Needless to say, expectations that the North will provide OnePlus enthusiasts with a high-performance experience on a budget are high. However, you won’t get quite the same extreme performance that the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 offers.
Does the OnePlus Nord live up to these claims and can it deliver an experience beyond similar handsets? Remarkably, yes.
Look more closely: Snapdragon 765G vs Snapdragon 865 compared
Classic benchmarks: OnePlus Nord vs AnTuTu, Geekbench and 3DMark
We’ve already compared the Snapdragon 765G inside the ZTE Axon 11 and run the OnePlus Nord through the same tests for a head-to-head comparison. We’ve also pulled our data from previous OnePlus handsets, including this year’s Best of Android winner, the OnePlus 8 Pro, to show where the North fits in the growing OnePlus portfolio.
As expected, the OnePlus North doesn’t track this year’s flagship handset, or even last year’s for that matter. However, the Snapdragon 765G is not far behind the Snapdragon 855 in terms of system and processor performance. It also compares quite well to the three-year-old Snapdragon 845.
By far, the biggest disparity is in graphics performance, where the more expensive siblings in the North are running away with a major lead. Even so, the Snapdragon 765G is a capable gamer. I timed a few laps of PUBG Mobile without any performance issues. Don’t expect all the graphic bells and whistles to turn on.
The OnePlus 8 Pro offers exceptional sustained performance. Can the North do the same?
The overall performance of the Nord seems very similar to that of the ZTE Axon 11, as expected from two Snapdragon 765G handsets. However, the North clocks in some slightly improved GPU results. It’s worth exploring in more detail, as we take a look at sustainable performance and the implications for gaming capabilities.
North your average mid-ranger: OnePlus puts its secret sauce
While these classic benchmarks provide a good overview of a phone’s performance, they don’t reveal how a handset handles heat and stress in the long run. Sustained performance is important if you fancy a gaming session of 30 minutes or more.
We turned to our in-house Speed Test G benchmark test for a fine-grained analysis of performance over time. We previously noted that the OnePlus 8 Pro offers exceptional sustained performance. Can the North do the same?
The answer is a resounding yes. The OnePlus Nord is very consistent between CPU and GPU benchmarks.
During four hours and 30 minutes of testing (270 minutes), the OnePlus Nord only really drops performance when the battery drops below 5%, as the handset tries to gain a few more minutes. It’s actually better than the OnePlus 7T Pro’s Snapdragon 855 Plus – it performs quite well in the GPU portion of the test.
It’s also worth noting that the 7 Pro and 7T Pro see a slight gradual reduction in CPU performance over time. This is probably due to a build-up of heat. This doesn’t happen with the Nord or the OnePlus 8 Pro.
The two older handsets also seriously downgrade their processors when the battery is below 20%. This reduces their performance below OnePlus Nord levels and almost as low as the ZTE Axon in order to extend battery life. In our testing, the Nord didn’t need to and still offered longer battery life, at 270 minutes. The OnePlus 7 Pro survived 191 minutes, while the 7T Pro lasted 202 minutes.
The OnePlus North compresses and maintains every drop of performance from its Snapdragon 765G.
What is very interesting about the comparison with the ZTE Axon 11 is that it is not certain that the Snapdragon 765G can continue to operate at full tilt for long periods of time. Despite its low power consumption and therefore heat output compared to the 800 series Snapdragons, the 765G may still be forced to reduce its performance under extreme loads.
The Axon 11 starts up with a slightly higher Speed Test G score than the OnePlus Nord, but cannot sustain it for more than 20 minutes. This is due to CPU downclocking as the phone manages to maintain a slightly higher GPU score than the OnePlus for a few hours. However, the Axon 11 5G struggles to achieve GPU consistency afterwards.
See also: Snapdragon SoC Guide: All Qualcomm Smartphone Processors Explained
The North, by comparison, retains its peak CPU and GPU performance for most of the test, hinting at a cooler internal layout or design choice to keep the GPU a bit more reserved in order to prolong the overall performance of the system.
In summary, the OnePlus Nord compresses virtually every drop of performance from the Snapdragon 765G throughout the battery life cycle. It is very impressive.
OnePlus Nord: performance that won’t disappoint
We never expected the OnePlus Nord and its Snapdragon 765G chipset to compete with the latest and greatest Snapdragon 865 for top performance. However, this mid-range chipset still delivers plenty of performance for your daily tasks and maintains its peak capabilities for extended gaming sessions. Importantly, the OnePlus Nord lasts longer and maintains its performance better than the OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T Pro from last year. This is a major win for the affordable handset.
Related: Is the OnePlus Nord a better deal than the OnePlus 8?
Perhaps more importantly, the Snapdragon 765G also incorporates SoC features that were previously reserved for the high end. As a result, the Nord includes built-in 5G and Wi-Fi 6 network support, 5.5 TOPS of AI performance, 4K 30fps and 1080p 240fps slow-motion video capture, AI camera features, and a refresh rate of d ’90Hz display.
When it comes to chipset performance and features, the OnePlus Nord certainly won’t disappoint OnePlus fans.