OnePlus announces the Nord N20: $ 282 price, 18-month-old OS

The Nord N20.

OnePlus

OnePlus is launching a new mid-range phone in the US: the OnePlus Nord N20 5G. This is a $ 282 phone that will be available starting April 28, exclusively at T-Mobile.

For that just-under- $ 300 price tag, you get a 6.43-inch “FHD +” (this should mean 2220 × 1080) OLED, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 4,500 mAh battery. The SoC is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695. This is a 6 nm chip with two 2.2GHz ARM Cortex-A78 cores, six 1.7GHz Cortex-A55 cores, and an Adreno 619 GPU. There’s an in-screen fingerprint reader, a microSD slot, and the phone supports an always-on display mode, so you can always see the time and your notifications.

At $ 282, this phone feels like a sequel to the Nord N200, which came out almost a year ago as another T-Mobile exclusive and is $ 240. Last year’s phone had a 90 Hz display, though, which really helped it stand out at this price. The N20 is being downgraded to just 60 Hz. You’ll also have to settle for a smaller battery (the N200 was 5,000 mAh) and losing the headphone jack.

For the rear cameras, OnePlus’ press release lists “a 64MP main camera, monochrome lens, and macro lens.” OnePlus isn’t providing a full spec sheet, but if the megapixel count of those other two cameras was worth bragging about, they would be listed in the press release. The Nord N200 had a main camera, a 2MP “monochrome” lens, and a 2MP “macro” lens. Megapixels do not technically matter, but quality camera sensors also do not come in 2MP sizes. Assuming the N20 is following the same mold as the N200, these other cameras are mostly for decoration.

The phone features 33 W charging, which is very rare at this price point. That’s actually faster than OnePlus’ flagship competitors like Samsung and Google.

OnePlus’ budget phone is shipping with Android 11. As a reminder, this OS shipped in September 2020, making it an 18-month-old version of Android. Previous Nord phones have received one major OS update, so it’s likely this phone will get updated to Android 12 — which is six months old — and OnePlus will call it a day. I know that’s technically one major update, but OnePlus’ lateness makes it feel like zero major updates. The N200 update plan also included three years of semi-regular (not monthly) security updates, so that’s probably the case here.

With OnePlus ‘flagship phones getting more expensive, the mid-range Nord line is turning into OnePlus’ biggest seller. Counterpoint Research’s Q4 2021 report had OnePlus sales up an incredible 524 percent year over year, grabbing 2 percent of the US market. The report says OnePlus’ growth was driven by exactly this combo: Nord devices being sold at T-Mobile. In an interview with Forbes, OnePlus co-founder Pete Lau says the company expects to sell 25 million Nord devices by 2023, presumably on the back of devices like this.

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