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OnePlus Nord N300 review: Simple to a fault

OnePlus Nord N300

The OnePlus Nord N300 offers a simple approach to the budget Android market. It rides on decent performance with great battery life and increasingly uncommon creature comforts like expandable storage and a headphone jack. However, limited software support, sub-par design, and an inflexible camera setup cap the N300 as a budget option for T-Mobile customers that only just passes the bar.

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We’ve all heard the saying that fortune favors the bold. It’s a good motto to live by, reminding you to take risks and that sometimes they’ll pay off. OnePlus nailed the concept when it crashed the budget market with its earliest Nord phones, blending modest specs, an attractive design, and an approachable price tag — a significant step away from its then-typical flagship killers. The Shenzhen brand delivered some of the best affordable phones you could buy (especially in Europe) at the start of its budget resurgence. However, it’s found it much tougher to replicate that success at the lowest tiers of the Nord range with the US-centric Nord N family. Find out if OnePlus can break that trend in our OnePlus Nord N300 review.

About this OnePlus Nord N300 review: I tested the OnePlus Nord N300 over a period of seven days. It was running Android 12 on the September 2022 security patch. The unit was provided by OnePlus for this review.

What you need to know about the OnePlus Nord N300

oneplus nord n300 google folder and fingerprint reader

Ryan Haines / iandroid.eu

  • OnePlus Nord N300 (4GB/64GB): $228

The OnePlus Nord N300 arrived at the end of October 2022 as a successor to the unspectacular OnePlus Nord N200. It’s about as straightforward as a US exclusive can be, coming in just one color with just one storage configuration and offering support for just one carrier — T-Mobile. The simple setup offers a level of efficiency that would make even Henry Ford blush, and it comes in his favorite color — Midnight Jade (it’s black in disguise).

As the most affordable member of the OnePlus family, the Nord N300 keeps things pretty modest in the design department. It sports a plastic frame and back panel, finished off by a 6.56-inch Panda Glass display. The 90Hz panel houses a 16MP selfie camera in a small central notch, and it dips down to an HD+ resolution instead of the Full HD+ of its predecessor. You’ll find a fingerprint reader on the right side, the volume buttons and a SIM tray on the left, and a headphone jack and speaker flanking the USB-C port on the bottom. The rear plastic panel has a lightly textured sandstone finish, which draws your attention to the high-gloss camera bump. It houses a 48MP primary and 2MP depth sensor and features AI Dual Camera branding.

The Nord N300’s glossy camera bump is the highlight of an otherwise understated design.

Inside the plastic construction lies Mediatek’s 6nm Dimensity 810 chipset. It serves as the powerhouse for the sub-$250 Nord N300, backed by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage like the Nord N200 before it. OnePlus kept its hefty 5,000mAh battery, though it now charges at 33W instead of the previous 18W rate.

Our OnePlus Nord N300 arrived with Android 12 and the August 2022 security patch onboard. It almost immediately received an update to the September 2022 security patch. Unfortunately, two years of regular security patches will cover most of the Nord N300’s support, as it’s only slated to receive a single Android OS update to Android 13.

The OnePlus Nord N300 still comes in a fairly substantial box, accompanied by a USB-A charger, a USB-A to USB-C cable, a SIM ejector tool, and some paperwork.

As a T-Mobile exclusive, your options for buying the OnePlus Nord N300 are limited. You can choose between the Un-carrier itself or its Metro by T-Mobile subsidiary, but you won’t find this Nord on Amazon or at Best Buy.

What’s good?

oneplus nord n300 ports

Ryan Haines / iandroid.eu

We’re always ready to praise a big battery paired with a mid-range 5G processor, and the Nord N300 is no exception. Its Dimensity 810 processor won’t set much of anything on fire regarding raw numbers, but it delivers 5G speeds and easily tackles daily tasks. I had no problems bouncing between social media and email while keeping the processor cool, and light gaming isn’t off the table. You’ll have to set titles like Genshin Impact to their lowest possible settings for any hope of a good time, but less intensive options like Fallout Shelter (which nobody else plays anymore) are more the Nord N300’s speed.

The Nord N300 sounds pretty good, whether you’re gaming or streaming. It features stereo speakers with a single down-firing unit paired with the earpiece. Granted, the dedicated speaker does most of the heavy lifting, but it’s tough to argue with the results at this price. I played the trailer for Rian Johnson’s upcoming film Glass Onion at full volume and had no complaints with the dialogue, though there’s some noticeable distortion in the soundtrack.

Games and shows sound surprisingly good on the Nord N300, thanks to a stereo setup with a solid down-firing speaker.

No matter your Nord N300 poison, the 5,000mAh battery has the legs to carry you through. I managed a day and a half to two days of mixed-use in Standard Mode, with slightly more modest results in High Performance Mode. Either way, when you drain the hefty cell, you’ll have quick 33W wired charging to get you back on the go. In my experience, it takes about 80 minutes to go from empty to full with the included charger and cable. The fact that it’s a USB-A charger in 2022 isn’t great, but at least it still comes in the box.

Although there’s not a ton to say in favor of the Nord N300’s design, it does offer a few nice touches. The large 6.56-inch display has a solid 90Hz refresh rate, which is smoother than we’ve seen from several devices nearly twice the price. The Nord N300’s haptics are decent, offering light feedback while typing with slightly more force when you exit an app or minimize the keyboard — a clear improvement over the N200.

OnePlus is also sticking with the headphone jack for one more year, an increasingly rare feature. I didn’t use it a ton during my testing, but it’s always nice to have audio options, especially on budget phones where they’re not quite extinct just yet.

What’s not so good?

oneplus nord n300 home screen

Ryan Haines / iandroid.eu

While the OnePlus Nord N300 gets quite a bit right in terms of pricing, performance, and charging, it comes with just as many — if not more — cost-saving compromises. The first thing to go is the build quality, as the plastic that OnePlus chose feels especially plasticky. There’s a noticeable give when you push on the back panel, and it doesn’t take much to scuff or scrape the frame. It’s not all that exciting to look at, either, with flat sides, a flat back, and only the glossy camera bump to spice things up.

While we’re talking about plastic, we may as well talk about color. OnePlus calls its finish Midnight Jade, but it could have just gone with Midnight. It’s just about impossible to detect any hint of green with the naked eye, but that fits if you’re looking at a piece of jade in a dark room in the middle of the night.

Even though side-mounted fingerprint readers are having a sustained moment, I found myself frustrated with the OnePlus Nord N300. The fingerprint reader sits almost in the middle of the right edge and is extremely sensitive. It rarely identifies my fingerprint on the first attempt, but the capacitive sensor tries again almost immediately — often before I can adjust my finger. I end up typing my PIN more often than not, but the keypad placement is almost halfway up the display. It almost always means I have to adjust my grip, accidentally triggering the fingerprint reader all over again in the process.

We love a good side-mounted fingerprint reader, but the Nord N300 doesn’t quite meet expectations.

OnePlus also made some interesting choices with the Nord N300’s display. For starters, it shifts from Gorilla Glass 3 to Panda Glass — essentially a more affordable Chinese alternative. The selfie camera occupies a central, waterdrop-design notch, which could be considered a downgrade over the N200’s corner-positioned punch-hole, depending on your style preferences. More important than the style choices is that OnePlus dipped to a sub-1080p resolution for the Nord N300. It’s fine for some YouTube streaming but noticeably soft at other times, and the display struggles to stay bright enough in direct sunlight.

The Nord N300’s questionable choices continue once you fire it up. The phone is locked to T-Mobile and only T-Mobile, which means you get hit with all of the bloat the Un-carrier offers. That includes a McAfee security app, a dedicated mobile hotspot app, Scam Shield, T-Mobile Tuesdays, the official T-Mobile app, and T-Mobile Play. It’s a whole lot of magenta on an otherwise light Oxygen OS skin. You can delete about half of the extras — thankfully — though T-Mobile Play will be there to stay no matter what you do.

The underwhelming software commitment only adds insult to injury. One year of Android version support isn’t good enough when budget phones from Motorola, Samsung, and Google are reaching beyond, and two years of security coverage isn’t much better. Yes, the Nord N300 did get a software patch pretty quickly, but it brought the September update at the turn of November.

OnePlus Nord N300 camera review

oneplus nord n300 cameras close

Ryan Haines / iandroid.eu

OnePlus must have heard someone, somewhere, talking about how it’s not the number of cameras you have, it’s how you use them. It finally decided that more isn’t better and dropped the third lens from its most affordable Nord. The underpowered macro lens is a thing of the past, and the primary sensor has jumped from 13MP to 48MP with a 2MP depth sensor for good measure. Of course, what that really means is that the Nord N300 has only one usable lens and a host of limitations that come with it.

I tested the 48MP wide sensor in as many situations as possible during my time with the phone and came away with a mixed bag of results. The main shooter pixel-bins to 12MP images by default, though you can opt for the full resolution if you really want to. Either way, it delivers decent details at 1x and 2x zoom via digital crop — the two default settings in the OnePlus camera app. The image of a stone building below is sharp throughout, and the portrait edge detection on the light post next to it is generally good. However, the lack of an ultrawide or a telephoto shooter limits the camera’s potential.

See also: Here are the best budget camera phones

Where the Nord N300 comes up shortest, however, is the color recreation. Any lessons learned from the company’s partnership with Hasselblad have been quite clearly restricted to OnePlus flagships. The tamer color science is nowhere to be seen as the saturation on the N300 is dialed up to 11. The rich colors work nicely sometimes, in the case of the metal sunflower and maple leaf, but blow out the image at other times, like the pumpkins and the grass above the ducks.

As mentioned, there’s no dedicated zoom lens on the Nord N300. You can get reliable shots from 1x and 2x zoom, thanks to a quick crop of the main sensor, but the quality drops off as you pinch in further. The bricks in the 5x zoom shot below start to look flat, and the yellowing leaves behind the house begin to bleed together. Background details are even softer at 10x zoom, though the dormer window itself is still sharp enough.

My biggest problem once I zoomed in was concerning stabilization. The Nord N300 struggles to account for shaky hands, so I found myself holding my breath and tapping the shutter button more than once to get a decent shot.

I have to hand it to OnePlus, night mode on the Nord N300 impressed me. The image comparison below used a one-second timer, and the difference is night and day — pun intended. It’s much easier to make out the plants around the pumpkin, even if the details are a bit soft. The other image of pumpkins further down still has soft details in the background, but the saturated colors work in the Nord N300’s favor for once. It’s easy to make out each gourd in the foreground, though the small pumpkins on the vine look like little more than red balls.

The Nord N300’s 16MP selfie camera is a bit of a mixed bag. I was ready to give it a stamp of approval based on the pair of images to the left, but my second set of selfies gave me pause. The portrait effect washed out just about everything, turning a red brick building into a mush of white and orange hues. Maybe it’s a result of standing in the shade with a bright background, but it’s still not a problem we see with most selfie cameras.

Those hoping for 4K video out of the OnePlus Nord N300 will have to wait another year. The 48MP primary and 16MP selfie cameras top out with 1080p recording at just 30fps. Both are in line with the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G and Galaxy A23 5G in the budget realm but leave something to be desired against stronger mid-range competition.

OnePlus Nord N300 specs

OnePlus Nord N300

Display

6.5-inch IPS LCD
1,612 x 720 pixels
90Hz refresh rate

Processor

Mediatek Dimensity 810

RAM

4GB LPDDR4x

Storage

64GB
UFS 2.2

Power

5,000mAh (typical)
33W wired charging
SuperVOOC

USB-A charger in box

Cameras

Rear:
– 48MP main sensor (f/1.8, EIS)
– 2MP depth (f/2.4)

Front:
– 16MP wide (f/2.0)

Video

Rear:
1080p at 30FPS
720p Slow Motion at 120FPS

Front:
1080p at 30FPS

Audio

Dual speakers
3.5mm port

Connectivity

5G (sub-6GHz)
Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC support

Security

Side-mounted fingerprint reader
Face Unlock

Software

Android 12
Oxygen OS

Materials

Glass front
Plastic back
Plastic frame

Dimensions and weight

163.8 x 75.1 x 7.9mm
190g

Colors

Midnight Jade

OnePlus Nord N300 review: The verdict

oneplus nord n300 back panel

Ryan Haines / iandroid.eu

The OnePlus Nord N300 skips on its chances to make bold decisions. It rides a simple plastic design, a decent processor, and a big, long-lasting battery for as long as it can. Depending on your needs, those features might even be enough to sway you — especially for just $228. The most affordable Nord holds onto creature comforts like a headphone jack and expandable storage, and its 33W wired charging outweighs much of its budget competition.

However, the Nord N300’s lack of flexibility is its downfall. One Android update and two years of security patches should be unacceptable, especially as budget and mid-range competition are starting to commit to longer future support. The cheap-feeling construction and limited display protection feel similarly short-sighted, and the T-Mobile exclusivity limits the Nord N300’s reach. Opting for just a single usable camera limits the overall potential, and the wonky color science makes it tough to come away with truly pleasing photos.

The Nord N300’s inflexible cameras and limited software support hold back a budget phone with otherwise decent performance and great battery life.

Recommending the OnePlus Nord N300 becomes even tougher when you turn to the competition. Few alternatives can match the Nord N300 in price, but increasing your budget a little bit goes a long way. You can grab the Samsung Galaxy A23 5G ($249.99 at Amazon) or OnePlus Nord N20 ($299.99 at Amazon) for a bit more money, with both devices bringing Full HD Plus displays and additional RAM and storage options to the table. Samsung’s budget device has the better software commitment of the two — the Nord N20 matches its N300 counterpart. However, OnePlus still offers 33W charging, bringing a slight edge over the Galaxy A23 5G when you need a top-up.

Samsung has a bottom-tier 5G competitor, too, in the form of the Galaxy A13 5G ($249.99 at Amazon). The display suffers from similar issues with resolution and brightness, but its main camera is more consistent, it offers extra RAM and storage options, and Samsung’s update commitment is second to none.

Nord N300

Nord N300

5,000mAh battery • Big 90Hz display • Headphone jack

A large battery with fast charging for the Nord N300

The Nord N300 delivers a larger display than the previous version, and the company introduced the 33W wired charger for their budget-friendly smartphone. It has up to 1TB of expandable storage and a 3.5mm port.

Top OnePlus Nord N300 questions and answers

The Nord N300 doesn’t come with an IP rating of any kind, so it’s best to assume that it is not waterproof.

No. Instead of using Gorilla Glass 3 like its predecessor, the OnePlus Nord N300 features a Panda Glass display.

Yes, the Nord N300 still has a headphone jack mounted along the bottom edge.

No, the Nord N300 box does not come with a case. However, you do get a charger and a USB-A to USB-C cable.

Yes, the Nord N300 supports sub-6GHz 5G on T-Mobile and Metro.

The Nord N300 offsets its meager 64GB storage with microSD card storage expansion.