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OnePlus Nord Beta Program (US & CA) Review: Discussing the Nord, eh.

  1. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Nordreviewheader.png

    HI Friends,

    I’m cdnfarmer and one of the lucky 50 people who got to try the OnePlus Nord in North America. I’d like to thank OnePlus for this great opportunity.

    Before I go into the review, here is a bit about me so you know where I come from and my perspectives. I’m located in Western Canada in a rural setting but relatively close to urban centres with 5G networks. I have studied and worked in nutrition, agriculture, research, knowledge translation, and using/building technologies to disseminate information and classes.

    Currently, I spend a lot of time in dusty conditions and in dirt. I’m also not your typical woman… I rarely use a purse so I like to carry my phone in my pockets (..and they are not the same size as men’s clothing). ;) My hands seems to be a normal size to me but in relation to guys, they are small. I therefore consider the size of the phone and how it fits in my hands and pockets.

    Photography has been a passion ever since I was knee high to a grass hopper. :) Yes, I’m hrmm old experienced… enough that I started out with film in the camera. You had to “see the picture” before taking it as it could be weeks before you actually got to see the outcome. Over the years, I moved along to various cameras and about 10 years ago I bought my DSLR. It came with me everywhere… until 2018 when I discovered the camera capabilities of my OnePlus 6. Since then, I’ve been exploring what it can do. The DSLR has been resting more often than not. ;)

    I’ll be reviewing the Blue Marble Nord (12GB/256GB).

    For this review on Nord will cover the:
    My trusty companion, the OnePlus 6, will be used for comparisons. Yes, there are lots to discuss... Let’s begin.

    ++disclaimer: there is alot of information so I’ll summarize the key points or note interesting observations from each section. You can therefore TL;DR and get key points when skimming through. ;). I know, I've been there.
    If you have specific questions or more information, please ask and tag or quote me so I can respond to you faster. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2020

    #1
  2. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Unboxing

    The Experience

    I woke up one morning with a notification that a package from OnePlus was being sent. My excitement grew as the package got closer. Meanwhile, @luigimario received his phone first so we did a livestream unboxing. See his great review for his perspectives.

    Even though I had experienced the unboxing virtually, experiencing it hands-on is different. When I picked up the package, I was so excited to unpack and see if for myself. I opened the DHL bag to see the red OnePlus package then a cardboard box containing the Nord box --- ooh what an excitement.


    IMG_20200819_124317__01__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_124536__01_001.jpg

    I spend as much time looking at the box as opening it. First impressions were: “Wow, nice package, the attention to details remained. It was even better in real life than watching it. (no offence Luigi, you did great)”


    First, is small but nice a touch:
    a pull tab to remove the plastic covering. No scissors or sharp object needed. ;) The box is of similar size to the OnePlus 6, yet slightly taller and higher.


    IMG_20200819_124830-1__01__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200823_133118__01_001.jpg
    IMG_20200823_133202__01_001.jpg
    However, the colour of the box is different than previous models. The box is black with a light teal blue in the middle. There is writing on all sides except for the North side (i.e. the top side). Interesting how “OnePlus Nord” is printed on the left side of the box starting from the North (top) to the South (bottom) making it easy for others who may see the box to know what it is. And “OnePlus” is written on the opposite side and corner (right side near the bottom) making it easy to see NORD on top and the manufacture OnePlus on the side for those unboxing. Note, I didn’t look at the model on the back as I wanted to be surprised to see the device’s colour when I opened the box.

    86df534a-a251-491b-a27b-0daad8380ce0.gif

    As the lid slides off, you see the devices wrapped up with a lift tab. When I pulled this tab, I was pleasantly surprised… Blue Marble.:screamcat: I let out a “Yes, it’s blue.” It did grab the attention of others in the house. :D:cool:In the introduction email we received, the letter asked “Did you receive the colour you wanted?” Yes I did. Thank you.

    IMG_20200819_125144-1__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_125224-1__01_001.jpg
    Below is another package that is black with a blue triangle in the middle (i.e. matching the colour theme of the box). Inside is the Welcome Letter, the TPU case, with a black folded box with the Quick Start Guide, SAR values, and Safety Information, stickers, and the SIM ejector tool. If you are looking for the SIM tool, it’s on the bottom flap.

    IMG_20200819_130110-1__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_130307__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_130413__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_130422__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_130602__01_001.jpg
    Below is the charging cable and the Warp 30T charger. Here was my next surprise, it was North American compatible. In the initial thread, it said the Nord was an EU model, I was expecting the EU plug… and getting ready to negotiate with my housemate’s to borrow his EU to NA adapter. That task was taken care of quickly. :grinning: Thank you.

    IMG_20200819_130120-1__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_130209-1__01_001.jpg

    Observations:

    The TPU case

      • is clear with a frosted design. It is a bit rougher to give some grip. IMO, this case looks nice and gives the feeling of being more protective than the case that came with the OnePlus 6.
      • fits well around the phone. The corners are taller than the sides of the case and thicker giving the impression that the case is more reinforced and offer better protection especially around the corners.
      • has a flap that fits nicely into the USB port. This is a nice touch helping reduce pocket lint or dirt getting in the port. I’d suggest being careful when taking off the case as this piece sticks tightly in the opening and may rip off.
    IMG_20200819_142358__01_001.jpg
      • has little bumps on the inside allowing for some air flow.
      • has a reversed 1 for the camera & flash cut-out.
    IMG_20200822_151658_001.jpg


    Charging accessories (Brick and Cable)

    • The brick is about 1.5 times larger than the OnePlus 6 charging unit.
    • The cable is thicker than the OnePlus 6 and probably to accommodate the 30T Warp charge.
    IMG_20200831_091206__01.jpg




     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020

    #2
  3. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Setup

    Now, the device is out of the box, time to start it. Everyone has their needs while setting up their device. Here, I’ll be covering a standard setup from another device using the built-in prompts. Even though this section may vary depending on people’s needs; there are neat features that are worthwhile to note.

    • The new OnePlus logo greets you on the start up page.
    IMG_20200819_143951__01_001.jpg
    • The android logo on the bottom looks more like Google.
    • Next, the phone tries to give a personal feeling and it opens the communication with “HI There.”
    IMG_20200819_144054__01_001.jpg
    • Then it walks you through several pages to set up the device. Once the hardware set up is done. It prompts you to set up the device via Google. This has its advantages however I rather have the option to select and access to OnePlus switch first.
    IMG_20200819_144115__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_144123-1__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_144158__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_144308-1__01_001.jpg IMG_20200819_144700__01_001.jpg
    • OnePlus switch has a nice animation that if you put the old and new device side by side (in that order), it shows the file being picked up and passed onto a truck. It is neat.
    • Ok besides that nice animation, OnePlus Switch also transfers apps not found in the Playstore. The downfall is that I had to re-enter my credentials. This is when I wished that I was using a password manager. My youthful dementia makes it hard to remember. :oops:

    The process and the tone/way prompts are written gave a felling that there was an assistant there helping set up the device. This personal approach help make the user feel welcome on the new journey North Nord. ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020

    #3
  4. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    The Design / Build

    Overall

    The detailed specs are found in the product specification sheet. Key points are listed below:

    • Snapdragon 765G 5G platform.
    • 8 or 12 GB LPDDRX RAM and 128/256GB UFS 2.1.
    • 4115mAh non-removable battery.
    • shipped with Oxygen OS based on Android 10.
    • Rear Quad cameras (48MP main, 8MP Ultra Wide Angle lens, 5MP Depth lens, 2MP Macro lens).
    • Two selfie cameras (32MP and 8MP Ultra Wide Angle).

    The Nord I received is the
    Blue Marble 12GB /256 GB. A good thing because I take lots of pictures. :D:D (already 400 pictures within the first 30hrs.)
    IMG_20200823_185850__01_002.jpg

    Front
    Overall

    The Nord has a flat 90mHz AMOLED screen made of Gorilla Glass 5 with a factory pre-applied screen protector. The screen measures 6.44 inch that has two-hole punches and very little to no bezel especially on the sides. The bottom bezel is a bit bigger than the top. For those who like perfect symmetry, the size does vary. ;) Personally, it is ok. And when using apps, the bottom and top bezel evens out. More details to follow. The Nord screen is slightly taller and narrower than the OnePlus 6 but it handles better.
    IMG_20200901_015821__01_001.jpg

    Top bezel
    IMG_20200819_145315__01_001.jpg

    Bottom bezel
    IMG_20200819_145354-1__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200819_142813__01_001.jpg
    Screen 90 Hz

    The Nord comes equipped with a 90Hz refresh rate with a resolution of 2400x1080 with nit 408 PPI or density DPI of 420. Coming from the 60 Hz on the OnePlus 6, I immediately noticed the difference. Scrolling through the apps was smooth and fast whereas the view was jagged and slow on the 6. I find it hard going back to the 60Hz screen. :);)

    The screen also has a good response rate. When playing Pac Man (yes, I like the old school games ;)) Pac Man responded immediately with little to no delays to moving the finger on the screen. This is a slight improvement from the OnePlus 6.

    Display can be adjusted to have Vivid, Neutral, Advanced > AMOLED Wide Gamut (good colour selection), sRGB, and Display P3. I’ve tried the AMOLED and all three settings. The colour seemed a bit bland but tried AMOLED and various setting and have gotten use to it. It is clear and easy to see even in the bright sunlight and with the adaptive brightness. Do note that there is the option to select towards cold (bluish tones to warm (yellowish) if you so desire. I have not encountered and blue, green tint issues nor black bar problems.

    Dual Hole Punch Selfie Cameras

    The Nord comes with dual selfie cameras; 32MP and 8MP Ultrawide with a 115° view. These cameras take up the top left corner shifting the notifications to the right. I still get 12+ icons including system icons. The notifications screen scrolls easily so viewing all notifications is ok.

    When holding the phone in landscape, the cameras are on the bottom corner. It helps minimize the distraction. Surprisingly, I’ve put my fingers less often in the cameras on the Nord than the selfie camera located on the top middle of the OnePlus 6. However, an arm or hand can easily cover the cameras when holding the phone in landscape orientation affecting videoconferencing. Another downfall is that not all apps are able to take advantage of the full screen. Even though, I have the setting to show full screen, most apps show below the camera bar. This is why I mentioned earlier if you like even top and bottom bezels, they even out (especially when using navigation buttons). I found during a Zoom call that part of the screen was cut off (near camera). David’s name was cut and encountered a similar situation in portrait orientation in the Notes app (resolved by the third update).

    The interesting part is the screen extends from side to side filling up the entire space. Here, OnePlus made good use of the real estate. Funny story is when I first set up the Nord, I transferred my files including the background picture onto the Nord (picture not shown due to privacy concerns). I thought the picture was cut off. However, in reality, the picture filled the screen from side to side and didn’t have empty space around edges it giving the impression that the picture was cut off.

    IMG_20200819_150052-1__01_001.jpg

    The Back and Sides

    The back has curved edges fitting the curvature of the hand nicely. The Nord sits deeper in the palm of the hand and easier to wrap fingers around it. Because of the curve and narrower screen, it is easier to use with one hand navigation even with smaller hands. The Nord fits smoothly and nicely in the hand; a better fit than the 6 that feels bulky in comparison.

    IMG_20200831_084320__02_001.jpg
    The back panel is a light blue. It is solid with no changes in tones. It is a beautiful colour, imo. In fact, the dragonflies seem to like it too. The first evening outside with the Blue Marble Nord, a dragonfly landed on the device and looked at me. Over the 1.5 weeks taking pictures, the dragonflies seem to be tolerant of and even seem to look at a “blue thing” near them.

    When tilting the phone in the sun, you can still see a curve reflecting the light. I was not able to reproduce the S curve seen on the 6 series.

    IMG_20200822_152117__01_002.jpg

    The blue of the back panel extends to the sides where it is has a metallic blue tinted material, said to be plastic.

    IMG_20200819_143847-1__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200819_143841-1__01_001.jpg

    The Alert Slider and power button are on the right and the volume button on the left of the phone. Yes, they are also blue to match the side and back of the phone.

    IMG_20200819_143847__01-1_001.jpg

    IMG_20200819_143832__01-1_001.jpg

    The SIM slot is on the bottom left beside the microphone. Thus, be careful to select the SIM slot when using the SIM tool.


    IMG_20200820_113929-1__01.jpg
    The Nord is equipped for dual SIM cards. I was pleasantly surprised to see the set up in the Nord: A reversible piece (i.e. front and back) compared to the side by side tray in the OnePlus 6.

    IMG_20200820_114025__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200820_114031__01__01_001.jpg IMG_20200820_114151__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200820_114253__01_001.jpg

    The bottom single speaker is on the right (when screen facing you) and the top speaker is in the middle. Occasionally, I cover the speaker when holding the device in landscape orientation yet it occurs less often than on the OnePlus 6 which has its speaker on the left of the charging port.

    IMG_20200820_113137__01-1_001.jpg

    On the back there is the quad camera set up on the right side of the phone. More details will be discussed in the camera section. The flashlight is near the top on the side. Personally, I rather have it in the middle as it lightens up items better than on top. The camera and flash design yields a reversed 1, particularly visible with the included case. A nice subtle touch on behalf of OnePlus. :)

    IMG_20200819_164654-1__01_001.jpg

    Therefore, the Nord with its 6.44 inch screen is bigger than the OnePlus 6 (6.28in) but smaller than the 7 series and 8 series. The Nord actually looks about the same size as the OnePlus 6. However, the Nord is narrower and taller than the OnePlus 6. Despite it being bigger than the 6, it feels great… lightweight and easy to navigate with one hand. It has a flat screen. The body feels like premium quality materials but it does feel different than from the OnePlus 6 matted midnight black. After using it for 2 full days without the case, I must admit that I like the feel of the Nord even more than the 6. This feeling remains after a week of usage. This is the first time where I prefer using a device without a case.:openmouth:

    Key observations

    Logo and OnePlus name.
    The logo and OnePlus name changes colour depending on the light. When light directly touches these items, they turn a light silver colour. When you turn the phone away from the light, these items turn a darker grey. Interestingly, there are small writing in blue underneath the company name. This text is difficult to see unless the device is tilted in the appropriate direction.

    Kudos to OnePlus for thinking of the small details and including the nuances in logo and name changing colour based on light as well as the blue text visible when looking at the proper angle.


    IMG_20200822_115241__01-1__01_001_001.jpg

    IMG_20200822_115255__01_002_001.jpg

    Glow in the dark phone?

    • Did you know the Nord glows in the dark? Did I get your attention??
    • Answer: perhaps… depending on your interpretation.

    IMG_20200825_004844__01_001.jpg

    One night, I used the flashlight or torch as some of our EU friends call it, 😉 and noticed something
    interesting. When the flashlight is on, the sides of the phone lights up. In a dark room, I turned on the flashlight, cover the light and have a look at the result.

    IMG_20200825_004206__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200825_005005__01_001.jpg

    Now, would you say that the device glows in the dark???

    This experiment is also a good way to get kids intrigued. 😊


    Summary

    Overall, the design of the Nord is beautiful. It fits in the hand very well, even in small hands. It is more comfortable to hold and use one handed than the OnePlus 6. Due to its narrower design, I felt it overkill to use both hands to type a message (in portrait orientation). The one limitation is that navigating to the top of the screen with one hand is a bit difficult… too far. The effect is pronounced in the camera app where adjusting settings or selecting supermacro mode are on the top and need both hands.

    The 90Hz display is nice, fast, and smooth. I sometimes scroll past the desired application. :D After using 90Hz, going back to 60Hz is difficult. The hole punches can blend in but it does shift the notifications to the right. I have mixed feelings about them. There are some pros (e.g. putting fingers in the cameras less often, larger group pictures) and cons (e.g. takes more room larger than 6T, 3rd party software are not up to date to maximize the use of the dual selfie cameras, most apps are not capable of extending behind to the top of the screen). There are no LED notification on the Nord. There is however AOD. The inscreen fingerprint is lightning fast and similar to the face unlock on the OnePlus 6.

     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020

    #4
  5. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Battery

    The Nord comes with 4115mAh battery. The Nord has higher amperes than the OnePlus 6 which lasted the day for me. To be honest, I’ve always been interested in a larger battery on phones as often the battery ends when I need to use the phone. However, the larger battery also comes with a higher price and changes in design which is not always possible. Thus, what does this 4115mAh battery mean in real life…?

    In short, I get on average over 7 hours SOT ranging from 6h05 to 9h23 mins.

    As said at the beginning, I primarily use the phone for photography, productivity, business, and communicating with family and friends. I spend most of my time using a sms conversation chat, videoconferencing, forum, photos, camera, twitter, YouTube, and in-house apps.

    The day I spent over 4 hours on videocalls, the battery drained faster. However, I still managed close to 6 hours SOT. In comparison on the OnePlus 6, by 3 hours videoconferencing the battery is nearly drained. The day that I was busy with real life and writing, I used the Nord for listening to music and occasionally messaging and web browsing and the battery lasted 9h23 SOT.

    I was pleasantly surprised with its performance. With the 30T Warp Charge, the Nord takes between 52 (when turned off) to 1h07mins (with apps running in the background) to fully charge its battery. The Nord out performed the OnePlus 6 for SOT and charging speed. This is even when using 90mHz and adaptive brightness.

    In the Battery settings, there is an option for “Optimized charging” which learns usage habits and charges the phone accordingly. Ok, practically, this appeared when I plugged in the phone at night before bed. It charged to 80% then turn off the charging until the morning with a message saying to preserve battery life, charging would resume in the morning [specifying a time]. Neat concept. By the time I woke up, the battery was fully charged. This is one AI feature that I like and it is not intrusive.

    Did you know that when you plug in the Nord, an animation appears? It serves a few purposes:

    • Indicate whether or not warp charge is happening.
    Screenshot_20200827-020349.jpg

    • When using a different brick or fast auto charger, Warp Charge is not displayed
    Screenshot_20200823-150510.jpg

    • Percentage at which the battery is charged.
    • Makes the charging screen interesting.

    When I unboxed my phone, it was charged about 51%. I used it for 2hr 13 mins to set it up, explore, take pictures, get familiar with it, and download the update. Both phones had the same amount of battery. About 15%. The Nord recommended plugging in the phone to install the update under 20% battery. Therefore, I decided to hold off on installing the update and test the charging rate for both phones. In short, the Nord with Warp Charge 30T charged the battery to 100% faster than the OnePlus 6. It took just over an hour. The interesting part is during the charge, the OnePlus 6 took the lead in the percentage charged however near the end, the rate slowed down and it took longer for the OnePlus 6 to finish its charge.

    Interestingly, I used the phones the next day and by the evening they were close to the same percentage of battery. It had been 22 hours since the last charge at which it was charged to 100%. SOT on the Nord was 7 hr 9 min and 5h 53 on the OnePlus 6. Like luigimario, I decided to test how long it took to charge the phones from 1% to 100% and keeping track of the status at various times. This time, I set the timer and used the built-in battery stats to tract progress. At 17:46, both phones were plugged in at 1% battery. Initially, they charged at similar rates. Thirty minutes into the charge (18:16) the Nord was at 53% and the OnePlus 6 at 63%. Yes, I too was surprised. Then by the time the battery was 70 -80% charged, the Nord took over. At an hour, the Nord had charged to 95% capacity. The Nord took 1 hr 07mins to fully charge. It was the second time the battery was charged. The Nord took 30 minutes to reach 52% capacity. OnePlus claims to have “a day’s power in half hour.” In this case, the phone had 53%. Because the larger battery capacity, 53% capacity lasts longer than on the OnePlus 6 and may suffice for a day’s usage.
    Here are the results in a table format:
    IMG_20200901_035958__02.jpg


    The next day, I was busy taking pictures and on a phone call to the point that the battery was drained. I plugged in the phone and left it off to charge. This time, the phone had charged a couple of times and had no background apps running. It took 52 minutes to fully charge the battery.

    Here are the results in a table format:

    IMG_20200901_035958__01.jpg


    Interpretations:

    A lot of numbers and data were provided because the charging rate and outputs are not linear as seen in the Table 1. The Nord and OnePlus 6 charged about the same rate for the first 20 mins. By the half hour mark (30 mins), the OnePlus 6 was about 8% more charged. It does however have a smaller battery. Interestingly, by 44 mins, the percentages were about the same. Then it seemed as though the Nord charged faster and more consistent than the OnePlus 6. In the end, it took the Nord 1h07 mins to charge 99% of its battery capacity meanwhile the OnePlus 6 took 1h35 mins. Note that the time remaining is subjective and inaccurate.

    The next day, I was sorting through 600+ pictures and talking on the phone when it no longer had power. I plugged in the cable and charged it while the phone was off. It took 52 mins to charge from 0 to 100%. By 30 minutes, 71 % of the battery capacity was filled. In this case, the battery charged to 70% in 30 mins.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020

    #5
    TibiTibi, dcmcc24, Batman360 and 9 others like this.
  6. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Software

    Operating Software
    Currently, I’m running Oxygen Operating System (OOS) 10.5.5 based on Android 10 which is the third update since the unboxing. As I'm writing this thread, another update was released. After finishing this thread, I'll install the update and report any changes, if any, seen.

    The clean, smooth, and fast OOS is one thing that I fell in love with OnePlus. OOS is smooth, fast, intuitive, and easy to use especially when coming from another OS. The Nord has many qualities of OOS seen on previous OnePlus devices. Shortly, we will describe some qualities; but first I must say that there are a few third party apps that are now preinstalled on the device. For example, Netflix, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Skype. There is also the OnePlus’ Game Space. All but Netflix and Game Space can be uninstalled. The first thing that I did was to remove Messenger… too many notifications. :D:)

    On the good side, OOS still fosters the dance between hardware and software optimizations. OOS help get the most from the hardware. There are:

    1. Numerous prompts (for example):
      • Violently shaking the device will cause blurry pictures
      • 48MP offers higher resolution and captures details in well lit scenes.
      • Macro – shooting distance is between 1-1.5in (would like to pick in or cm).
      • Try wide angle for this shot
      • Heat warning when the phone is left in the sun or heat for too long.
      • changing battery icon as battery is depleting or charging.
      • Screenshot_20200828-191305.jpg
    2. Navigation helpers:
      • Recent app screen
        • the smooth transition between apps and while scrolling.
        • Close app button allowing to close all open apps at once.
        • Screenshot_20200823-100609.jpg
      • Screenshots
        • picture lowers to the bottom right with text giving the opportunity to expand the screenshot and view immediately.
      • During a call
        • Circle with submenu that is context based and adjust options based on what type of audio/voice options (e.g. headphones, car audio or speaker phone).
        • It is an easy way to get back to the call when multitasking or on hold. You can also hang up directly on this floating menu.
        • Screenshot_20200829-124620__01__01.jpg
      • Ability to access quick menus for apps directly on the home screen
        • Screenshot_20200824-144232.jpg
    3. Animations to give that smooth experience (just to list a few).
      • Phone icon with moving half circles in notification bar during a call. The same icon appears in the floating call menu.
      • Charging circle indicates % as well as Warp charge or not. When Warp Charging is being used, Warp appears as a fast car racing by.
      • Pictures and text when there are no files to be found, or applications in the search results or hidden space.
      • Fingerprint sensor animations. It’s simple but a nice touch. It is also customizable.:)
      • Notification icons move nicely (i.e. flows) when the area is expanded.
      • When all notifications are displayed, the word Manage appears giving direct access to app notification settings. Adjustments can be readily made.
      • The way browser pages disappear in the centre like into a dot.
      • When the timer reaches its countdown, the ability to stop or add a min without having to go to the clock app.
      • During low light or slower shutter speed or Nightscape pictures, there is a circle around the shutter button showing the process.
      • Screenshot_20200824-144448.jpg Screenshot_20200823-113422.jpg Screenshot_20200826-121924__01.jpg
    4. There are quick gestures allowing users to customize how they interact with their device. For example, drawing an O can open the camera.
      • Screenshot_20200829-132830.jpg

    Key Points

    • OOS continues to provides a pleasant user experience.
    • There is bloatware installed on the devices. Fortunately, most can be uninstalled. Adds additional work for those who do not want the apps.
    • Personally, I don’t play many videogames (please don’t hold it against me) to see the use for game space but there is potential for someone who wants a quick way to optimize their gaming experience.
    • There are numerous small touches via animations, prompts etc that enhances the user experience.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020

    #6
    dcmcc24, Batman360, Bouncer71 and 9 others like this.
  7. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Connectivity / Networks

    Being in a rural setting but near towns and larger urban centres in Canada I was curious how the phone would perform.

    Keep in mind that we received European models and in the original Beta Program thread, it listed a
    Product disclosure:

    In some regions across North America, Nord may experience signal stability issues. That’s because all Nord review units are European and don’t have support for the following bands:

    ATT:B14, 30, 29, 48
    TMO:B25, 71

    Nord also comes without support for 4x4 MIMO which means, in some areas, the device may not offer a stable 4G connection and will revert to 3G instead.

    Phone calls
    The lack of support for these bands did not affect my calls and web navigation. In fact, I was able to receive calls and make outgoing calls as good or better than with my OnePlus 6. I live in an area where occasionally calls do not reach me when using the OnePlus 6. So far, I have not encountered this with the Nord. I find the voice comes across clear and better than the 6. Those at the other end found the sound similar to the OnePlus 6 or maybe a bit clearer. I haven’t seen much difference between the two devices in poor coverage areas. In this case, it may take both devices a bit of time to connect suggesting it is not the phone but the network.

    One trick we measure network speeds and connections in the country is being able to connect to the network to access Netflix, You Tube, make / receive calls during storms. – The practical test. ;) Up to now, the Nord holds up well and able to connect to all measures during big wind and thunder/lightening storms… even when trees fall on powerlines. ;)

    Data browsing
    My current location is on the outer limits of two separate towers. Thus, sometimes, I get H+ (HPSA) to 4G connections as seen with H+ to 4G+ by the data icon. Sometimes it is a matter of turning around or walking 10 ft and the connection changes. What does this mean in terms of usability? Overall, the Nord works on all the network strengths. I was able to have voice of internet (not quite LTE ;0 ) conversation on the H+ and 4G. However, the connection deteriorated when the network switched or went to H+. In this case, there were increases in delays during the communication and displaying pictures in the SoOP contest in the forum. Returning to 4G connection was better and pictures displayed ok. However, in this area, it is difficult or little can be done to control with which network the device connects. It is a good place to build patience.

    I don’t believe the troubles in connecting to the network it is related to the device as the area is known for poor reception and similar situation is encountered with the other devices including the OnePlus 6. In other areas where there is a consistent 4G network, navigating webpages and social media platforms works well. The connection speed is however slower than what was observed in the city. See below.

    5G Compatibility
    After 5 days of trying the device especially the cameras, phone, and internet connection, I decided to try the 5G compatibility and network speeds. Before getting into the details, I must give you some background information. In Canada, four requirements must be met for 5G to work:

    1. Have a 5G compatible device. And the device must be approved by the provider.
    2. Be in the service area that have 5G. There are 5 areas in Canada as of August 21st (just new): Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver.
    3. Have a 5G compatible sim card.
    4. Have 5G enabled in the service contract.
    I learned these requirements because in the nearby town there are 5G towers but I could not connect. After spending 49 mins on a call with the service provider, he said that the device is not in their list but could try and gave me access to the 5G networks. The “big city” nearby has 5G coverage throughout its territory, so I updated my SIMcard and become a tourist in the city.

    It might be worth highlighting the network levels and speeds for the provider I use.

    In Canada, there are the following connections, starting from lower to higher speeds.
    HSPA (3G) and HSPA+ (4G) providing average speeds of 3.5 – 14Mbps
    LTE (a general catch word)
    LTE Advance which is subdivided into:
    LTE Advance (LTE-A): average speeds of 25-220Mbps
    LTE: average 12-40Mbps.

    On their website, they indicate that in theory on their LTE-A, users can experience 1Gbps. Therefore, from a provider perspective, an accepted 5G compatible device may be connected to 5G connected but they list it as LTE-A on their website. Ironically, their bandwidth varies considerably. Meanwhile on the Nord device, the connection is listed as 4G+ even though speeds may get closer to what is expected on the lower ends of a 5G connection.

    As I put the 5G card in the Nord, I had 4G+ connection. What the device displays as 4G+ and what the network speeds varies. If you want to read more on the network, please view the spoiler above.

    The journey started at a nature park. I first checked the connection with a speed test. The connection was listed as 4G+ on the Nord. The download and upload speeds were 126.4Mbps and 16.4Mbps, respectively suggesting LTE-Advance. After walking 2 kms in the forest, I returned to my vehicle (same spot as before) and the connection was listed as H+. The speed test yielded 10.5 and 1.7Mbps download and upload speeds, respectively. It was odd that the connection changed while I was in a park within the city. I was able to make a phone call yet it took a few seconds longer to connect. There were no other problems during the phone call. The connection would not revert to 4G+ even though that was connection just an hour before and in the same place. Here I think something happened with the hardware. Because after restarting the device, the phone connected to 4G+ with download speeds of 101.9Mbps and 27.4Mbps for uploads.

    I was then across the river from downtown and near 5G towers. Instead of just speed tests, I tried a practical application: accessed a webpage with a 100mb picture (thanks to @hennes). The page loaded in 10.4 seconds and the 100MB picture downloaded in 15.96 seconds from servers across the Atlantic 8000kms away. By mathematical calculations, the connection was 50-100Mbps (LTE-A). Meanwhile, the speed test said 151.3Mbps (with some over 200Mbps) download and 57.7Mbps upload speeds to servers ~350km away. These tests give a good idea how fast files can be downloaded and online games played. These data indicate that the Nord is capable of handling faster speeds that are on the top levels of LTE-A (still classified as 4G+) and close to the 5G networks even though the device is not supported in Canada yet.

    There is good LTE coverage in the city. I had not experienced those network speeds before upgrading to 5G sim card and using the Nord. The speeds were on the faster end of 4G+ LTE as indicated with speeds exceeding 200Mbps and average of 151.3Mbps. The speeds got closer to the lower level 5G network but didn’t reach those speeds. When I called the support, this person said that the tower engineers have yet to make the towers available to all devices. Their goal is to have all devices compatible with 5G access the towers. It is however not at that stage. Many LTE towers are being converted and 5G was recently (21 Aug 2020) released in this area (according to the tech support person). It was just a few days old. The Nord unfortunately cannot connect to their 5G network because despite meeting 90% of their criteria, it is not on their list of approved devices.

    In the country side, 5G networks are not yet available. It will take some time before 5G will be readily here. It may in fact be most effectively used on private areas such as a farm. Meanwhile due to our vast areas, 4G LTE is the fastest and most reliable connection in the rural areas. It is interesting to note that there is a marked difference between network connection in urban vs rural areas. Data speeds are at least 10x faster in the cities than in the rural settings. However, phone calls and sms are handled well and about the same in rural and urban settings.

    5G setting and Battery.
    OnePlus already considered the higher demands that 5G places on battery usage and integrated a feature to mitigate those demands. Using AI, the device matches the 5G networks and switches to 4G when no 5G networks are available. This feature is available by simply turning on the Smart 5G setting (Settings>Sim & Network Settings>Celluar Data> Smart 5G).


     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020

    #7
    TibiTibi, dcmcc24, Batman360 and 11 others like this.
  8. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Camera
    Part 1: Intro and Background

    Intro

    Welcome the the photography and camera section of the Nord review. Here, I could write novels. I may infact add additional information over the week about the camera. For reference, taking pictures took the majority of time interacting with the device. In 10 days, over 18% of storage or 50GB) was used for pictures and videos.


    *** Disclaimer: Initially, I thought of comparing the Nord with the OnePlus 6 and DLSR. However, the Nord has many settings that it becomes overwhelming to capture and then for the audience to review. @hennes did an excellent comparing 5 devices including the Nord and a DSLR. I will not duplicate his work here. If you want to see the outcomes, please review his excellent thread. Note that there are many pictures even though they are compressed, there is over 715MB. Therefore, it is recommended to view over WiFi instead mobile data. In my experience with the Nord, I found similar results. Below, I will compare with the OnePlus 6 in some cases. If you have specific questions, please ask as I may already have some pictures from other devices and additional information. ****


    Background

    The Nord has a total of 6 cameras: 4 on the back and 2 on the front. The quad camera set up on the back is on the right side of the phone (when looking at the screen). The good thing it is the opposite side to the selfie cameras which helps remind users what side the cameras are located. This is the first OnePlus device that has the cameras to the side. As a photographer, the cameras on the side makes it a bit more difficult to line up with leading lines, straight-on shots, even to get the most out of the focal points. I found that initially the focus was off but that was because I was unfamiliar with this set up and using techniques for the OnePlus 6 (i.e. camera in the middle). It doesn’t work well. When people want to take a picture in the middle of a bridge or road, they need to account for the position of the cameras otherwise one side of the view is enhanced reducing symmetry and the overall quality of the image.
    IMG_20200822_163301_001.jpg
    Here Ideally, taking a step to the left would have helped compensate for the right position of the cameras and keep the main focal point in the centre.

    IMG_20200822_163306_002.jpg
    My position seems off in this picture. At a quick glance, it looks like I'm in the middle. If this was the case, then the middle of the row is infact the left edge of the row near the field. With the OnePlus 6, where I'm standing, this is the centre spot. With the Nord, here taking a step to the left would make a straighter line down the actual row. In this example, it is a bit more subtle than the picture above but it gives an idea about the position adjustment can be minimal but make a big difference in the outcome.

    IMG_20200822_163244_002.jpg
    notice the wider angle on the right side. My body is placed in a line straight down the middle and square on but there is an extension on the right.

    IMG_20200822_163248_001.jpg
    The space to the right. It gives the impression that I was looking to the right but in reality look below to see the focal point or where I was facing and lined up with.

    IMG_20200822_163248__01_001.jpg
    Here I'm facing straight down the row (not turned to the right) but the cameras are there and it captured a greater angle on the right.

    IMG_20200822_180648_002.jpg
    note the space on the right of the axel. Meanwhile my body was lined with the middle and looking straight onto the train as seen with the top bracket.

    When holding the device in landscape orientation, the cameras are either on top (i.e. device’s top to the left) or on the bottom (i.e. top of the device to the right). I found that my finger got into the way. This also makes using a tripod or putting on a stable surface a bit tricky. It also affects how the device is held and angle needed and what can be captured. In some cases, it may limit what can be captured in the scene. Throughout the photo examples below, I’ll highlight when the camera positions were limiting to the image. Moreover, when the phone is laying on the desk without the case, the cameras lifts one side of the device making it wobbly while typing on the device.

    Furthermore, the flash is on the side of the cameras but further up than on the OnePlus 6. Due to its position, its effectiveness of highlighting items especially below or close to the phone is limited without changing the angle of the device. These are two weaknesses I found on the back of the device. I would strongly encourage OnePlus to keep the cameras in the middle of the device and beware of the flash location. Central location allows better picture taking and flexibility in picture taking techniques. Moreover, in a weekly update thread, there were leaks showing various camera positions prototypes. When considering the location, please ensure that there are no shadow or effects from other lenses.

    The back is equipped with a true 48 MP main camera with IMX586 sensor. It has OIS and EIS stabilisation. Ultra wide angle lens of 8MP and f/2.25 giving 119° view. A 5MP depth lens and a 2MP macro lens. I’ll first review the main camera and its various settings, including ultra wide angle then move to the other lenses followed by a comparison among the modes, best situations, and discussions.

    As a preview, here are some pictures taken with the Nord. More will be provided below under each section.
    IMG_20200830_125252__01_002.jpg

    IMG_20200829_160704__01_001_001.jpg IMG_20200901_181213__01_001.jpg IMG_20200901_160945__01_001.jpg IMG_20200822_181246__02_002.jpg IMG_20200822_182046_002.jpg IMG_20200822_120846__01_001.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2020

    #8
    TibiTibi, dcmcc24, Batman360 and 9 others like this.
  9. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Camera
    Part 2: Review Each Camera (back and front).

    Intro
    The main camera set up may look familiar… It was used in the OnePlus 8. Even the OnePlus website, states that they “stole it…[from OnePlus 8]” It comes with 48MP, this is enough MP to capture great pictures. Let’s be honest, you don’t need a large megapixel count to get great definition, colours, and pictures. It is not a linear relationship. Larger or higher pixels does NOT equal better pictures (>MP ≠ better picture). Attention and focus should be placed on photography techniques and the sensor.

    The Nord has the Sony IM586 sensor. It was released in 2018. At that time, it was the highest pixel counts and gave actual 48 effective megapixels all on a 0.8u, area. They use Quad Bayer color filter (pixel binding) where 2x2 pixels give the same colour allowing for high sensitivity in pictures. In low light, signals from 4 adjacent pixels are added resulting in a sensitivity of 1.6um or 12 megapixel and produce high resolution pictures. In daytime, bright conditions, the sensor produces conversions that give high definition pictures.(1) Other tests have found that The Sony IMX586 takes great pictures in daylight regardless of the device used. However, the sensor reaches its limits in low-light conditions where there seems to be overaggressive in the post processing. (2)


    What does this mean and how does it relate to the Nord?

    Main Rear Camera
    The main camera can produce great pictures especially in good light conditions. The trick is selecting the proper setting (e.g. regular, portrait, pro mode) for the subject and conditions as well as finding the right distance to use the best light and be in focus.

    Let’s begin by looking at some options in the regular photo mode. You have the option of choosing 12 or 48MP. When you select 48MP, you can no longer zoom, do ultra wide, or super macro mode photos. However, you get increased details / resolutions which allows you to crop and zoom in during post processing. The file size is also considerably larger… it can be 2-3 times larger than with 12MP. When you want to use ultra wide angle or macro (called super macro) or zoom up to 10x digital zoom, then select 12MP.

    There is no telephoto lens in the Nord. The zoom is digital meaning that there will be noise. Anything above a 2X zoom increases the noise and reduces the quality of the pictures. Initially, I was pleasantly surprised of the outcomes with 2x in good light. Details were better than in supermacro mode. The zoom also allows you to get closer to a subject when it is physically not possible. Please note that noise remains but with proper light, handling, and subject, you may find the 2x useful. For example, when you want to capture details on a bridge or certain angle of the bridge or building and it is very difficult to get close, then the 2X feature comes in handy.

    IMG_20200823_193439_001.jpg

    You may get a nice picture but beware that there will be some noise. I must caution you that with moving subjects, the noise is enhanced and may turn out as a blob.

    IMG_20200827_085620__01_001.jpg

    When using regular mode (no zoom) in low light conditions, I found the pictures to be lighter than what was seen on the screen and in reality (i.e. over processed when looking through the gallery afterwards). This may in part reflect the limitation of the sensor and over aggressive processing lightening up the scene. Now knowing this behaviour, adjustments to the exposure, white balance (WB), shutter speed, and ISO settings can be made to better reflect what is seen by the eyes.
    Regular mode. Auto. All parameters set by camera.
    IMG_20200822_205120_001_001.jpg

    Pro Mode - WB adjusted
    IMG_20200822_205132_001_001.jpg
    IMG_20200822_205154_001_001.jpg

    Pro Mode - WB, ISO, shutter speed were all adjusted.
    IMG_20200822_205213_001_001.jpg
    This picture look closer to what we saw with our eyes.


    Ultra wide (UW) angle lens

    Ultra wide (UW) angle lens is accessible via the photo app (click the three trees icon). UW expands the view and field of observations. UW is useful when you want to capture a tall building or tree, long bridge, statue, or landscape or give a sense of depth. For landscapes, be aware what is around and what you are trying to capture as UW may or may not achieve your goals. Sometimes, it makes you look further then where you are actually standing. For example, I held the Nord in portrait orientation and tried UW. I got a lot of foreground (more than there was in front of me as it pushed back the image) and it took away from the subject which was in the far back. However, turning the phone landscape with the cameras on the left, UW broaden the view of field to 119° giving a good view of the field with the sunset. I also found that you had to be careful or aware where you put your fingers as the UW tends to broaden the view and caputre it as well. Fun fact: did you know that when UW is selected, the flash is automatically disabled?

    One consideration (and a current limitation) is incorporating the UW lens in more applications. Currently, the availability of multiple selfie cameras on devices is limited and most software are not programmed for two selfie cameras. Being able to use the UW lens during a video conferencing would allow larger groups to be visible on the call. It would be nice to be able to select which camera to use. However, this software modification is applicable when there are at least two cameras. I’m not sure what are the long-term plans to incorporate multiple selfie cameras and if it is worth for third party apps to make the necessary changes to allow selection of front cameras. In theory, similar principals could be used for multiple rear cameras if someone choses to flip the phone and use the back cameras.


    Super Macro lens

    The OnePlus team has been working on improvements. I’ve updated the Nord three times since receiving it. A lot of the focus [pun intended] was to enhance this lens. :) There are noticeable improvements. However, more software improvements are needed to find the proper balance and clarity. If it were possible, I would suggest adding a larger sensor to allow for more light and details to be captured in future iterations. This mode is probably my least favourite of the camera modes. tbh, I prefer Pro Mode and cropping as it gives better results and flexibility. For people who want a quick way to get close up, super macro mode may help but be aware of colour accuracy and focus. In it's current state, I'd suggest taking pictures in reg or pro mode then cropping it.

    Two notes to consider:
    • This mode is best used for stationary objects and not moving subjects (e.g. bees, flies etc).
    • Amount of megapixels does not equal quality ( >MP ≠ better picture). As previously mentioned, super macro may also benefit from a larger sensor. Therefore, 5MP is not necessarily better than 2 MP.

    Selfie Cameras
    The Nord has dual selfie cameras:
    1. a main 32MP camera with Sony IMX616, and
    2. ultra wide angle (UW) with 105 °.
    This is a first for OnePlus and it is uncommon feature on other phones in the market. It is an interesting concept especially for group selfies. From the beginning, selfies included multiple people. Until now, someone with the longest arms took the picture or everyone had to bunch together to fit (somewhat) in the picture. Now, there can be two rows of people, everyone can be included and it is no longer required for the person with the longest arm to take the picture.;) bet you didn’t think of that. How many of you thought about that?

    While testing out these cameras, I eexperienced two things:
    • the AI had troubles finding and maintaining a focal point. I had a neat experience of two dragonflies landing on my blue hat. I took a selfie (main camera) and they were blurry especially the dragonfly that was closest to the camera. The logo on the hat was ok even when zoomed in. Thus, I progress or plan to set up scene with hats to represent people to find the right distance. I will update this section when results are available.
    • Furthermore, the screen flickered. Both situations occurred in good and low light conditions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020

    #9
    TibiTibi, dcmcc24, Batman360 and 10 others like this.
  10. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Camera
    Part 3: Using the modes and app.


    Different Modes


    Pro Mode

    Pro Mode gives the most flexibility to the user. Pro Mode is probably my favourite mode and used it in 95% of the cases. I find it the best mode to photograph close ups of still or moving objects such as dragonflies, flowers, insects, plants etc. This mode allows the users to select the appropriate focus and adjust automatically with changes in distance between the device and subject and then the focus length. This is very useful with moving subjects (e.g. insects or flowers in the wind). The adjustment is pretty instantaneous. It overcomes the limitations of the regular mode where AI tries to find the focus (even when a user indicates and locks the focal point and keeps adjusting), which takes too much times with moving objects. With pro mode, therefore, focus tends to be quicker and gives clearer pictures. Here is a tip, tilt the device side to side to find the proper focal point (i.e. remember that the cameras are on the right side of the phone). This will help move the camera closer or further away from the subject and help find the appropriate distance. Note on the Nord, the optimal distance using macro focus in pro mode is about 8cm. Yes, I did take out the measuring tape… ;)

    IMG_20200820_121245__01__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200821_082311_002_001.jpg

    IMG_20200821_082543__01__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200830_181943__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200829_160716__01__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200830_125341__01_001.jpg

    As with any mode, there are limits. In Pro Mode, the picture tends to be over exposed or too bright especially when there is the sun at its peak intensity. Fortunately, there is the option to adjust exposure before taking the picture. When changes are made to the menu, it is automatically reflected on the screen allowing users to best match the adjustments to reflect reality. Thus, in Pro Mode, exposure and white balance need to be taken into account to reproduce actual colours seen by the eyes.

    In the Nord, you can choose 12or 48MP like in the regular photo mode. The same theory as previously mentioned applies here too. Thus, in good light conditions, if you want increased resolutions, colours and file size giving the flexibility in post processing then 48MP may be right for you. If you want smaller file sizes, a balance between size and quality and in less than ideal light condition, choose 12MP. Note that photography skills, viewing the pictures, setting up the shot, and proper light will make more of a difference than 12 vs 48MP. As a side note and important fact discovered writing this thread. Pictures with 48MP even though it is compressed to less than 2MB cannot be uploaded to the forum. The pictures need to be scaled down to 12MP, compressed then uploaded. This is why many pictures are not currently posted as I have to scale many .


    Portrait Mode

    This is a mode I rarely used with the OnePlus 6. With the Nord, I found it more useful because the focusing issue and picture recording speed. I actually used this mode to capture a dragonfly that landed on me. I was surprise of the outcome. It had good details and the picture could be zoomed and crop keeping overall quality.


    IMG_20200820_153542_Bokeh__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200820_153542_Bokeh_001.jpg
    The first is a crop from the second. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised to have this beautiful creature land on my arm. Thought it was a perfect opportunity to test portrait mode. It worked well. The key is to make sure the distance is correct (like with the other modes) which was easier to get in this case as I had limited ability to change position.

    The details and clarity and each part is distinct especially evident when cropped. I was pleasantly surprised to see the outcome (i.e. amount of details, larger amount of the subject is in focus, colours is accurate to reality).

    Here is another example.
    IMG_20200826_172219_Bokeh__01_001.jpg
    A cropped from IMG_20200826_172219_Bokeh_001.jpg
    Thus, if you want and automated way to get something close by without the macro or pro modes, portrait may be a good option.


    Nightscape

    Allows you to capture scenes in low light without having to use a tripod. Generally, the ISO is increased and shutter speed slowed. It makes taking low light pictures easier than with pro mode. However, the picture is often lighter than reality or with pro mode. It may also make the picture look a lot lighter than reality and as seen with the OnePlus 6. Again perhaps, this may be an effect of the sensor. Having said that, I tried to capture stars with Nightscape because there was a flood light on behind me. I was impressed with the overall quality.

    IMG_20200827_012851_001.jpg

    IMG_20200827_013038_001_001_001.jpg
    In this case, the setting was good (good source of external light) and Nightscape worked well. In this case, it was easier to take a clearer picture because the time is faster than with pro mode (and I did not have a stationary step up for prolonged shutter speeds). When it is cool and shaking… Nightscape may help.


    Regular Mode

    This is the automatic mode that displays whenyou open the OnePlus camera app. It uses the main rear camera (unless you change some parameters). Overall, the camera can capture beautiful pictures especially in ideal light conditions. In most cases, the camera produced good results in low light conditions.
    IMG_20200822_184548_001.jpg

    IMG_20200901_085834_1_001.jpg

    IMG_20200822_183147_001.jpg

    IMG_20200822_182046_001.jpg
    It was grey, started to rain but sun came out. Zoom in to see the rain drops into the pond. A few more pictures. I'll add a bunch in the gallery. Here I also wanted to highlight my partner who patiently waits while I take pictures. She knows certain areas that I may be there awhile. She lays down. :):hearteyes:
    IMG_20200822_174659_001_001.jpg IMG_20200822_181532_001.jpg IMG_20200820_121427_1_001.jpg

    The trick with this auto mode is the automatic focus. I found that it tended to switch before it would take a picture. I also found that trying to get the camera to focus on small moving object in particular dragonflies made it difficult.They often appeared blurry while everything else is clear. I also found when taking pictures of insects or plants being blown in the wind, the camera in auto mode could not adjust its focus in time. It seemed as though its clear wings, small and moving objects made it challenging for the camera.



    Overview of the app / Overall use of the camera app.

    The app contains many features, gives the users many options, and works well in general. Being able to customize the layout of the menu on the bottom of the app is really good and helps with usability. Love that feature. After knowing which modes, you use the most, you can cluster them together making it easier to navigate among them. When selecting the desired items, you need to remove it from the list then add it back (if wanted) in the right order. Note that the top item on the list will be the first item in the menu on the left.

    In addition, did you know that
    • the UW, regular, 2X modes have an additional setting that allows you to add a filter prior to taking a picture?
      • It gives a different perspective and adds it initially versus in post processing. It is an interesting approach. Have fun trying it out.
    • The Nord also as scene detection?
      • I quickly turned that feature off as I didn’t like how it changed the view when it detected something in the scene but it was not what I wanted the main subject to be. This feature may be interesting to some people. For me I rather decide how the parameters/settings of the camera to meet my needs.
    • When a timer is used, the flash does not turn on for the countdown by default?
      • Personally I appreciate this change as the neighbours dog doesn't get excited at 2 am when they see a flashing light down the road. ;) Now, there isn't a visual clue.

    I found three issues that limited the app’s usability and could be improved.
    1. The space between the menu and the shutter button is too big (in all aspect formats).
      • The space is larger than on the OnePlus 6. Often times, I found myself clicking an empty space or not enough of the button that the picture was not captured missing a potentially good shot. Even after 2000+ pictures captures, I still find this an issue. I’m not sure if it is because the screen is taller than the 6 and there is more space. I would suggest making the shutter button larger or reducing the space.
    2. The speed at which a picture is captured after clicking the shutter button is 0.31 secs slower in the Nord compared with the OnePlus 6.
      • When I first started using the Nord, I had a nice picture in sight but when I looked at the picture afterwards, I was disappointed. It was blurry.
      • It was when doing my tourist visit that I noticed the delay the Nord takes to record a picture. I then used a stop watch to measure the speed (in seconds) it took for the Nord and the OnePlus 6 to record the picture. It was a statue in good lighting conditions, nothing too challenging to process.
      • IMG_20200823_192306_001_001.jpg
      • The OnePlus 6 took 0.53 seconds while the Nord took 1.24 seconds. Then I realized that one needs to stand still a bit longer to make sure the picture is recorded before moving. It is not as instantaneous as with the OnePlus 6.
      • I’m not sure the best approach to help speed the recording process and to what difference it will make as there are limits with the CPU, sensor, and OIS capacities too. Please note, overall, it is ok but can be better. In the meantime, don’t be in a hurry to move after you click the shutter button.
    3. The supermacro button is in the top of the screen.
      • If someone actually want to use it, it is a bit difficult to access with one hand. Could it be moved to the menu below and people could choose to display it?
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020

    #10
    TibiTibi, Bobbie63 , dcmcc24 and 10 others like this.
  11. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Camera 4
    Part 4: Comparisons among Modes

    Regular, 2x, and UW

    The following are comparisons of the same scene but taken in regular mode, 2x and UW. Notice the different perspectives that changing the depth of field provides. Changing the depth of field can increase what is included, focus on a specific area or give a leading up feel etc. Overall, the main camera provides good pictures. The one point to highlight is the edge of UW pictures may be a bit blurry or have a smudge look. The UW gives a fish eye effect in some cases.

    Train tracks
    Regular
    IMG_20200822_182939_001.jpg

    2x
    IMG_20200822_182945_001.jpg

    UW
    IMG_20200822_182949_001.jpg
    Above are three some examples of how the different settings changes the perspective and depth of field. Note that on the UW, (last picture), the rocks and wood (even in the middle) in the foreground appear stretched and not exactly how they look in reality.


    Super Macro vs Pro Mode and Regular Mode crops.
    When comparing super macro with regular or pro mode pictures, it has an altered colour scheme. It looks dull and in this case the flower petal lost its details and looks like oil paint effect. Whereas, this macro is ok. However, for consistent results, using pro mode then cropping the picture gives better options.

    Regular
    IMG_20200820_092632__01_001.jpg
    IMG_20200820_092632_002.jpg

    Super macro
    IMG_20200820_092650__01_001.jpg
    IMG_20200820_092650__02_001.jpg

    Pro Mode
    IMG_20200820_092828__01_001.jpg

    Using regular and pro mode as a comparison, the colour tones in this super macro is darker yellow. The green of the leaves are no longer fresh green (as seen in thumbnail associated with the regular mode) but more of a brownish grey. Colour representations are pretty close to the reality in both the regular and pro mode. In this case, the super macro provided a bit more details and this was after the second update. Even though the regular and pro mode provide nice pictures, I still find that pro mode provides better details because the focal point i.e. the macro function and placing the phone at the right distance isadjusted as needed by the user. Necessary adjustments may be made immediately capturing the approrpriate focus.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020

    #11
    TibiTibi, Bobbie63 , dcmcc24 and 9 others like this.
  12. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Camera
    Part 5: Videos

    The Nord has optical image stabilization (OIS) and electric image stabilization (EIS) for the main camera. This is good because there are two approaches to stabilizing the image. For me, I can use all the help possible. Arguably, the EIS makes adjustments to the shaking when the image hits the sensor and better for videos.


    In the sample videos, I purposely ran to ensure that there was bouncing and jarring. The image stabilizations does work well. The next option to consider is what resolution to use for filming. A nice built in feature is that under each resolution, the approximate file size is provided. There are the following resolutions:
    • 1080 at 30fps
    • 1080 60fps
    • 4k at 30fps and
    • 4K cine that gives the 21:9 ratio.
    Stabilization is available for 1080 at 30fps and 4k at 30 fps only.

    For this review, I tested the various resolutions with and without superstabilization and slow motion at different settings. Below is an example comparing the effect of stabilizations on the video output.

    1080 at 30 fps with stabilization.


    1080 at 30fps WITHOUT stabilization


    Due to limits on the number of videos, the 1080 60 fps along with 4k videos are added in another post. Above, you can see the effects of having the stabilization on and off at 1080. A similar effect was seen in the 4k at 30 fps video.

    The Nord also offers slow motion in the same resolutions mentioned above. The prompt when filming states only 1 min of recording can be done. After recording, the duration is actually longer than what was filmed due to the additional frames per second (fps) to make the super slow motions.

    In good light
    1080 at 30 fps


    1080 at 60 fps


    4k at 30fps


    Overall, I found the video capacities and options good and a strength of the camera setup.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2020

    #12
    TibiTibi, Bobbie63 , dcmcc24 and 10 others like this.
  13. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 1, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 1, 2020 :
    Camera 6
    Part 6: Summary and Gallery
    Summary
    • The Nord has 6 cameras: 4 on the back and 2 on the front.
    • The rear main camera gives good results especially in good light conditions.
    • The digital zoom can help capture details on building and non moving objects that are well lite. There may be some noise.
    • Pro Mode is flexible and remains a great tool (and probably the best part of the camera app) that should continue to be supported and developed.
    • The super macro and selfie cameras need improvements on focus and accurate colour representation (including white balance).
    • The time to record a picture (capture and saved to gallery) is half (0.31) seconds slower than the OnePlus 6. As a user, you should be aware when taking a picture to remain still a bit longer and be aware of moving subjects.
    • The dual selfie cameras are in theory a good idea. However, they seem to have a hard time with proper focus in good and low light conditions.
    • However, if you are looking for a point and click main camera or use pro mode, the Nord may offer you lots of options.


    The pros:

    • Has a true 48MP main camera yielding overall good quality pictures.
    • Regular mode is fairly straightforward, easy to use, and provides good results.
    • UW can be useful in numerous situations.
    • The optic image stabilization works well in the video. It is limited to the 30fps setting but it may be worthwhile using when you want a smooth picture over higher fps.
    • Again, you have the options of choosing higher MP (in photo) and resolution (1080 vs 4K) in video. The higher the MP or resolution; the larger the file size. The nice touch built into the app is the approximate file size is provided for each resolution.
    • Video capacities are quite good and give good outputs especially in bright conditions. In shadows, I noticed that the camera automatically adjusted the colours. In the cases that I observed, the differences were minimal and didn’t affect the quality of the image and video.
    • Ability to customize the photo app.
    • Pro mode. Enough said ;)


    The cons or areas for improvements:

    • There is a noticeable delay between touching the shutter button and the picture is recorded. I wonder if a software update to help capture stable picture yet a faster recording.
    • Using one hand mode, it is difficult to reach the super macro button on top of the phone. It reduces the usefulness of the function and navigation. I suggest putting the super macro mode in the bottom menu and users may select to display it or not.
    • Narrowing the space between the shutter button and menu or making the shutter button larger.
    • Focus on regular mode is flaky and changes. Focusing on a small item like a dragonfly is difficult and the lens keep changing or trying to readjust the focus (even when it is not necessary).
    • Enhance AI ability to properly focus in regular modes for UW and super macro lenses. Have the ability to select a focus without the AI trying to readjust the focus.
    • Produces lot of blurriness… the focal points seem to be very small and limited or as it states multiple focal points, with subject moving or in the wind. It often gives blurry look near area in or somewhat in focus.
    • Enhance processing in low light conditions for the rear and selfie cameras.
    • Enhance super macro colour and focus parameters.
    • Cameras on the sides make it hard to focus and to take straight on picture.


    Overall thoughts

    The camera has lots of potential. Initially, I saw the potential but was frustrated with how pictures turned out. They were often blurry and not as crisp as the OnePlus 6. It has taken me 9-10 days to get use to the phone and its cameras. As previously mentioned, finding the right focal point including with pro mode, involves slightly different approach than with the OnePlus 6. The difference between the clicking the shutter and it recording is slower than the OnePlus 6. Now, I’ve actually found a way to work with the lens in various conditions and finding the right focus points, I’m enjoying the cameras and taking pictures with the Nord. As Carl mentioned about finding true North… I’m Canadian. It’s in our blood and culture… True North Strong and Free. (National Anthem). :)o_O
    couldn’t resist…

    The Nord has now received 4 updates with the camera being the main focus ;) I’ve seen progress with the updates in various aspects especially the super macro mode. Having said that, there remains room for progress with the super macro mode.

    I’ve been using the phone as a daily driver for 2 weeks now… It has taken me awhile to get use to the camera. I think that I underestimated the amount of time that it took to get use to the cameras. Now, I’m enjoying the cameras and taking pictures with the Nord. There are a few areas for improvements as mentioned above. Personally, I prefer to have the cameras in the middle of the phone, ability to put super macro mode in the bottom menu, and shutter button larger and fills in more of the empty space in the bottom third of the app.

    Gallery
    IMG_20200901_181302__01_001.jpg
    Hi yeah!. This picture turned out

    Just on time. I was taking pictures of a large beautiful colour bumblebee and a dog came to smell it.
    IMG_20200823_193945_002_001.jpg

    IMG_20200830_125213__02_001.jpg

    IMG_20200903_101231__01_002.jpg

    IMG_20200903_163731__01_001.jpg

    IMG_20200904_173741__01_001.jpg IMG_20200827_120223__02_001.jpg IMG_20200829_161127__01_002.jpg IMG_20200901_160945__01_001.jpg IMG_20200823_194049_001.jpg IMG_20200903_164444__01_001.jpg IMG_20200820_122429__01_001.jpg IMG_20200827_173856__01_001.jpg IMG_20200821_082311_002_001.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2020

    #13
    TibiTibi, Bobbie63 , dcmcc24 and 7 others like this.
  14. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 2, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 2, 2020 :
    Performance

    Performance can be measured by many parameters. For simplicity sake and to minimize repeating the same information above and in the verdict, performance will be measured by overall use,file transfer data, and benchmark test. For those who like numbers and standard benchmark tests, you will find that I ran a SlingShot Open ECLS by 3DMark on the Nord as is without any performance optimization or overclocking etc. The Nord is running the latest OOS version 10.5.5 (at the time the test was ran). First, let me describe the experience using the device as a daily driver.

    After a week of using the Nord as my daily driver, I love how it feels in the hand. It performed well with a superfast fingerprint unlock, scrolling through apps, the smooth display while using apps. The device responds fast to touching the screen, which is helpful while playing Pac Man game. 😉 The Nord received and made calls without drops or connective issues even when there are limited coverage. The Nord was able to handle videochat and browse website while connected to a slow speed WiFi. Sometimes, when there were lots of demand from the web browsing (lots of picture downloads) there was a noticeable slow down in the connection on the videoconference. In this case, there could be two factors: slow internet and limited antennas. The phone has UFS 2.1 which is the same as the OnePlus 6. Transferring pictures to a USB through an OTG cable to a USB 3.0 stick took similar amount of time as the OnePlus 6 which seems a bit long. It is fast to navigate through the apps and the phone. It connects with the Bullet Wireless 1, 2 with no issues. The first time, I had to pair them twice to get started but after the initial set up, there were no problems. The Nord connects to the internet, webpages, social platforms, well even when data connections are limited. I did notice delays in capturing pictures. Overall, the Nord performs well as a daily driver and for the simple photographer who is looking for a mid range phone.

    For benchmark test, I ran the Sling Shot Extreme Open GL ES 3.1 by 3DMark. On average,

    • The graphic display on average 15 frames or picture per second (FPS) (20.90 , 10.10).
    • On the higher resolution pictures, there were a bit blurry.
    • The overall result indicates that the Nord is a good phone: it is better than 68% of devices in the mid range category.

    The Nord is a mid range phone that can be used as a daily driver especially for web browsing, social media, You Tube and for quick pictures. Using the Nord for my daily driver for 2 weeks, it performed well in connecting to the Internet, scrolling through web pages, phone calls, accessing social platforms, and videoconferencing. Where I found it struggled is the speed in taking pictures. It is slower than the OnePlus 6 which seems instantaneously. Whereas the Nord takes 0.31 seconds longer to capture a picture.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2020

    #14
    TibiTibi, Bobbie63 , dcmcc24 and 8 others like this.
  15. cdnfarmer
    Photography Expert Community Expert Sep 2, 2020

    cdnfarmer , Sep 2, 2020 :
    Summary / Verdict
    In short: The Nord is above average mid range phone as shown in the benchmark test.

    Practically, the Nord has lots to offer:
    • a AMOLED screen with a 90 Hz refresh rate.
    • Fits nicely in the hand even for those of us who have smaller hands.
    • The curvature on the back fits the hand good along with the narrower screen allows for one handed use.
    • Capable of multitasking relatively well. Note that it is not the flagship CPU.
    • Good video recording capacities.
    • Great SOT to last the day for me and potentially for many people with regular web browsing, YT, social media, photo taking/editing, videoconferencing use.
    • Warp charge 30T quickly fills up the battery.
    • Good connectivity for call and web browsing in urban and in rural settings. It is capable of connecting on networks fasters speeds than what the provider currently provides.
    All of this packaged into a device that is built with attention to details and operated with a great OS. Therefore, the Nord is an overall great mid range phone with lots to offer people who are looking for an affordable device.

    Personally, I like the phone for the comfort it feels in my hand, easy of navigation, the 90 Hz screen and yes even the colour. Until now, colour wasn’t a consideration... but this blue is nice and catches my eye when I glance at it. A side benefit, the light blue actually helps photograph insects in particular the dragonflies. Therefore, the phone looks good, fits well and comfortable in the hand even for those of us who have smaller hands. Scrolling through the web pages and around the device is nice and smooth with the 90 Hz screen. It gives a nice, fast, and smooth experience. Honestly, it is hard to go back to 60 Hz. The display makes the best use of space between the West and East (i.e. left and right) sides of the phone by extending to the edge. The double hole punch limits the full use of the screen as many apps do not extend to the top of the screen. The device has consistently provided 7 or more hours of SOT. With the larger battery, I can actually make it through the day on a charge. Moreover, the battery charges quickly and OnePlus included some AI to help extend battery life if you charge overnight. The phone has the capacity to connect on networks at faster speeds than what the provider is currently able to provide in rural and urban settings in Western Canada. Overall connectivity on phone calls and data speeds have been good. In urban centres, the device is capable of connecting on the fastest LTE speeds and working on their top speeds (even exceeding them at times suggesting there may be some 5G influence).

    The main rear camera has lots of potential. The UW lens offer options to capture larger items, taller trees and buildings. Just be aware how the phone is held and subject being photographed. Selecting the appropriate subject and holding device accordingly will help capture best results. Be aware that blurriness or smudge look may happen on the edges. The selfie cameras with some enhancements will help facilitate inclusive group shots.

    After using the Nord for 2 weeks as a daily driver, I can say that it provides an overall great experience. It doesn’t have the processing speed or performance of the OnePlus 6. For most of what I do, the Nord meets my needs. One area that I found the device struggled compared to the OnePlus 6 is accessing large files or opening the gallery with more than 2000 pictures and videos (~50GB). Despite the overall positive experience, there are a few areas for improvements on existing functions: reduce the time to record a picture, make the shutter button larger, improve the focus capabilities of all rear and front cameras and improve colour processing in the super macro mode. On a hardware side, I recommend keeping the cameras in the middle.

    If you are looking for an affordable mid range phone that is above the majority, then have a look at the Nord.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020

    #15
    TibiTibi, Bobbie63 , dcmcc24 and 8 others like this.
  16. G_plusone
    Marshmallow Sep 2, 2020

  17. hennes
    YaImCo Developer Sep 2, 2020

    hennes , Sep 2, 2020 :
    @cdnfarmer
    This is a super great and very elaborate review. I am eagerly waiting for the remaining parts, but please take your time so that it will be as good and great as the first parts.

    To all of you who read here, you might want to put this thread on your watchlist so you will be reminded when it goes on, I know it will be worth it.
     

    #17
  18. luigimario
    The Lab - OnePlus 6T Reviewer Sep 2, 2020

    luigimario , Sep 2, 2020 :
    I agree with hennes. It's looking great, and I like that you divided up the camera review so it's easier to digest. Looking forward to the completion of your review!
     

    #18
  19. superplus
    Head Moderator Head Moderator Sep 2, 2020

    superplus , Sep 2, 2020 :
    I did exactly that! I've devoured it and loved all of it! can't wait to read the rest [though no rush of course!]
    I've always wondered about non-centred camera placements indeed, and suspected that I'd end up covering them with my fingers, but hadn't even considered what it could do for the overall framing/angle/orientation of pictures. this review has been so well organised and illustrated throughout, absolutely amazing!

    also loved the links to your guys' stuff @hennes and @luigimario :D [off-topic here I know, sorry, but sorry to hear about your OP3's back camera @hennes, I was glad @Mr. BG (nice profile pic) asked, since I never noticed such a washed out effect on my OP3 and was wondering if maybe I'd just become oblivious to it :p]

    p.s. all of the <3 for the dragonflies and the awesome glow in the dark effect! that is such a cool discovery :cool:
     

    #19
    Bobbie63 , Batman360, woSch and 5 others like this.
  20. luigimario
    The Lab - OnePlus 6T Reviewer Sep 3, 2020

    luigimario , Sep 3, 2020 :
    My OP3 is still going strong thankfully. It makes for a good backup/vacation phone. I use it to play games too to save the screen on my 7 pro lol.

    Funny I didn't get this tag from you. Community app?
     

    #20