OnePlus Nord N20 5G Review: An Affordably Priced, Beautiful Smartphone
Today, we’re checking out the newest member of the Nord N series, the OnePlus Nord N20 5G ($282), an ultra-stylish 5G phone that gains a Snapdragon 695 processor and an AMOLED screen, but otherwise splits the difference in price and specs between the N10 5G and the N200 5G. It’s coming to T-Mobile first, but will be available unlocked “at some later date”. We just spent a few days testing the N20 5G and here’s our full review.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Hardware And Design
Sure, the N20 5G is primarily made of plastic, but upscale touches abound – from the iPhone 12/13-like flat sides, to the sparkling dark blue faux-glass back, to the way the display appears to float above the handset’s frame, to the circular gold chamfer around two of the rear shooters. In addition, the contrast between the back cover’s overall satin finish and the glossy band along the bottom harkens to the iPhone 5, 5S, and SE (first gen).
There’s no camera pod here, only those two lenses protruding elegantly from the rear cover, with a third sensor and LED flash mounted flush between them. Like the OnePlus 10 Pro we recently reviewed, the N20 5G’s design stands out by being unique and sophisticated, and while we expect this from a flagship, it’s a pleasant surprise on a phone costing only $282. The N20 5G is even rated IP52 for dust and water resistance.
Unlike its predecessors, which shipped with 90Hz LCD screens, the N20 5G comes with a 60Hz AMOLED panel. It features an optical in-display fingerprint sensor, reasonably small bezels, and a punch hole in the top left corner for the selfie camera. But there’s one detail that betrays the N20 5G’s affordable price: this screen exhibits a larger than usual chin for an AMOLED panel – presumably for the display connector.
As for the rest of the layout, it’s typical OnePlus. You’ll find the power/lock button on the right side, plus a mono speaker, USB Type-C port, primary mic, and headphone jack along the bottom edge. The left side is home to the volume rocker and combination SIM / microSD tray, and there’s a secondary mic on top. Unfortunately, the N20 5G lacks OnePlus’ excellent alert slider, just like the other Nord N series handsets.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Specs And Features
|Processing and 5G Platform||Qualcomm
Snapdragon 695 5G + integrated Snapdragon X51 5G Modem
|Display||6.43" FHD+ (20:9) AMOLED, 2400x1080 resolution, 60Hz|
UFS 2.2 + microSD
|Rear-Facing Cameras||64MP f/1.79
Main PDAF - 2MP f/2.4 Macro - 2MP f/2.4 Monochrome
|Front-Facing Cameras||16MP f/2.4|
|Video Recording||Up to 1080p @ 30fps, 720p slow-mo|
mAh, 33W wired charging, no wireless charging
|OS||Android 11 With
|Dimensions||159.9 x 73.2 x 7.5mm|
Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1+LE, NFC, USB-C, LTE, sub-6GHz 5G
|Pricing||Find the OnePlus Nord N20 5G @ Amazon, Starting at $282
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Display Quality
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Camera Performance And Image Quality
That 64MP main shooter – likely Omnivision’s OV64B – “bins” (combines) groups of four pixels into larger 1.4-micron pixels and outputs 16MP images. But that 2MP macro lens is all but useless without AF, and it’s unclear what benefits that 2MP monochrome sensor brings to the table.
An ultrawide would really have made more sense, but OnePlus tells us this would have made the phone thicker. That’s questionable, considering other thin handsets like last year’s Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Lite (just 6.8mm thick) include an ultrawide shooter. As you’d expect, the N20 5G’s main camera performs about the same as the N10 5G’s, and it's a mixed bag. It takes decent photos in daylight, but low-light performance is sub-par.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Audio, Data, And Call Reception
Right now, the N20 5G is exclusive to T-Mobile, but an unlocked version is on the way. It will probably support Verizon’s sub-6GHz 5G networks, but not AT&T’s.
On the audio front, the N20 5G features a mono speaker with Dirac audio enhancement. It sounds decent, but it’s nothing spectacular. Thankfully, this phone also includes a 3.5mm headphone jack with a quality DAC. As a bonus, the amp is powerful enough to drive a wide variety of wired earbuds and headphones. If you’d rather go wireless, the N20 5G supports aptX HD and LDAC lossless audio over Bluetooth.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Performance And Battery Life
Subjectively however, the N20 5G doesn’t feel as quick and responsive as previous mid-range OnePlus handsets. Between the 60Hz display and the new ColorOS-based software, the N20 5G doesn’t quite deliver the ultra-smooth experience we’ve come to expect from OnePlus.
That being said, the N20 5G handled our standard roster of productivity and entertainment apps without hiccups, and we think most users will be satisfied.
Battery life is fantastic, especially for a phone with a 4500mAh cell. The N20 5G lasted an impressive 16 hours and 14 minutes in our PCMark battery test. Clearly, the 60Hz refresh rate, AMOLED screen, and 6nm chip help maximize efficiency. Filling back up is a breeze, too. The N20 5G supports 33W fast charging and even ships with a 33W charger in the box. Obviously, there’s no wireless charging here.
The remaining specs are pretty standard for a mid-range Snapdragon-equipped device. The N20 5G features sub-6GHz 5G, CAT 15 LTE, WiFi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.1 (LE), NFC for contactless payments, and dual-band A-GPS / GLONASS / Galileo – plus the familiar collection of sensors. The optical in-display fingerprint scanner is fast and reliable, and so is face unlock. Haptics feel pretty cheap, but get the job done.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Software And User Experience
While the N20 5G’s software is still clean and refined, it’s not as quick and responsive, so the experience isn’t nearly as smooth. Obviously, the 60Hz refresh rate is partly to blame for this too, but we occasionally noticed random hiccups in animations when navigating the UI, so we believe there are some software optimization issues as play here. That being said, this isn’t a deal breaker – hopefully OnePlus will fix this in a future update.
Regardless, you’ll still enjoy OxygenOS’s helpful customizations, which you can read more about in our OnePlus 8T review. For the N20 5G, OnePlus is promising one OS upgrade and three years of security updates. Unsurprisingly, the T-Mobile handset we reviewed came with some pre-installed bloatware, including Amazon Shopping, McAfee Security, and a half-dozen useless carrier apps. You’ve been warned.
OnePlus Nord N20 5G Final Verdict
Still, there’s room for improvement. The 60Hz refresh rate is a bummer, the lack of ultrawide shooter is a miss, and performance needs some fine tuning. Finally, an alert slider and stereo speakers would have sealed the deal. But if you can live with these limitations, the N20 5G will be available for $282 (or $11.75 per month for 24 months) from T-Mobile starting April 28, and will be coming to OnePlus (unlocked) soon.