The OnePlus Nord is on the cusp of making its debut, with the official unveiling being preceded by a four-part docuseries that's captured the Chinese company's journey into making a mid-tier flagship killer once again.
Back when OnePlus first elbowed its way into the smartphone market, that was very much its MO, but its devices have slowly begun creeping up towards the premium tier it set out to disrupt. The OnePlus 8 Series is the latest example of this, with prices starting from $699 / £599.
The OnePlus community has been pretty vocal on this deviation from the core principle of making a flagship experience affordable for everyone, and the smartphone manufacturer has listened; the OnePlus Nord is set to tick all the boxes, including being 5G capable, while keeping the price tag below $500. Assistant Head of OnePlus Nord, Carl Pei, explains how.
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Five years after the damp squib that was the OnePlus X - that had a very attractive price tag but lacked chops in the specs department - OnePlus is taking another run at hitting the sweet spot of specs and price with the Nord. Pei admitted that the OnePlus X "was great in its own right, but not a great product for that target audience of core techies." He added:
"We've been looking at the mid-range smartphone market for a while.
"It's just that we felt like the technology wasn't really there to be able to create a mid-range product that also lives up to our 'Never Settle' philosophy. But we're pretty confident that this time around the OnePlus Nord will do just that."
That's thanks in large part to the Qualcomm chipset it's opted for, which comes with the added benefit of being 5G capable, so not only will users have an affordable phone with a premium feel, but it'll carry them through the roll-out of 5G as the technology becomes more prolific.
The Nord houses the Snapdragon 765G processor, which isn't a flagship-level chipset but still offers many high-end features while keeping costs down. Qualcomm's newest 5G processor is rumoured to be getting a price hike that could see Android phone prices bumped up as a result, so opting for something a little more modest that future-proofs the OnePlus Nord, walks 'Never Settle' line the company has been championing since the beginning.
Pei explains that the OnePlus Nord 5G is "is more about ease of mind, it's more about future-proofing," as opposed to getting a high-end 5G phone with all of the bells and whistles that early adopters might be tempted to buy. It's for tech-savvy consumers who know the roll-out is on the way, and don't want to compromise on features and quality in the meantime.
OnePlus Nord pre-orders opened today for a limited quantity of just 100 handsets - even though the phone hasn't been revealed and customers don't know what they're buying, and they've already been sold out! The community seems to have had its faith restored, but OnePlus will need to deliver on the Nord's promises to keep them happy.