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Behind the Scenes: The Design Philosophy of Nord N10 5G

Product 2021-01-11
Earlier this month, OnePlus launched the Nord N10 5G in North America, a smartphone that culminates flagship features, affordability and 5G connectivity, for a fast and smooth mobile experience. So, we sat down with Yuna Zhuang, our Industrial Designer, to discuss the design philosophy and inner workings of our latest value-champion.

The OnePlus Nord N10 5G is finally out. In fact, it is the first Nord device to launch in North America. Can you talk more about what this product is bringing to the market?

Sure. With the Nord N10 5G, the goal was to make 5G more accessible to everyone. There is a growing focus on 5G in the U.S. — you hear about it everywhere, but the devices that are compatible with the network are not typically the most affordable. Following the purpose of the Nord series, the team and I sought to create a successor that not only disrupted the market with flagship features at an affordable price but was 5G-ready. It will be hard to find another sub-$300 device that competes with the display, performance and charging, found on the Nord N10 5G.

Even though the Nord series is our first venture into this low to mid-range market, it still aligns with OnePlus’ idea of creating the best experience for users. What was the thought process when deciding what features you wanted to standout for this device?

There are many types of users, each prioritizing a feature more than the other. I personally love to take selfies so a good front-facing camera is a must, but for others, they may take one selfie a year! So, in the early stages of designing the Nord N10 5G, it was crucial that we conducted user research and competitive product analyses to better understand the general user base. By doing so and considering features that were missing from lower to mid-range smartphones, we knew what features consumers wanted and planned accordingly while also doing what OnePlus does best – Never Settle. Once the team aligned, we began the conceptual design work of a phone that brought a high-refresh rate display, ultra-fast charging and 5G connectivity among other features.
Following the success of the first OnePlus Nord, were there any takeaways or features from that device that inspired the design choices of the OnePlus Nord N10 5G?

The original OnePlus Nord set the standard for high-value smartphones, and I was excited for the challenge of following up on it. With that in mind, when designing the Nord N10 5G, I didn’t want to deviate too much from some of the hardware points of the original. A smooth and snappy display experience was a must and integrating a multi-camera setup gives users the same versatility when shooting pictures and videos.

Over the years, OnePlus has become well-known for offering unique and bold combinations of CMF (color, material, finishing) designs. What led to the decision to go with “Midnight Ice” for this product?

Like the key features, it was important for me to first understand what colors were in high demand in the market. Looking at devices released last year, many competing products were more conservative, going with standard black, gray and blue finishes. Keeping to the Nord brand, I wanted to create something outside of the box. After dissecting through more than 30 different color schemes, my team and I decided on “Midnight Ice”. It conveys a cool black appearance overall, but at various angles, you see hints of blue and strands of light flowing up and down. While the material is plastic, the Nord N10 5G was given a special surface treatment that provides a better grip and hand-feel for users.
What was your reaction and how were you feeling when the OnePlus Nord N10 5G finally made its North American debut earlier this month?

As a designer, it is the happiest and most fulfilling moment when your product appears in stores and is recognized by consumers everywhere. It’s a feeling and emotion that I will chase after going into my next project, and with the experience of creating the Nord N10 5G, I hope to bring everyone an even better product in the future.

We’re glad to hear that and wish for the upmost success with the product. For aspiring industrial designers, do you have any advice or tips you would like to share?

Industrial designers are often tasked with figuring out creative and aesthetic approaches to practical problems. To optimize the thought-process, I’d highly recommend dwelling into the fields of product marketing so you can better understand the market and user needs.

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