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OnePlus Nord 3 Review: Gets our No(r)d of approval!

We’ve been using the OnePlus Nord 3 for the last week. Here’s what we think about this midrange smartphone.

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As far as midrange smartphones go, OnePlus’ Nord series is considered one of the best around. The recently launched OnePlus Nord 3 is a massive upgrade over last year’s Nord 2T. The price tag of the smartphone is closer to the flagship-alternative OnePlus 11R. But what the Nord 3 brings to the table is its own unique flair and premium specs. We’ve been using the smartphone for the last week. Here is our in-depth OnePlus Nord 3 review.

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OnePlus Nord 3 review: Design and Display

Inside the box, you get the smartphone, an 80W SuperVOOC power adapter, a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, a rubber cover for the phone, a safety guide, a quick start guide, the Red Cable Club membership card, and some OnePlus stickers. The colour of the rubber cover matches the colour of the back panel.

OnePlus Nord 3 review: Design and Display

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We like the clean design that OnePlus has gone for on the Nord 3. The dual camera cutouts are similar to the ones we’ve seen on other Nord smartphones this year. But what really elevates the feel of the smartphone to the ‘premium’ level is the glass back panel. This back panel curves slightly along the edges as it merges with the flat plastic frame. It offers a nice grip along with a remarkable in-hand feel.

We used the Tempest Gray colour variant which has a frosted glass back with a matte texture. The Misty Green variant, on the other hand, gets a glossy back panel which is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. While both variants receive Gorilla Glass 5 protection for the back panel, it is interesting that OnePlus has chosen Dragontail glass for the screen.

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Positioned on the right edge of the frame is the tri-state alert slider along with the side key. The volume rocker key finds its way to the left edge. Up top, you get the secondary speaker, an IR blaster, and a secondary bottom. The SIM tray, primary microphone, USB Type-C port, and speaker grille at housed at the bottom edge of the frame.

The 6.74-inch Fluid AMOLED display has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz and offers HDR10+ support. It can reach a peak brightness of 1,450 nits, being perfectly legible under direct sunlight. The 120Hz refresh rate is limited to the native apps on the phone. On apps like YouTube and Netflix, the refresh rate dials down to 60Hz. Even while gaming, the smartphone could not hit the maximum refresh rate. There are very slim bezels around the display. We like that the bezels are uniform and do not widen around the chin. The selfie camera is housed in a punch-hole cutout.

OnePlus Nord 3 review: Design and Display

Refresh rate aside, the AMOLED display on the Nord 3 offers a brilliant touch response. We did not experience any hiccups while flicking through the apps, scrolling web pages, and browsing the phone. In this regard, the Nord 3 is very close to the flagship smartphones on the market. With HDR10+ support and a screen resolution of 1240 x 2772p, watching HD content across different OTT apps was a very enjoyable experience. The images produced on-screen packed a lot of detail. The contrast levels were optimum and the colours had the ideal depth. The dual speakers on this smartphone can go loud without breaking up the audio profile. We didn’t feel the need to reach out for the headphone every time we wanted to watch something on the Nord 3.

OnePlus Nord 3 review: Performance and Cameras

Under the hood, OnePlus Nord 3 packs the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC, which is one of the better MediaTek processors around. The smartphone comes in two RAM and storage variants – 8GB + 128GB and 16GB + 256GB. The former is priced at Rs 34,000 while the higher storage variant fetches Rs 38,000. In comparison, the equivalent OnePlus 11R variants are priced at Rs 40,000 and Rs 45,000.

OnePlus Nord 3 review: Performance and Cameras

The MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC delivers a rock-solid performance on this smartphone. We through a lot of tasks at Nord 3 and it went through them like a hot knife through butter. Everyday tasks like IMing, media playback, sending emails, web browsing, and more were handled with absolute ease. We opened a dozen apps at once and the smartphone did a great job of optimising their background usage. More power-hungry tasks like video editing and navigation did not cause the Nord 3 to break a sweat.

However, when it comes to gaming, the OnePlus Nord 3 could do a little better. We noticed frequent lags and frame drops while playing Call of Duty Mobile at the highest graphics. These inconveniences were ironed out when we settled for lower graphics, but it shows that even one of MediaTek’s best processors has some catching up to do. The smartphone started heating up after about 40 minutes of gameplay. If you’re looking for superior gaming performance, OnePlus 11R with its Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC would be a better choice.

On Geekbench 6, OnePlus Nord 3 achieved a single-core score of 1004 points and a multi-core score of 3266 points. In comparison, the OnePlus 11R scored 888 and 3373 points. Make of that what you will.

OnePlus Nord 3 review: Performance and Cameras

OS duties on the Nord 3 are handled by OxygenOS 13.1. It may be similar to Oppo’s ColorOS, but we like how OnePlus implements Android’s Material You theme in its OS. You can change the icon shape and match their colour with the home screen wallpaper. There are some apps that still don’t adhere to this format, but that’s largely the fault of app developers rather than OnePlus.

We also like the security features like Private Safe and System Cloner. There’s a very handy IR blaster app on the phone that can be used to control the appliances around your house. It may not be much but we like these little touches across the OS interface. Do we wish that OxygenOS had a personality of its own? Absolutely. But it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that it is still a very good OS skin. Minimal bloatware on the device is the cherry on the cake.

The 5,000mAh battery on OnePlus Nord 3 puts up good numbers. The smartphone easily lasts an entire day even on heavy usage. We used the smartphone as our daily driver and were left with around 20% charge at the end of each day. Our daily tasks included watching videos, gaming, sending emails, web browsing, and IMing. The 80W SuperVOOC charger provided in the box can boost the smartphone to a 100% charge within 40 minutes.

One of the biggest upgrades on the Nord 3 is the flagship-grade 50MP Sony IMX890 primary camera. Yes, this is the same sensor as the one on the OnePlus 11. The Nord 3 also gets an 8MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP macro camera. Up front, the smartphone houses a 16MP selfie camera in a punch-hole cutout.

Images taken with the 50MP primary sensor packed a lot of detail and displayed a versatile dynamic range. OnePlus Nord 3’s processor does a good job of tuning the images and getting the colours just right. Even in overcast conditions, the colours on the images were popping. You can easily put these results up against the images from OnePlus 11 and 11R. The drop-off isn’t staggering. 

Ultrawide lens

There is a clear difference in the colour saturation when taking images from the 8MP ultrawide lens. This isn’t to say that it is a bad camera – it just doesn’t match up to the primary sensor, which is totally fine. You won’t ignore the ultrawide lens on this phone. The images manage to capture a good amount of detail and display decent sharpness. It is only when you zoom in that you can see the gap in quality.

Primary lens vs Ultrawide lens

In low light conditions, OnePlus Nord 3 does a great job of utilising the HDR, generating good results. The images are bright and mostly noise free. The camera app automatically switches to Night Mode in limited lighting. We were pleased by the colour tuning as well. However, the ultrawide sensor fails to impress in this scenario.

OnePlus Nord 3 review: Performance and Cameras
Night Mode

The Portrait Mode does a good job of separating the subject from the background and applying the blur effect. In some cases, it took us a couple of shots to get the edge separation just right. It takes a few trial shots to get a proper grip on how the Portrait Mode works. We were happy with the rich colours that the portrait images displayed. The 16MP selfie camera was a bit of a letdown for us. While it takes sharp selfies in proper lighting, it overcorrects the skin tones and smoothens out the skin texture. A better-tuned selfie camera would have been ideal.

Portrait Mode

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OnePlus Nord 3 is a solid midrange smartphone that punches above its weight. The clean, sleek design of the smartphone screams premium, which is something that you don’t often see in this price range. The glass back panel elevates the in-hand feel of the device and the AMOLED display is ideal for watching HD content. The MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC puts up good numbers on this device, even if the gaming performance leaves a little more to be desired. Finally, the flagship-grade 50MP primary camera is extremely fun to play around with. All this with an 80W fast charger in the box makes for an excellent deal at Rs 34,000.

OnePlus Nord 3: Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Glass back offers a great in-hand feel
  • Excellent AMOLED display
  • Primary camera produces good results

OnePlus Nord 3: Cons

  • Gaming performance could have been better
  • Selfie camera tends to overcorrect the skin tone and texture 

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As far as midrange smartphones go, OnePlus’ Nord series is considered one of the best around. The recently launched OnePlus Nord 3 is a massive upgrade over last year’s Nord 2T. The price tag of the smartphone is closer to the flagship-alternative OnePlus 11R....OnePlus Nord 3 Review: Gets our No(r)d of approval!

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