This OnePlus Nord N10 5G review should help you figure out if this affordable smartphone is the best choice for you, or not.
Gone are the days where the only phones really worth having are the top-tier flagships, there's a healthy amount of competition right now in the cheap to mid-range smartphone markets, with OnePlus being one of the leaders of the pack.
They're becoming well-known for their extremely capable affordable phones, the OnePlus Nord was released back in July 2020 and has since been a prime example, offering a less expensive alternative to higher-end options such as the OnePlus 8 Pro.
With the Nord N10 5G, OnePlus decreased the price even further – naturally meaning more compromises in features and performance, but for a phone that won't cost you so much. Of course, for many phone buyers, a compromise is expected in this price range.
There's also the OnePlus Nord N100, which undercuts both the first Nord and the Nord N10 5G substantially – it'll cost you just £179. If you're shopping to a really tight budget, the Nord N100 might suit you better, but for everyone else the Nord N10 5G is worth a look.
For a start it offers 5G connectivity – as the name gives away – and you also get a large, 90Hz refresh rate display and a quad-lens rear camera. Is the Nord N10 5G the right pick for your next upgrade? Our in-depth review should help you decide one way or the other.
The OnePlus Nord N10 5G review: price and availability
The OnePlus Nord N10 5G is out now and available direct from OnePlus, SIM-free, for £329. Unlike the original Nord, it's coming to the US too, but OnePlus hasn't yet revealed exactly when that's going to be or how much it will cost.
The OnePlus Nord N10 5G review: design and screen
The OnePlus Nord N10 5G has the same feel in the hand as a lot of phones down at this price point: slightly chunkier than the more expensive phones, with a cheaper, plastic feel to the touch. That's not to say that it's a bad-looking phone, just that you can tell it's not one of the top-tier handsets that's going to cost you significantly more.
Apart from the chin, which is a bit thicker, the bezels are pleasingly thin, and the 6.49-inch, 1080 x 2400 pixel LCD display is nice and bright and vivid (you can adjust the colour temperature as well as the brightness). It's also worth pointing out that the screen has an above-average refresh rate of 90Hz, which means super-smooth scrolling and gaming.
There's no water or dust resistance here in order to keep costs down, and it's a shame that OnePlus has also dropped the dedicated mute switch that we've got used to from other handsets made by the company. We do have a headphone jack here, which is something we still appreciate, and there's just one dark blue colour option called Midnight Ice.
You've got a punch hole notch on the front for the selfie camera, a tidy rear camera array in the top left corner on the back, and a fingerprint sensor around the rear too (it's not under the display, as it is with the OnePlus Nord). It's a solid if unspectacular phone in terms of its design, and just about what you'd expect for the price.
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The OnePlus Nord N10 5G review: camera and battery
As well as a single 16MP selfie camera, the OnePlus Nord N10 5G also comes with a quad camera, 64MP+8MP+2MP+2MP setup on the rear – that's a wide lens, an ultrawide lens, a macro lens and a monochrome lens. The ultrawide option is always handy of course, but there's no optical zoom. Video can be recorded at 4K up to 30 frames per second.
The quality of shots you get from the rear camera is fine, really, without troubling the likes of the Pixel 4a (one of the best phones at this price point in terms of camera quality). Like a lot of phones at this price, pictures in daylight look good and bright and sharp, although some blurring and noise is visible in certain shots if you look closely – it's a picture quality that's definitely decent enough for social media shots, but not much beyond that.
At night, as you would expect, more problems start to appear: more noise, more blurring, and more loss of detail. The OnePlus Nord N10 5G does have a night mode on its camera, which helps a bit (and it's pretty quick in terms of shutter speed too), but it won't work wonders. You can get some good shots at night, if there's some illumination available, and overall the camera performance is about on a par for something at this price.
In our two-hour video streaming test – at maximum brightness, a low volume, and a 60Hz refresh rate – the battery dropped from 100 percent to 78 percent, which means you should get about 9-10 hours of watching overall. Day-to-day use was impressive, with the battery easily lasting a day and sometimes much further, depending on usage – this isn't a phone where you're going to have to panic about finding a mains socket, and the 30W fast charging (for a 70 percent charge in half an hour) is useful too.
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The OnePlus Nord N10 5G review: other specs and features
There's just one configuration of the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, which is a Snapdragon 690 5G chipset, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage (which you can expand via a microSD card if you want to). That's some way short of the best mid-rangers on the market but also significantly better than the specification that you'll get if you're shopping right down at the budget end of the market.
While you will see dropped frames in some of the more demanding mobile games, such as the Asphalt racing games and Fortnite, you can play all these games and run any app you like to an acceptable level – as Geekbench 5 scores of 608 (single-core), 1781 (multi-core), and 975 (OpenCL) would suggest. While there's little in the way of lag or stuttering, apps and websites do sometimes take an extra millisecond or four to load up.
We should give another nod in the direction of the OxygenOS software that OnePlus puts on top of Android, because we think it's one of the better manufacturer operating systems out there. From the design of the fonts and visuals, to the slickness of the apps such as the file manager to the messaging client, it's a polished product (you can of course use the Google alternatives if you prefer).
However, the Nord N10 5G runs Android 10, not Android 11 like the flagship OnePlus 8T. OnePlus says it will get updated to Android 11 eventually, but not beyond that, and security updates are guaranteed for two years rather than the three years you get with the more premium OnePlus handsets (including the OnePlus Nord).
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The OnePlus Nord N10 5G review: price and verdict
The biggest problem for the OnePlus Nord N10 5G is the original OnePlus Nord, which at the time of writing is just £50 more expensive in the UK (check the widgets on this page for the latest deals) – the first Nord has a more premium feel, a superior display, and a better camera, so it's worth the price premium.
As well as saving yourself some cash, you might pick the OnePlus Nord N10 5G instead for its slightly larger screen and its slightly better performing battery... and that's about it. It feels like most people are going to opt for the more expensive Nord, as there isn't the same substantial price gap as there is to the OnePlus Nord N100.
Take the original OnePlus Nord out of the equation though – which you're going to have to do if you live in the US – and the OnePlus Nord N10 5G is a perfectly capable, very affordable, 5G-ready mobile phone. You still get plenty of smartphone in return for your money, even if the handset does have its fair share of weaknesses.
The Nord range in general and the Nord N10 5G in particular sees OnePlus stretching out across more price points and into more territories – with that in mind it's perhaps inevitable that some of the OnePlus quality and innovation is going to get stretched pretty thin. The bottom line is you've got respectable performance, a decent camera, and reliably long battery life for a very fair price.
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