- Impressive 1.5K Resolution DIsplay
- MediaTek Dimensity 9000 is a very capable processor
- Alert Slider, Ram Vita - all the Flagship features on a Nord
- 5000mAh battery is pretty decent, so is the 80W SuperVOOC
- Outstanding camera that definitely rivals the other Mid-Tier
- Very well priced OnePlus
- The USB 2.0 Type-C still bothers me a lot
- No Headphone Jack, which might be a dealbreaker for some
- Despite the MediaTek Niceness, it is an acquired taste
The Nord lineup goes synonymous with their mid-tier smartphone range which they have made for a while. And we reviewed the OnePlus Nord CE3 Lite 5G – which you can read here. But here’s the thing, there’s a new Nord in town and this is “Nord” (not) like any other Nords we have seen before. Other mid-tiers should feel the threat because it is one. Here’s our OnePlus Nord 3 5G Review.
OnePlus Nord 3 5G Review Malaysia
Design and Build Quality
At the root of the OnePlus Nord 3 5G, the phone still stays true to the Nord DNA – put the phone side by side with the Nord CE3 Lite, and you won’t be able to tell the difference immediately. It has the same camera bumps on the back, a more rectangular shape and a flat front display and a wee-bit curved back.
But when you look closer you notice the intricate details that sets the Nord 3 5G apart. For one, on the back, you will notice the dual-tone LED Flash which even the OnePlus 11 doesn’t have. Secondly, the colour which is easier to spot – is different from the other Nords. They call this colour Misty Green. It’s okay if you think it’s blue, I got confused too.
But other than that, the phone has a nice build quality. While it doesn’t have a weight to it or something, it feels decent. So, it’s more in tune with users who’d want something light. Both the front and back are covered in glass which gives that premium finish and are sandwiched between the metal rails. The back is made out of Corning Gorilla Glass 5, however, the front uses a Dragontail glass which is manufactured by AGC – yep, Asahi Glass Company. The same company that makes Pentax Spotmatic lens glasses.
Finally, the phone has IP54 certification – it can take splashes but don’t dunk it in water.
The OnePlus Nord 3 5G uses a flatter display which I do prefer over those unnecessarily curved displays. But this one, however, is an absolute sight to behold. This is the highest screen-to-body ratio we have seen and you get more display than bezels which is very nice. While the resolution remains to be in the 18:9 aspect ratio, the display has an odd 1.5K (2772 x 1240) resolution which falls in between a 1080p and QHD display. But it is a beautiful display with a peak nit brightness of 1450, making it properly visible outdoors and has 10-bit colour science with HDR10+ support.
For those high refresh rate fans, you do get a 120Hz display. It uses an LTPS technology, so it can drop to as low as 40Hz which is the common kind of display we find in mid-tier devices. This scalable refresh rate translates better for battery life. If you happen to watch a lot of videos via your phone, the experience is very nice with good deep blacks, punchy colours and good viewing angles. It uses an under-display fingerprint sensor which is an optical sensor – so, you will have to wipe the display from time to time to have a working fingerprint sensor.
Specification and Performance
We are going to address the specification of this phone and honestly, this is where you’d get confused as to if this phone is really a mid-tier or a flagship because we have seen this exact processor in a flagship gaming smartphone. Under the hood, we get:
- MediaTek Dimensity 9000 Processor with Vapour Chamber Cooling
- 16GB LPDDR5X RAM
- 256GB UFS 3.1 Storage with no expandable storage
Truth be told, this is where the majority of the consumers would have reservations, solely because it’s a MediaTek processor. Now, over time we have seen MediaTek improving their processors and credit where it’s due, the Dimensity lineup is doing a neat job in keeping up with the task at hand.
The Dimensity 9000 is no joke, in fact, pitting against my daily driver, the OnePlus 11, I have noticed that the Dimensity keeps up very well and keeps the temperature at a very acceptable level. It’s not something I could say for the Snapdragon-based phones.
The temperature when we play games like Grid Autosport hovered around 35 degree Celsius and it never went past that. There were no throttling or performance drops I could notice and it’s a great sign.
With the Hyperboost controls, you could scale the performance based on your liking and need. Other than gaming, when it comes to day-to-day experiences, the phone shined very well with nice handling on multitasking, switching between apps, using intensive applications and so on. Not a single moment, the phone broke and needed to catch a break.
You are very well signing up for a good mid-tier experience that feels more like flagship which doesn’t lag behind.
On the back of the OnePlus Nord 3 5G, you will find a triple camera setup which consists of:
- 50MP Sony IMX890 Sensor with OIS
- 8MP Ultra Wide Sony IMX355 Sensor with a 112 FOV
- 2MP Macro Sensor
Now forget about the Macro Sensor entirely, because it’s still one pointless camera to ever exist on a phone, the same goes for depth sensors. But that out of the way, the OnePlus Nord 3 5G is equipped with two good camera sensors. The biggest question is, with the help of OxygenOS 13.1, how well does it take pictures?
For starters, the primary 50MP sensor takes by far one of the most impressive images we have seen in a mid-tier smartphone. So, we have been using this phone for a while and I have taken the phone to concerts, and different locations to take some images.
While in a brightly lit condition, any camera has the potential to take pictures but it’s the lowlight performance that matters a lot and the OnePlus Nord 3 5G does it well. Take a look at this image of the street where shadows are well exposed, lights are in the proper tone and if you do zoom in, some of the little details are obvious in the windows.
If you take a look at the shots of the concert stage, you can notice how obvious the reflection on the disco ball is, where one side is brighter and the other side is dimmer.
Most mid-tier would struggle to capture the intricate detail which this phone did miles better. Now sure while it is clear, it might now be the most tack sharp images (if you happen to pixel peep). But for the majority of the use case scenarios, it takes pictures well above its pay grade. The lowlight image of the temple with the evening sky and a nicely illuminated moon is another proof that it does impressive low light.
This performance isn’t something I have noticed in other mid-tiers. While the Fan Edition smartphones of certain Korean brands were once the talk of the town at this price point, they were more expensive. So, to see something priced a lot lower and yet, produce images you will appreciate, is something you shouldn’t take for granted.
Now, the 8MP Ultrawide camera isn’t too shabby either, but it does produce a few dull images, sharp at times and an average-at-best-low-light performance. You can see the over-softening of the image in low-light conditions. But in broad daylight, it takes usable images. Also, this is the only camera where you’d experience a delay in performance when it has to capture low-light images.
The other camera we have to talk about is the front-facing 16MP sensor. Now, I have taken selfies with the OnePlus 11 and I don’t enjoy the overexposed brightness and contrast on a skin complexion like mine. It exists with the Nord 3 5G as well, probably a lot worse than the 11. This needs to be fixed because it’s been very long since we had issues like this on a smartphone. It would have been nice to have a better balance. But other than the selfie shooter, the primary camera definitely is the champion in taking some great images.
Battery Life and Charging
Powering everything we have covered so far about the OnePlus Nord 3 5G is a 5000mAh battery with support for SuperVOOC fast charging rated at 80W which is 20W less faster than the OnePlus 11’s charger. That said, charging the phone from 4% percent to 100% with the 80W SuperVOOC took exactly 36 minutes which is pretty fast. Most of the time, I enabled Wise Charging which charges the phone slowly at night and it hits 100% in the morning. The 5000mAh isn’t too shabby when it comes to offering a good one whole day use because with the phone unplugged from about 1:00 am till 11:00 pm, I would say that’s a good 22 hours on battery.
So, if you want to use the phone’s 5000mAh battery for as long as two days, it is possible. Our screen time ranged anywhere from 6 hours to 8 hours depending on our use case scenario. There are days when I used it pretty extensively and other days when it spends more time in my bag.
Other Things to Take Note of
An Alert Slider on a Nord
For one, this isn’t the first time a OnePlus Nord has an Alert Slider. However, it is nice to see a signature feature that’s true to the OnePlus formula. The Alert Slider has a nice texture, and with the Nord 3 5G we received, it feels easy to slide with little resistance. Not sure if this is how it’s supposed to feel but something to take note of.
Decent Speakers that Sounds Swell
Now, you may not notice a stereo speaker however, it does use a stereo speaker setup – one on the earpiece and one at the bottom of the phone. Now, what makes this particular audio setup in this phone interesting is the team-up with DIRAC to tune for the better. Now, this seems like a first on a OnePlus smartphone because previously we have only experienced DIRAC through ASUS smartphones. But hey, the more the merrier. The speakers sound nice and sure it isn’t going to blow you away, it sure does have a nice, distortion-free, clear and crisp profile.
USB 2.0 Speed USB C Port
My biggest gripe with the OnePlus device is the USB 2.0 which puts such an advanced device, ten steps back. This happened with the OnePlus 11, it also happened with the Nord CE 3 Lite and we see it once again with the OnePlus Nord 3 5G. I can only pray harder that they make the jump to 3.0 soon.
Has an IR Blaster
This is a feature that happens to be absolutely underrated because we don’t see it in many phones anymore. The OnePlus Nord 3 5G having support for IR Blaster eliminates the hassle to get the remote from your siblings etc., and you could change it with the help of your phone. You can add a wide selection of remotes not just limited to your IoT but even to control cameras and so on which is interesting.
No Headphone Jack
And of course, there’s no headphone jack with the OnePlus Nord 3 5G. It isn’t surprising but it does bother me a little bit. Hilariously not my mom because she literally said, “Isn’t that why I have Bluetooth headphones?”. 😂
OnePlus Nord 3 5G Malaysia Pricing
Here in Malaysia, we are getting only the 16GB OnePlus Nord 3 5G variant, which is exactly what we reviewed here and it will be priced at RM 2199 respectively.
At the price the OnePlus Nord 3 5G is going for in Malaysia, it is precisely where I expected it to be priced. Some told me it feels like a phone that costs more, which makes sense. But that said, this OnePlus Nord 3 5G really is a force to be reckoned with in the mid-tier smartphone lineup – based on what they have equipped with in this phone and seeing features from the OnePlus 11 on a Nord did make me get all excited.
That said, it would have been an absolute threat to the other mid-tiers if they launched an 8GB variant and priced it lower than the 16GB variant. But regardless of that, the OnePlus Nord 3 5G gave back the excitement the mid-tier smartphones were missing for a very long time. You know what? This phone deserves our Vesper Choice Awards.