Review of the OnePlus Nord N30 5G: The greatest phone under $300

(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Pros and Cons
  • Extensive battery life
  • Fast wired charging
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Very affordable
  • Inconsistent photos
  • No ultrawide lens
  • Fingerprint magnet
For those on a tight budget who are in need of a new phone, the OnePlus Nord N30 5G is a pleasant sight. This is particularly true because it was not always certain whether the Nord N30 would arrive in the United States. The UK was one among the regions where OnePlus first unveiled the cost-effective OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite earlier this year. Although the firm did not then announce any intentions to distribute that phone in the United States, it finally made its way here under a new brand, with one less color, and with a little slower charging speed. Other than that, this is almost the same item sold under a less convenient name.
And the arrival of the Nord N30 makes us very happy. Even while inexpensive phones like the Google Pixel 7a and Samsung Galaxy A54 are tempting, their price range is still $400 to $500. Even though the cost is hundreds cheaper than many major stores, some customers still can't afford it. With relatively minor feature compromises, the OnePlus Nord N30 reduces those phones' pricing by a few hundred dollars.

Being the finest inexpensive phone under $300, the Nord N30 strikes the ideal mix of durability and frugalness. See how in our full review of the OnePlus Nord N30.


Price $299
Screen size 6.72-inch LCD (2400 x 1080)
Refresh rate 120Hz
CPU Snapdragon 695 5G
Storage/Expandable 128GB / Yes
Rear cameras 108MP (f/1.7) main; 2MP (f/2.4) depth; 2MP (f/2.4) macro
Front camera 16MP (f/2.4)
Battery size 5,000 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins) 12:30 (120Hz); 12:42 (60Hz)
Charging speed 50W wired
Size 6.5 x 3 x 0.32 inches
Weight 6.9 ounces
Colors Chromatic Gray

OnePlus Nord N30 Review: Pricing and Availability

The price of the OnePlus Nord N30 is under $300, however the precise price may vary depending on where you purchase the phone. T-Mobile offers the phone for $264, which is the lowest pricing. Should you use Metro, the cost will increase by $15. By T-Mobile, the company that owns and runs the low-cost phone service.

The phone is also available for $299 unlocked via OnePlus. Best Buy and Amazon both sell the phone. If you choose the unlocked version, OnePlus claims that the phone will function with Verizon's and AT&T's 5G networks.

No matter where you purchase your OnePlus Nord N30, it will come with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM.

OnePlus Nord N30 Review: Unveiling the Design

When you touch the OnePlus Nord N30 in your hand, its modest cost becomes rather evident. It's not that the Nord is poorly made; rather, OnePlus's choice of plastic won't lead people to believe that this is an expensive phone. Things may appear shiny while you're outside due to the phone's highly reflecting glossy back. Unfortunately, this also means that any dust or fingerprints that collect on the phone's rear are amplified by the Nord N30. If you appreciate the spotless look of your electronics, have a towel on hand.
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Speaking about the phone's back, there are two distinct circular arrays that protrude from it and are stacked vertically to hold the rear cameras. The OnePlus Nord N30 appears somewhat flipped, like to Wall-E from the Pixar film. After buyers of the Nord CE 3 Lite had the option of gray or lime, OnePlus now only provides the Chromatic Gray color for the Nord N30.

The OnePlus Nord N30 has a 6.7-inch screen, and its dimensions are 6.5 x 3 x 0.32 inches. but is taller than the Galaxy A54, which has a 6.4-inch screen but isn't exactly small at 6.2 x 3.0 x 0.32-inch.The Galaxy A54 weighs 7.1 ounces, whereas the OnePlus Nord N30 weighs 6.9 ounces, so at least the OnePlus is lighter.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The OnePlus Nord N30's power button serves as a fingerprint sensor, conserving space in the process. This isn't my favorite fingerprint sensor design, and the Nord N30's somewhat recessed power button can be difficult to locate when you first turn on the phone. However, the fingerprint sensor works fairly well, and I had no problems unlocking the phone.

OnePlus Nord N30 Review: Diving into the Display

The Nord N30's display, a big 6.72-inch panel with plenty of useful real estate despite a little bezel at the bottom of the screen, is one area where OnePlus may have compromised on design. OnePlus uses LCD for its screen, although this is a very standard practice for phones in this price range.

The Nord N30 does not disappoint in terms of quick refresh rates, which are becoming more and more prevalent even in low-cost phones. You have the option of using the High mode, which boosts the frequency to 120Hz for better animations, or the usual 60Hz rate. In this OnePlus Nord N30 review, we'll examine how little of an influence this has on battery life, so there's no reason not to go right to Settings and set the display refresh rate to High.

Display Specifications
OnePlus Nord N30 Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G Google Pixel 7a
sRGB (%) 152.7 153.6 129.8
DCI-P3 (%) 108.2 108.8 91.9
Delta-E 0.09 0.24 0.05
Peak brightness (nits) 520 564 931
I discovered while seeing the Barbie teaser on YouTube that the LCD display doesn't really cut corners when it comes to color. Ryan Gosling's beach-blonde hair really popped against Margot Robbie's bright pink costume, which appeared just as colorful as it does on other screens. The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023), another phone with an LCD screen, was able to replicate the sRGB and DCI-P3 color spectrums more accurately than the Nord N30, which we tested and found to have a rather good color handling system. However, the Nord's Delta-E rating of 0.09 in Vivid mode outperformed the Moto G Stylus's 0.24 score, indicating somewhat more realistic colors. (Numbers nearer zero are preferable.)
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The one thing I would like to complain about with the Nord N30 display is that it could be brighter. Its peak brightness was measured at 520 nits, which means you will need to turn up the display brightness significantly to see the panel in direct sunlight. In contrast, the Pixel 7a tested at 931 nits on a light meter; yes, it costs $200 more than the Nord N30, but that's an equally significant brightness gap.

Camera Excellence: OnePlus Nord N30 Review

Even though the OnePlus Nord N30 is a low-cost phone, its megapixel count isn't compromised. The primary lens of the phone is powered by the Samsung S5KHM6SX03, which has a 108MP resolution, which is comparable to what Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra flagship camera formerly had.
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The depth and macro lenses on the Nord N30's rear are the only other sensors, so any comparisons to flagship camera arrays end there. It should come as no surprise that there is no ultrawide camera but also no telephoto lens on this low-cost phone.

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Image Comparison: Nord N30 vs Moto G 2023
I compared the OnePlus Nord N30's cameras to the Motorola Moto G (2023), which retails for $249 and is comparable in price to OnePlus' entry-level model. Both phones captured images of a carousel outside in a mixture of strong sunlight and shade that were believable, despite some imperfections. The Nord lightens the entire image to make up for the rush of sunshine coming in from the left, which somewhat mutes the colors. Although the Moto G manages a sharper picture around the edges, Motorola's phone makes good use of the deeper tone, highlighting details like the red clamshells behind the carousel and the rose on the goat's saddle.
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Image Comparison:OnePlus Nord N30 vs Motorola Moto G (2023)
When we get inside, the OnePlus Nord N30 performs better since its photo of a flower show is more balanced than the Moto G's overexposed one. Though some of the shadows obscure the details of individual blooms, the flowers are more vivid in the Nord image—I'm especially intrigued by the combination of pink, purple, and white in the rose that's right of center in the picture.
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Image Comparison:OnePlus Nord N30 vs Motorola Moto G (2023)
I used the Pixel 7a, one of the greatest camera phones available for under $500, to test the zoom capabilities of the Nord N30. Possibly an unfair comparison, given that the Pixel 7a has access to Google's Super Res Zoom features, which employ AI to eliminate the fuzziness that sometimes appears when using an optical zoom to draw closer to a subject.

While the Nord N30 has trouble capturing details due to light coming in from the exhibit's side, the Pixel, captured at a 3x magnification, manages to stay bright and detailed. The Nord's photo washes off the surface characteristics of the oak barrel and the hues of the green grapes.

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Image Comparison:OnePlus Nord N30 vs Motorola Moto G (2023)
When we compare the OnePlus Nord N30 cameras to the Moto G to try out portrait mode, things don't get much better. Especially at the corners of her hat, the Nord's software performs a really excellent job of keeping my kid away from the swing ride behind her. However, the issue with the Nord picture is that she appears very pale. Her skin tone and hair have a warmer quality that the Moto G camera highlights better.
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Image Comparison:OnePlus Nord N30 vs Motorola Moto G (2023)
Upon experimenting with the OnePlus Nord N30's macro sensor, I was reminded once more of how much I wish phone manufacturers would omit this lens from their phones instead of inflating the number of cameras. Even with me holding the branch steady to prevent it from wobbling in the breeze, the Nord's close-up of a butterfly bush in my garden is not very focused. Although the Moto G attempt is too dark to be of much help, at least the individual blooms in the Nord's photo are plainly visible.
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Image Comparison:OnePlus Nord N30 vs Pixel 7a
The OnePlus Nord N30's night mode genuinely pleased me, outperforming the Pixel 7a in this regard. Don't get me wrong: the Pixel 7a shot is superior, as you would anticipate, because it has a balanced image that takes into consideration the shadows and more accurate colors. Though the OnePlus phone boosted the colors on some of the plush animals and the pink stuffie is a touch out of focus, the Nord shot is still quite bright. However, the Nord N30 attempt manages to capture a vivid image with minimal assistance from ambient illumination.
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Image Comparison:OnePlus Nord N30 vs Moto G
The 16MP front camera of the Nord N30 is not comparable. My eyes are completely obscured in darkness in both photos, indicating that neither the Moto G nor it could withstand intense sunshine. Though the Moto's rendition of my green t-shirt is slightly more true than the Nord's choice of bluish-green, at least it managed to catch some color in my face. Perhaps this is a camera phone that just struggles with skin tones because I seem just as pale in the Nord's selfie as my daughter did in the Nord's photo.

Unleashing Power: OnePlus Nord N30 Performance Review

The Nord CE 3 Lite and the OnePlus Nord N30 have the same Snapdragon 695 5G, therefore performance comparisons are almost the same. Although the Samsung Galaxy A54 and Pixel 7a are more powerful midrange phones than the Nord N30, it can still compete with other low-cost phones, especially those with less powerful chipsets. For example, the Moto G (2023) has a Snapdragon 480+ 5G system-on-a-chip. As of this writing, we're still analyzing the phone, but you won't be shocked to hear that its benchmark scores lagged below those of the Nord N30.

Performance Comparison
OnePlus Nord N30 Motorola Moto G 5G Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G Google Pixel 7a Samsung Galaxy A54
Processor Snapdragon 695 5G Snapdragon 480+ 5G Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 Tensor G2 Exynos 1380
Geekbench 6 (single core/multicore) 904 / 2077 740 / 1763 929 / 2707 1401 / 3368 950 / 2731
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (fps) 7.2 5.8 14.2 41 16.9
The Nord N30 achieved single and multicore scores of 904 and 2,077 on Geekbench 6. Although the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023), which costs around $100 more than the Nord, outperformed OnePlus in both tests, the scores are still better than the Moto G. The Nord outperformed the less expensive Moto G in 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited graphics test, while it trailed behind more expensive midrange smartphones.

In practical terms, this means that while the Nord N30 is ideal for daily work, you shouldn't expect it to run power-hungry programs smoothly. Even during some rather heated firefights, playing PUBG Mobile, a game with a lot of graphics, on the Nord N30 was entertaining enough and didn't lag or stutter. Nevertheless, the visuals didn't appear as detailed as they do on more powerful phones.

Fueling the Experience: OnePlus Nord N30 Battery Life and Charging Review

OnePlus is known for being the phone manufacturer to choose if you want a reliable battery life and quick charging. It's encouraging to note that the company's strategy remains unchanged if you choose one of its less expensive gadgets.
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The OnePlus Nord N30 lasted precisely 12.5 hours in our unique battery test, which involves turning the phone's screen down to 150 nits and then using cellular data to browse the internet nonstop until the battery runs out. The OnePlus Nord N30 now ranks first on our ranking of smartphones with the longest battery life, beating the average smartphone's performance by slightly more than 2.5 hours.

It's important to note that the OnePlus Nord N30's display was set to High refresh rate at that time. The phone managed to squeeze out an additional 12 minutes of battery life by locking the screen at 60Hz. The bottom line is that this OnePlus phone will provide you with more than a full day of battery life.

Battery and Charging Comparison
OnePlus Nord N30 Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G Google Pixel 7a
Battery size 5,000 mAh 5,000 mAh 4,385 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins) 12:30 (120Hz); 12:42 (60Hz) 12:12 (Auto); 11:29 (60Hz); 9:21 (120Hz) 10:05 (60Hz)
Wired charging speed 50W 20W 18W
Charging percentage (15 mins/30 mins) 43% / 76% 12% / 23% 21% / 43%
The OnePlus Nord N30 supports 50W charging, thus charging the phone won't take long at all. (This is one area where the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite and the Nord N30 differ; the latter phone supports 67W charging.) After 30 minutes, a completely depleted phone with the charger that OnePlus includes with the N30 reached a 76% charge. For comparison, after 30 minutes of use with a 20W charger, the Pixel 7a's battery level was at 43%.

Navigating the Digital Realm: OnePlus Nord N30 Software Exploration

OxygenOS 13.1, OnePlus's interpretation of Android 13, is available on the Nord N30 smartphone. Since Oxygen OS started incorporating Oppo's ColorOS—both phone manufacturers are now housed under one roof—not everyone is a fan, but I fail to see the big deal. The fact that OnePlus only guarantees a single Android OS upgrade in addition to three years of software support is enough to make anyone angry. This implies that future Android upgrades will be completed whenever the Android 14 version is released for this phone. It is still annoying because many low-cost phones have equally little software support.
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
If not, the feature set is the same as what came with the OnePlus CE 3 Lite. This features the 200% Ultra Volume Mode, which doubles the sound emanating from the twin stereo speakers when you push the volume slider all the way up, and the Widget Shelf, a neat spot to keep app widgets. Due to my hearing impairment, even that audio may be heard through my no longer-as-good eardrums.

The Final Verdict: OnePlus Nord N30 Review

It's critical to realize that the OnePlus Nord N30 has drawbacks associated with its high pricing, the most significant of which is its poor camera performance. More reliable performance is offered by other inexpensive phones, so you don't even need to stretch your budget to purchase a Galaxy A54 or Pixel 7a. Even though it's an older phone, the Pixel 6a, which retails for $349, shoots far better pictures than the Nord N30. However, the Nord N30 excels in other areas as well, most notably with its excellent battery and large display that allows a quick refresh rate. The Nord N30 is a great, reasonably priced option if you'd prefer a durable gadget over a phone with a better camera.

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