OnePlus Nord N20 5G review

$300 for everything but a decent camera

OnePlus Nord N20 5G HERO
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

For less than $300, the OnePlus Nord N20 is an easily recommendable budget 5G phone. Slick performance and a bright, punchy OLED display compensate for the sub-par camera system. There are three rear cameras but two are almost redundant, so OnePlus would have been better off focusing on just one. Put that aside, though, and the Nord N20 gives a lot for very little money.


  • +

    Stellar processing performance

  • +

    OLED display worthy of a $600+ phone

  • +

    Thin, light, and attractive design


  • -

    Cameras are only average

  • -

    The vibration motor is weak

  • -

    Only one major software update

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Two-minute review

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is the successor to the N10 5G, sitting just above the Nord N200 in the company's lineup as another mid-ranger from the company. It’s an attractive-looking phone, and it feels great in the hand.

The Nord line is OnePlus's attempt to offer phones that cost less than its flagship models, and the Nord N20 5G is a great option if the OnePlus 10 Pro costs too much for you.

It has a similar size to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, meaning it's on the taller side. This means that reaching the extremities of the screen will be tricky if you’re employing a one-handed grip.

For your money you’re getting an exceptionally bright OLED display, solid performance in both the system and in games, 128GB of storage, and OnePlus’ take on the Android experience. Storage is also expandable on the Nord N20 via micro SD card – a luxury that few phones have afforded us in recent years.

With its decently sized 4500mAh battery, the Nord N20 easily achieves two-day battery life with about 50% charge left at the end of the first day if we started at 100%. And when the battery does get too low for comfort, the fast-charging tech on offer here will save the day. The included charger will juice the phone up by about 20% in 15 minutes. 

Thanks to its combo of a Snapdragon 695 processor and 6GB of RAM, navigating the phone’s Oxygen OS interface is a smooth experience, and we were able to multitask between several open apps with very little slowdown. Even taking full-resolution 64MP or 108MP Extra HD photos didn’t cause the system to chug as it processed those big files. 

One thing to note about the N20 is that it’s a T-Mobile exclusive in the US for now, with unlocked models coming out at a later point. T-Mobile's push service prompts you to install bloat apps multiple times during and after setup, but you can opt out of the majority of them. However, the phone will bug you multiple times during and after setup to install more “premium app suggestions” from the carrier. Most are benign like TikTok and Amazon Shopping, but others are ad-riddled news apps and ‘gacha’ games, which are initially free but quickly start to offer in-app purchases. Make sure you’re not just blindly clicking through the setup process and you’ll be fine. 

The phone is also let down a bit by its underwhelming camera system, which impresses on the design front but which offers only average performance. Photos look very different in the viewfinder than they do after being processed by the phone, making it hard to know if a snap will get much better or much worse once you press the shutter, and we could have done without the gimmicky macro camera. OnePlus could have improved the photography experience dramatically by focusing its efforts on one 64MP camera, but as it is, the setup we’re stuck with leaves a lot to be desired. 

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Another pain point on this phone is its haptics. Over the last few years we’ve seen an increased focus on haptics in phones, such as Apple’s Taptic Engine for its iPhones, as well as in-game consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 5. Haptics on OnePlus phones, however, have always been a hit or miss affair, and on the Nord N20 they’re very much a miss, with some of the weakest and mushiest feedback we’ve ever felt. We occasionally mistyped due to the keyboard’s odd haptics, and it was hard to hear the vibration of the phone even when it was laid down on a table.

The Nord N20 also won’t get any major software beyond Android 12, which rules this phone out if you care about the upgrades coming up in Android 13.

Overall though, the package on offer here represents good value for the money. If you’re looking for a cheap Android phone that will power through tasks with battery to spare, look no further than the Nord N20. 

OnePlus Nord N20 5G price and availability

  •  OnePlus Nord N20 5G price is $282 
  •  Released on April 28 2022 in the US 
  •  T-Mobile exclusive, unlocked models to come later 

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G sells for $282, making it a pretty affordable phone, though it's not the lowest-end mobile OnePlus offers.

It's only on sale in the US, but if you live elsewhere, OnePlus has other Nord models which might appeal to you. You can only pick it up from T-Mobile as well, though an unlocked version is expected to come along later.

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Nord N20 5G design

  • Slim and light plastic sandwich
  • Button placement is good, fingerprint sensor placement is not
  • Eye-catching camera bump

The Nord N20 has a more boxy shape than its predecessor, the N10, but retains its rounded corners. The front looks strikingly similar to the N10, with the same cutout at the top-left of the display for the 16MP selfie camera. The body is made of plastic, as we’d expect of a sub-$300 phone, but the N20 is constructed well enough that it doesn’t feel like a toy in the hand.

Moving on to the back, the prominent camera apertures catch the eye, as the rear modules complement the design of the phone nicely. Running from top to bottom, there’s the main 64MP f/1.79 camera, 2MP f/2.4 macro camera, and 2MP f/2.4 monochrome camera for the black and white photo mode. They look better than they perform, but we’ll get to that later.

The Nord N20’s plastic construction keeps the phone light and easily graspable, which inspires a bit of confidence if you’re someone who prefers not to wrap their shiny new phone in a case. The button placement is perfect for such a tall phone. The power button is on the right and the volume buttons are on the left, each about two-thirds of the way up, and we were easily able to adjust the volume while maintaining a one-handed grip.

However, we’d prefer that the under-screen fingerprint sensor was just a bit further up the screen. It’s centered very close to the bottom of the display and we found that we had to awkwardly adjust our grip in order to use it. Double-tap to wake is noticeably absent, but upon raising the phone with its Ambient Display active, the fingerprint sensor will become illuminated, enabling an easy unlock. 

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

The phone has microphones at the top and bottom and a mono bottom-firing speaker. We would have loved to see an amplified earpiece for a stereo effect here, but the headphone jack is a welcome sight in lieu of that. 

OnePlus Nord N20 5G display

  • A 60Hz OLED was the correct choice
  • Hole punch cutout is barely noticeable

The shining star of this phone is its display. OnePlus has weighed the decision between a high-refresh-rate display, or a rich and bright 1080p OLED, as having both would likely raise the price of the phone considerably. The 60Hz OLED display that the company has gone with is fantastic. It’s a 6.43-inch panel with a 1080 x 2400 (FHD+) resolution. Colors are just as bright and vivid in direct sunlight as they are indoors, and viewability is stellar regardless of where you’re doing said viewing.

Punch-holes for front-facing cameras have been the norm on Android phones for a while, so if you’ve used a phone with either a notch or a cutout before, you’ll barely notice the cut-out on the Nord N20. Its placement in the top-left corner of the display means it's arguably less noticeable than a centered cutout, if you don’t mind forgoing the symmetry.

As we’ve mentioned, the under-display fingerprint sensor is in an awkward spot, but it doesn’t adversely affect usage. Registering a thumb took a bit longer than we’re used to, but the unlock process itself is lightning-fast.  

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Nord N20 5G cameras

  • Overall camera setup is only average
  • Avoid macro mode – you won’t have a good time

The story of cameras on the Nord N20 is a simple one: they’re okay. Not stellar, not terrible, but merely average. You’ll mainly be taking photos with the main 64MP shooter, as the other big sensor on the phone is a monochrome sensor for the phone’s black-and-white photo mode. This mode is pretty much useless, as B&W photos look the same with or without that lens covered. 

Pictures from the N20 look okay: in broad daylight the colors are there, the sharpness is there, but the highlights are just a bit too blown out most of the time. We shot all of our test photos in auto mode (which captures in 12MP using pixel binning), 64MP mode to get higher-resolution images, and ‘Extra HD’ mode to see what that was all about. 

In our testing, pictures taken in auto and 64MP mode are indistinguishable. Any extra detail gleaned from the extra pixels won’t make a huge difference on a FHD+ screen - some pixel peeping reveals a bit of artifacting and aliasing because of the phone’s post-processing though. It’s a shame that this phone can’t capture raw images since theses could be elevated from okay to great with some tweaks to exposure, highlights and shadows. 

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Extra HD mode stacks two 64MP images and fuses them to produce a 108MP shot. For us, this mode was inconsistent. Most of the time it just looks like the mode blows out highlights and crushes shadows to produce a very contrasty image. It also doesn’t handle motion well, since it has to take two shots in quick succession. No matter what mode we took photos in, however, photos always looked very different in the viewfinder than they did after the phone was done processing them. They were usually brighter and had shadows boosted, making for an inconsistent experience.

As for the phone’s 2MP macro sensor, you’re better off avoiding this entirely. Shots taken at the suggested 4cm (about an inch and a half) from the subject look blurry, blown out, and sometimes very slightly warped. 

Videos are also of merely decent quality. The Nord N20 can only record up to 1080p at 30fps, so the videos you get out of the phone can only look so good. The electronic image stabilization is pretty effective, however.

Part of us feels like OnePlus should have just stuck with the main 64MP sensor; optimizing the camera software for one sensor would have improved the experience by leaps and bounds. The camera array looks great, sure, but it’s mostly bark with very little bite.

Camera samples

OnePlus Nord N20 5G performance and specs

  • The Snapdragon 695 processor packs quite the punch
  • Games are more than playable even on higher settings

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G processor with an Adreno 619 GPU and a hefty 6GB of RAM, specs which put the phone squarely in the mid-range. Also included is 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage that’s expandable via microSD card. 

Performance throughout the UI is slick; we never experienced any slow-downs or issues with delayed presses. Geekbench gives the phone a 691 single-core score and a 1914 multi-core score, putting its processor roughly in between the Snapdragon 845 and 860 processors of a few Xiaomi phones. 

Heating was never an issue in our testing, including while taking our photo samples. The phone barely got warm during sessions of Asphalt 9 and PUBG, and it stayed cool during charging too. 

Speaking of those games, they remained playable even when we cranked them to their highest available settings. They hovered around 30fps for the most part, and were able to hit around 45fps when the settings were turned down to better match the phone’s specs. 

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Network performance became a bit shaky when we started to download apps. This reviewer’s normal coverage on AT&T is inconsistent in and around the house, and it got a bit worse on the Nord N20, with the phone frequently dropping its 5G connection down to 4G. We had no issues anywhere else, but be prepared for the phone to struggle in areas with shaky reception. 

Another issue is that the haptics on this phone are awful. The motor is mushy, and not strong at all. Unless you’re in a fairly quiet room, you’d likely miss calls if the phone is on vibrate, and there’s no setting to adjust the vibration intensity.

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G has a single bottom-firing speaker, with no accompanying amplified earpiece for a stereo effect. The single speaker gets plenty loud with little distortion, though. 

This phone also features something of a relic: the 3.5mm jack. We’re not sure why wired audio has become a budget-phone-only commodity, but we’re glad to see it where we can. Bluetooth 5.1 is present on the phone for power-efficient wireless listening if you’re into it, but however you’re listening, the audio experience is fairly standard. 

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

OnePlus Nord N20 5G software

  • The phone runs Android 11 out of the box
  • Uses OnePlus' Oxygen OS laid over the top
  • Setup is mostly free of bloatware

This phone’s software isn’t much to write home about. Android 11 with the March 2022 security patch, skinned with Oxygen OS, isn’t all that different from what you’d find on stock Android phones from the likes of Google and Moto, and on other OnePlus phones for that matter. That’s not to say that this is stock Android, but it sure is close. 

Settings and customization are rich though; we were able to enjoy most of our creature comforts from our years using Samsung Galaxy phones like an always-on display, double-tapping on the home screen to sleep, and the manual rotate button that appears when turning the phone sideways with rotation lock on. Double-tap to wake is noticeably absent though, and the always-on display can feel a bit clunky without it, since the fingerprint sensor only illuminates when you raise the phone.

Our sole gripe with the software is actually with T-Mobile. Carrier bloat isn’t particularly present on the phone after setup, but it really wants to be. At the end of the setup process, the ‘Carrier offers’ prompt presented us with Amazon shopping, Tik Tok, and other suggestions that we swiftly declined. Then, after booting the phone back up a subsequent time, we were again greeted with app suggestions from the pink carrier. This may not sound like a big deal, and it isn’t, but it’s a mild and notable annoyance on an otherwise pretty good phone. 

Some other oddities we noticed included the T-Mobile personalized feed right next to the Google Discover feed on the home screen. Why do we need two apps that do the same thing? We haven’t stopped asking that question since carrier-specific calendars and messaging apps became rampant on smartphones. You can still go to the Google app to use Discover on its own, but this is an incredibly roundabout way of seeing a simple news feed.

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Speaking of app duplication, there are a total of three non-uninstallable file manager apps on this phone (as seen in the above screenshot): one from Google, one from OnePlus, and the last one from… well we’re not actually sure. All we know is that they’re all there to stay, and very few people will use all three, or even two. Strange.

Lastly on the subject of software, OnePlus is taking the odd approach of only offering one major software update for the Nord N20. The company has confirmed that it will only update this phone to Android 12 and give it three years of security updates. The security updates are objectively good, but Android 13 is set to release publicly this year and the N20 doesn’t even have Android 12 yet. It’s not like the phone couldn’t handle the OS update, so we find it a bit strange that it will be excluded so soon.

OnePlus Nord N20 5G battery life

  • We couldn’t run the phone down in a day if we tried
  • Fast charging is great, as per usual

The large 4500mAh battery in the OnePlus Nord N20 is pretty great. It was hard to even get the phone below 50% over the course of a day, which bodes well for nights without chargers. In mixed use with browsing the web, playing games, taking pictures, and downloading many apps for initial setup, the battery barely broke a sweat.

Charging is impressive too, with Oppo’s SuperVOOC charging at 33W to get the phone to 20% in about 15 minutes. Since this is proprietary charging, the charger is included in the box, as it should be. The OnePlus Nord N20 5G doesn’t have wireless charging, which isn’t surprising on such a cheap phone. 

Should I buy the OnePlus Nord N20 5G?

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You don’t mind a mediocre camera experience
They’re not awful, but there are certainly better cameras out there on $300 phones. Maybe OnePlus can improve the ones on the Nord N20 with software updates, but don’t buy it in hopes that it will.  

You need a solid performer for very little cash
Performance on this phone was reliably strong. Whether you’re playing games or navigating the UI, you won’t notice that you’re using a mid-range phone. 

You want a great media experience anywhere
The Nord N20’s OLED display shines in bright sunlight, with vibrant colors and perfect readability on screen. Games, movies, videos… you’ll be able to see it all. 

Don't buy it if...

Cameras are important to you
We keep hammering this point, but this is not a phone that will be remembered for its cameras. They’re usable, but there are better phones for photography out there for just a bit more money. 

You care about major software updates
OnePlus is giving this phone Android 12 with three years of security patches, and nothing beyond that. It’s an odd decision, as the Snapdragon 695 could likely handle future updates with ease, but for now, you’re only promised one major update. 

You keep your phone on vibrate
We've made it abundantly clear through this review that we didn't think the Nord N20 5G's vibration motor was sufficient. If you're the kind of person who leaves their phone on vibrate, you should use a different device.

  • First reviewed May 2022
Luke Little
Freelance Contributor

Luke is a nerd through and through. His two biggest passions are video games and tech, with a tertiary interest in cooking and the gadgets involved in that process. He spends most of his time between those three things, chugging through a long backlog of games he was too young to experience when they first came out. He'll talk your ear off about game preservation, negative or positive influences on certain tech throughout its history, or even his favorite cookware if you let him.