OnePlus is finally bringing its new, cheaper “Nord” line to the US over the next two weeks, complete with actual US prices. The most interesting is the OnePlus Nord N100, a $180 phone that comes with a 90Hz display, a pretty incredible price point considering some companies still sell $1,100 smartphones that only have 60Hz displays.
That 90Hz display for a super-low price sounds neat but comes with a lot of caveats. First of all, this is a 720p 90Hz display. Second, it’s an LCD instead of the usual OLED. But hey, for $180, you have to make some sacrifices in the name of speed.
The full N100 specs include a 6.52-inch, 1600×720 90Hz LCD, a Snapdragon 460 (that’s an 11nm, eight-core SoC with four 1.8GHz Cortex-A73 CPUs and four 1.8GHz A53s), 4GB of RAM, 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage, and a nice-sized 5000mah battery. The phone has a rear capacitive fingerprint reader, a USB-C port, a headphone jack, a microSD slot, and stereo speakers. Sadly there’s no NFC, and with an LCD, you won’t be getting an always-on display mode. Also at this price point, you can also forget about fancy extras like water resistance or wireless charging.
For real cameras, there is one 13MP rear camera and one 8MP front camera. There are also two other rear cameras we’re going to file under “purely decorative”: a 2MP “macro” camera and a 2MP “bokeh” camera. Just as there are cars with fake exhausts, fake spoilers, fake windows, and fake vents, there are now phones with essentially useless cameras for the sake of looks and marketing.
The big downside is the update plan, which is a new low for OnePlus: the company announced the N100 won’t get updated beyond the current Android 11 OS. The phones are launching with Android 10, they’ll be brought up-to-date with Android 11, and then OnePlus is done with major updates. For a phone that should be launching with the three-month-old Android 11 out of the box, this is basically zero years of major updates. The phone also won’t get monthly security updates as they are released, instead OnePlus is promising two years of security updates at a semi-regular, not-monthly pace.
This is a cheaper phone, but OnePlus’ new update policy feels like a major pivot for a company that previously was the fastest third-party OEM when it came to shipping major Android updates. HMD offers two years of major updates and three years of monthly security updates, even on the $100 Nokia 1.3. For $80 more, it feels like OnePlus should be able to do the same.
Listing image by OnePlus