The OnePlus Nord N300 5G is a fine pick for a budget 5G smartphone under $250, and it matches up nicely with what we’d expect from phones in this price range. It may feel unforgivably cheap to some – the plastics bend and creak – but it looks nicer than it feels, and the unique design doesn’t broadcast the low price tag.
The interface enhancements that OnePlus adds to Android are a light touch – useful, if a bit confusing. Oxygen OS is not as heavy-handed as the Samsung One UI on the comparable Galaxy A13. The OnePlus Nord N300 feels more like Android as Google intended, and OnePlus fans will appreciate this.
Actually, we might want a bit more OnePlus innovation for this phone, like a mute switch or even faster charging options, though the Nord N300 5G charges faster than other phones in its class. It also has a big battery, and those power features are its best selling point, after the swanky design.
If you have more to spend, you can get better cameras and performance, but at this price the OnePlus Nord N300 5G will give you a bit more style and battery power than the competition, with little else beside.
OnePlus Nord N300 5G price and availability
- Only available on T-Mobile in the US
- $228 full price, free with a contract and new line of service
The OnePlus Nord N300 5G is one of the better phones in the sub-$250 range. It is only available on T-Mobile in the US, and it costs $228. You can get this phone free with a contract agreement and no trade-in phone, but only if you sign up for a new line of service. If you are replacing a lost or broken phone, or just upgrading mid-contract, the Nord N300 is a good value for the full retail price.
In the same price range you’ll find the Samsung Galaxy A13 5G, and the two look nearly identical on paper. The screen sizes and technology are very similar, as are most of the internals. The Nord N300 gets faster charging, more than twice as fast as its rival, though it isn’t the same superfast charge you’ll find on OnePlus flagships like the OnePlus 10T.
For just a bit more you might consider a OnePlus Nord N20 5G, which gives you a higher-resolution OLED display. However, even that phone is only $20 less than the Google Pixel 6a, which costs a hair under $300 right now.
If you’re going to spend more, the Pixel 6a is absolutely the phone to buy. It gives you much better cameras and performance than all of these, though it lags in charging speed, which is the one area where the OnePlus Nord N300 excels.
- Value score: 4/5
OnePlus Nord N300 5G design
- Unique look seems premium from afar
- Cheaper plastics bend and creak
At this price point, rival phones like the Samsung Galaxy A13 and the Motorola Moto G exude a cheap look and feel, with shiny plastics and round edges. The OnePlus takes a different approach – with mostly positive results.
The OnePlus Nord N300 looks more premium, with sharp edges reminiscent of an iPhone 14, and a matte finish on the back that doesn’t call attention to itself the way glossy plastic would. In the hand, that back felt flimsy and even a bit loose, but at a glance it gives off a premium vibe.
The OnePlus Nord N300 gets a microSD card slot, and you can expand the memory to 1TB if you need more space. There is also
If only iPhone and Galaxy S owners were so lucky. Of course, pricier phones get sealed up for water resistance, and the OnePlus Nord N300, like its close competitors, can’t get wet.
The front-facing camera is cut out of the display in a drop-shaped notch, and it’s small enough to be unobtrusive. It can handle face recognition for unlocking, but you also get a fingerprint reader along the side placed on the power button.
The fingerprint reader was constantly telling us to wash the reader (or our fingertips), but the face recognition usually stepped in fast enough.
- Design score: 3.5/5
OnePlus Nord N300 5G display
- 6.5-inch IPS LCD display, 720p resolution
- Grainy and low-res, but colorful
Don’t expect much from the display on the OnePlus Nord N300 5G, and it won’t disappoint. The display is bright enough, even outdoors taking photos. It’s also plenty large, and perhaps shrinking it a bit would solve its key problem – namely that the screen looks grainy. The lower 720p resolution is readily apparent, especially playing the newest games.
At this price, you won’t find much better. The comparable Samsung and Motorola phones use the same screen size, and all of these displays can refresh up to 90Hz. The Samsung may seem a bit brighter, thanks to the different tech it uses, but all of these displays function at the same 720p resolution.
To get a better display, you’ll have to pay more for a phone such as the OnePlus Nord N20, with its Full HD OLED screen.
- Display score: 2.5/5
OnePlus Nord N300 5G cameras
- 48MP main camera, 2MP “depth,” probably one too many
- Selfie camera is surprisingly good
If you want great cameras on a bargain phone, the OnePlus Nord N300 5G isn’t the model to buy. The main camera does a fine job, and can even pull off some very nice shots if you get lucky. The portrait mode also works well, on both the main camera and the 16MP selfie cam. However, when lighting and motion get complicated, the Nord N300 makes photos that look ugly.
There is a lot of digital sharpening going on, which adds dark, contrasting edges between objects in photos, and brightens highlights in unnatural ways. These photos are good for sharing on phone screens, but zoom in close or crop your photo down to size and the image starts to look fake, like a still capture from an old VHS tape.
We also found colors to be disappointingly muted. We started our review as the leaves began to fall in New England, and we were hoping for more pop to our shots. Nope. Everything looked like late December, even when we were shooting before Thanksgiving.
There are two cameras on the back of the OnePlus Nord N300 5G, but one of them is nearly useless. The 2MP depth camera produces close-up shots that look like you’ve converted your subject to claymation. Detail is nonexistent, and the camera oversharpens to compensate, resulting in truly comical images. The main shooter isn’t bad, but it’s embarrassed by this dud.
The selfie camera is the best of the bunch, taking 16MP images. Even though the main camera uses a 48MP module, it bins down the photo to a 12MP final shot. That means your selfie shots will be higher resolution than those from the main camera, unless you fiddle with the settings. We found the selfie camera to be even more reliable than the main camera, and all our selfies, including portrait shots, looked good.
- Camera score: 2.5/5
OnePlus Nord N300 5G performance and specs
- Specs competitive to rivals in this price range
- Performance was lagging on games and photos
The OnePlus Nord N300 5G uses a MediaTek Dimensity 810 chipset. It isn’t much different from the Dimensity 700 series found on the Samsung Galaxy A13 and the Motorola Moto G.
On paper it appears a bit faster, but in practice this is decidedly a budget platform. We were able to run all of our favorite games and apps, but there were plenty of delays and stuttering.
We spent plenty of time playing the new Marvel Snap game, and delays here were obvious. The game took longer to open than on other devices. There were lags between plays and special effects, and particles stuttered as they sprayed across the playfield.
We also found hiccups when trying to open the camera and take shots quickly. The OnePlus Nord N300 has a great shortcut that lets you double-tap the power button to open the camera, but often there was a delay once it opened, as the phone figured out the viewfinder or argued with the screen lock.
Though the Nord N300 comes with a display capable of 90Hz refresh rates, if the processor can’t keep up to redraw a game at 90fps, the technology is going to waste. The N300 5G doesn’t lag behind the competition at this price point, but it won’t surprise you with flagship-level performance in any feature.
- Performance score: 2.5/5
OnePlus Nord N300 5G software
- Oxygen OS is a light touch to Android 12
- Phone will only get one major OS update
The OnePlus Nord N300 5G runs Android 12 with a OnePlus Oxygen OS interface on top. OnePlus takes a very light hand with Android, and compared to a Google Pixel 7 running Google’s own iteration, the OnePlus looks very similar. This is good for OnePlus buyers, as Google’s interface has matured and finally exceeded the feature-rich One UI found on Samsung’s best-selling Galaxy phones.
That’s not to say OnePlus didn’t add anything. If you swipe down from the top-right you get the OnePlus Shelf, which is a screen of widgets that you can customize and arrange. It’s a useful place to keep tools if you don’t want to muddy your home screen, and you can turn it off if it isn’t useful. Swipe from the top-left to get the normal settings toggles and notifications.
The phone is only available on T-Mobile, and the carrier preloads way too much bloatware. There are a bunch of junk T-Mobile apps that will try to sell you stuff and make you watch ads. There are some stupid solitaire games and other games you’d never download if they weren’t forced upon you. It’s sad that OnePlus does a great job keeping its interface simple, but T-Mobile trashes it just to earn a few bucks from sponsorships and partner deals.
While Samsung and Motorola are making lofty promises about giving users years of updates, you can only expect one major update if you buy the OnePlus Nord N300 5G on T-Mobile, and it’s a sad update. You will get Android 13, the current version of Android, eventually. That means the only update Nord N300 5G buyers get will bring them up to date and not into the future. The phone will at least get security updates for two years.
- Software score: 3.5/5
OnePlus Nord N300 5G battery life
- Big 5,000 mAh battery and faster 33W charging
- Battery life is the Nord N300’s best feature
The OnePlus Nord N300 wisely prioritizes battery life when making sacrifices to keep costs down. You don’t get the great screen, or the beautiful photography, but you do get a large battery that lasts more than a day, with fast charging to top you off when you need it.
By “fast charging,” we mean 33W charging, compared to the 15W chargers that the competitors use. You’ll need a special USB-A charger that hits the right notes, but thankfully OnePlus includes one in the box, unlike the competition. With the special charger, we managed to fully juice the phone in just about an hour. The competitors, with the same sized battery, will take twice as long.
Does that matter if the phone already lasts all day? It does if you use the power-hungry features. The Nord N300 isn’t the best phone for gaming, but it can still handle the task, and it’s nice to game for long train rides to and from work with only a quick top-up required before a night out.
We also imagine this would be a great phone for selfie vloggers. The selfie camera is arguably better than the main camera, so if you’re touring the sites and showing off on a 5G video stream, you’ll drain the battery quickly. That one-hour charge time is just enough to get you back to full power during dinner, then back out on the town for more showtime.
- Battery score: 4/5
OnePlus Nord N300 5G score card
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First reviewed December 2022