OnePlus has really been on the ball with the launch of the OnePlus Nord, playing to its strengths and engaging the community to build up hype before the big reveal next week which is an occasion in itself, offering fans a world first with an AR event.
There's a mini docuseries that's been giving us a look behind the scenes, and the company has continued its trend of dropping hints and clues on its social media accounts - as it did with the OnePlus Buds which will be debuting alongside the Nord next week. It even opened up limited pre-orders before anyone had laid eyes on it, but now the wait is over, because we finally get to see it.
- Xbox Series X video UNLEASHES PS5-smoking "Velocity" special weapon
- Radical Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 design update breaks cover
- Ghost of Tsushima review
- PS5 Digital vs Xbox Series S: Sony's all digital PlayStation 5 console has some serious competition...
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei sat down with YouTuber Marques Brownlee (opens in new tab) for an episode of the Waveform: The MKBHD Podcast (opens in new tab), and not only opened up about the trials and tribulations of making a mid-range/ budget handset, but went a step further, showing off OnePlus Nord prototypes that were being considered, before revealing the final design.
As with previous OnePlus devices, the Nord doesn't have an IP68 rating, which is something the company hasn't shelled out for because it's an additional cost. That doesn't mean the smartphone won't survive should it get wet; as Pei explains in the video, the cost comes from the various machines needed to run the standardised tests.
"For the OnePlus Nord we just decided that this is not a place where we should put costs, because we're looking at the overall user experience. We're not designing for extreme use cases. We're not designing to cover every corner of the user experience..."
Pei goes on to explain that "at every stage of the product development process, we made sure that the design can withstand 30cm of water for 30 seconds, and after testing it in water, we weigh it again. So if the weight has increased, there's actually water in the phone - and only when there's no additional weight can it move on to the next development process."
So for those of you who look for the IP68 rating, and aren't necessarily planning to take your next smartphone diving with you or yeeting it into the sea, this should be more than enough to set your mind at ease.
One of the areas where OnePlus did decide to fork out was on the 90Hz AMOLED display.
"We spent quite a lot on the display for this phone to ensure the smooth scrolling, but we think it's worth it."
It sounds like the Nord won't have warp charging or a 3.5mm port, with Pei sporting what appears to be a pair of the new OnePlus Buds in a teal shade that matches the Nord's main colourway, as he talked about the move to truly wireless earbuds negating the need for a headphone jack, while freeing up space for the battery.
Form factor is another important part of the Nord's design, and Pei explained that they didn't want it to be too thick, so of course, if there's more space for the battery, the phone can be thinner.
Elaborating on the design and the various iterations the Nord has been through, Pei shared how the final design actually changed quite late in the development process, from a handset with an L-shaped camera array, to the signature OnePlus strip that sets the lenses in a vertical housing.
"In the beginning, we saw this new product line as more of a test, or an experiment. But as we were looking into the data and consumers, we realised that this would be a really good opportunity - that we would sell a lot mote phones than we originally envisioned; so then we had to really rethink our design strategy.
"Are we doing this as an experiment? If it's an experiment then we can be much more daring with our industrial design. We can try this camera setup that looks really unique: the L-shaped camera setup.
"But if we want to sell a lot pf phones, we want to target a much broader user base; we need to make sure that it's immediately recognisable as a OnePlus phone - so we have the same camera setup - vertical camera setup - you see in other OnePlus phones, and we have the same tapered edges on the back of the phone to really remind you of the OnePlus design philosophy."
- PS5 pre-orders are about to go live - here's how we know
- Xbox Series X boss hits back at PS5's lineup of exclusive games
OnePlus has been very clear that the Nord will offer a handful of flagship features that most consumers want, while getting rid of the chaff that isn't as important - like the IP68 rating. He added:
"We finally feel like there's an opening for us to take our flagship experience into a new price category."
Fans of the brand seem to feel the same way with pre-orders selling out almost as soon as they go live, and while they have been in small or limited quantities, if OnePlus delivers on its promise while keeping the phone below $500, we've no doubt it'll be inundated with orders after next week's launch event.