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OnePlus Nord vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Which to Pick?

author Luis Silva (February 2021 Updated: August 2021 - 6 min. reading time)

The Galaxy S21 isn't that affordable, but it also is the better device of the two considering their specs.

It has better performance (+59%), better glass protection, a better display, and water-resistance. But with the Nord, you can get a glass back and better battery life.

What else do they have to offer?

The Galaxy S21 also gives you a higher refresh rate display, wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging. But the Nord also brings a larger (+0.2") display and Bluetooth 5.1.

How much more will the Galaxy S21 cost me?

If you ignore carrier offers, you'll have to spend approximately $388 more.

Is the Nord still worth getting in 2021?

Sure, you can look for other devices, but the Nord is an outstanding handset even in 2021. Sure there are other devices like the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max, but we should praise it because it features good cameras, good battery life, tons of storage, and fast charging.

Keep reading for answers to all your questions about their differences, how they differ from their competition, and how the tech industry is evaluating their specs.

Check prices on Amazon Check prices on Amazon
Click here or scroll down to check prices on eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions.

OnePlus NordSamsung Galaxy S21

CONTENTS

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Introduction

Last January, Samsung launched its Galaxy S21. The Nord, however, saw the light of day in August 2020.

In this article, we see how the Nord and the Galaxy S21 compare to each other to help you decide and see which one of these is the right one for you.

The weight of each section

For additional information regarding our smartphone comparisons, check this FAQ.

to check who their rivals are.

Price*
vs.
Device Nord Galaxy S21
Release Date 2020, August 2021, January 1y.
OS Updates 1 year 3 years 2y.
Security Updates 2 years 4 years 2y.

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Which One Has The Best Performance?

Geekbench 5 scores the Galaxy S21 59% ahead of its rival in the multi-core ranking. You should also consider other features, but if you value every second you save, go for this one.

It's safe to say that the Nord can be tagged as an upper mid-range and the Galaxy S21 as a high-end device.

Performance*
vs.
Features Nord Galaxy S21
SoC Snapdragon 765 Exynos 2100
Graphics Adreno 620 Mali-G78 MP14
Geekbench 5 Score 1953
3113
1160
OS Android 10 and OxygenOS 10 Android 11 and OneUI
Tek-Score
5.3
7.2
1.9

*Reference: 100: Apple iPhone 12.

Which Phone Has The Best Display?

OnePlus Nord front transparent png Samsung Galaxy S21 front transparent png

The Galaxy S21 is the title-holder here, but this is pretty much a tie.

Given the Nord, just know that 84% of its rivals can play HDR content, 96% have an AMOLED screen, and 80% have an Always-On display. However, only 20% of them feature Gorilla Glass 6 or Victus.

For the Galaxy S21, 91% of its rivals can play HDR content. Plus, all have an AMOLED screen, and 95% have an Always-On display.

Display Density (DPIs)*
vs.
Features Nord Galaxy S21
Size 6.4
6.2
-0.2
Screen Type AMOLED AMOLED
Resolution (px) 1080x2400
1080x2400
0
Refresh Rate 90hz 120hz 30
Dots per Inch 411.22
424.48
13.27
Always-On-Display Yes Yes
Notch Hole Hole
Peak Brightness 756 nits
856 nits
100
HDR HDR10+ HDR10+
Sub Tek-Score
8.7
9.2
0.5
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 5 Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
Tek-Score
6.7
9.7
3.1

*Reference: 100: Sony Xperia 1 II.

Which Phone Has The Best Cameras?

OnePlus Nord back transparent png Samsung Galaxy S21 back transparent png

Be aware that the Nord's picture quality is, on average, 35 points above other cameras from its price range. But you won't find a winner here.

About the Nord: DXOMARK gave this shooter a score of 117. Then, if you consider its digital zoom abilities, you'll end up with a score of 126. For an in-depth review, click here.

PS: you'd probably like to know that all of its rivals can record videos in 4K or more and have an ultra-wide-angle lens.

About the Galaxy S21: On DXOMARK's reviewing article, they gave this shooter 123 points. And if we consider its wide-angle lens, we get a score of 137 points. If you want to know more about every tidbit, check it here.

Last (but not least), if you must know, just like the other device, all of its rivals can record videos in 4 or 8K, have an ultra-wide-angle lens, and feature Optical Image Stabilization. Regardless, only 14% of them feature a macro lens.

We can classify the Nord as a lower high-end and the Galaxy S21 in the high-end ballpark.

Have you noticed yet? If you want a telephoto lens, none of these will help you. Just pick something like the Galaxy Note 10 or the Google Pixel 4 XL instead. Or just forget them because devices like the Oppo Find X2 Pro aren't too good to be true anymore.

Picture Quality*
vs.
Primary Camera Nord Galaxy S21
Megapixels 48
12
-36
Aperture 1.8
1.8
0.0
Lens 26mm
26mm
0
Lens Type Wide-Angle Wide-Angle
Flash 2 1 -1
HDR Yes Yes
OIS Yes Yes
Video 2160 4320 2160
Score 126
137
11

*Reference: 100: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Extra Camera(s) Nord Galaxy S21 vs.
Megapixels 8
64
56
Aperture 2.3
2.0
-0.3
Lens - 29mm
Lens Type - Regular
Megapixels 5 12 7
Aperture 2.4 2.2 -0.2
Lens - 13mm
Lens Type Depth Sensor Ultra-wide-Angle
Megapixels 2 -
Aperture 2.4 -
Lens Type Macro -
Score 9 14 5
Selfie Camera Nord Galaxy S21 vs.
Megapixels 32
10
-22
Aperture 2.5
2.2
-0.3
Lens - 26mm
Nord Galaxy S21 vs.
Tek-Score
7.4
8.1
0.6

Who has the best frame?

I'd go for the Galaxy S21 for its weight, the number of color options, and water resistance.

The Nord is 15 g. (0.53 oz) heavier than its rival, which sits at 169 g. (5.96 oz). But because screen size also matters, I've come up with an adapted "display size to phone weight ratio" score. The Nord got 5.4, which means it has an acceptable score for a 6.4 inches screen. In the meantime, the Galaxy S21 has 6.6, which is pretty nice.

You can drop the Galaxy S21 into the water, up to 1 to 3 meters deep. That shouldn't last over half an hour, and it's in standby mode only. So don't take photos underwater.

Looks*
vs.
Body Nord Galaxy S21
Size 158 x 73 x 8 mm
(5.57 x 2.58 x 0.28 in)
151 x 71 x 7 mm
(5.33 x 2.50 x 0.25 in)
-17225
Weight 184 g. (6.49 oz)
169 g. (5.96 oz)
-15
Build Front and back glass Front glass
Colors Blue Marble and Gray Onyx Phantom Gray, Phantom Violet, Phantom White, and Phantom Pink
Screen To Body Ratio 85.74%
86.57%
0.83
Disp.Size To Weight Score 5.4 6.6 1.2
Looks 8.8/10
6.5/10
-2.3
Waterproof - IP68
Biometrics Under Display Fingerprint Under Display Fingerprint
Tek-Score
2.5
7.7
5.1

*100% = 4+ colors + front and back glass + S2BR: 86+%.

Which has the best battery?

The Nord does have a bigger battery, with 4115 mAh, while the Galaxy S21 only has 4000 mAh. And GSMArena did test them out, and the former does have better battery life.

If you fancy quick charges, you can count on the Nord. Devices with similar prices rarely exceed 26 watts.

Battery*
vs.
Features Nord Galaxy S21
Capacity (mAh) 4115 4000 -115
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 83% left
81% left
-2
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 68% left
62% left
-6
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 72% left
67% left
-5
Bat. To Phone Size Score 5.0 6.2 1.2
Sub Tek-Score
7.4
7.0
-0.4
Fast Charging 30w
25w
-5
Wireless Charging No 15w
15
Reverse Charging No 4.5w
4.5
Tek-Score
6.5
6.9
0.4

*Reference: 90: Samsung Galaxy A31.

Which has more storage?

They share the same amount of storage.

Storage*
vs.
Features Nord Galaxy S21
RAM (GB) 8GB
8GB
0
Internal (GB) 128GB
128GB
0
Micro SD No No
Tek-Score
6.0
6.0
0.0

*Internal Storage + 256GB Memory Card (Max: 512GB).

Which is the most connectivity-friendly?

The Nord is your better option, as it features Bluetooth 5.1.

About the 3.5mm jack: Now may be the time to consider moving to wireless earbuds. Want a piece of advice? Forget about adapters and go for the wireless buds. You can have it anyway if you're not really leaning towards any of these. You can get that with the Oppo Find X3 Lite.

Both have a single network variant: (LTE and) 5G.

Connectivity
vs.
Features Nord Galaxy S21
Network 5G 5G
Bluetooth 5.1
5.0
NFC Yes Yes
3.5mm jack No No
Tek-Score
5.1
4.6
-0.5

Which is more affordable?

Here are their recently updated prices:

OnePlus Nord

Reference: $410

OnePlus Nord

Samsung Galaxy S21

Reference: $798

Samsung Galaxy S21

I earn a small fee from qualifying purchases. It doesn't affect the price you pay nor my opinions, but it will mean a lot if you click on one of these buttons before purchasing your next phone (or whatever else you end up buying). You'll be helping to take this to the next level.

Prices on eBay are in $US but Europe-based. You can click to check the prices in your country.

Prices marked with ! are from renewed/refurbished/carrier-locked phones (except eBay prices that, as a last resort, can be from bids or used devices).

How much of a "phone" can your money buy?
That's how much "score" you can get with $100 based on the global score that you'll see in the next section (higher is better).

Have you found better prices elsewhere? The formula is simple: score/price*100.

Value for money Nord Galaxy S21 VS
Amazon - - -
eBay 1.12 1.13 0.01
Best Buy - 0.93 -
Walmart - - -

Also, don't forget to check the latest deals from these four stores, and the state of the art on mobile technology, if you don't want to overpay on your next smartphone.


Related articles:


Best smartphone deals


The Best Unbiased Smartphones For All Budgets


Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)

Are you also considering other options? The global score can help. Just so you have an idea, take a look at where its adversaries average. They're in the ballpark of 6.3 for the Nord and 6.9 for the Galaxy S21.

Verdict: What Makes the Samsung Galaxy S21 Stand Out?

What can the OnePlus Nord give you that the Samsung Galaxy S21 can't:

- More affordable

- A larger display (+0.2")

- Front and back glass

- Better battery life

- Bluetooth 5.1

What can the Samsung Galaxy S21 give you that the OnePlus Nord can't:

- Better performance (+66%)

- Higher refresh rates

- Better glass protection

- Better display

- Water-resistant

- Front glass

- More OS updates (3 additional years)

- Wireless charging

- Reverse wireless charging

Pros Nord Galaxy S21
#1 AMOLED Performance
#2 Always-On-Display AMOLED
#3 Cameras Always-On-Display
#4 Battery Life Cameras
#5 Fast Charging Fast Charging
#6 Wireless Charging
#7 Glass Protection
Cons Nord Galaxy S21
#1 Wireless Charging MicroSD Slot
#2 MicroSD Slot 3.5mm Jack
#3 Weight Price
#4 3.5mm Jack
Relative Score*
vs.
Global Score Nord Galaxy S21
Gaming Score
6.7
7.6
0.9
Tek-Score
6.06
7.42
1.36
Your Score

Scroll the sliders down below to get your own personalized score. Let's suppose you value performance and battery life, and you don't really care about anything else. Then, just set the "Performance" and the "Battery" sliders up to 5 (5+5=10), and then the other sliders down to 0. You'll know what's the best phone for you.

Performance 1.9
Display 1.7
Cameras 1.4
Frame 0.9
Battery 1.9
Storage 2.0
Connectivity 0.4
Total Should be 10 or as close as possible: 9.6

*Reference: 100: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

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About me

Hello!

My name is Luis Silva, and I have a degree in computer management. Ever since I was a teenager, I've loved everything to do with tech. Music, pictures, video editing, I've done it all! This site is a place for me to share some of the knowledge I have, as well as keep up-to-date with current trends. This is a wonderful place for tech-geeks and everyone else that just want to learn more about tech and smartphones in general.


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OnePlus Nord Related Comparisons


Samsung Galaxy S21 Related Comparisons

×

"Display size to phone weight" ratio explained

This indeed is a "display size to phone weight" ratio, but because every phone ended up somewhere between 0.0272 and 0.0421, I've amplified (adapted) those values so they would fit in a 0-10 scale. As of now, the best smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy A40, with 140g. (4.94 oz) for a 5.9 inch display. It got a score of 9.92. While the worse device is the iPhone 8 Plus, which weighs 202 g. (7.13 oz) and has a 5.5-inch display. It ended up with a score of 0.75.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

"Battery to device size" ratio explained

This score should give you an idea about the energy footprint of the devices you're considering. It reflects not only the hardware and the energy that it requires but also the amount of energy that the battery can deliver.

The major spenders on any device should be the display and the SoC. But everything from a notification led to its modems need to be optimized, or else, the OEM should simply include a bigger battery as a compensation. Unfortunately, it isn't always possible due to size limitations. But in the end, if a particular OEM can do a good job and give you excellent battery life on a small device, so should everyone else. That's why I've added a "battery to device size" ratio. But since the real scale went from 119 (for the Galaxy S10e, Snapdragon variant) and up to 164 (for the iPhone 7 Plus), I've decided to convert them so they would fit in a 0-10 scale, being 0 the worst device, (the iPhone 7 Plus) and 10 the one every OEM should look up to.

As an example, Apple did an excellent job on the iPhone 7. It has a score of 8. Despite having a small capacity, the hardware is well optimized, and it still gives you decent battery life considering its size. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, with those bezels shrinking its display size, clearly could've been the #1 in our top 10 list of best battery devices if Apple simply filled all that empty space with a bigger battery.

As a side note: I haven't included the dept of the devices in this formula because even if a device ended up being 1mm/0.03 inches thicker, it wouldn't matter that much to those who really value battery life.

Please, be aware that this score is subject to change if and when a new smartphone comes along that ends up being outside of this scale.

×

Rivals

As of now, these are the rivals that were considered for each of them. They may change every time its prices are updated.

These are the lowest prices found on Amazon, eBay, BestBuy, and Walmart.


 OnePlus Nord 
  • ApplerivaliPhone XR
    $338
  • OnePlusrival7
    $388
  • XiaomirivalMi 9T Pro
    $385
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 8
    $359
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS
    $410
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10
    $409
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10e EX
    $428
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ SD
    $379
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 EX
    $429
  • OnePlusrival7T
    $349
  • OnePlusrival7 Pro
    $429
  • HuaweirivalP30
    $400
  • GooglerivalPixel 4
    $399
  • OnePlusrival8
    $480
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 10 Lite
    $425
  • GooglerivalPixel 4a
    $350
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE
    $349
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 FE 5G
    $349
  • OpporivalFind X2 Neo
    $415
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy M51
    $396
  • XiaomirivalMi 10T Pro
    $480
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Lite
    $399
  • XiaomirivalMi 11 Lite
    $349
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A52
    $380
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy A72
    $445
  • OnePlusrival9
    $469
  • XiaomirivalMi 9t Pro
    $385

 Samsung Galaxy S21 
  • SonyrivalXperia 1
    $688
  • SonyrivalXperia 5
    $649
  • ApplerivaliPhone X
    $579
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11
    $700
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy Note 9
    $598
  • ApplerivaliPhone 11 Pro
    $574
  • ApplerivaliPhone XS Max
    $564
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10 Plus
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S10+ EX
    $689
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 EX
    $596
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 SD
    $566
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ EX
    $749
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20+ SD
    $566
  • HuaweirivalP30 Pro
    $589
  • GooglerivalPixel 4 XL
    $579
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20
    $697
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S20 Plus
    $749
  • HuaweirivalMate 20 Pro
    $548
  • HuaweirivalP40
    $666
  • XiaomirivalMi 10 Pro
    $600
  • GooglerivalPixel 5
    $682
  • ApplerivaliPhone 12 Mini
    $739
  • SamsungrivalGalaxy S21 Plus
    $650
  • OnePlusrival8T
    $561
  • XiaomirivalMi 10
    $529
  • OpporivalReno4 Pro
    $594
  • XiaomirivalMi 11
    $698
×

Formula deviation

Since the guys at DxoMark don't review every camera out there, I've come up with a formula based on the ones that they do rate, so I could get an equivalent score for the ones they don't review. After testing it against these cameras, I got the deviation between that and their DxO score.

Device: DxOScore Deviation
Samsung Galaxy A50: 88 -1
Apple iPhone XR: 104 1
Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro: 108 -7
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro: 87 1
Sony Xperia 1: 99 -1
Sony Xperia 5: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus: 126 2
Apple iPhone 8 Plus: 96 -3
Xiaomi Pocophone F1: 92 -1
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: 90 -1
Apple iPhone X: 101 3
Apple iPhone 11: 112 -1
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy Note 9: 107 1
Apple iPhone XS Max: 110 -2
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 124 1
Samsung Galaxy S10: 124 2
Apple iPhone XS: 110 -1
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 120 -2
OnePlus 7 Pro: 122 0
OnePlus 7T Pro: 122 0
Huawei P30 Pro: 125 -1
Google Pixel 4: 117 0
Google Pixel 3: 103 0
Google Pixel 2: 100 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus: 127 -2
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: 132 2
OnePlus 6: 100 0
OnePlus 6T: 101 1
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: 105 -1
Huawei Mate 20 Pro: 120 0
Xiaomi Mi 9: 115 0
Huawei Mate 30 Pro: 132 0
Huawei P40 Pro: 140 -1
Apple iPhone SE 2: 101 0
OnePlus 8 Pro: 126 0
Xiaomi Mi 8: 105 1
Samsung Galaxy A71: 89 1
Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro: 134 0

As you can see, most cameras sit between 1 and -1, while a few of them go up to 2 or -2. That means it's reasonable to assume other similar cameras that they don't review to, in the worst-case scenario, be anywhere from -2 to 2 points from the score that the formula gets.

For example: Given that the Pixel 4 got 117 points and that the Pixel 4 XL share the same year and camera specs, it's reasonable to expect a score of 117 too. But in reality, if they do review that camera, it may end up anywhere between 115 and 119.

Be aware that at DxO, they give a score based on their opinion, not based on any formula. That's why I think there's an odd difference of 6 points between the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. In theory, they should have the same camera.

I'm guessing that the Mi 9T Pro got a deviation of 7 points because they tested its Chinese variant (the K20 Pro).

Update: They just changed their protocol to include preview image evaluation and trustability. I'm keeping the old table (for now) for reference purposes, and I'll be adding a new one as soon as they review at least a couple of new mclass-range cameras.

You can expect the same (or a bit bigger) deviation for high-end cameras, but anything with a score below 100-110 should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is valid for all cameras tested with the previous protocol. For those that they dclassn't test, the deviation may be up to twice as much.

×

About GeekBench 5

This is just a quick note to let you know that, if, by any chance, the smartphone you're looking for isn't on the GeekBench site yet, you can check on GsmArena.com, as they also usually test smartphones with that benchmark tool.



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