By launching the Nord range, OnePlus is targeting a more “mainstream” market. The first device in the series had particularly seduced us a few months ago. We could not wait to get our hands on its little brother, the Nord N10 5G, to see if OnePlus could surprise us once again. Here is our full test of the brand new smartphone, which is displayed at a very attractive price, while promising performance worthy of the best mid-range smartphones. Successful bet ?
It is indisputable, OnePlus has set itself the goal of expanding its line of smartphones while trying to find a new audience. The brand therefore offers affordable phones, while offering a design, components and performance that do not have to be ashamed of models sold significantly more expensive at the competition. We recently had proof of this with the OnePlus Nord, a high-performance smartphone, pleasant to use and above all showing less than 400 €.
The Chinese manufacturer does it again this time with two new models at once, just one: the OnePlus N100 on the one hand, an entry-level smartphone that we will get back to you shortly. And on the other hand, the OnePlus N10 5G, the model we are testing here. Sold to a lower price than the OnePlus Nord, the N10 5G is a mid-range that has more than one trump card up its sleeve. He takes advantage of a Snapdragon 690, a brand new SoC capable of competing with the 765G and found on much more expensive smartphones. It also hasa location to increase its storage capacity, which the OnePlus Nord does not have. In addition, and as the name suggests, the device is also 5G compatible, which is an undeniable bonus for those who want to have a long-lasting device. And he has four photo sensors on the backe, including a main module of 64 MP.
But then, is the N10 5G a simple variation of the North, or is it rather a totally redesigned smartphone to reduce manufacturing costs? We tested the new smartphone from OnePlus from every angle and deliver all our conclusions to you.
|OnePlus Nord N10 5G|
1080×2400 (405 ppi)
Gorilla Glass 3
|BONE||Android 10 + OxygenOS|
|microSD||Yes up to 512 GB|
|Main sensor||64 MP (f / 1.79)
8 MP (f2 / 2.25)
2 MP (f2 / 4)
2 MP (f2 / 4)
|Selfie sensor||16 MP (f / 2.05)|
30W Warp Charge 30T Quick Charge
|Biometrics||Impression scanner on the back|
Our test of the Nord N10 5G in video
Design: a back that loves light, but also dust and fingerprints
Coming from the same family as the OnePlus North, the N10 5G partially takes up the design. We find the same rounded edges at the top and bottom, the same black borders on the screen – the bottom one being more prominent than the others – the same volume control button located on the left of the screen, as well as the same back with the brand’s logo in the center of the device. In short, the new smartphone looks a lot like the North… With a few exceptions, however.
First, on the front: where the North has a dual photo sensor, the N10 5G only has one. From a purely aesthetic point of view, it is certain to win! But not in terms of functionalities, we will come back to this in the part devoted to shooting.
On the side, OnePlus has also ignored the button housed near the power button and allowing to lock the device. This button that avoids mishandling isn’t a big loss, but it was one of the hallmarks of OnePlus. Astonishing choice …
On the back of the smartphone, two changes can also be noted compared to the North: on the one hand, there is a fingerprint sensor, while the North had a system located under the slab. Fortunately, those who dislike the location of the fingerprint sensor will probably appreciate the presence of a facial recognition module.
While the latter method works wonderfully, it should be noted that we initially encountered identification problems on several occasions using the back fingerprint sensor. Even after resetting the fingerprint detection, the rear module did not always work. It was disappointing to learn that in 2020, OnePlus was not mastering such basic technology: luckily, a device firmware update finally fixed the problem.
Still on the back of the smartphone, OnePlus has taken on the design of the relatively large island (the famous “hob as some call it). If we notice it more than the vertical module of the North, it ultimately remains less protruding than on certain models that we were able to test recently.
The back of the smartphone, whose color is called “Midnight Ice” (there is only one model) is the most effect. With its bluish gray tones that change color depending on the surrounding light intensity, this is one of the strengths of the smartphone, although the back of the smartphone may seem more “serious” than that of the OnePlus North. On the other hand, beware of dust and fingerprints: if the N10 5G loves them and is heavily imprinted with them .. not us!
Screen: goodbye Amoled, we loved you though
With its 6.49 ″ screen size, the OnePlus N10 5G is “average” for what we find on Android smartphones today. Like the OnePlus North, the device benefits from a 90Hz refresh rate. Like most of its competitors, including Samsung and Xiaomi, OnePlus has adopted an “adaptive” refresh method. In short, the speed varies depending on the application in progress. If it is a game, the image is displayed at 90 Hz. But when you launch an application such as a notepad or a spreadsheet, the frequency drops back to 60 Hz. This will extend the autonomy of the battery for several hours. And if you can’t really find any use for 90Hz, be aware that it’s possible to set the refresh rate to 60Hz.
On the other hand, if we continue the comparison with the OnePlus Nord, a bad point should be noted: the N10 5G does not benefit from an Amoled screen. In order to reduce the price of the device, while continuing to offer 90 Hz, the manufacturer has opted for an LCD display. Another small disappointment: the device has a Gorilla Glass 3 screen, while the northern one is covered with a layer of Gorilla Glass 5.
In terms of screen calibration, we entrusted the device to the expert hands of our X-Rite i1Display Pro probe. And good surprise: the N10 5G is doing quite well on some points. The temperature level recorded at 6789 K is very close to the ideal value, which is 6500. Also good for the average deltaE (color difference): with a value of 3, the smartphone offers very good color rendering.
Two small caveats, however: on the one hand, the brightness is rather limited, since we note a value of only 400 nits. On the other hand, the contrast level is also quite limited since it does not reach 1400 (we noted a value of 1382: 1, to be precise). Note that the camera settings possibilities are also very limited, since you simply set the white balance using a small slider.
Really good performance for a mid-range
This is one of the small surprises of this OnePlus N10 5G… Even if we had an official announcement concerning it in the summer of 2020, the smartphone benefits from a SoC still unseen until then: a Snapdragon 690. And unlike you might think, this is not an entry level SoC.
No other smartphone has yet had the 690, and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on a phone with such a processor. Because the first benchmarks posted on the Web showed performance equivalent to that of a Snapdragon 765G, in certain situations at least. This SoC is usually integrated into much more expensive mid-range smartphones, and it even equips € 800 smartphones like the Vivo X51. So what is the Snapdragon 690 worth?
Under Geekbench, the device displays values almost identical to those we had obtained with the Reno 4 Pro (Snapdragon 765G / 12 GB of RAM / 256 GB of storage). 612 in single-core for the Oppo phone, 603 for the OnePlus phone, the gap is played in a pocket square. Same thing for multi-core: then the Reno 4 Pro obtained a score of 1796, the result of the N10 5G is 1812. On the other hand, the Snapdragon 690 is a little worse off for multimedia and video games than the 765G . Under 3D Mark (in Sling Shot Extreme Shot mode – OpenGL ES 3.1), the OnePlus device posted a score of 2181, against 3285 for the Reno 4. Note, however, that the difference is reduced considerably if we compare the N10 5G to the Pixel 5, which takes advantage of a Snapdragon 765G, just like the Reno 4. In our tests, Google’s phone had a score of 2323, still under 3D Mark.
In summary, if the OnePlus N10 5G shows some small signs of weakness in the most demanding video games in 3D rendering, the device nevertheless offers very good performance in all daily tasks. Throughout our week of testing, we haven’t seen any major slowdowns, even when more than a dozen apps are open at the same time and Deezer is working in the background.
For the rest, we take advantage of 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage space. The latter can be expanded by an additional 512 GB using a small SD card.
Very correct autonomy management
The autonomy of the OnePlus N10 5G is entrusted to a battery of 4300 mAh, a model slightly more powerful than on the OnePlus North. For the record, it has a 4115 mAh battery. Is the difference between the two really felt?
Not at all. Like the OnePlus Nord, the smartphone is able to last a little more than a day with quite an intensive use. Remember that we test the smartphones that are entrusted to us always under the same conditions: 1 h / d of GPS, 1 h / d of video streamed in Wi-Fi, 1 h / d of video games, 1 h / d of music listening in 4G, 1h / d of phone calls… And we frequently consult the Web, Tweet, messaging, etc. throughout the day. As a rough guide, playing an hour-long video on Netflix lost a little over 6% of battery power, which is a good result. Note, however, that reading on the famous SVoD service is necessarily done in SD quality, the fault of the Widevine digital rights management tool, here in version L3. Pity…
When it comes to charging, the OnePlus N10 5G is compatible with Warp Charge 30T technology, inaugurated with the OnePlus 7T. We tested its efficiency again and it is clear that the smartphone charges very quickly: the 30W charger included in the box can recover 31% of energy in 15 minutes, 62% in 30 minutes, 89% in 45 minutes and 100% in 55 minutes. Admittedly, we find even faster on the competitive side, but these are more expensive models. At this level, the N10 5G defends itself well.
Environment: Oxygen OS 10 works miracles
It is obviously Oxygen OS that accompanies this OnePlus smartphone, an environment present here in version 10.5.3. As for Android, Edition 10 is leading the way. An update to Android 11 is scheduled for early next year. However, and here is where the shoe pinches: this is the one and only major update that will benefit the smartphone. If the device is entitled to security updates for 2 years, OnePlus does not intend to offer Android 12 in 2022.
Other than that, what can we say about Oxygen OS that we haven’t already voiced? OnePlus’s interface is arguably one of the best on Android. Without straying too far from stock Android, it offers plenty of customization possibilities. Even though version 10 is already a year old, it remains a safe bet. Remember that among the new features of this edition, there was an improvement in the graphic part of the interface, the possibility of customizing the icons of the quick settings, the integration of Game Space (which groups all the games in one place), or even support for the Ambient Display (which presents the most relevant information when the smartphone is in standby mode).
As for the novelties planned for Oxygen OS 11, which the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro are already benefiting from, we will therefore have to wait a few more months. Evil for good when you see the data deletion concerns that OnePlus 8 users may suffer from. The update in question will obviously be rolled out at the same time as Android 11.
Audio: Jack plug is still alive
The audio part is entrusted to two speakers: the first is located on the lower edge of the smartphone (to the right of the device), while the second is placed high up, between the screen and the edge of the phone. The N10 5G therefore benefits from a true stereo. The balance between the two is relatively correct, although there is a higher volume on the lower speaker of the device.
The audio quality is surprisingly good, although the volume should not be turned up too much. At most, it should be set at two-thirds of its power. Otherwise the sound becomes difficult to hear and the device vibrates in all directions. As usual, we can blame the N10 5G for a small lack of bass, but we have seen worse. In short, the N10 5G is quite well equipped on the audio side. Last precision: the device benefits from a jack plug, while this type of connector has completely disappeared on all the brand’s devices since the 6T.
Photo: a main sensor that does its job well, when the others are more dispensable
First of all, it should be noted that OnePlus released a system update for the device a few days after sending us the smartphone, obviously without notifying us. Update which notably improves the shooting. All of our shots were already taken, we had to redo them … Come on, let’s be good players and admit that this kind of hazard is part of a test after all and it’s for a good cause. The photos in this test were therefore taken with the update applied to the smartphone.
The OnePlus N10 5G is a smartphone with four rear photo sensors and a single front module. On the back, we have the following configuration:
- A 64 MP main sensor (f / 2.25 aperture), capable of shooting 4 to 30 fps or 1080p at 30 or 60 fps
- An 8 MP ultra-wide-angle sensor (f / 2.25 aperture – 119 ° field of view)
- A 2 MP macro sensor (f / 2.4 aperture)
- A 2 MP monochrome sensor (f / 2.4 aperture)
Up front, you get a single wide-angle sensor, unlike the OnePlus Nord which has two modules (a main sensor and an ultra-wide-angle). The selfie camera offers the following configuration:
- A 16 MP wide-angle sensor (f / 2.05 aperture), capable of shooting 1080p at 30 or 60 fps.
As for the rear part of the smartphone, the N10 5G therefore offers a configuration almost similar to that of the North: only the main sensor changes, since it goes from 48 MP for the North to 64 MP for the N10 5G. Otherwise, it’s the status quo. We still carried out a whole battery of tests to see if the 64 MP sensor could be a game-changer. The difference is hardly noticeable to the naked eye, and you have to really zoom in and “out-zoom” on a shot to see a change. The shots in full light remain very well made. We did not notice any major defect during our test of the North, it is also faultless in the case of the N10 5G. The colors are clear, the smartphone does not play the card of overbidding by saturating certain colors, the sharpness is rather good. There is nothing wrong with this level.
On the other hand, it is spoiled a bit when you use the ultra-wide-angle sensor. We noted some colorimetry concerns compared to the same shot taken using the main sensor, as well as some blurry areas, when the photo was taken on a tripod. Some shots even suffer from a small optical distortion at the edges. The most astonishing thing is that the problem does not arise systematically and that certain images remain perfectly exploitable. When using the ultra-wide-angle sensor, we recommend that you take multiple shots of the same scene.
The smartphone’s 2 MP macro sensor also shows some shortcomings: here again, some of the elements in the photo appear blurry, while the colors are still not well respected. A large post-processing is also applied to the images taken using this sensor. To be convinced of this, it suffices to compare the image that we see at the time of the shooting and the one that we obtain in the end. It’s day and night. The macro sensor was therefore dispensable and in most cases, we preferred to take our shots using the main sensor, then zoomed in on the element that interested us using Photoshop.
As there is no optical zoom on this smartphone, OnePlus simply offers a shortcut to take x2 shots. It is possible to go up to x10, but it will have to be done by hand. In x2, the processing performed by the smartphone is quite good, almost making you forget the lack of optical zoom. On the other hand, as soon as we cross the x4, we clearly feel this deficiency. And if we reach the fateful threshold of x10, the image becomes strongly pixelated and traversed by artifacts, while the colors and contrast are no longer really respected. We will be satisfied with the x2 or x3 zoom, in short.
We were less disappointed with the photos taken in low light. Even if the device cannot claim to compete with a Pixel 4a or a P40 Pro (here, we do not play in the same court either), the N10 5G delivers very decent low-light photos. A big flaw that we see very regularly on the smartphones we test concerns the halo that surrounds a light source at night. A good example: streetlamps or illuminated street signs. In this little game, few smartphones manage to take correct pictures and on which the halos in question do not spoil all or part of the photo. The OnePlus N10 5G manages to pull out of the game.
In conclusion, do we buy or not?
The OnePlus N10 5G is clearly an interesting smartphone at the end of the year. Its grip is pleasant, the device is ready for 5G, its SoC offers solid performance for a mid-range …
OnePlus will have finally released 6 models this year: the 8, the 8 Pro, the 8T, the Nord, the N10 5G and the N100. If their positioning in the range can be explained by their price and their various evolutions (not all were released at the same time), the N10 5G is a bit of a grain of sand in this well-oiled gear. While it has a slightly more powerful main sensor than the Nord’s, its battery has also been improved and it is possible to expand its storage capacity using an SD card.
At the same time, the device receives an IPS LCS panel in Gorilla Glass 3, a fingerprint sensor located on the back (“like in the good old days?”) And a single photo sensor in frontal. All this for only 50 € less compared to the OnePlus North, it is difficult to follow the OnePlus logic. Asked about this, the brand told us that the two smartphones are not aimed at the same audience. In the case of the North, the device is intended for an essentially young audience, which explains its color, the presence of a second selfie sensor and a SoC more dedicated to gamers than the Snapdragon 690. In the case of the N10 5G, the audience is a little older. The only color available is therefore more “serious”, while it is possible to increase the storage capacity, to save photos, videos and documents.
An explanation that is not necessarily the most convincing, especially when it comes to the screen change, but which has the merit of explaining why OnePlus is releasing two relatively similar mid-range smartphones only 3 months apart. Still, if we take into consideration the fact that the North can be around 310 euros, there is no photo and the choice between the two is quickly made.