OnePlus Nord 3 vs iQOO Neo 7 Pro: The Battle of the Best Phone Below Rs 35,000

The Rs 35,000 phone segment was given a right royal shake up in July. First came iQOO, with its Neo 7 Pro 5G, which brought the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset to a new level of affordability. Right on its heels came the OnePlus Nord 3 5G, which pushed its Nord series into a new price zone, complete with a powerful processor and a flagship-level camera. Both phones start at under Rs 35,000, both come from major brands, and each phone has its own (very significant) strengths. So if you are in the market for a super phone and have a budget in the vicinity of Rs 35,000, which of the two should you go for – the OnePlus Nord 3 or the iQOO Neo 7 Pro? Let us try and work that out for you.

Design and appearance: Back to basics

The two phones are students of very different design schools. The Nord 3 has the slightly understated minimalist design that OnePlus prides itself on, while the Neo 7 Pro has no qualms about looking flashy. Both phones sport tall displays in front with tiny bezels and have plastic frames, but everything else is different. The Nord 3 sports the straight sides that are trending these days, while the Neo 7 Pro sticks to the curved side convention. Both phones have curved backs, but the one of the Neo 7 Pro is more pronounced. On the subject of backs, both phones have two types – the Nord 3 has a Misty Green option with a glossy finish and a Tempest Gray one with a matte finish, while the Neo 7 Pro has a Fearless Flame in vegan leather and a Dark Storm in glass.

The cameras on both phones are very different too. OnePlus has gone with two large spheres housing the cameras, emerging right from the back, whereas the Neo 7 Pro has a dual-toned square-ish camera unit that protrudes from its back. At 162 x 75.1 x 8.2mm, the Nord 3 is more compact than the 164.8 x 76.9 x 8.5mm iQOO Neo 7 Pro (the vegan leather variant is 8.9 mm thin), although both weigh almost the same – the Nord 3 weighs 193.5 grams and the Neo 7 Pro weighs 194.5 grams for the vegan leather variant and 199.5 grams for the glass one.

The button arrangement is slightly different on both phones – the iQOO Neo 7 Pro has the volume buttons and the power/display button on the right, while the OnePlus Nord 3 has the power/display button and its iconic alert slider on the side, and the volume buttons on the left.

The OnePlus Nord 3 is a smart device, but is no match for the iQOO Neo 7 Pro in terms of catching the eye, no matter which version of the device you go for. The orange shade of the Fearless Flame will grab the most attention, while the Dark Storm has a quietly classy look to it. The Nord 3 does come with an IP54 rating, which the iQOO Neo 7 Pro lacks, but resisting splashes of water cannot make it overcome the iQoo in this round.

Winner: iQOO Neo 7 Pro

Display: Resolving on the basis of resolution

Both the iQOO Neo 7 Pro and the OnePlus Nord 3 come with AMOLED displays with 120Hz refresh rate. The Neo 7 Pro has a slightly larger display at 6.78 inches as compared to the 6.74-inch one of the Nord 3. However, the Nord 3 steals a march by packing in a higher resolution into that display – the Nord 3 has a resolution of 2,,772 x 1240 as compared to 2,400 x 1,080 of the Neo 7 Pro. Both are bright and colourful displays, but its higher resolution wins this round for the Nord.

Winner: OnePlus Nord 3

Processor: Chipping away

This is a clash between two slightly senior flagships – the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 on the OnePlus Nord 3 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 on the iQOO Neo 7 Pro. While these are both very powerful processors that have been used in flagships and are capable of handling almost everything you throw at them, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 has a very slight edge in terms of benchmark scores and overall performance. Which is why the iQOO Neo 7 Pro takes this round.

Winner: iQOO Neo 7 Pro

RAM and storage: Memories with byte

When it comes to RAM and storage, the Nord 3 steals a march over the Neo 7 Pro. The Nord 3 has RAM and storage variants of 8GB/ 128GB and 16GB/ 256GB, while the iQOO Neo 7 Pro has 8GB/ 128GB and 12GB/ 256GB. Both phones use UFS 3.1 storage, but when it comes to RAM, the Nord 3 uses the slightly better LPDDR5x RAM as compared to the LPDDR5 used on the Neo 7 Pro.

Winner: OnePlus Nord 3

Gaming and multimedia: Set for the game and match

This is a very close contest as both phones come with good displays, powerful processors, stereo speakers and speedy RAM. iQOO claims that the Neo 7 Pro comes with an integrated gaming chip and well, when we totally maxed out the settings on titles like Genshin Impact and Asphalt, the games did run more smoothly on the Neo 7 Pro. The Nord 3 handled these titles reasonably well too, but the Neo 7 Pro played them at the sort of levels we would expect from a recent flagship. Those good displays and great sound mean that both phones are very good for watching videos and shows too. Its gaming edge gives the iQOO Neo 7 Pro this round.

Winner: iQOO Neo 7 Pro

Cameras: Colour vs Detail

It is really a battle of the main sensors here. Both phones have 8-megapixel ultrawide, 2-megapixel macro and 16-megapixel selfie cameras, but while the iQOO Neo 7 Pro comes with a 64-megapixel ISOCELL GN5 sensor with OIS, the OnePlus Nord 3 comes with a 50-megapixel Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS, the same sensor that is used in the flagship OnePlus 11. Both cameras deliver great images but in different styles – while the OnePlus Nord 3 delivers great details, the iQOO Neo 7 Pro comes with those poppy and extra-vibrant colours that many users love. In terms of video, the iQOO Neo 7 Pro just seemed to do a little better than the Nord 3 in terms of stability. It is a close call between the two sets of cameras, but we are going to go with the Nord 3’s slightly more realistic colours and richer detail.

Winner: OnePlus Nord 3

Software: Breath of Oxygen or a Fun Touch?

Both phones run on Android 13, but could not be more different in terms of interface. While the OnePlus Nord 3 runs on OnePlus’ clean OxygenOS, the iQOO Neo 7 Pro comes with iQOO’s FunTouch UI, which is a little more cluttered. Purists might prefer the more uncluttered look of OxygenOS, but there is no doubt that you get to do more out of the box with all the apps and features on FunTouch. OnePlus’ very good track record of updating phones wins it this round, but it is a close thing – we can see many folks preferring the iQOO Neo 7 Pro’s more jazzy interface.

Winner: OnePlus Nord 3

Battery and charging: Which to charge – SuperVOOC or Flash?

When it comes to battery, both phones come with 5,000mAh batteries. Both also come with their own fast charging technologies with different charging speeds and adapters in the box. The OnePlus Nord comes with support for 80W SuperVOOC charging, while the iQOO Neo 7 Pro comes with 120W Flash Charge. In terms of battery life, there is not too much to choose from between the two devices – both will last a little more than a day of normal to heavy use. Interestingly, the difference between the charging speeds of the two phones is not very great even though the Nord 3 charges at 80W and the iQOO Neo 7 at 120W – both phones get charged from nothing to full in about 30-35 minutes. However, the iQOO Neo 7 Pro initially charges a little faster – it gets to 50 per cent in under 10 minutes, while the Nord 3 takes about 12-15 minutes. We are giving this one to the iQOO Neo 7 Pro, but the difference in battery life or charging speeds is too small to be a deal-maker or breaker.

Winner: iQOO Neo 7 Pro

General usage: Everyday stuff

When it comes to routine tasks like browsing the Web, handling social media, mail, messaging and the like, there is very little to separate the two devices. Some might like the more compact form factor of the OnePlus Nord 3 and its alert slider, but that apart, both phones breezed through routine tasks with an equal degree of ease. The Nord 3 seemed to handle calls a little better but we found the in-display fingerprint scanner of the Neo 7 Pro working more smoothly. Both phones also come with infrared blasters, allowing you to use them as remotes for televisions and air conditioners. The Nord 3 wins this as it is more compact and comes with that alert slider, but the difference is wafer thin.

Winner: OnePlus Nord 3

Price: Battle of nearly the same bucks

The OnePlus Nord 3 and the iQoo Neo 7 Pro come with price tags that are very close to each other. The Nord 3 starts at Rs 33,999 for its 8GB / 128GB variant and has a 16GB / 256GB variant available at Rs 37,999. The iQOO Neo 7 Pro on the other hand starts at Rs 34,999 for its 8GB / 128GB variant, while its 12GB / 256GB variant comes for Rs 37,999. The financial force is with the Nord here, as it starts at a lower price and its high-end variant offers more RAM than that of the Neo 7 Pro at the same price.

Winner: OnePlus Nord 3

Verdict: Which one to go for?

So, which of the two phones is the one for you? The Nord 3 might have won six out of the ten parameters we evaluated the phones on, but many of the rounds (camera, battery, General use, software) were very close indeed and could have gone either way. In fact, if you leave out design, both phones are neck and neck in other regards. The iQOO Neo 7 Pro is also much more of a style statement in design terms than the restrained OnePlus Nord 3. We would say that those who do a fair bit of gaming on their devices or value sheer processor power would be better served by the iQOO Neo 7 Pro. The OnePlus Nord 3 is more for those who want a rock-solid device with clean software which does it all. No matter which device you choose, you are unlikely to get a better one for around Rs 35,000!

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