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It seems like the US will eventually get its very own OnePlus Nord of some kind, but with reviews praising the first "budget" phone from OnePlus as a standout success (including our own), you could be understandably tempted to find a gray market reseller offering imported models from Europe or India. But you should really consider a few things before you pull the trigger, and in fact, we strongly advise against doing so — because while the typical missing LTE bands for carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T are still an issue (along with no Verizon compatibility at all), there's a whole other can of worms to get into that you've probably not considered related to the impending shutdown of 3G networks in the US, that could stop a Nord from working entirely on some carriers.
First, let's talk bands. It might seem dead-simple when you pop your SIM in a phone and it's good to go, but there's more to it than that. For those that don't regularly import phones, or who don't pay attention to some of the more detailed specifications, not all phones will work the same on all networks, even if the device is carrier unlocked. There's a little issue of band support, and the OnePlus Nord's selection is a bit limited here in the states.
According to OnePlus, the phone is specifically missing support for US bands 14, 25, 29, 30, 48, and 71, as well as support for 4x4 MIMO. While those numbers don't specifically rule out compatibility with any one carrier, as they make use of multiple bands across markets, it can still spell trouble.
US carriers have "primary" bands they use across most of the country, and the Nord does support most of those (except for T-Mobile's 600MHz Band 71), but those other frequencies can also be important. Whether due to simple congestion or pre-existing licenses, subscribers sometimes have to depend on those other bands to maintain decent connectivity. If your phone's band support is limited, as in the case of an imported OnePlus Nord, you may end up being bumped down to 3G or potentially lose signal entirely. In fact, other US-based reviewers we've spoken to that have tried the phone have told us they've run into connectivity problems, and OnePlus itself informs US-based customers in its exclusive beta program that folks using the phone "may experience signal stability issues."
The full list of supported bands on the OnePlus Nord according to the company is just below:
If you're determined to get one anyway, you should double-check which frequencies you may be giving up with your carrier's details. Unfortunately, FrequencyCheck hasn't been updated with the OnePlus Nord at the time of writing, so you might have to make a manual comparison. And although the phone is otherwise compatible with several of Verizon's frequencies, the odds are good it'll never work properly on the company's network, and almost certainly it won't activate correctly — you should probably stick with a GSM carrier.
Not all carriers publish nice concise lists for frequency support like T-Mobile, but we've got some links for supported frequencies for US carriers just below.
But as alluded in the beginning of this post, signals aren't the end of your woes. With the coming switch by US carriers to VoLTE as lower bands are refarmed, your phone might not work at all in the next few years. OnePlus doesn't say what carrier VoLTE compatibility on the phone will be like, and while T-Mobile uses a relatively open system, AT&T's "HD Voice" uses a device whitelist that probably precludes compatibility. The OnePlus Nord might ultimately work with your carrier's VoLTE, but it is a bit of a risk until those details are known.
I'm not saying you can't import a Nord, all I'm saying is that you probably shouldn't — or, at least you may want to prepare for some issues if you do. We definitely want to see the OnePlus Nord land in the US, but most of us are probably better off waiting for a proper US version.