More phone than you can expect for under $250

I miss the old OnePlus. Sure, it was the good old days of pranks, shaky software support, but it felt like the company had a mission: It was making a flagship killer. The OnePlus One was not only supposed to impress us with its different approach to hardware and software, but also to marketing, and at $300 (or $350 for the 64GB model) this is clearly a company going after the budget market. Sadly, those days didn’t last, and now OnePlus is a full-fat flagship brand.


But there is hope. I doubt we’ll see another well-executed budget OnePlus phone like the OnePlus X, but the Nord line has arrived to pick up the slack, and last year we checked out what’s Nord’s easiest phone yet, the N20 5G. Several months ago, Nord’s latest version started hitting the US market through T-Mobile. Does the Nord N300 5G get the same high score as the N20, or will I be dreaming back to the days of Halcyon when OnePlus ruled the budget space?

The OnePlus Nord 300 5G is a great affordable smartphone option for T-Mobile. As you’d expect at a price north of $200, the N300 isn’t a powerhouse. While that means trade-offs like a 720p LCD screen, OnePlus offers some nice upgrades, such as a 90Hz screen refresh rate, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, and NFC for contactless payments. It launched with Android 12, but is slated to get Android 13 at some point, plus security patches through 2024. If you need something cheap that will last you a year or two, and you’re on T-Mobile (or a sub metro), N300 is a decent choice.

to set

  • SoC: Mediatek dimension 810
  • an offer: 720p 90Hz IPS LCD
  • ram: 4 GB LPDDR4x
  • storage: 64 GB
  • battery: 5000 mAh
  • OS: Oxygen OS is based on Android 12
  • front camera: 16 MP f / 2.0
  • Rear cameras: 48MP f/1.8 primary, 2MP f/2.4 depth
  • Dimensions: 163.8 x 75.1 x 7.99 mm
  • Colors: Midnight Jade
  • Weight: 190 grams
  • EID level: unavailable
  • price: $228
  • Micro SD card support: Yes, up to 1 TB

  • Really affordable
  • Long lasting battery that charges quickly
  • Did I mention the low price?

  • Low resolution screen
  • Cheap body feeling
  • Midway performance

Buy this product

availability and network

While the Nord series has been around for a while now, OnePlus hasn’t really focused on making it a priority for North America. That situation has been getting better, with T-Mobile in particular stepping in to give Nord a home. That’s the case again with the N300 5G, and it’s pretty much the only place you’ll see this phone; Don’t expect to find unlocked models on retail store shelves anytime soon.


Honestly, that’s fine, and with 5G band support still wonky, I wasn’t too interested in playing “which carrier will this phone do the least bad.” Alignment with T-Mobile makes sense for OnePlus as well as customers, giving the phone great exposure and enticing them with its free-with-service pricing.

Of course, you can always buy the phone outright, and at $230 it’s very affordable, which dwarfs even the Nord N20 5G.

Design and presentation

Oneplus nord n300 body

The Nord N300 5G is an exotic beast, and when I first picked it up, I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly impressed. The phone’s body is plastic everywhere, and it looks like it — even the matte finish on the back panel is unavoidably shiny. But when you get past the material selection, you can really start to appreciate this boxy, utilitarian design for what it is.

I’m a big fan of square edges on phones, and the N300 is very happy with the delivery. On the left edge OnePlus gives us the volume controls and our SIM/microSD tray, while on the right you’ll find the slightly recessed power button with the integrated fingerprint scanner. I tend to like an idea There’s a lot more to this kind of scanner mode than I do with actual apps in phone hardware, but OnePlus does a decent enough job here. At the bottom, we have the speaker, the USB-C port and the headphone jack which is still there.


So far, I’m reasonably satisfied – which of course makes it a good time to start getting negative. OnePlus N300 has given a raised display, which protrudes awkwardly from the phone’s body. I hate this So a lot it seems So Bad and why can’t you just make it flow?

Another “why would you do this” moment comes courtesy of the main camera package on the back, which of all things lives on a translucent raised island. I think it helps reduce the protrusion of the lenses, but I can’t look at them and don’t see the Lucite chintzy desk decoration.

oneplus-nord-n300-1 cameras

Let’s go back to the screen again, because there’s a lot more going on here than just raising the profile unfortunately. There’s a bit of a thick bezel everywhere, and the rounded corners don’t do a great job of matching the curves of the phone’s frame, resulting in a disconnected look and feel. OnePlus goes for a teardrop-shaped selfie cutout, which takes up a lot more space than a simple punch hole. I don’t like this option at first, and it’s made worse here by brightness issues around the edge of the drop.

The screen itself is a 6.56-inch IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 1612 x 720. It’s good: viewing angles are bright, decently acceptable, and it has the advantage of boosting it slightly above normal 90Hz output, which is far from a given at this price point.


Finally, from the screen to the body itself: I wish this phone was smaller. Whoever prefers larger phones is objectively incorrect, and I resent the influence it exerts on manufacturers.

software and performance

It’s been a minute since I’ve spent any time using an OxygenOS phone, and while there’s certainly an adjustment period, the software isn’t too objectionable. I tend to like my operating systems on the lighter side, and while there are some places here where OnePlus fails by trying to do too much, I appreciate how OOS stays out of my way most of the time.


Launch Shelf has to be the worst here, and when you first go to access your notifications, you’ll likely find yourself staring puzzled at a screen of widgets. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to disable, but I really think I’d like the ability to change how you access it — your only option is to swipe in from the top right, or nothing at all. I might give it more of a shot if I could shift that to the left, but keep normal access to quick settings.


With a MediaTek Dimensity 810 SoC and just 4GB of RAM, I wasn’t expecting much from the Nord’s performance, and while apps are certainly more sluggish than they would on a modern flagship, the overall experience here doesn’t feel that sluggish. The 90Hz display certainly helps a bit there, making it seem like on-screen elements are always moving responsively.

Of course, there are still some sore spots that you come across when you start to get into the experience here. The touches, for example, are disappointingly tacky and tacky, which is unfortunately what we expect from phones in this price range.


camera oneplus-nord-n300-ui-1

With a budget phone, a high-performance camera is usually a big job, and you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the N300’s imaging system works top notch. The main lens is paired with a 48MP sensor, which you’ll likely find yourself using up to 12MP most of the time. While pixel binning is the go-to solution for phone manufacturers to improve light sensitivity these days, the effort is less successful here, and night shots quickly become a mess — white balance goes right out the window, leaving you with fuzzy shots that lack detail. .

Don’t count on doing anything special with video on the N300 either. Recording is limited to 1080p, up to 30fps only. Sure, that’s still higher than the resolution a phone’s screen can display, so maybe this is actually a win, after all? This is a frustrating thought.

The 16MP front-facing here produces decent enough shots in well-lit and challenging conditions, but doesn’t offer much in the way of flexibility — there’s no wide-angle option, or anything like that. Like the primary camera, quality clearly takes a hit in low-light environments. None of this is surprising, and for a phone in this price bracket, it’s hard to ask for more.

battery life

Big, cheap phones like the N300 are set up in what should be the perfect place to carry power, and OnePlus delivers here just fine. The 5,000mAh battery is about as big as the one you get in the $1,200 Galaxy S23 Ultra, but here we’re just not running a high-end flagship processor that’s only there to power that battery. Instead, when paired with the Dimensity 810, the N300’s got the stamina to push it through days of use without breaking a sweat.

Oneplus nord n300 power

When you finally power this tank up, the 33W fast charging support gets you up and running in less time than it takes to watch some YouTube videos. And if you can’t reach your charger quickly enough, the software can offer some help dialing back more power-hungry features to extend your remaining charge even further. After the incredibly low price, the Nord’s battery life has to be the biggest selling point here.

a race

We started talking about how well the OnePlus Nord N20 5G did, and that’s some solid upgrades while keeping the price totally reasonable. Originally listed for $300, you can find the N20 these days for $250-285, and that gets you a Full HD AMOLED display, an upgrade to 6GB of RAM, and a Snapdragon 695 SoC. Honestly, I also prefer the design, and it’s got proper support from T-Mobile.

oneplus-nord-n300-bench oxygenOS

Then there’s Samsung’s budget A series, with the $200 Galaxy A14 5G probably the closest. It’s running a lower-end MediaTek chip, but the RAM and battery capacity are comparable, and even the screen is close to what OnePlus has here — Samsung is upgrading to FHD. The three-camera array looks somewhat more diverse than the N300 package, and I think Samsung has a head start with software here as well.

Should you buy it?

If all this made the OnePlus Nord N300 5G look like a bit of a mess, you’re missing the point. This isn’t a phone that does anything better — it’s certainly nowhere near as powerful, nor feature-rich, and if you need to save money above all else, you can still find cheaper phones. But what this does represent is a clever balance of trade-offs. Nothing is worse, nothing is better, and I think most importantly, using the N300 5G doesn’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. It’s a phone you can He lives With, which is a lot more than I can say for many ultra budget models.


At under $230, and backed by a major US carrier, I could easily see myself recommending this phone to someone who’s shopping for a new phone, but who probably couldn’t care less about what they end up with in the end. It’s a good phone for people for whom smartphones are an afterthought, and lest that sound like faint praise, this is actually one instance where “not bad” ends up being “very good.”


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