OnePlus Nord N300 review: More power to you
The OnePlus Nord N300 packs a lot of power for a sub-$300 device. With as much as it gets right, there are still some areas where it could use improvement, though it’s a little hard to complain about the raw battery power it has.
Just a couple of years ago, the mobile phone market was split into a few parts. There are high-end phones that cost $1000 or more with top-level specifications and amazing cameras, mid-tier phones that gave you a taste of that world at a reasonable price, and low-end devices that cost less than $300 and functioned as it.
Now it feels like that line is blurring more and more, with phones like the Google Pixel 6 and 7 coming in at just $600 with impressive specs and a seamless software and hardware experience that makes it a joy to use.
The Nord N300 approaches that line as well, though it costs just $229 – about the same as last year’s N200. For that, you get OnePlus software as well as specs that probably won’t scare you off at first glance.
On the surface, the Nord N300 from OnePlus is encased in a plastic shell all around. The USB-C port is at the bottom and the volume rockers are on the left side of the device. The power button – which is also a fingerprint sensor – is located on the right side.
As for the reliability of the fingerprint sensor, I was able to get an accurate scan about half the time. It’s obviously not great in the least, although the inclusion of face unlock kind of makes up for it in the long run. Face unlock is a bit more accurate, though it may not bode well for the device’s security.
Internally, the OnePlus Nord N300 runs a MediaTek Dimensity 810, which is a mid-tier SoC with a 5G modem. With that, the device has 4GB of RAM and a 64GB of expandable memory. While that setup isn’t top of the line, it turns out to be enough in practice.
Software and performance
Right out of the box, the Nord N300 runs Android 12 — OxygenOS 12. We may eventually see Android 13 come to the N300, though I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. OnePlus isn’t in the top spot when it comes to timely updates, and with the company’s update policy leaving the N200 with just one year of major Android updates and three years of security updates, we’re likely to see the same update policy extended to the N300.
Even with Android 12, the N300 does a good job handling everyday tasks. Sometimes things feel a bit slow, such as opening the Quick Settings menu and switching between apps. It can get even worse if you accidentally swipe down from the wrong side and open the OxygenOS shelf, which contains shortcuts courtesy of OnePlus.
OnePlus claims the N300 gets a 90Hz refresh rate, although it doesn’t always feel that way. While scrolling, there is a noticeable rubber band that shouldn’t be there with 90HZ and above. While perfectly tolerable, it just doesn’t feel right. Switching between 90Hz and 60Hz feels pointless, as they look and feel pretty much the same.
Aside from the refresh rate, the display is a budget display, although it looks better than the price suggests. The N300 runs a 6.56″ HD+ 1612 x 720 display. It’s on the lower end of “HD”, though it holds its own in color accuracy and reproduction.
In comparison, the Nord N200 had a 2400 x 1080 FHD panel which was slightly smaller. We do not know why the downgrade was made. Unfortunately, the N300’s screen is simply not its strong point.
Where the OnePlus Nord N300 shines, however, is its insane battery life. With a 5000 mAh battery, the N300 can get you through a day and more with no issues at all. I sincerely tried to kill the battery to no avail. It seemed like the only way I could get it down was a few hours of gaming and YouTube – heavy apps in general.
When you don’t use it, it gets even better. You can get almost eight days of idle battery life with the Nord N300, which means if you’re conservative in your usage, you’ll see incredible battery performance.
With that, OnePlus includes a 33W SuperVOOC charger in the box. This isn’t as powerful as some of the company’s devices, but it’s sure as hell. From an empty battery, the 33W charger can power the N300 25% in just 15 minutes, and every 6 or 7 minutes the device finds another 10% of the battery. Around an hour I was fully charged. That’s really excellent for a $229 phone.
Another point where the N300 shocked me was in the camera lineup. The main sensor is a 48 MP camera along with a 2 MP depth sensor for some extra detail. That camera does a good job of reproducing color and coming into focus, with the images it captures capable of going up against some of the high-end cameras on the market. The front has a 16MP selfie camera that does an okay job of taking photos, as expected.
If you were to put the images that the Nord N300 produces against an S22 or Pixel 7, you would be able to pick out the Nord N300, but only just. In terms of quality and looks, the N300 takes some pretty good pictures. Below are just a few examples we caught.
The Nord N300 sits in a rather funny place. It’s at the higher end of budget devices, with a pretty decent performance score, incredible battery and a camera that’s more than capable. Of course, a mid-range SoC will only get you so far with 4GB of RAM.
With all that in mind, the reality is that for $229, you’re beating other devices by quite a margin. The N300 does a good job in most respects and will undoubtedly last a full day on average. Even if it doesn’t, 33W charging will give you plenty of juice in little or no time at all.
Buy OnePlus Nord N300
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