A nice representative of the mid-price range, which offers support for 5G networks and decent performance thanks to Snapdragon 690. It is also distinguished by a 90 Hz screen, dual speakers and the presence of fast charging. Will it cope with equally strong competition?
The popularity of the Nord model meant that OnePlus quickly added more smartphones to this series, targeting the lower price range. However, while the original Nord received an incredible hype in the media, the next smartphones - N10 and N100 - debuted without much publicity. The producer treated them a bit neglect, apparently hoping that the popularity of the original and the very term Nord in the name would encourage users. OnePlus Nord N10 5G went to the editorial office - does it deserve your attention, or is it just a little interesting filler in the manufacturer's offer?
What, in short, does this model offer? It is a decent representative of the middle shelf, equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of internal memory, which can be expanded with a microSD card. It has a 6.49-inch screen with Full HD+ resolution and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. The quad camera with the main 64 MP camera is responsible for the photos, and the battery with a capacity of 4300 mAh, which supports fast charging of 30 W, is responsible for the energy supply. The smartphone is available for sale for the price of 329 euro.
Table of Contents
- Packaging and accessories. Construction and screen
- System and applications
- Sound. Photos and video
- Communication. Voice calls. Performance (benchmarks)
- Battery. Summary. Pros and cons
Packaging and accessories
The contents of the box that comes with OnePlus N10 5G are not particularly impressive. In addition to the 30 W wall charger and a red USB cable, there is a pile of waste paper and a pin to open the tray for SIM/microSD cards. Even the simplest headphones or a cover were missing.
Construction and screen
In terms of construction, OnePlus Nord N10 5G is a combination of modern design elements and what we know from older OnePlus smartphones. The N10 5G model differs from the last smartphones of the manufacturer (such as OnePlus 8 or Nord) by the location of the fingerprint reader - in those devices it was built under the screen, here it was placed on the back of the device. This is due to a different type of a screen - the reviewed model is one of the cheaper devices, so it is equipped with an LCD panel, while the higher shelf gets AMOLEDs. The photo module has the shape of a rounded rectangle and resembles a domino block, and the backs are made of high-gloss plastic, which is to imitate glass. And it translates into a lower weight of the device. Unfortunately, the smartphone is not dust- or waterproof - or at least it can’t boast with any official standard in terms of durability. The device, despite its large size, is handy, and its use with one hand can only be made difficult by the fact that the smartphone can easily slip out of the hand.
It has a Full HD+ LCD screen with a diagonal of 6.49 inches and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. The resolution is Full HD+, which is 2400x1080 pixels - that's a decent 406 pixels per inch. It's a shame it's an IPS display and not an AMOLED display, nevertheless it provides satisfactory brightness levels (the minimum is great, the maximum is just good), decent contrast and colours. In the settings, you can change the white balance and set the screen refreshed - 60 or 90 Hz, unfortunately without the mode that automatically adjusts the value.
In the upper left corner of the screen there is a hole for the selfies camera. The display is surrounded by moderate bezels, with a noticeably thicker bottom bezel. In the upper part of the device there is a speaker slot for calls, which works with an external speaker while playing music or movies. The front is covered with Gorilla Glass 3, but you won't find a protective film. Generally, from the front, OnePlus Nord N10 5G looks like any other smartphone - only from the back it reveals which brand it belongs to.
The back of the device are made of plastic - it shines and gives strong reflections. Certainly this finish cannot be called subtle, but it will certainly find supporters. It is supposed to imitate glass and you can actually think so from a distance - but when you take it in your hand, you feel that you are dealing with plastic. In the upper left corner there is a photo module - a rounded rectangle, clearly protruding above the casing, with rather sharp edges. There is a logo and manufacturer's name on the rear panel, but there is also a biometric security - a small, round fingerprint scanner - fast and efficient in operation. At the same time, you can use the second biometric security feature, i.e. the face recognition function.
The buttons on the edges are small and shallow, which sometimes makes them difficult to feel and press - fortunately, the manufacturer has placed them at a good height. And so on the right side there is a screen switch/lock, and on the left edge there are volume control buttons in the form of a single bar. You have probably noticed the lack of a characteristic for OnePlus element - a slider that mutes the phone activates the vibration mode. It's a pity, it was something that distinguished OnePlus smartphones. There is also a tray for SIM/microSD cards on the left side. Only the auxiliary microphone opening is visible at the top. On the lower edge, the manufacturer stuffed the most. There is a universal headphone jack, a microphone opening, an external speaker and a USB-C port.
System and applications
OnePlus Nord, the first model in the series, has two system updates and three years of security updates promised. Unfortunately, the cheaper models with Nord in the name, i.e. N10 and N100, are in a worse situation from the start - here the manufacturer announced only one system update (i.e. support will end with Android 11) and security patches delivered for two years. After the first launch, Nord N10 5G ran on Android 10 and the OxygenOS 10.5 overlay, with security patches from November 5, 2020. In the meantime, update 10.5.8 came, which added December fixes and made some improvements to the system, camera and network settings, but broke 5G (this is confirmed by reports of other users on the OnePlus forum).
The interface itself is clear, friendly, aesthetic and intuitive. After all, Oxygen OS is considered one of the best overlays. It adds handy tools without overwhelming the original system and has tons of useful personalization options. There are a handful of company applications here, as well as gesture support, parallel applications and an Ambient display. The latter is a function to compensate for the lack of a notification LED - it consists in waking the display after picking up the phone, which displays the time, battery status and notifications. It can be said that it is such a substitute for the Always on Display function.
There's also an app for gamers - Game Center - with advanced Fnatic mode, night mode, and reading mode - but you won't find one-handed mode here, for example. There were also elements that translate into a lower rating of the device - first, its certification is at the Widevine L3 level (according to the DRM Info application), which means no streaming from Netflix and other platforms in high quality. Secondly, the company's Gallery app was crashing all the time.
In terms of sound, OnePlus Nord N10 5G does not disappoint. It offers not only dual speakers - the primary speaker on the bottom edge works with the call speaker - but also a universal headphone jack. The speakers sound really good until the volume is turned up too high - then you can hear distortions and the lack of bass. Nevertheless, they are great for watching movies and series - I preferred to connect headphones to listening to music. It is worth noting that the sound quality can be better adjusted to your preferences with the Dirac Audio Tuner function (Dynamic, Movie, Music).
Photos and video
Nord N10 5G has a set of cameras typical of its price range. The most important thing is the main camera (64 MP, f/1.8, EIS, PDAF), supported by a camera with a wide-angle lens (8 MP. F/2.3, 119 degrees). The macro camera (2 MP, f/2.4) is a meager addition, and the last camera is supposed to provide better black and white photos. There is no telephoto lens here - the 2-fold and higher zoom will be performed digitally, by cutting out a specific area from the frame taken.
The main unit uses pixel binding, which is a method of "combining" the pixels of the matrix, which is to provide brighter photos. They have 16 megapixels, but you can choose a camera mode that uses full resolution. Photos taken with the main and ultra wide-angle cameras are decent. I did not expect much, so the overall Nord N10 did not disappoint me. Pictures are detailed, bright, balanced and free of noise. You can see the interference of the image processing software after sharpening, but this is done within reason - the photos do not look artificial. Colours tend to be washed out, i.e. slightly less saturated and cooler than I would like - this usually happened when shooting in cloudy weather and under artificial light. If you were to fumble a little with the pro mode, you could probably improve the photos, but I prefer (and probably a lot of users as well) that the camera provides optimal photos in automatic mode.
There is some distortion at the edges in a wide-angle camera, but this is normal with such a wide lens. In addition, they are darker and less detailed than the photos from the main camera, they also have a different colour scheme - but they are still photos that will receive a positive rating. Photos from the macro camera can be omitted in silence, 2-megapixel photos will not impress anyone, and better results are obtained by using the 2x zoom than the macro camera. Like a black and white camera buried quite deep among colour filters.
To sum up - OnePlus usually offers good cameras, worth what the smartphone costs. But they do not provide enough impressive photos to be able to threaten the top competition in the mobile photography segment. And this is also the case with Nord N10 5G.
The camera application is fast, intuitive and does not hide important functions - everything is at hand. On the main screen there is a resolution switch (16 or 64 MP) and a macro mode, you can quickly go to the settings, change the zoom (0.6x, 1x or 2x, up to 10x) or the mode (e.g. panorama, portrait or pro ). Individual modes can be scrolled from the list or simply swipe up anywhere on the screen - a list of available modes will appear.
Nord N10 5G records in the maximum quality of 4K 30 fps, while in Full HD you can choose 30 or 60 fps. I have no comments about the fluidity and colours in the recordings, at best the recordings look weaker in low light.
The selfies camera has 16 megapixels and a lens with f/2.05 brightness. It provides photos with good sharpness and natural colours, the bokeh effect is quite efficient - blur usually cuts the photographed person correctly from the background, although it sometimes gets confused with the hair.
Communication and connections
The smartphone provides all connectivity options that should be found in a modern smartphone. The physical ports include USB-C and a headphone jack, as well as a hybrid slot for SIM and microSD cards. Inside, a set of modules is hidden, including Wi-Fi in the 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standard, NFC and Bluetooth 5.1. Navigation supports all the most popular systems and, as far as we could test it, it was fast and accurate. Voice calls are made correctly - I heard and was heard loud and clear.
OnPlus Nord N10 5G should support 5G networks - it even has it in the name. And it was like that in the beginning, but there was an update that broke everything. After installing OxygenOS 10.5.8, this feature was gone. Previously, the smartphone cooperated, among others with a SIM card from Plus and it was 5G. After the update, there is no option to select the 5G network on this tab - the selection is limited to 2G/3G/4G (auto), and the maximum transfer speeds that the smartphone supports at the moment are LTE speeds. Users started reporting the problem on the manufacturer's official forum, so I hope that a fix will be released as soon as possible.
Memory and performance
The smartphone has enough gigabytes to satisfy most users. We have 128 GB of UFS 2.1 internal memory (104 GB after the first run), which can be expanded with a microSD card. Media with a maximum capacity of up to 512 GB are supported.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 is responsible for the performance - a mid-range model with medium performance. Every day, it can cope with all the tasks it is faced with - it works when surfing the Internet, downloading and running applications or using social media. During my work, I did not notice any slowdowns or lags. The smartphone also allows you to run popular games like Candy Drush, and even more demanding games (eg Asphalt 9 or Real Racing 3). And even then playing with Nord N10 5G, apart from the occasional drops in liquidity, is a positive experience. You just have to bear in mind the limitations of the processor, which was not prepared for games. I would like to add that even after longer gaming sessions, the smartphone becomes only slightly warm.
The smartphone is equipped with a battery with a capacity of 4300 mAh - there are models with larger cells, but Nord N10 5G can transform its milliamps into quite good working times. Not impressive, but one that ensures a full day of intensive use of the device, and still has 25-30% of energy in the evening. Typically, the smartphone was enough for two days of work with approx. 6 hours of SoT. Throughout the review period, the phone was set to refresh at 90Hz.
- working time with the screen on (YouTube, 1 SIM card, active Wi-Fi module, 50% screen brightness, minimum sound level) - 15 hours and 29 minutes,
- PC Mark battery test result - 12 hours and 23 minutes,
- Geekbench result (full discharge, dim screen) - 8290 points, discharge after 13 hours and 49 minutes,
- an hour of video streaming (Chrome, 1 SIM card, active Wi-Fi module, 50% screen brightness) - 9% less battery,
- an hour of playing videos from the phone's memory (airplane mode, video player, 50% screen brightness) - 8%,
- half an hour of using online navigation - 6-8%,
- half an hour of playing Real Racing 3 - 6-7%,
- 10 hours in standby mode - 3% less battery.
OnePlus Nored N10 5G supports Warp Charge 30T Fast Charging. Thanks to it, you can fully charge the phone's battery in about 80 minutes. After 30 minutes from the start of charging, the battery level is 64%, and after an hour - 93%. Unfortunately, there is no wireless charging here, but in the Nord N10 price segment it is not an expected element of the specification.
While the Nord is a mid-range offer from OnePlus, Nord N10 5G drops the price bar even lower. For 329 EUR, it offers a 90 Hz refresh screen, stereo speakers, a friendly system overlay, great working times and fast charging. But the same can be written about its competition. If not OnePlus Nord N10 5G, then what? Here you can add and buy an original Nord, or invest in a smartphone from another manufacturer - the price segment of the reviewed Nord is flooded with devices from Xiaomi and Realme (eg Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G or Realme X50 5G), so there is a lot to choose from.
Pros and cons
- Full HD+ 90 Hz screen
- smooth operation of the Oxygen OS overlay
- headphone jack
- dual speakers
- support for microSD cards
- support for two SIM cards
- good working times
- 30 W quick charge and appropriate charger included
- decent performance
- support for 5G and NFC networks
- reasonable price
- lack of a slider characteristic for OnePlus
- the smartphone is very slippery and picks up any dirt
- Android version 10, while version 11 has been on the market for months
- errors in the update, due to which the smartphone was deprived of 5G
- no notification LED
- image visibility in direct sunlight
- only one system update can be expected (i.e. support will end on Android 11)
- no case and headphones included
- no wireless charging
- useless macro and depth camera
- the device is quite large and heavy
- no dust and water resistance