antutu 3D Benchmark: Antutu provides an overall performance score measuring the CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage. In Antutu, Nord 3 scored 854855 in standard mode and 961698 with the High-Performance mode enabled. This is a massive performance jump over the last year’s Nord 2T.
Regarding gaming, the OnePlus Nord 3 could easily handle any game on high settings with a high frame rate. The phone has a touch sampling rate of 1000Hz, and OnePlus has also added improved haptic support for PUBG, Fortnite, and League of Legends.
I tried games like PUBG: New State, where you could crank the FPS up to 90. However, the performance stayed between 85 to 89 FPS during the gameplay.
If you are into BGMI, there is no support for 60FPS, but you can enjoy the game at 60FPS with HDR visual settings.
As for racing games like Asphalt 9, the device supports the 60FPS option, and in general, the gameplay was smooth. The phone did not stutter, even during prolonged sessions.
Heavy games like Genshin Impact were also a breeze on the Nord 3. But you can feel the phone heat after a short period, given how stressful the game can be on the device. To battle the heating situation, vapor chamber cooling prevents the phone from overheating.
I didn’t face any issues using the Nord 3 in general everyday use. The device easily flies past animations, scrolling through social media apps, or switching to other tasks. The memory was also able to keep most apps open in the background. If you are a casual user, you should have no complaints about the performance of the OnePlus Nord 3.
OnePlus Nord 3: Software Experience
Coming to the software, OnePlus Nord 3 5G ships with Oxygen OS 13.1 based on top of Android 13. This looks and feels similar to the ColorOS you would find on OPPO devices which I am not a fan of. But OxygenOS enthusiasts will still find many customization options in the UI, like the ability to change icons and edit their names.
The software experience is delightful as everything feels snappy, app opening times are fast, and animations give the interface a lively touch. There is also no unnecessary bloatware and junk apps except for a few things like a native internet browser.
I noticed new additions in this phone: the improved Zen Space and O Relax, which play relaxing sounds to help you… relax, of course. Given OnePlus focuses on a younger crowd, these features can be quite useful for them.
OnePlus has promised that this phone will receive three major Android updates and up to four years of security patches. This means that this phone will go up to Android 16. It has also received a TUV SUD A rating, meaning the phone should keep up with its fluid performance for at least the next two years.
If you are not bothered by the UI skin, you should have a pleasant experience with the Oxygen OS on the OnePlus Nord 3. Even if you do not like the new look, I would recommend trying it, as you may come around and start liking it.
OnePlus Nord 3: Camera Review
OnePlus Nord 3 boasts a triple camera setup at the back. It consists of a primary 50-megapixel camera Sony IMX 890 sensor with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens, and a 2-megapixel macro lens. At the front, you will find a 16-megapixel selfie camera. The primary lens can record up to 4k videos at 60fps, while the ultra-wide and selfie camera can record up to 1080p.
As for the camera performance, the primary camera is impressive in all scenarios. The 50 MP lens, which is the same as the OnePlus 11 (review), captures good shots in well-lit or daylight situations and captures a decent level of detail. It handles exposure well enough in most shots.
Even at 2x zoom, you can spot good details in the pictures. The camera can zoom up to 20x, but the images come out grainy at that point, and details are almost non-existent.
Meanwhile, low-light photos are charming, to say the least. You can see in the images below how well the IMX 890 sensor on the Nord 3 can capture the bustling streets of Connaught Place.
Though some shots can be grainy at night, the camera handles itself well enough. However, I would suggest playing around with exposure in nighttime situations.
The AI mode can be a hit or a miss, as it can help you get good shots in certain scenarios, boost the saturation, and muddle up the picture in others.
Portrait mode photos are also good; however, one issue I found was that the viewfinder would show a certain portion of the subject to be out of focus, but the post-processing seems to fix it. So the final image turns out to look acceptable.
Coming to the 8 MP ultrawide, well… it is acceptable, is what I can say about it. If provided with enough light, it takes some good photos at night. The post-processing again jumps to fix the image, so the photo looks good.
The 2 MP macro lens will give you a hard time focusing on the subject. Taking some of the shots I have attached below took me a while.
I would have preferred if OnePlus opted for a 13 MP ultrawide lens by completely skipping on the macro. But I suggest using the primary lens if you are into taking macro photos.
The 16 MP selfie camera can take good photos during the day and at night. It does apply some beauty filters to smooth out the face, so you will have to disable it to get natural-looking selfies.
The portrait shots with the selfie camera also come out looking great. Since the Nord 2, I have noticed that OnePlus has upped their portrait game, especially with the selfie camera, which is also apparent here. But the viewfinder issue I mentioned above is also present for the selfie camera.
In the camera department, the Nord 3 does accomplish a lot, especially thanks to its primary shooter. It is commendable that OnePlus chose this lens instead of another sensor. You will enjoy taking photos with the OnePlus Nord 3 and should have no issues capturing some amazing-looking shots.
OnePlus Nord 3: Connectivity
OnePlus Nord 3 is a 5G device that supports 8 5G bands. I used the phone with my Jio SIM, tried out connectivity, and faced zero problems. I could achieve good 5G speeds upwards of 700 Mbps. The call quality was also adequate, and the other person had no issues hearing my voice.
The phone also supports the latest WiFi 6/6E and Bluetooth 5.3 standards. The provided port for charging supports USB 2.0 and the IR blaster that can be used to control the TV, set-top box, soundbars, AC, and other devices.
OnePlus Nord 3: Battery and Charging
The 5000 mAh battery in the Nord 3 is a much-needed upgrade from the 4500 mAh battery we saw in Nord 2. This, alongside the 4-nanometer Dimensity 8000 processor, gives a sufficient battery life that should last you throughout the day. As someone who consumes a lot of online content, constantly checks social media, and plays Asphalt 9, Nord 3 managed about 25% battery by the end of my day.
And when it comes to charging, I could quickly top up the device with the provided 80 Watt SUPERVOOC charger. I could charge it up to 50% in under 20 minutes, and it took 41 minutes to charge the phone to 100%.
OnePlus Nord 3: Pros and Cons
Now that we have taken a complete overview of the device in different aspects let us discuss its pros and cons.
Reasons to Buy
- Eye-catching bezel-less 1.5k display
- Great Haptic feedback
- Major performance boost
- The 50 MP, Sony IMX890 sensor, makes it a worthy option for a camera phone
- Supports all the latest connectivity standards
- 80W charger is fast at refilling the device
Reasons Not to Buy
- AI mode is a hit or a miss depending on the situation
- The viewfinder in Portrait mode fails to focus on the subject properly
- The camera array at the back does not look good
- Throttling issues in High-Performance mode
- The dual speaker output is flat
OnePlus Nord 3 Review: Final Verdict
As someone who has used the OnePlus Nord 2 for the better part of a year, I can say that the Nord 3 is a step in the right direction. You can see that OnePlus has listened to the fans and their complaints over the year. Not only I saw a jump in performance, but also battery life, camera, and display.
After using the device, I can say that even though it does not attract me like Nord 2 did with its design, it impresses in terms of other factors. The mid-range smartphone category is getting quite competitive and, honestly, cluttered. But I am happy that OnePlus Nord 3 stands out from the rest.
Although it has shortcomings, it is an allrounder device; you can still appreciate where the effort went into it. My favorite things about the Nord 3 are its display, camera, and battery life, exactly in that order. Hopefully, we will see more such phones from OnePlus in the future when it refuses to settle.
Check out our other reviews:
- Amazon Echo Pop Review: Alexa in a Modern Avatar!
- Lava Agni 2 Review with Pros & Cons: Seeing through the Hype!
- ASUS Vivobook S15 OLED Review: Unleash Elegance And Power
- POCO F5 5G Review: A Sleeper’s Punch to the Pro’s
You can also follow us for instant tech news at Google News or for tips and tricks, smartphones & gadgets reviews, join GadgetsToUse Telegram Group or for the latest review videos subscribe GadgetsToUse YouTube Channel.