OnePlus Nord N10 5G review: Retro surprises and an affordable price

With the Nord N10 5G and N100, OnePlus expanded its more affordable Nord family of phones after launching its first OnePlus Nord in 2020. Available in Europe and North America, the N10 5G currently costs $300. This is cheaper than the UK-only OnePlus Nord (which you can currently find on Amazon for $428) along with the company’s 2020 flagship OnePlus 8 ($449) and 2021’s flagship OnePlus 9 ($729).

Read more: Here’s our review of the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 9 phones.

The Nord N10 5G does cut a few corners. For instance, it has an LCD display instead of OLED, lacks an in-screen fingerprint sensor, is powered by a slower processor than any 2020 OnePlus phone, isn’t IP rated for water resistance and it runs the older Android 10 OS. But it still has some premium features such as 5G, a 90Hz display and a robust 4,300-mAh battery, as well as a few retro surprises that other OnePlus phones don’t have, like expandable memory and a headphone jack.

Like

  • 90Hz display
  • Headphone jack
  • 5G-enabled
  • Affordable price

Don’t Like

  • Macro and low-light photography is unimpressive

OnePlus’s pricing makes the Nord N10 5G one of the more affordable 5G phones, especially now. For comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy A32 5G launched earlier in 2021 with a $280 price tag, and the Motorola One 5G is currently $350. Though I do think the Pixel 4A 5G and One 5G are worth the extra bit of money — the $500 Pixel, for instance, will get the latest software support from Google, has an excellent camera and a long-lasting battery life) — the N10 5G is a top choice if you’re a fan of OnePlus and want 5G at an affordable price.

N10 5G’s familiar design touches

The N10 5G has a dark blue, glossy design that looks polished and slick. From afar it doesn’t look like a “budget” phone. But when I first picked it up, I could tell it wasn’t as high-end. It’s heavier and thicker, and its bezels, especially the bottom chin bezel, is wider than all of the phones OnePlus released last year. It also doesn’t have the convenient toggle switch for silence/vibrate that OnePlus phones are known for. Nonetheless, it’s still a relatively attractive device, and its rounded edges on the side are comfortable to hold.

The N10 5G also has an LCD display, whereas OnePlus phones usually have AMOLED screens. When viewed side-by-side with the Nord, the AMOLED screen is a bit brighter and vibrant, with more contrast. I also noticed that when viewing the N10 5G from various angles, the color shifting was more noticeable. But these details are only discernible next to another phone. By itself, there is no real issue with the N10 5G’s screen, and watching videos and photos looked sharp and clear. Its 90Hz refresh rate makes scrolling through feeds and apps feel zippy and smooth.

Lastly, unlike many of OnePlus’ new phones, the N10 5G has two things that are familiar but have been missing from many premium devices: a headphone jack and a visible fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone that works quickly.

oneplus-nord-n10-5g-1969

The N10 5G has a fingerprint reader on the back.


James Martin/CNET

N10 5G’s has four rear cameras, but only needs two

Similar to many OnePlus phones, the N10 5G has four rear cameras, and similar to those phones, it really only needs two. The standard and ultra-wide cameras are great and are the ones I used the most, but the monochrome camera is only useful when you want to take black and white photos, which I hardly do. And the 2-megapixel macro camera for closeup shots takes photos that look like, well, they were taken with a 2-megapixel camera. While it did allow me to focus in on an object and get super close to it, pictures ultimately looked washed out and muddy.

But again, the standard and ultrawide cameras are quite excellent. Photos were sharp with rich contrast, and the camera’s HDR effect is vibrant. The standard camera defaults to 16-megapixel, but you can shoot at the full 64-megapixel resolution. The camera’s 10x digital zoom is also decent, and was able to capture details of faraway objects despite being a tad blurrier. 

The N10 5G’s low-light mode, Nightscape, wasn’t very impressive. While taking a photo of a black bookshelf in near darkness, I was able to see a few more details and book titles, but the picture remained relatively dark. When I compared the same scene on the OnePlus Nord, the One Plus 8T and the Pixel 5’s Night Mode, all three phones brightened up the scene a lot more. 

This image taken with the standard camera is bright and clear.


Lynn La/CNET

This house was captured with the standard camera with no zoom.


Lynn La/CNET

Zooming 10x on the same house’s window.


Lynn La/CNET

This lake was taken with the N10 5G’s 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera.


Lynn La/CNET

This closeup shot was taken with the phone’s macro camera.


Lynn La/CNET

The N10 5G’s Nightscape mode brightened up this still life of a bookshelf a bit.


Lynn La/CNET

But compared to the Pixel 5’s camera (which is the same as the Pixel 4A 5G), Google’s Night Sight brightened up the shelf better.


Lynn La/CNET

N10 5G’s battery and performance

The phone is equipped with a Snapdragon 690 processor. Though on paper that’s not as fast or as powerful as the OnePlus Nord, Motorola One 5G and the Pixel 4A 5G’s Snapdragon 765 chipset, the N10 5G tracked closely with the phones when it came to benchmarks. I also didn’t notice any speed issues or laggy behavior during my time with the phone. 

3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.5.0 single-core

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.5.0 multicore

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

The N10 5G has a beefy 4,300-mAh battery, which is the same capacity as the more expensive OnePlus 8. (The OnePlus 9 has a slightly beefier 4,500-mAh battery.) Anecdotally, the phone can easily last a day or two without a charge with mild usage. At the end of one particular night, the battery was only at 70% after I took the phone out during the day to take a bunch of photos and browse the internet. Battery tests for continuous video playback on Airplane mode averaged 16 hours and 27 minutes. For comparison, the OnePlus 8 lasted nearly 19 hours.

N10 5G’s software and interface

When OnePlus launched its 8T last October, it also updated the company’s OxygenOS interface, refreshing menus and notifications so that they looked more streamlined, modern and clean. I was a fan of it, so it was disappointing not to see it on the N10 5G. This is likely because the phone runs the previous version of Android, Android 10, but even if the N10 5G doesn’t run Android 11 out of the box, it’s still possible for OnePlus to tweak some parts of the N10 5G’s interface with the most recent OxygenOS look. But the N10 5G is expected to receive one OS update (from Android 10 to Android 11) and a total of two years of security updates according to OnePlus.

The N10 5G does still have useful software features, including a native screen recorder, Dark Mode and ZenMode, which is OnePlus’ digital wellbeing app that limits phone functionality when you want to focus.

OnePlus Nord N10 5G spec comparison

OnePlus Nord N10 5G OnePlus Nord OnePlus 8 Google Pixel 4A 5G Motorola One 5G
Display size, resolution 6.49-inch LCD; 2,400×1,080 pixels 6.44-inch AMOLED; 2,400×1,080-pixels 6.55-inch AMOLED; 1,080×2,400 pixels 6.2-inch FHD+ OLED; 2,340 x 1,080 pixels 6.7-inch LCD; 2,520×1,080 pixels
Pixel density 405ppi 408ppi 402ppi 413ppi 409ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.4 x 2.94 x 0.35 in 6.23 x 2.88 x 0.32 in 6.3 x 2.8 x 0.31 in 6.1 x 2.9 x 0.3 in 6.61 x 2.91 x 0.35 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 163 x 74.7 x 8.95 mm 158.3 x 73.3 x 8.2mm 160 x 72.9 x 8.0 mm 153.9 x 74 x 8.2 mm (Sub-6 only) 153.9 x 74 x 8.5 mm (mmWave + Sub-6) 168 x 74 x 9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.7 oz; 190g 6.49 oz; 184g 6.35 oz; 180g 5.93 oz; 168g (Sub-6 only) 6.03 oz; 171g (mmWave + Sub-6) 7.41 oz; 210g
Mobile software Android 10 Android 10 Android 10 Android 11 Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (standard), 8-megapixel (ultra-wide), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (monochrome) 48-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 2-megapixel (macro), 5-megapixel (depth-sensing) 48-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide), 2-megapixel (macro) 12.2-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultra-wide) 48-megapixel (main), 5-megapixel (macro), 8-megapixel (ultra-wide), 2-megapixel (depth camera)
Front-facing camera 16-megapixel 32-megapixel (standard), 8-megapixel (wide-angle) 16-megapixel 8-megapixel 16-megapixel (main), 8-megapixel (ultra-wide)
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K NA
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Qualcomm Snapdragon 765
Storage 128GB 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 256GB 128GB 128GB
RAM 6GB 8GB, 12GB 8GB, 12GB 6GB 4GB
Expandable storage Up to 512GB No No No Up to 1TB
Battery 4,300mAh 4,115mAh 4,300mAh 3,800mAh 5,000mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back In-screen In-screen Rear Side
Connector UCB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes No No Yes Yes
Special features 5G enabled, 90Hz display, Warp Charge 5G enabled, 90Hz refresh rate, Warp Charge 5G enabled; Warp Charge; 90Hz refresh rate 5G enabled; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); fast charging 5G enabled; 90Hz display; TurboPower charging; Macro camera ring flash; HDR 10
Price off-contract (USD) Converted from UK: $430 Converted from UK: $495 (8GB RAM/128GB), $612 (12GB RAM/256GB) $599 (8GB RAM/128GB), $699 (12GB RAM/256GB) $499 $450
Price (GBP) £329 £379 (8GB RAM/128GB), £469 (12GB RAM/256GB) £549 (8GB RAM/128GB), £599 (12GB RAM/256GB) £499 Converted from US: £342
Price (AUD) Converted from UK: AU$600 Converted from UK: AU$690 (8GB RAM/128GB), AU$855 (12GB RAM/256GB) Converted from UK: AU$1,000 (8GB RAM/128GB), AU$1,092 (12GB RAM/256GB) AU$799 Converted from US: AU$620

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