OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus Nord: which OnePlus phone is best?

OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus Nord is a battle of budget, so let's compare what you get from each device

OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus Nord
(Image credit: OnePlus)

The OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus Nord are just the latest devices in a growing trail of evidence that suggests OnePlus makes some of the best Android phones around – whichever of these handsets you buy, you're unlikely to be disappointed by the craftsmanship.

Which is the absolutely best choice though – the flagship OnePlus 8 Pro or the more modest OnePlus Nord (which features in our list of the best cheap phones)? One offers top-tier specs and performance, while the other gives you a more affordable proposition that might be better for your budget.

In this comprehensive guide we're going to weigh up the arguments for and against the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus Nord, looking at everything that's important in a mobile phone: the specs, the battery life, the camera quality, the aesthetics, and more besides. The good news is that you're getting one of the world's best phones whichever one you go for, so let's work out which one best matches your needs.

OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus Nord: design and screen

OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus Nord: OnePlus 8 Pro rear

The OnePlus 8 Pro.

(Image credit: OnePlus)

There's a certain similarity to the design of both the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus Nord – not surprising, as they're both made by the same manufacturer – but it's the former that's ever-so-slightly bigger in terms of its dimensions: it comes with a 6.78-inch, 1440x3168 pixel OLED screen, as opposed to the 6.44-inch, 1080x2400 pixel OLED screen of the OnePlus Nord. The OnePlus 8 Pro wins in terms of the screen refresh rate for silky smooth scrolling, offering up to 120Hz versus the 90Hz on the Nord.

The OnePlus 8 Pro takes a more rounded approach to phone aesthetics, with a screen that slides over the sides of the device, leaving no bezels at either side – just on the top and bottom. Its rear camera array is in the centre whereas the OnePlus Nord puts its own rear camera in the top left corner on the back, while on the front both phones have a punch hole notch for the selfie camera (a single-lens model in the case of the OnePlus 8 Pro, a dual-lens model for the OnePlus Nord).

If colours are crucial to you then you should know that the OnePlus 8 Pro is available in Glacial Green, Ultramarine Blue and Onyx Black, while you can pick up the OnePlus Nord in Blue Marble, Grey Onyx and Grey Ash. To our eyes at least, they all look top notch, and whichever design you go for, you're going to end up with a phone that you won't be shy of pulling out in a crowded bar or coffee shop, just to show off its curves.

Unusually for a OnePlus phone, the OnePlus 8 Pro comes with an official IP68 rating for protection against water and dust, so it's going to be more robust and better protected against the elements than the OnePlus Nord (for which you might need a case). The OnePlus 8 Pro also makes use of aluminium rather than plastic for the frame of the handset, giving it a slightly more premium feel than the OnePlus Nord – though both are great to look at, and make use of glass on the back.

OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus Nord: camera and battery

OnePlus Nord

The OnePlus Nord.

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Around the back, the OnePlus 8 Pro comes packing a quad-lens 48MP wide + 8MP telephoto + 48MP ultrawide + 5MP colour filter rear camera, and with that you get an ultrawide mode as well as 3x optical zoom. Video recording goes up to a 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, and on the front of the phone you've got a 16MP wide selfie camera. It's an impressive package that holds up in just about every scenario.

When it comes to the OnePlus Nord, you've got a quad-lens 48MP wide + 8MP ultrawide + 5MP depth + 2MP macro rear camera that's not quite up to the standard set by the OnePlus 8 Pro: there is an ultrawide mode but there's no optical zoom. Video recording maxes out at a 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, while around the front the selfie camera is a dual-lens model, which is unusual: it's a 32MP wide + 8MP ultrawide snapper.

Fitting more inside your selfie shots might be one reason to prefer the OnePlus Nord over the OnePlus 8 Pro, though overall the latter phone wins out – especially in low light. That said, both phones are capable of some very decent results most of the time: you can check out some photo samples by checking out our in-depth reviews of both the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus Nord.

At 4,510 mAh vs 4,115 mAh, the OnePlus 8 Pro does have the larger battery capacity, but then again it does have the larger screen to power as well – in our reviews we found that both handsets were able to make it through the day quite comfortably. You get 30W fast charging and 30W fast wireless charging with the OnePlus 8 Pro, while the OnePlus Nord offers 30W fast charging but nothing in the way of wireless charging capabilities.

OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus Nord: specs and features

OnePlus 8 Pro

The OnePlus 8 Pro.

(Image credit: OnePlus)

As you would expect from the comparative prices of these handsets, the OnePlus 8 Pro is the more powerful of the two phones: it's running a Snapdragon 865 processor, which was pretty much the top-tier chipset for Android phones in 2020, and with that you get 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of internal storage, which you can't expand. The phone is able to connect to next-gen 5G cellular networks as well.

When it comes to the OnePlus Nord, it's less of a performance juggernaut, but still features a very respectable mid-range Snapdragon 765G processor under the hood, and you get 6GB, 8GB or 12GB of RAM with that, plus 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of (non-expandable) internal storage. Even though this is a more affordable phone, you still get 5G on board, so you can take advantage of the improved download and upload speeds if the networks have rolled out to your area.

Both these phones are going to be more than capable of running just about every app and game you send their way, quite comfortably: but you can expect slightly smoother performance and higher frame rates from the OnePlus 8 Pro. It's also worth noting that a faster phone is likely to last you a longer time before age catches up with it, though the OnePlus Nord is by no means a slouch, and can definitely hold its own.

Both the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus Nord launched with Android 10 and will come with Android 10 in the box – but you'll be able to upgrade both of them to Android 11 pretty much as soon as you connect them to Wi-Fi. We do like the OxygenOS version of Android that OnePlus develops, which is one of the better and more thoughtful Android skins out there at the moment.

OnePlus 8 Pro vs OnePlus Nord: price and verdict

OnePlus Nord

The OnePlus Nord.

(Image credit: Future)

One of the most important differences between the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus Nord is of course the price – you can check the widgets embedded on this page for the latest deals available online, but generally the OnePlus 8 Pro is nearly double the price of the OnePlus Nord.

Everything else that you have to weigh up when it comes to comparing these two phones has to be judged with those price differences in mind: yes the OnePlus 8 Pro packs in more power, and comes with a better camera, and offers extras such as waterproofing and wireless charging, but it's also a lot more money. The OnePlus Nord might offer everything that you need in a smartphone at a much lower price.

In the US, the OnePlus Nord model we're reviewing here isn't available, but you do get the OnePlus Nord N10 5G over there, so be sure to take a look at that. The phone and electronics maker has done a very good job of cutting out certain features to hit a more appealing price point.

There's no doubt that the OnePlus 8 Pro is the phone to go for, though, if you have the budget to be able to afford it – it offers more in just about every department, and continues to be a very strong buy even with newer models like the OnePlus 8T on the market. Whether you end up going for the OnePlus 8 Pro or the OnePlus Nord though, you're guaranteed a phone that'll serve you well.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.