This N300 5G is OnePlus’ latest budget phone, bringing the company’s signature fast charging to a lower price point than ever before. For now it’s alone available through T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile. It’s listed for full price of $228 at T-Mobile, but that’s about it prominently featured as one of the carrier’s “free” phones with two years of service.
“Free” phones are easy to come by, and while the OnePlus Nord N300 has a nice feature that’s rare in budget phones, you can do better. This is doubly true if you’re paying for it out of pocket – there are better options around the same price and some worthwhile upgrades if you can spend a little more.
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The wired fast charging of the N300 is really handy. The top speed of 33W is faster than what you get with many phones that cost a lot more. It does require its own charger to hit those charging speeds – it’s not a standard USB-PD – but at least the charger is included in the box. That’s not the case with today’s flagship phones.
Fast charging is useful, but it doesn’t make up for the N300’s mediocre day-to-day performance. The 6.5-inch screen looks a bit shabby at a low 720p resolution. Onboard storage is meager at just 64GB, and the processor struggles with heavier tasks from time to time. OnePlus has cut some of these corners to make way for fast charging, and personally I’d rather live with slower charging and have a phone that gets the basics right.
There’s only 64 GB of built-in storage, and on my test device, 13 GB of that is taken up by system files
The N300 uses a MediaTek Dimensity 810 processor with 4GB of RAM. It can handle light browsing and day-to-day tasks just fine, but if you ask too much of it, you’ll see it stutter and slow down. During my first install, when I downloaded a lot of updates and logged into a hundred services, I saw apps crash a few times under the heavier workload. That hasn’t been a persistent problem, but I do occasionally notice a lag in loading and rapid app switching or a slow response to register a tap as it puffs.
There’s only 64 GB of built-in storage, and on my test device, 13 GB of that is taken up by system files. That doesn’t leave much room for photos, videos, and apps, so consider a $15 or $20 microSD card as part of the purchase price. If you really want to go for it, you can add up to 1TB of extra space this way.
On the outside, the N300 is a likeable device. I prefer the straight rails to the curved edges on other budget phones like the Motorola Moto G 5G – they look nicer and are easier to grip. The rear panel is composite plastic with a subtle glossy finish. Haptics are pleasantly soft as I tap and type: reassuring but not jarring (“like a rabbit” is the phrase I used in my test notes). There’s even a headphone jack, praise. There’s no wireless charging or IP rating, both of which are unusual in this class anyway, and it comes with Android 12 installed. The N300 gets one OS upgrade to Android 13 and only two years of security updates – on the low end even for budget phones.
The N300 is a T-Mobile exclusive at the time of writing and supports the proper 5G bands to access the company’s very good mid-band “Ultra Capacity” 5G network. There’s no support for mmWave 5G, but that’s not a huge loss – the range is very limited and T-Mobile doesn’t offer much of it anyway. There’s NFC so you can use Google Pay for contactless payments, which not every phone at this price offers.
Not only does the N300’s battery charge fast, it’s a massive 5000mAh cell
The 6.56-inch screen is plenty big enough, and the 90Hz refresh rate makes scrolling and animations a little smoother than a standard 60Hz screen. But what strikes me most is the resolution of 720p, which is relatively low for such a large screen. Icons and images have rough edges where you can distinguish the individual pixels. It’s an LCD screen and while it gets fairly bright in direct sunlight, it’s not quite as vibrant as the OLED panel on the OnePlus N20.
Not only does the N300’s battery charge quickly, it’s a huge 5000mAh cell that provides enough power for just about anyone to get through a full day. Heavy video streaming or gaming can run out by the end of the day, but I always got far into a second day without charging.
When it’s time to fill up, fast charging is at your service. One afternoon, halfway through baby nap, I realized I was 15 percent off after skipping the nightly charge. I took the opportunity to see if I could charge it to 100 percent before it woke up. It charged in just over an hour and finished just in time.
Fast charging is useful in a traffic jam, but if you’re already in the habit of charging overnight then it probably won’t be a great feature for you – especially considering the N300’s battery life is so good anyway. It’s nice to see it available in a phone at this price, but if you’re already religious about nightly charging, it probably won’t be of much use to you.
On the N300, OnePlus got rid of the unnecessary rear cameras it likes to put in its devices, and that deserves a round of applause. There’s just one main 48-megapixel f/1.8 camera on the back, accompanied by a 2-megapixel depth sensor to aid in portrait mode shooting. There’s also a 16-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera.
It’s a decent, simple camera system for snapshots, but it struggles in low light where it applies some heavy smoothing to detail and skin tones. Other than that, I like how OnePlus handles image processing. Photos have a pleasant contrast and colors are vibrant without going full Samsung. However, there is noticeable lag in the camera app, especially in portrait mode. The lag was bad enough that it could barely keep up with my toddler in moderate light, even when he was (relatively) quiet. That’s a tough scenario for a budget smartphone camera – you’d be paying a lot more for a phone that can handle this situation well – but the N300 had a particularly hard time with it.
There’s no aspect of the N300 that’s astoundingly bad, but there are a few key areas where it could be just a little better
The OnePlus N300 offers seriously fast charging in a price range where it’s rarely seen. It’s a useful feature, but I don’t think its usefulness makes up for the N300’s other shortcomings, such as a low-resolution screen and sometimes shaky performance.
OnePlus’ own Nord N20 is a great alternative. The MSRP – $282 if you buy from T-Mobile or $299 unlocked – is still well within the budget range. But it’s much more fun to use, with a rich 1080p OLED display, better processing performance and twice the storage space. The same 33W fast charging is also included. Right now it’s also one of T-Mobile’s “free” phone promotions, and it’s generally a better choice whether you pay up front or not. The Samsung Galaxy A13 5G is also a good alternative. It’s priced slightly closer to the N300 at $249, and performance is snappier in day-to-day tasks.
There’s no aspect of the N300 that’s astoundingly bad, but there are a few key areas where it could be just a little better. Those things have more of an impact on my day-to-day life than being able to charge my phone in a flash. I suspect many people feel the same way, which makes the N300 difficult to recommend. There’s a little argument for it if you want really fast charging, and it’s your best “free” phone option at the time. Otherwise you are better off with the slightly more expensive OnePlus N20 or settle for the slow charging time.
Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge
Agree to continue: OnePlus Nord N300 5G
Every smart device now requires you to agree to a set of terms and conditions before you can use it – contracts that no one really reads. It is impossible for us to read and analyze all these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to click “agree” to use devices when we review them, since these are agreements that most people don’t read and absolutely can’t negotiate.
To use the OnePlus N300 5G you must agree to:
- Google Play Terms of Service
- Installing updates and apps: “You agree that this device may also automatically download and install updates and apps from Google, your carrier, and your device manufacturer, which may use cellular data. Some of these apps may offer in-app purchases.”
There are also several optional agreements that you must pass during installation:
- Participation in co-creation user programs, including built-in app updates, push notifications for surveys and product updates, and system stability reporting
- Assistant Voice Match
- Back up to Google Drive: “Your backup includes apps, app data, call history, contacts, device settings (including Wi-Fi passwords and permissions), and SMS.”
- Use location: “Google may periodically collect location information and use this information in an anonymous manner to improve location accuracy and location-based services.”
- Allow scanning: “Allow apps and services to scan for nearby Wi-Fi networks and devices at any time, even if Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is turned off.”
- Send usage and diagnostics data: “Help improve your Android device experience by automatically sending diagnostics, device, and app usage data to Google.”
On this carrier-locked device, there are three more optional agreements from T-Mobile:
- Help improve your experience by sharing device performance, app and network usage data
- Help improve your local network experience by recording your device’s location
- Use diagnostic data for personalized advertising
In total, there are six mandatory agreements and a minimum of seven optional agreements.