OnePlus Nord N300 Review And Full Details December 2022

OnePlus Nord N300 Review And Full Details December 2022

Though the flagship OnePlus Nord series does not arrive to North American shores, the entry-level Nord N series has been successful in capturing some of the budget segment over at Metro by T-Mobile and T-Mobile Prepaid customers. The OnePlus Nord N300 5G is only available in the US, but it is a rebranded Oppo K10 5G with a couple of tweaks and Oxygen OS instead of Color OS. Compared to its predecessor (the Nord N200 5G), the N300 drops a 2MP macro camera. OnePlus touts its Nightscape feature on the N300, which should pair decently with the 48MP main camera. The large 90Hz display and side-mounted fingerprint scanner make for an attractive entry-level product. Fast charging, NFC, and 5G support all sweeten the deal. In the phone’s slim profile is a hefty 5000 mAh battery, and we expect to see excellent battery life. The N300 5G brings a trendy new design with flat edges. It isn’t quite like an iPhone, but the inspiration is clearly there. The all-plastic build does look nice, with a texture made to look like metal on the frame, and a shiny-matte finish on the back panel. The dual cameras are supported by dual LED flashes – yup, there are two of each.

We are expecting to see some performance gains with the N300. The N300 switches from using a Snapdragon 480 on the N200 to a beefier MediaTek Dimensity 810. There’s also faster charging this time, with a SuperVOOC 33W charge adapter included in the box. Like OnePlus’ other midrange and entry-level devices, the Nord N300 comes in a standard two-tone box with shiny embossed lettering along the side of the box. There isn’t much plastic inside the packaging, except the plastic wrap that the device comes enveloped on. Inside the box, you’ll find a cardboard document pack, which does have a SIM removal tool and quick start guides. Beneath that is the device, USB-C to USB-A cable, and a USB-A SuperVOOC 33W charge adapter. In typical OnePlus fashion, the charging cable is red, and it is proprietary for the device and adapter to support SuperVOOC speeds. The wall adapter will output 5V @ 10A, or 5-11V @ 3A. The OnePlus Nord N300 offers a simple approach to the budget Android market. It rides on decent performance with great battery life and increasingly uncommon creature comforts like expandable storage and a headphone jack. However, limited software support, sub-par design, and an inflexible camera setup cap the N300 as a budget option for T-Mobile customers that only just passes the bar.

We’ve all heard the saying that fortune favors the bold. It’s a good motto to live by, reminding you to take risks and that sometimes they’ll pay off. OnePlus nailed the concept when it crashed the budget market with its earliest Nord phones, blending modest specs, an attractive design, and an approachable price tag — a significant step away from its then-typical flagship killers. The Shenzhen brand delivered some of the best affordable phones you could buy (especially in Europe) at the start of its budget resurgence. However, it’s found it much tougher to replicate that success at the lowest tiers of the Nord range with the US-centric Nord N family. Find out if OnePlus can break that trend in our OnePlus Nord N300 review.

The N300’s wired fast charging is genuinely useful. Its 33W top speed is faster than what you’ll get with many phones that cost much more. It does require a proprietary charger to hit those charge rates — it’s not standard USB-PD — but at least the charger comes in the box. That is not the case with today’s flagship phones. Fast charging is handy, but it doesn’t make up for the N300’s lackluster day-to-day performance. The 6.5-inch display looks a little shabby with a low 720p resolution. Onboard storage is skimpy at just 64GB, and the processor struggles from time to time with heavier tasks. OnePlus cut some of these corners to make way for fast charging, and personally, I’d rather live with slower charging and have a phone that gets the basics right. The N300 uses a MediaTek Dimensity 810 processor with 4GB of RAM. It handles light browsing and daily tasks just fine, but if you ask too much of it, you’ll see it stutter and slow down. During my initial setup, as I downloaded a lot of updates and signed into a hundred services, I saw apps crash a couple of times under the heavier workload. That hasn’t been a persistent problem, but I do notice the occasional delay loading and jumping quickly between apps or slow response to register a tap as it chugs.

There’s just 64GB of built-in storage, and on my review device, 13GB of that is occupied by system files. That doesn’t leave much room for photos, videos, and apps, so consider a $15 or $20 microSD card part of the purchase price. If you want to really go for it, you can add up to 1TB of extra space this way.

On the outside, the N300 is a likable device. I prefer its straight rails over the curved edges on other budget phones like the Motorola Moto G 5G — they look nicer, and they’re easier to grab. The back panel is a composite plastic with a subtle shimmery finish. Haptics are pleasantly soft as I tap and type: reassuring but not jarring (“like a bunny” is the phrase I used in my testing notes). There’s even a headphone jack, praise be. There’s no wireless charging or IP rating, both of which are uncommon anyway in this class, and it ships with Android 12 installed. The N300 will get one OS upgrade to Android 13 and just two years of security updates — on the low side, even for budget phones.

The N300 is a T-Mobile exclusive at press time, and it supports the right 5G bands to access the company’s very good mid-band “Ultra Capacity” 5G network. There’s no mmWave 5G support, but that’s no great loss — it’s highly range-limited, and T-Mobile doesn’t offer a whole lot of it anyway. There’s NFC so you can use Google Pay for contactless payment, which not every phone at this price offers. The 6.56-inch screen is plenty big, and the 90Hz refresh rate makes scrolling and animations a little smoother than a standard 60Hz display. But the thing I notice more than that is the 720p resolution, which is relatively low for such a big screen. Icons and images have rough edges where you can make out the individual pixels. It’s an LCD screen, and while it gets passably bright in direct sunlight, it’s not as vibrant as the OLED panel on the OnePlus N20.

The N300’s battery isn’t just quick to charge — it’s also a huge 5,000mAh cell that provides enough power for just about anyone to get through a full day of use. Heavy video streaming or gaming might run it down by the end of the day, but I always got well into a second day without needing a recharge. When it’s time to refuel, fast charging is at your service. I realized halfway through baby naptime one afternoon that I was coasting on 15 percent after skipping the overnight recharge. I used the opportunity to see if I could charge it up 100 percent before he woke up. It charged in just over an hour and finished just in time.

Fast charging is handy in a jam, but if you’re already in an overnight recharging habit, then it’s probably not going to be a killer feature for you — especially considering that the N300’s battery life is so good anyway. It’s nice to see it available in a phone at this price, but if you’re already religious about nightly charging, you probably won’t get much use out of it. On the N300, OnePlus has stripped away the unnecessary rear cameras it likes to stuff into its devices, and that deserves a round of applause. There’s just one main 48-megapixel f/1.8 camera on the back, accompanied by a 2-megapixel depth sensor to help out with portrait mode shots. There’s also a 16-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera.

It’s a decent, basic camera system for snapshots, but it struggles in low light, where it applies some heavy smoothing to details and skin tones. Outside of that, I like how OnePlus handles image processing. Photos are pleasantly contrast-y, and colors are vibrant without going full Samsung. However, there’s noticeable lag in the camera app, especially in portrait mode. The lag was bad enough that it could barely keep up with my toddler in moderate light, even when he was (relatively) still. That’s a tough scenario for a budget smartphone camera — you’d have to pay a lot more for a phone that handles this situation well — but the N300 had a particularly hard time with it.

OnePlus’ own Nord N20 is a great alternative. Its MSRP — $282 if you’re buying from T-Mobile or $299 unlocked — is still well within the budget range. But it’s much more enjoyable to use, with a rich 1080p OLED screen, better processing performance, and twice as much storage. The same 33W fast charging is included, too. Right now, it’s also one of T-Mobile’s “free” phone promotions, and it’s a better pick overall whether you’re paying upfront or not. The Samsung Galaxy A13 5G is a good alternative, too. It’s priced a little closer to the N300 at $249, and its performance is snappier with day-to-day tasks.

There’s no aspect of the N300 that’s show-stoppingly bad, but there are a few key places where it could be just a bit better. Those things have more of an impact on my day-to-day than being able to charge up my phone in a flash. I suspect a lot of people feel the same way, and that makes the N300 hard to recommend. There’s a slim argument in its favor if you really want fast charging, and it’s your best “free” phone option at the time. Otherwise, you’re better off with OnePlus’ slightly pricier N20 or settling for the slow-charging life.

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