Till 2019, OnePlus was primarily a premium flagship brand with more or less a fixed product cycle on 2-3 devices every year. There was the OnePlus number series phone that launched in the first half of the year, followed by a T version launching in the second half. With the OnePlus 7 series, the company introduced a Pro option. However, in July 2020, OnePlus began expanding its smartphone lineup with a new budget ‘Nord’ series. Nord also represents a significant shift in OnePlus’ target audience and aimed for a bigger share of the smartphone pie by shedding the premium price tag for volume.
The latest OnePlus phone, the OnePlus Nord 2T, which launches next month in India, will have a MediaTek Dimensity 1300 chipset, 50MP camera and 80W fast charging. Given that Nord 2 started at Rs 27,999, we can expect the Nord 2T to be priced in a similar or slightly higher segment.
It is also clear how important the Nord segment has gotten for OnePlus. As per some leaks, a OnePlus Nord Watch could also be on the way–adding yet another aspect to the overall brand ecosystem. OnePlus already has earbuds under the Nord branding, available at Rs 2,799 right now.
Here’s a look at how the Nord series has grown and all the phones available under it for Indian consumers. We are focusing only on devices available in India because options such as the Nord N10, N100 and N200 are not being sold here.
The OnePlus Nord launched back in 2020 and went on sale in August for the Indian market. The Nord started at Rs 24,999 going up to Rs 29,999 for its highest 12GB+256GB option. In a way, the original Nord started at the same price as the original OnePlus One had a few years back.
The Nord was clearly a mid-range option, aimed at those users who were willing to spend somewhere between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 for a smartphone. OnePlus’ own premium series was a lot more expensive–the OnePlus 8 started at Rs 41,999 at the time.
The Nord came with a 6.44-inch AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, 48MP quad-camera at the back and 32MP+8MP camera combination at the front. The Nord was an option for those who wanted a more ‘premium’ brand but without spending a big amount. And OnePlus has established itself as a reliable premium name in India, the Nord was a start at its expansion efforts.
But during 2020, it became clear that OnePlus had no intention of letting ‘Nord’ be just another half-hearted attempt at creating a mid-range series. The Nord 105G and Nord 100 5G followed quickly. Both start at under $200 with the Nord 100 being the most affordable option on the list. However, these phones were limited to the US and European markets and not introduced in India.
In 2021, OnePlus expanded the Nord lineup further. This time, there was the Nord CE 5G– CE stands for ‘Core Edition. The phone had a 6.43-inch AMOLED screen with a 90 Hz refresh rate, a Snapdragon 750G processor, 64MP triple camera and 45000 mAh battery with Warp charge.
More importantly, the Nord CE started at Rs 22,999 and was thus priced even lower than the original Nord. This also put OnePlus closer in competition against options from Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo and Oppo which typically have several phones in a similar price bracket.
The brand also introduced the OnePlus Nord N200 5G with a more modest Snapdragon 480 processor — something we see typically on budget phones in India which is the Rs 10,000 or so mark. But that phone was never sold in India.
The Nord CE launch was quickly followed by the Nord 2, successor to the original Nord phone. This one started at Rs 27,999, which was slightly higher than the original Nord. It was also clear that OnePlus had established that there would be some difference between the numbered versions of Nord vs the CE.
The Nord numbered series would be more in the mid-range, closer to Rs 30,000 segment, while the CE was more affordable. The Nord 2 came with a MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor, another departure from the Qualcomm chipsets that the brand had limited itself to earlier. The Nord 2 got a 90 Hz display, the newer 50MP triple camera setup, and a 4500 mAh battery with 65W fast charging.
The Nord CE 2 followed soon. It launched in February 2022 this year, starting at a price of Rs 23,999. The phone had a Mediatek Dimensity 900 chipset coupled with a 6.43-inch display, 64MP camera setup and 4500 mAh battery with 65W fast charging. The Nord CE 2 as we noted in our review had more shades of Oppo than OnePlus, given the design cues.
In April 2022, we got the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite along with the OnePlus 10R for the Indian market. This was what we could call as OnePlus’ first true competitor for the Redmi Note series, Realme’s number series, which dominates the Rs 20,000 segment. The OnePlus CE 2 Lite starts at Rs 19,999 and comes with the Snapdragon 695 processor–also seen on the current Redmi Note 11 Pro+, Vivo T10 5G, Motorola G82, and Realme 9 Pro to name a few.
According to the OnePlus India head Navnit Nakra, the aim of the Nord series is now to reach as many consumers as possible. This also explains why OnePlus has so many options across price points where it has not played previously.