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The hot new OnePlus Nord is coming to the US, and it has a surprise in store

Published Jul 29th, 2020 6:50AM EDT
OnePlus Nord USA
Image: OnePlus

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  • The OnePlus Nord USA version will be released later this year, a OnePlus executive confirmed.
  • The affordable OnePlus phone is currently available in Europe and India, where it’s priced cheaper than the second-generation iPhone SE that Apple launched earlier this year.
  • Code fragments from the Oxygen OS 10.5 Android software that runs on the Nord indicate that the American version of the phone could run on Qualcomm’s cheaper Snapdragon 690 processor, which would come as a surprise.

The recently announced OnePlus Nord is one of the best budget phones you can buy right now. The phone costs less than $500 in Europe and India, where it’s available to order and offers decent hardware for that price point. The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 765G mid-range Qualcomm processor that comes with built-in 5G support. Google will reportedly use the same chip for the Pixel 5 this year. The phone also features a large display with a punch-hole dual camera, plenty of memory and storage, a quad-camera lens system on the back, and support for fast wired charging. To keep the costs down, OnePlus cut some of the features available on its more expensive flagships, including wireless charging and water and dust resistance rating. The most annoying compromise concerns the build quality of the phone. A recent durability test showed that the frame of the phone isn’t made of metal, and the handset can bend with relative ease, and the OLED display can break in the process.

Sadly for American OnePlus fans, the phone can’t be purchased in the US right now, but a different version of the handset will be available later this year. There’s both good news and bad news in there, however.

Carl Pei confirmed to Wired that a “Nord-branded phone (not necessarily the same as this) is set to land on US shores later this year.” The OnePlus co-founder did not share any other details about this Nord version for America, so it wasn’t immediately clear what would be different about this Nord version. We do expect OnePlus to launch a new series of phones in the second half of the year, including T versions of the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, so maybe that’s when the different Nord model would arrive.

But it’s xda-developers that may have solved the mystery already. The American version of the Nord could feature a Snapdragon 690 processor with 5G support instead of the 765G chip. The 690 is Qualcomm’s latest 5G processor, which will power more affordable 5G handsets in the near future. The blog found evidence of the 690 in the newest version of OxygenOS for the OnePlus Nord.

Assuming the data is accurate, then the US version of the Nord will rock an even more affordable processor than the European and Indian versions. A downgrade in performance could be expected, but the 690 could let OnePlus further cut the entry price of the handset for the North American market.

The Nord sells for €399 in Europe, which makes it even more affordable than the iPhone SE in the region. The Snapdragon 690 could help OnePlus undercut the iPhone SE in the US as well. Apple’s cheapest iPhone starts at $399 but offers the same processor as the iPhone 11 series, and the same build quality as the iPhone 8.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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