OnePlus has a hype problem.

The OnePlus Nord CE seems like a fine phone, but it tried to get unnecessary hype.

I remember a time when it was something special for OnePlus to hype up an announcement for one of its phones. For example, the OnePlus 6T with its in-display fingerprint reader (a technology basically nonexistent in the States at the time) was met with a ton of excitement and demand from fans and enthusiasts alike.

This has been the case for years now, but all of that excitement for a new phone with OnePlus branding has calmed down. It’s not because the company has become less interesting (on the contrary, they have more eyes on them than ever with LG out of the market). Rather, they’ve redefined what it means to be excited for a new OnePlus phone because of how many phones they sell now.

The OnePlus Nord series, first introduced last year, was exciting by itself because of how different it was compared to the traditional flagship phones they made up to that point. The company then confirmed it would soon expand the Nord series to reach more price points, and it was pretty clear then that we’d get a slew of phones that might not be as exciting as they otherwise could be.

Enter the OnePlus of 2021. It seems every couple of months the company posts another teaser for another phone in the Nord series, and it gets harder and harder to keep up. It also doesn’t help that all of them look basically the same and come with pretty underwhelming specs.

That takes us to OnePlus’ latest phone partaking in this trend, the OnePlus Nord CE (or “Core Edition”). Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been hearing about minor details about the phone from company execs on Twitter in the form of teasers, while reports have shed some light on what to expect from the device once it launched.

Now that it’s here, it’s obvious that there’s not a lot to rave about. The Nord CE looks like every other Nord phone, which is to say it comes with a round and friendly design and a vertical camera module on the back. It’s made of plastic and comes in three different colors.

There’s a pretty standard 6.43-inch 1080p OLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate on the front, and there’s only a single 16MP selfie camera in a hole-punch cutout. The device runs on a Snapdragon 750G processor (worse than the original Nord’s 765G), up to 12GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. A sizeable 4,500mAh battery equipped with Warp Charge 30T supplies energy, and an in-display fingerprint sensor provides security.

If there’s anything you might be able to get excited about, it’s the cameras. They seem like they’ll be a bit better than the original Nord’s thanks to a new 64MP main camera. There’s also an 8MP ultra-wide camera along with a 2Mp monochrome shooter.

OnePlus also throws in OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11 with a promise to upgrade the device to Android 12 and 13. You also get a headphone jack, which I guess is good since a lot of mid-range phone buyers still have 3.5mm jack-equipped headphones. The whole package will retail starting at £299.

The “Core Edition” branding on this Nord is OnePlus’ way of saying “we doubled-down on the essentials for a great smartphone.” I have no idea if this is a great phone, nor will I likely get a chance to check it out since it’ll be going to Europe, India, and the Middle East.

But it’s clear that this phone will perform decently well for everyday tasks and that’s it. In other words, it seems underwhelming, which is a feeling you shouldn’t have for a phone that comes with this much hype.

OnePlus’ effort to offer a phone at virtually every price point feels like something that would inevitably happen. And that’s fine, but it sucks the magic out of a OnePlus announcement because of how cookie-cutter it’s begun to feel.

Who knows? Maybe OnePlus will spice things up with a new name, a new design, and more aggressive specs and price points in the future. For now, the company will keep producing phones to minimal fanfare, and they seem okay with that.

In the news…

Tesla

Elon Musk hosted an event last night to launch the Tesla Model S Plaid, the “quickest production car ever.” It can go from zero to 60mph in under 2 seconds, which is kind of insane when you think about it. Tesla did a lot of re-engineering to make that happen, and it threw in a few extras like a 17-inch touchscreen inside. It’s also got 390 miles of range with a top speed of 200mph and 1,020 peak horsepower. It starts at $130,000.

Samsung

Samsung just announced the ISOCELL JN1 camera sensor. Why am I telling you this? Because it has the smallest pixels in the industry, according to the company. It’s a 50MP sensor in a ½.76-inch format, which means the pixels are a microscopic 0.64μm. Tech like this will allow Samsung to implement sharper sensors into more complicated lenses like ultra-wide and telephoto cameras. It’s unclear what phone will come with it first, but the sensor’s currently in mass production.

Microsoft

So yeah, it’s definitely Windows 11. Microsoft just published a video teasing its June 24th event which slows down the start-up sounds of Windows 7, XP, and 95 by 4,000 percent to create a sort of relaxation video for those “too excited for the June 24th Microsoft Event.” Here’s the funny thing: the video is 11 minutes long, giving us another indication that Microsoft’s next version of Windows will be called Windows 11.

Dark Sky

A lot of people like the Dark Sky weather app, but after it was purchased from Apple, plenty were bummed that it would likely be shut down and have its technologies folded into a future version of Apple’s Weather app for iOS. Luckily, while the Weather app is getting more useful with iOS 15, Dark Sky won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Co-founder Adam Grossman confirmed in a blog post that Dark Sky will still be available to download through the end of 2022. The app’s API will also still be available for use until then as well. If you have trouble letting go of the app, I’m sure this is music to your ears.

Walmart

Walmart’s in-house Onn Android TV streaming devices have officially launched (via 9to5Google). There’s both a Full HD and 4K model priced at $24.88 and $29.88, respectively. They run on Android TV and seem to offer a pretty solid experience for those shopping for a streaming box on a budget. Both models are available online and at Walmart’s physical stores.

Apple

It’s been discovered that Apple is adding a Low Power mode to both iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey. The option can be turned on in the Settings app of both operating systems. It’ll be the first time the Mac gets the feature, while the iPad actually had it briefly with the first beta of iOS 14 last year before being removed in beta 2 and never returning. Here’s to hoping the feature sticks around this time.

People have also noticed that Apple is redesigning the UI for iCloud Mail on the web. It’s in beta right now, but the UI definitely looks more modern and in line with Apple’s recent design language. 9to5Mac has a handful of screenshots that are worth looking at.

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