OnePlus Nord 3 5G long-term review: occasional hiccups but still a solid choice

The Nord series from OnePlus has offered solid devices in the mid-range smartphone market ever since it was launched in India back in 2020. With impressive build quality, great software, capable cameras, and blazing-fast charging speeds, these phones offer some of the most coveted features to the end users without breaking the bank. However, with each passing year, the pricing for this series is increasing and now edging close to the ‘R’ series from OnePlus. In the near future, the brand might have to decide on the eventual direction for these two series unless the pricing for the flagship phone moves further up, clearing the headspace for the phones from the Nord and R series. Currently, the latest entry in the Nord series – the Nord 3 5G – is available for under Rs 35,000 in India and has been received well since it was released in the market, by both critics and users. In fact, when we reviewed the OnePlus Nord 3 back in July, we called it “a job done exceptionally well.” Now that the phone has been out for some time and with recent festive sales, become more affordable than ever, if you are considering buying it, I am here to help you make your decision. I’ve been using the phone as my primary driver in the last few weeks and here is my experience using it in November 2023.

What still works in the phone’s favour?

Display and audio quality

One of the strongest points that work in favour of the OnePlus Nord 3 is that the phone comes with a gorgeous display that offers a dynamic refresh rate between 40Hz and 120Hz. The 6.74-inch Super Fluid AMOLED panel features support for 10-bit colour depth and HDR10+, ensuring a viewing experience that is simply a cut above the other phones in this price range. I was recently using the iQOO Neo7 Pro for a performance test, and in comparison to the Nord 3, the colours on the iQOO phone’s display appeared dull and washed out. Along with a brilliant display, the Nord 3 also comes with dual Dolby Atmos speakers that offer amazing audio quality. If you are the sort of person who consumes a lot of multimedia content, this combination of a great display and impressive audio quality could be one of the primary reasons why you should consider buying this phone.

Primary and ultra-wide camera sensors

The OnePlus Nord 3 comes with the same primary camera sensor as the brand’s flagship OnePlus 11 5G. This 50MP Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS is capable of clicking nice shots in all kinds of lighting conditions. As you might expect from a flagship-grade camera unit, the phone lets you capture detailed shots with good dynamic range. In portrait shots, the edge detection is really good and the bokeh effect comes across nicely. The 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor offers a field-of-view (FoV) of 112 degrees and manages to click some really good shots. Thankfully, the shots taken from this sensor also do not show even the slightest hint of the Fisheye effect.

Clean and easy-to-use interface + useful features

With the Oxygen OS 13.1 (based on Android 13), the OnePlus Nord 3 offers a butter-smooth usage experience. Thanks to some polished animations, using the phone feels like a breeze. Instead of bombarding the user with countless features that might not even be used, the phone focuses on offering limited features that add actual value. For example, while gaming, you get the option to choose Championship mode which lets you avoid any banner notifications, calls, alarms, and more. Additionally, you can choose options such as a stable refresh rate, Ultimate touch experience, and Performance breakthrough to get actual benefits while using the phone. If you’re looking to avoid distractions, the O-Relax app on the phone comes with a collection of soothing sounds, calming white noise, and mini games to aid relaxation.

Battery backup and charging speeds

One of the common aspects of any good phone is that you want to keep on using it. That’s why the long-lasting battery backup on the OnePlus Nord 3 feels like a godsend as the phone is extremely efficient and conservative with its battery life. Even months after launch, the phone gave me an average screen-on time of around 7-8 hours, which means you can easily survive a normal day even if you forget your charger at home. Speaking of charging, with the blazing-fast 80W charging speed, you won’t even have to remain tethered to the wall for long with the handset as it charges easily within an hour.

What doesn’t work?

Better performers in the same price range

While the OnePlus Nord 3 is no slouch when it comes to performance, I found that the phone heats up after just 20-25 minutes of gaming. Despite the presence of the capable MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC at the helm, the phone also faced occasional app crashes during my usage. Considering that there are other phones in this price range that offer more capable chipsets – iQOO Neo7 Pro and Realme GT 2 Pro – that can handle the same tasks without breaking a sweat, shows that the Nord 3 hasn’t aged particularly well in this department. At the time of our original review, we were satisfied with the phone’s overall performance and didn’t even face any heating issues as such but somehow these issues are now prevalent on the phone.

Macro camera performance

While the primary camera and the ultra-wide-angle unit seem to have received a lot of love on the OnePlus Nord 3, the same cannot be said about the macro sensor. The macro unit on the phone doesn’t take quite as impressive shots as one would hope. As you might expect, the low-resolution sensor (2MP) takes average photos that lack details.

OnePlus Nord 3 Macro Shot

Selfie camera performance

The front camera on the OnePlus Nord 3, as we pointed out in our detailed review as well, gets the job done but this is definitely not the best selfie camera that you can buy in the phone’s current price range. In comparison, some other phones such as Vivo V29 in this same price range come with much more capable front shooters that can click highly detailed shots with accurate skin tones. These handsets will easily get preference over the Nord 3.

Should you buy the OnePlus Nord 3 5G?

OnePlus Nord 3 is one of the best phones you can buy under Rs 35,000 right now in India particularly if you are looking for a phone with great display and battery backup. The phone’s simple user interface also feels inviting and offers some actually useful features on top of Android 13. The phone’s primary camera is capable of taking some nice pictures and the Nord 3 can walk toe-to-toe with any other phone in this price range when it comes to picture quality. However, if you are looking for a phone that offers stellar performance and doesn’t heat up easily, you could consider the iQOO 7 Pro, which falls in the same price bracket. The front camera on the iQOO handset also leaves you wanting for more and in this aspect, you could take a look at a phone like the Vivo V29.