OnePlus Nord N30 5G Review: A $300 Phone Overachiever – CNET

Like

  • Truly fast charging
  • Large 120Hz refresh rate screen
  • NFC for contactless payments

Don’t like

  • Mixed photography
  • Short software update timeline

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G makes quite the first impression. OnePlus has stacked its $300 phone with features you simply don’t see at this price. 

The phone’s 108-megapixel main camera is the headline feature as far as the spec list is concerned, but the real star is the phone’s included 50-watt SuperVooc charger. In multiple tests, I got the OnePlus Nord N30 5G to recharge its 5,000-mAh battery from near-zero to roughly 75% in 30 minutes. It’s ludicrously fast, and similarly priced phones that max out at 15-watt charging speeds don’t come close.

Despite the N30’s high megapixel count, the camera is what gives away that this is a cheaper phone. It falls prey to many of the same issues as other phones that cost $300 or less: Its photos look nice in daytime settings but they struggle with scenes that include lots of movement or low light.

The other issue isn’t with OnePlus so much as Google and its Pixel 6A, which has an excellent camera and consistently goes on sale for $300. But if photography isn’t a high priority for you in a cheaper phone, the OnePlus N30 has many perks to consider that the Pixel doesn’t. The N30 is only being sold in the US and Canada, but the $300 price roughly converts to £240, AU$440.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G on lock screen

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>The OnePlus Nord N30 5G costs $300.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

OnePlus Nord N30 5G design, specs

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G has an eye-catching design out of the box, accentuated by its two large camera bumps, its glossy back and a simple OnePlus logo. The result is flashy, and a bit of a fingerprint magnet. While the phone only comes in one color, phones at this price often sacrifice style, so it’s good to see OnePlus ignore that trend.

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G has a bright 6.72-inch, 120Hz refresh rate display with a 1080p resolution. The screen makes videos, games, apps and websites look great and animate smoothly. It runs on a midrange Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 processor which pairs up nicely with the phone’s 8GB of memory to run most apps and games while allowing for multitasking.

Geekbench 6 testing

OnePlus Nord N30 5G 893 2037Moto G Power 5G 878 2206

<ul> <li class="c-shortcodeChart_testcap0"> Single-core </li> <li class="c-shortcodeChart_testcap1"> Multicore </li> </ul>
<strong class="u-text-uppercase">Note:</strong> Higher scores are better

In our benchmark tests, the OnePlus’ score compares favorably to the Moto G Power. In real-world use, this isn’t a speedy phone, but it gets the job done.

The N30’s OxygenOS is a light customization on top of Android 13, which adds in a game mode that automatically disables notifications and shifts some resources for games. Like last year’s OnePlus N300, you aren’t going to crank out power-intensive graphics with this phone.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G's game mode

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>A game mode can be turned on in OxygenOS, letting you turn off notifications and divert your phone&#8217;s resources toward powering a game.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

The N30 will only receive one software update to Android 14, along with three years of security updates. While this timeline matches what Motorola offers its Moto G phones, it’s still disappointing that budget phones often get shorter update timelines, especially when Samsung’s A-series phones often get longer support. Plus Google’s Pixel 6A, despite being a year old, has two more years of software updates and four more years of security updates remaining.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G with charging screen.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>The OnePlus Nord N30 5G supports 50-watt charging.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

OnePlus Nord N30 5G charging speed, battery

As I mentioned in the introduction, the N30’s 50-watt charging speed is easily the best feature of this phone. These are speeds that we typically see in Android phones that cost $650 or more. And there aren’t any Apple iPhone models that even come close to 50 watts right now.

A full recharge from near zero typically takes just 45 minutes, and with that you could completely forego overnight phone charging. The phone’s 5,000-mAh battery lasted me between a day and a half to two days of use on a single charge, depending on how heavy my usage was. On my weekdays with the phone, for instance, I was primarily using it while commuting, for video calls and light gaming, I easily made two days. But on a weekend trip to Washington, DC, with frequent camera use and texting, the phone’s battery needed a recharge midway through the weekend. 

OnePlus Nord N30 5G back of phone

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>The OnePlus Nord N30 5G has a main 108-megapixel camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth-sensing camera.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

OnePlus Nord N30 5G cameras

Around back the phone are two camera bumps that house the phone’s main 108-megapixel camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth assist camera for portrait mode. There’s also a 16-megapixel front-facing camera housed in a punchout on the display.

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G’s 108-megapixel camera is simply not going to rival anything we see on more expensive phones. Despite that eye-popping resolution figure, software and processing power are a big reason why more-expensive phones capture great photos. 

DC Pride parade

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>A scene from the Pride Parade in Washington, DC, taken on the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

oneplus-nord-n30-5g-dc-pride-parade-3

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>A scene from the Pride Parade in Washington, DC, taken on the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

I took the N30 to the DC Pride Parade, and while the camera did a nice job capturing the colorful floats and people, it struggled keeping things in focus. Many of my photos have motion blur, while other more stable scenes retain detail. 

Drag queen at Metrobar.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>During the nighttime drag show, a photo of a queen who was sitting directly in front of me still had trouble processing on the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Performer at Metrobar in DC

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>A wider shot of the stage at Metrobar fared better, possibly due to the improved lighting for the performer.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Things took a turn for the worse when I tried to photograph an evening drag show at Metrobar. Even the phone’s night mode only offered a few additional enhancements to the festivities. 

I had better success using night mode on an empty dance floor, capturing the chairs and the decor of the room.

Suns Cinema without night mode

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>Suns Cinema&#8217;s dance floor and cocktail area taken without night mode turned on. Shot with the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Suns Cinema photo with night mode

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>Suns Cinema&#8217;s dance floor and cocktail area taken with night mode turned on. Shot with the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

The N30 shines the most with food photography and portrait mode photos. My meals from Purple Patch look as tasty as they actually were. Portraits taken with both the front and rear camera had a good bokeh effect.

Dinner at Purple Patch

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>Pancit Bihon with pulled chicken adobo at Purple Patch, taken on the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Biscuits and a potato salad.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>Biscuits taken in a low-light environment at St. Anselm.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Portrait photo of Mike Sorrentino

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>A portrait mode photo taken on the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Compared to photos shot on the $300 Moto G Power 5G, the OnePlus does a good job capturing detail. But the problem for the OnePlus is that the Pixel 6A — again, often discounted to $300 — runs circles around it. The Pixel 6A’s Tensor chip allows for better color depth, Real Tone for more accurate skin tones and a slew of photo enhancement options.

In my photo test using a grass wall in CNET’s office, both the Moto G Power 5G and the Pixel 6A captured the various shades of green on the wall, while the OnePlus seemed to struggle with sensing those differences.

Grass wall test

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>The grass wall taken on the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Grass wall photo take on the Moto G Power 5G.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>Grass wall photo taken on the Moto G Power 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Grass wall test

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>Grass wall test photo taken on Pixel 6A.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

When I tested the night mode on both the OnePlus and the Pixel using CNET’s dark TV lab area, the Pixel brightened up a lot of the image. By comparison, the OnePlus appears substantially darker.

TV lab test photo

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>A section of the dark TV lab, taken using night mode on the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

TV lab test

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>A section of the dark TV lab, taken using night mode on the Pixel 6A.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Photos of my colleague Joseph Kaminski both look nice, but the Pixel version captures substantially more detail when zooming into the photo.

Joseph Kaminski

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>Joseph Kaminski at CNET&#8217;s office, taken using the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Joseph Kaminski

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>Joseph again, taken on the Pixel 6A.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Zoom in general is better on the Pixel. This photo of a plant taken using the 2x zoom option on the Pixel heartily outperforms the 3x zoom on the OnePlus.

Zoomed in flower

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>A zoomed-in flower, taken on the OnePlus Nord N30 5G.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Flower photo test

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>A zoomed-in flower, taken on the Pixel 6A.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

Overall the OnePlus N30’s camera system performs well compared to other new phones in the $200 to $300 price range. But with the Pixel 6A’s price often dipping into that range, it’s now a competitive option that the OnePlus has to contend with, and the 108-megapixel camera isn’t yet enough.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G and its 50W charger.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="27"></p> <p>OnePlus Nord N30 5G and its powerful 50-watt charger.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Mike Sorrentino/CNET</span>

OnePlus Nord N30 5G bottom line

OnePlus deserves some serious credit for bringing specs to the Nord N30 5G that are unheard of at its price range. The fast charging speed is something that can be universally appreciated, and the effort to offer a 108-megapixel camera at this low of a price is impressive.

However the phone’s tradeoffs ultimately mean you should seriously compare it with the competition before buying. If you want more storage and care less about the camera, then the 256GB Moto G Power 5G (also $300) might be a better option. Or if you want a phone that takes better photos with more years of software and security support, then snag a Google Pixel 6A whenever it’s discounted to $300 from its $349 price.

But if the Pixel 6A isn’t on sale, and if a two-day battery life and a ludicrously fast recharge time are appealing, the OnePlus Nord N30 5G is a respectable option among its $300 peers.

OnePlus Nord N30 5G vs. Motorola Moto G Power 5G vs. Google Pixel 6A

OnePlus Nord N30 5G Moto G Power 5G (2023) Google Pixel 6A
Display size, resolution, refresh rate 6.72-inch; 2,400×1,080 pixels; 120Hz 6.5-inch LCD; 2,400×1,080 pixels; 120Hz 6.1-inch OLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels; 60Hz
Pixel density 391 ppi 405 ppi 429 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.51 x 2.99 x 0.32 in. 6.41 x 2.94 x 0.33 in 6.0 x 2.8 x 0.35 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 165.5 x 76 x 8.3mm 163 x 75 x 8.45 mm 152.2 x 7.18 x 8.9 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 6.97 oz, 195 g 6.52 oz, 185 g 6.3 oz, 178 g
Mobile software Android 13 Android 13 Android 12
Camera 108-megapixel main, 2-megapixel macro, 2-megapixel depth sensing 50-megapixel main, 2-megapixel macro, 2-megapixel depth sensing 12.2-megapixel wide, 12-megapixel ultrawide
Front-facing camera 16-megapixel 16-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 1080p at 30fps 720p at 60 fps 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 MediaTek Dimensity 930 Google Tensor
RAM, storage 8GB + 128GB 4GB + 128GB; 6GB + 256GB 6GB + 128GB
Expandable storage Yes Yes None
Battery, charger 5,000 mAh; 50W wired charging 5,000 mAh; 15W wired charging speed, 10W adapter included 4,410 mAh; 18W fast charging (adapter sold separately)
Fingerprint sensor Side Side Under display
Connector USB-C USB-C USB C
Headphone jack Yes Yes None
Special features 50W SuperVooc fast charging, 108-megapixel main camera, game mode, dual stereo speakers Estimated 38-hour battery life, Moto Gestures, stereo speakers 5G-enabled, 18W fast charging, WiFi 6E, security updates for 5 years, Android OS updates for 3 years, dual SIM, IP67 water resistance
Price off-contract (USD) $300 $300 $449 ($299 when on sale)
Price (GBP) Converts to £240 Converts to £240 £399
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$445 Converts to AU$445 A$749

How we test phones

Every phone tested by CNET’s reviews team was actually used in the real world. We test a phone’s features, play games and take photos. We examine the display to see if it’s bright, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and build to see how it is to hold and whether it has an IP-rating for water resistance. We push the processor’s performance to the extremes using both standardized benchmark tools like GeekBench and 3DMark, along with our own anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution videos and playing graphically intense games at high refresh rates.

All the cameras are tested in a variety of conditions from bright sunlight to dark indoor scenes. We try out special features like night mode and portrait mode and compare our findings against similarly priced competing phones. We also check out the battery life by using it daily as well as running a series of battery drain tests.

We take into account additional features like support for 5G, satellite connectivity, fingerprint and face sensors, stylus support, fast charging speeds, foldable displays among others that can be useful. And we balance all of this against the price to give you the verdict on whether that phone, whatever price it is, actually represents good value.

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