When OnePlus‘ latest budget phone — the OnePlus Nord N200 5G — reaches T-Mobile and Metro stores on June 25, it will be the carriers’ cheapest 5G offering. That’s not by accident. OnePlus designed a low-cost phone that brings 5G down to the lowest possible budget segment. That’s quite something when you consider 5G used to be reserved for $1,200 flagships as recently as 18 months ago.
While we applaud OnePlus’ efforts to bring 5G to the masses, that’s not the only consideration here. The Nord N200 is part of a family that includes the Nord N100 and the Nord N10, while other regions outside of the US have received the original OnePlus Nord and the new Nord CE. This family is itself part of the larger OnePlus stable, which includes flagships such as the OnePlus 9 Pro. Can the Nord N200, a phone that’s OnePlus’ least expensive 5G phone yet, carry on the family name without diluting it? More importantly, can it truly compete in the crowded US budget 5G space?
Find out in the Android Authority OnePlus Nord N200 review.
What you need to know about the OnePlus Nord N200
- OnePlus Nord N200 5G (4GB/64GB): $239.99
The OnePlus Nord N200 will be available in one configuration and one color. The single SKU includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Blue Quantum is the color, which is a shifting sky blue shade.
Also read: The best budget phones you can buy
The phone goes on sale on June 25. It will be on T-Mobile and Metro retail store shelves, as well as the virtual shelves at OnePlus, Amazon, and Best Buy. At launch, T-Mobile is offering the phone for free with a trade-in or a new line. Metro is offering the phone for $60 to those who add a new line. You can expect to pay the full $239 retail price from OnePlus and Amazon. The phone will also be sold in Canada. OnePlus has yet to announce launch plans outside of North America.
Is the hardware any good?
The OnePlus Nord N200 is not a unique piece of hardware. It’s a rebadged variant of the Oppo A93 5G. That means the two phones share the same basic chassis and features, though not necessarily all the same specs. The A93 5G was first unveiled in January, so this simple design has been around for a while.
It’s a rather boring phone to behold. The vanilla design means it could be any device from a distance, as there’s nothing truly distinct about it. It’s got an unknown type of glass on the front (likely Gorilla Glass 3 — we’ve asked OnePlus for confirmation), a mid-frame, and a rear panel fitted into the frame. The frame and rear panel are both colored blue. A reflective finish covers the frame while the semi-grainy, color-changing Blue Quantum hue covers the rear. I do like the blue shade OnePlus picked. I also appreciate that the rear panel doesn’t collect fingerprints.
OnePlus’ signature ringer switch is missing in action.
The front glass curves ever so slightly around the edges where it meets the frame. OnePlus opted for a polycarbonate mid-frame and rear panel. The rounded corners, rounded side edges, and smooth materials lend themselves to a phone that’s easy to grip and use throughout the day. The slim profile (8.3mm) and low weight (189g) help.
OnePlus’ signature ringer switch is missing in action, which is a shame. You do, however, get a combo power button and fingerprint reader. The reader takes just a minute to train and was generally good at recognizing my thumb, though it was a little slow sometimes. The haptics are particularly bad. They are simply jarringly awful no matter what setting you opt for. I had to turn them off.
Other notable hardware features include a headphone jack, USB-C port, and mono speaker, all of which are jammed onto the bottom edge of the phone. Sound ported out the headphone jack was solid, while the single speaker does a respectable job. It’s a little light on the mid-range tones, with emphasis on high and lows, but it sounds clean even at high volumes. There’s also a memory card slot that accepts microSD cards up to 1TB. There’s no IP rating to speak of, which is expected for this category of phone.
The display is worth getting a little excited about for this price range. It measures 6.49-inches across the diagonal and serves up 2,400 x 1,080 pixels for a 20:9 aspect ratio. The IPS LCD runs at 90Hz if you want, which makes scrolling and other on-screen actions appear smoother. Few phones at this price point include a 90Hz screen. As with many high refresh rate displays, you can set the device to either 60Hz to conserve battery or 90Hz, which runs at various frame rates up to 90Hz to balance power needs and performance. OnePlus sets it at 90Hz out of the box.
The screen looks really good. It’s no AMOLED, but it offers deep blacks, bright whites, and a solid 495 pixels per inch. Viewing angles are good and it’s easy to see outdoors under the sun. A punch-hole camera is located in the top-left corner. I’d call the display the highlight of the phone’s design.
In all it’s not a bad piece of hardware, it’s just not an overly exciting one. But then again, few budget phones are.
What about performance and battery life?
OnePlus gave the Nord N200 a Snapdragon 480 processor, which is a newer chip specifically meant to bring 5G to lower-cost phones. The Nord has just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, which is the same setup we saw on its predecessor, the Nord N100. The 64GB of storage is a little meager but is at least offset by the option to add a microSD card up to 1TB. However, even at this price point, it’d be fair to expect at least 6GB of RAM to keep things running smoothly.
The Snapdragon 480 5G delivers solid everyday performance for the Nord N200, running smoothly across the board. I didn’t see any sluggishness or other indicators of poor performance in day-to-day use. Even the camera app opened quickly though it was sometimes a hair slow to focus and fire off shots.
Benchmarks are another story. As expected, the Snapdragon 480 put up nearly identical numbers to those of the chip when we tested the Motorola G Stylus 5G, which houses the same silicon. That means it lands in the lower 20% of performers on most benchmark scores. Good thing people don’t buy budget phones for blazing performance.
The Nord N200’s battery life is absolutely killer. With a 5,000mAh lithium-ion cell packed in the chassis, together with the power-sipping Snapdragon 480 SoC, the Nord N200 serves up battery life galore. The phone easily blasted through two days of use, with screen-on time measuring close to eight hours. It really did a phenomenal job over a week of testing.
The Nord N200’s battery life is absolutely killer.
Charging is limited to 18W via the OnePlus charger. It takes a solid 75 minutes to reach 100% from zero. There are plenty of faster-charging budget phones available globally, but less so in the US. In T-Mobile’s lineup, the similarly-priced Samsung Galaxy A32 5G supports only 15W charging for the same-sized battery. There’s no wireless charging in the Nord N200, but we wouldn’t expect it at this price point.
Is the OnePlus Nord N200’s camera any good?
The Nord N200 has a triple-camera system with a 13MP main camera, a 2MP macro lens, and a 2MP depth lens. You won’t find ultra-wide or telephoto lenses here. The macro camera does not double as an ultra-wide shooter, and all zooming is accomplished digitally. Other similarly-priced phones in the T-Mobile/Metro rosters do have wide-angle and telephoto lens options, such as the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy A32 5G.
The camera user interface is straightforward and easy to put to work. You can open it from the home screen or the lock screen if you wish. The shutter button and shooting modes sit on the right side of the viewfinder, while several controls, such as the HDR and flash settings, are on the left side. Shooting modes include night, video, photo, portrait, slo-mo, time-lapse, pro, panorama, and macro. These are all standard modes for a camera app these days and they worked as expected.
The main shooter does well in outdoor light. Taking daytime photos was no challenge to the Nord N200, which showed fine exposure, color, and detail. I was pleased with the majority of outdoor shots, though some tended to lose detail in shaded areas. The HDR shot of the bridge below, however, blew out the sky to a certain degree.
Shooting indoors is a different story. You’ll instantly see the presence of grain on shots taken indoors — even during the daytime with ample light. With an aperture of just f/2.2, the main lens isn’t as fast as the f/1.8 lenses you’ll see on today’s flagships. That leads to longer exposures, which tend to not be as sharp. You can see in the shots below that there’s lost detail, particularly of the Google speaker in the shot on the right.
Applying the digital zoom leads to uneven results. There’s a simple tool that lets you select from 1x, 2x, and 5x for zooming, in addition to the pinch-to-zoom function. Zooming to 2x isn’t bad, but the 5x setting varies between okay and quite worthless. Images taken at max zoom are noisy and soft.
If you’re a fiend for portraits, the Nord N200 is serviceable but not the best. It’s best when you’re taking portraits of someone else, so you can put the depth-sensing lens to use. In these cases, portraits turn out decent, though beautification and/or skin smoothing is a bit aggressive.
Using the 16MP selfie camera is another story. It’s fair enough when shooting in well-lit spaces, but it’s abysmal if you’re shooting in low light or the dark. It can be too aggressive with the editing, as well, and doesn’t always handle the background well. You can see in the shot on the right that the train tracks are darkened more than they should be.
Video is limited to 1080p Full HD at 30fps. That’s way below the 4K spec most mid-range and flagship phones offer, but it’s not surprising for this price range. The video footage I shot looked decent as long as there was plenty of light. Like most of the Nord N200’s capabilities, low light causes problems when shooting video. Otherwise, it was fairly decent.
You can view full-sized photo samples in this Google Drive folder.
- 5G: The phone supports T-Mobile/Metro’s sub-6GHz spectrum in the US. In a test of network performance, the phone found and connected to 5G easily, though speeds were only so-so in the 150Mbps range. T-Mobile’s sub-6GHz network is growing slowly, so be sure to check coverage where you live before jumping on the 5G bandwagon. The phone doesn’t support mmWave, however.
- Oxygen OS 11: OnePlus ships the phone with the latest build of Oxygen OS 11, which is based on Android 11. OnePlus lent us an unlocked version of the phone, so we did not encounter any bloatware. T-Mobile and Metro are known for loading phones with branded apps, so don’t be surprised if your carrier version of the phone is chock full of unwanted bloat. The OS didn’t give me any trouble. Not everyone loves OxygenOS 11, but I’m happy enough with it. It runs well on the phone, which is the main thing.
- Software updates: OnePlus told us that the Nord N200 will receive one major Android software update and three years of security updates. The latter is on par with low-cost phones from HMD Global, but lags behind Samsung’s promise of four years of security patches for its budget 5G phones. It also means you won’t see another software upgrade beyond the next major Oxygen OS update based on Android 12. Again, Samsung’s budget phones and even non-5G Google devices like the Pixel 4a are a much better bet for long-term software support.
OnePlus Nord N200 specs
|OnePlus Nord N200|
Full HD+ resolution
90Hz refresh rate
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 480|
Expandable through microSD slot
No wireless charging
– 13MP wide
– 16MP wide
3.5mm headphone jack
microSD card slot
Dual-SIM, dual standby (DSDS)
|Networking||5G support (Sub6 only)
|Security||Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
No official IP rating
|Operating system||Oxygen OS 11
Based on Android 11
Value and competition
The $200-$300 space in the US market is a fierce place to do battle. Carriers such as T-Mobile and their prepaid businesses like Metro are chock full of affordable fare. OnePlus has chosen a brave place to make a stand with the Nord N200.
Taken at face value, the $239 Nord N200 holds its ground. It packs a 6.5-inch display, 5,000mAh battery, Snapdragon 480 processor, and 5G for not only less than $300, but less than $250. T-Mobile sells the Motorola One 5G Ace for $264 and the Nord N10 for $299 (at the time of writing). This gives the N200 a price advantage, though these two phones offer better camera combinations. The Nord N10 is definitely a step up from the N200 as far as the experience is concerned, with nicer materials and build quality.
OnePlus has to work harder to sell the N200 to prepaid users over at Metro, where gobs of phones live in the $150-$250 range. Competitors include the Motorola G Stylus ($299), the Samsung Galaxy A12 ($179), and the Nord N100 ($179). The new N200 stands out thanks to 5G, which none of these phones offer. If you’re a Metro customer looking to dive into 5G on the cheap, the Nord N200 5G has your back. Metro’s other 5G phones, like the Galaxy A32 5G ($279), push higher and into the $300 range.
Then there’s the unlocked market. If you’re buying the OnePlus Nord N200 from OnePlus or Amazon at full price, you’ve got plenty of options at or near the same cost. The value equation comes down to what you want in a sub-$250 phone. If 5G is in the mix, then the N200 is about as low as you can go.
All that said, it’s hard to say that 5G alone is worth it as a selling point. T-Mobile’s 5G network, which is the only 5G network the Nord N200 supports, isn’t as widespread as 4G yet and performance is still a bit inconsistent depending on where you live. If your home is blanketed in dreamy T-Mobile 5G goodness, then perhaps the N200 is the right budget phone for you.
OnePlus Nord N200 review: The verdict
The OnePlus Nord N200 makes a case for 5G phones on a budget. Prior to its arrival, you were looking at the $250-$300 range for affordable 5G. Now, 5G can be had for even less thanks to OnePlus. But 5G isn’t everything.
The Nord N200 has a fine 90Hz screen, something few phones in this price range offer. It also has crushing battery life thanks to a beefy 5,000mAh power cell. That battery life is tempered a bit by the phone’s performance, which is held back some by the Snapdragon 480 processor. A gaming powerhouse this phone is not. Uneven performance by the camera also holds the phone back to a degree, but you’ll struggle to find a truly budget phone that has a stellar shooter. You’d have to spend $100 more to get the Google Pixel 4a for the best camera in this segment.
While it stands tall as a sub-$250 device, the Nord N200 is not something I would have foreseen from OnePlus a year ago.
But how does it stack up to other OnePlus phones? The Nord N200 is a slight upgrade from the Nord N100 in that it has a better processor and sharper screen, and also 5G. That makes it a more enticing buy. It’s a downgrade from the Nord N10 and is far less attractive as a value prospect than the original Nord and the Nord CE, the latter two of which sadly aren’t available in the US. I’m not begrudging OnePlus’ attempt to enter the budget segment, but the Nord N200 feels a bit like the rebadged handset that it is. OnePlus is clearly relying on its BBK stablemate, Oppo, to do the heavy lifting here and, as a result, has diluted its own brand a bit.
OnePlus has long stood for affordable quality. Its business model has changed over the last year with the introduction of the Nord line, and that’s fine. This phone, while it stands tall as a $240 device, is not something I would have foreseen from OnePlus a year ago.
Is the Nord N200 for you? If you want the cheapest entry point to 5G, the OnePlus Nord N200 delivers on the basics. For many, that might be enough. If you’re purely a OnePlus fan on a tight budget, the Nord N200 may be a rebadged Oppo phone, but it makes the right upgrades to the Nord N100 to make the jump. Just make sure that 5G is an important factor in your purchasing decision because if it’s not, there are plenty of other robust alternatives out there.