OnePlus is a bit of a mystery as of late they seem to be trying to fight in both the upper-end flagship camp and in the Flagship killer mid-tier segment.
The latest salvo in the mid-tier battle is the OnePlus Nord 2 5G and I have had the pleasure of using it for about a month now. Without giving too much away I am really glad that they are still playing in the mid-tier area as they have produced a cracker of a phone in the form of the Nord 2. With that out of the way let’s have a closer look and see what they have done to make this phone a real contender for my cash at least!
But before I do that I want to cast your mind back to the most recent review I did of the Realme GT 5G, this is relevant as these phones are related and you can see this is the design language that has been used. I am pleased about this and pleased that OnePlus did a bit more with the Nord 2 to make it a bit more special.
The design for the Nord 2 is not a massive departure from what we find familiar on modern phones. The phone is the standard rectangular slab of glass plastic and metal that most phones are. This in my opinion is a good thing as it is familiar and comfortable. I have recently had the chance to use a Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 and whilst it is true that it is an engineering marvel, I was paranoid about using it and didn’t take it out of the house. I actually sent the phone back due to my concern that I would break it! The Nord 2 is what I chose to use over the Fold 3 as it felt solid and safe and it just fitted into my hands so well that it felt right. So let’s look at the phone in a bit more detail.
On the left-hand side, we find the volume rocker as you would expect. It is a single switch design and works well with nice feedback when pressed.
Up top, we have one of the several pinhole microphones used to allow noise cancelling during calls. That is it for the top surface.
Continuing around to the right-hand side is where you will find a Oneplus staple in the form of the notification switch.
This is a feature that I love on Oneplus devices ever since I first used a OnePlus 2 back in the day. it is such a convenient way to change your alerts quickly and easily. Below this the there is the power switch which is smooth to the touch unlike the alert slider which is knurled so that you can differentiate between the two by touch. I have to say that I do like having the volume controls and the power keys on the opposite side’s as I missed this on my Note 10 Plus. Again it just feels more natural I can see a theme developing here…
Down at the bottom is where we find the dual sim card slot and the 1st indication of any waterproofing that has been built into the design albeit unofficially.
Next to this is the USB Type C for power and data transfer. This port is capable of using the Oneplus Dart Charge at 65W which is really fast, more on that in a bit! There is also a mother microphone down here as well. Finally top finish up at the bottom of the phone is one of the 2 speakers which is pretty loud and punchy.
Moving to the display at the top we have the other speaker that also doubles up duties as an earpiece.
This speaker is loud as well and the sound that is produced by both the speakers is more than sufficient for playback of Youtube when sofa surfing, or listening to podcasts etc. Music is okay but do yourself a favour and get some decent headphones with an adaptor for USB Type C or Bluetooth as it will be a much more enjoyable experience.
Below the speaker is the screen which measures in at 6.43 inches and 85.8% screen-to-body ratio. The resolution is 1080 x 2400 pixels with a PPI density of 409 and a ratio of 20:9. All of this is made up of Gorilla Glass 5 which is nice to see with a phone at this price point.
Up in the screen’s left corner, we have a hole punch for the 32MP Selfie camera which also has a nice effect where it will show a halo around the camera when it is being used for face unlock.
Whilst not a fan of the see hole-punch cameras or indeed the notch it becomes less noticeable after a while. Hopefully, we are getting close to not having to deal with them for much longer as Samsung has used their first under-display camera on the Fold 3 which means more brands will now follow once the quality improves.
Lastly, on the front of the phone, we have the under-display fingerprint reader which is fast and responsive under most conditions only when my finger was very dirty did I have any real issue with unlocking the phone, in these scenarios the face unlock worked fluidly enough to get by.
Around the back is a 3D AG Glass panel that comes in three different colours. We have the Grey Sierra you can also get the phone in Blue Haze, if you are in India then you have the option of getting the exclusive Green Woods colourway. The back panel feels good to hold and has just the correct level of texture on it to provide grip. It is also a matte finish so fingerprints are not instantly visible which is nice to see as I am a bit sick of glossy phone backs now.
In the top left-hand corner of the phone is where we can find the camera module that Contains the 50MP main sensor the 8Mp Ultrawide and a 2MP Monochrome sensor along with a dual-tone flash. The lenses do sit a bit proud of the back of the phone which is a shame but has been necessary to get the phone thickness down to 8.25mm which allows for to feel svelte and sleek in the hand.
That covers the external design now for a quick look at the specs before diving into the hardware.
|NAME||OnePlus Nord 2 5G|
|COLOR||Gray Sierra/Blue Haze|
Size: 6.43 inches
Resolution: 2400 x 1080 pixels 410ppi
Aspect Ratio: 20:9
Refresh Rate: 90Hz
Type: Fluid AMOLED
Support sRGB, Display P3
|DISPLAY FEATURES||Video enhancement
Daylight readable enhancement
Operating System: OxygenOS based
on Android 11 /Color OS 11.3CPU: MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI
GPU: ARM G77 MC9RAM: 6GB/8GB/12GB LPDDR4X
Storage: 128GB/256GB UFS3.1
Battery: 4500 mAh (non-removable)
Motor: X-axis linear motor
Warp Charge 65
|MAIN CAMERA – REAR||
Pixel Size: 1.0 µm
Lens Quantity: 6P
|ULTRA-WIDE CAMERA -REAR||
Field of View: 119.7°
|MONO LENS – REAR||
|ZOOM||0.6x – 10x|
|AUTOFOCUS||Multi Autofocus (PDAF+CAF)|
4K video at 30fps
1080p video at 30/60 fps;720p video at 30/60 fps
Super Slow Motion: 1080p video at 120 fps, 720p video at 240 fps
Time-Lapse: 1080p 120fps, 720p 240fps
Nightscape Ultra, AI Photo Enhancement,
AI Video Enhancement, UltraShot HDR,
Portrait Mode, Night Portrait Mode,
Portrait distortion correction, Panorama, Pro Mode
Sensor: Sony IMX615
Pixel Size: 0.8µm
1080p video at 30fps
720p video at 30fps
|FEATURES||Face unlock, Screen flash, HDR, Face retouching, Portrait|
4×4 MIMO, support up to DL Cat 18/UL Cat 13
(1.2Gbps /150Mbps), depending on carrier support
|CONNECTIVITY BAND (EUROPE)||
GSM: GSM850, GSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900
WCDMA: B1/2/4/5/8/19LTE-FDD: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/28/38/32/34/39/40/41/66
NR NSA: N1, N3, N7, N8, N20, N28, N38, N41, N78NR SA: N1, N3, N7, N20, N28, N78, N41, N8*Network connectivity may vary depending on the carrier’s network and related service deployment.
Notes: B66 frequency range is only 2110-2180MHz(3GPP defined 2110-2200MHz)
|WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 2.4G/5G,2*2MIMO|
|BLUETOOTH||Bluetooth 5.2, support aptX & aptX HD & LDAC & AAC|
|POSITIONING||GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, NavIC|
In-display fingerprint sensor
Ambient light sensor
USB 2.0, Type-C
Dual nano-SIM slot
Gestures and on-screen navigation support
Left: Volume key
Right: Power key
Dual stereo speaker
Noise cancellation support
|MULTIMEDIA – AUDIO SUPPORTED FORMATS||
Decoder: WAV, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, MP3, WMA, AMR, FLAC, ALAC, Vorbis, AIFF, APE
Encoder: WAV, AAC, AMR
|MULTIMEDIA – VIDEO SUPPORTED FORMATS||
Decoder: H.264, MPEG-2, VP9, HEVC, HEIF/HEIC, MPEG-4, H.263
Encoder: H.264, HEVC, HEIF/HEIC, MPEG-4, H.263
|MULTIMEDIA – IMAGE SUPPORTED FORMATS||
Decoder: BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP, HEIF
Encoder: JPEG, PNG
|IN THE BOX (EUROPE)||OnePlus Nord 2 5G
— Warp Charge 65 power adapter
— Warp Type-C cable (Support USB 2.0)
— Phone case
— Screen protector (pre-applied)
— SIM tray ejector
— Welcome letter
— Quick start guide
— Safety information and warranty card
— Highest SAR value
The phone’s hardware is very similar to what we have seen from OnePlus on the previously done on the Nord Line. This is very good news as the previous generation Nord was a great phone that we really liked here at Coolsmartphone. There are a few very significant difference’s here, however. We have some significant upgrades to the core hardware that have trickled down from the OnePlus 9 Family that I have previously reviewed here.
With that being said the biggest change is actually within the Chipset that has been used for the Nord 2. This is the first time that we have seen a chipset from anything other than Qualcomm. We have got a Mediatek Chip on board this time and it is a cracker. I have been using this alongside a Pixel 4A 5G and also a Realme GT 5G the latter of which has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 as the processor and if I am completely honest I have found that the Nord 2 is just as fast and smooth in terms of operation. Now that could be partly down to the larger amount of RAM on the Nord than on the Realme but I genuinely think that the Dimenisty 1200 AI Chip on the Nord 2 is a very good competitor to that of the Snapdragon 888. I can run all the features of the phone without any hiccups or slow down. I am genuinely impressed by the new chipset and extremely happy with the performance, Mediatek has come a long way with this chipset and it shows.
Moving away from the Chipset to the other parts of hardware. The battery in the Nord 2 has been one of the features that has been brought over from the 9 Series family in that it is a two-cell unit. This is great news as it allows the phone to accept a much faster-charging rate at up to 65W via the WarpCharge 65 technology. This allows the phone to the bundled charge to take the load while charging and it will also power up the battery cells simultaneously. This wizardry allows the phone to be charged from 0 -100% in 30 minutes or so which is awesome. This fast charging allows me to no longer worry that it doesn’t have any Wireless charging via QI, a feature that I used to always rely on to charge my phone.
Next up are the camera’s these are again pulled from its big brother in the form of the 50MP main camera and it certainly delivers. I have always liked the OnePlus cameras and they are getting closer to what I see as being the gold standard which is the Pixel camera but they are not quite there yet. I am glad to report that there is none of the Hasselblad software onboard which keeps the price down and honestly I don’t see any difference between the camera on the Nord 2 and the OnePlus 9 Pro 5G/OnePlus 9 5G. That being said I am not a serious photographer I am more than happy with the basic functions of a camera and this one does the job. Upfront, we do have a 32MP camera like on the previous generation so it is fair to say that selfies are on point but I will cover the camera later on in the review.
Another thing that I was really impressed with in terms of Hardware is the speaker setup. We do have stereo speakers via the bottom-mounted speaker and the earpiece and this phone is loud. They are still mobile phone speakers but the volume that they can produce is very pleasing, more than adequate for some YouTube binging and podcast listening.
The screen is the last section I really wanted to cover as this is again a unit that some of the tech has been carried over from its big brother. It is a 6.43″ AMOLED panel that supports a 90hz refresh rate so scrolling is supremely smooth and fluid. it is also intelligent in that the screen will adapt to what is being displayed via AI Colour Boost in certain apps. It is also nice and bright making for good visibility in sunlight thanks to the Smart Ambient display. A once touch is the ability of AI Resolution boost to upscale content from YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram to HD to further enhance the viewing experience.
Performance and Battery life
So I haven’t already mentioned that the performance of the OnePlus Nord 2 is very impressive and it is up there with some of the more high-end phones meaning that his phone will keep up with your daily tasks easily. I have been running the phone as I do on all my normal devices. This involves running multiple email clients and having a lot of activities running behind the scenes. The phone just keeps on going without any major concerns at all. In certain scenarios I found it to be just as capable as its distant cousin the Realme GT. I certainly have not missed having my Note 10 + since i started using the Nord 2 so much so that i actually sold it fairly early on in the review period. Gaming is fluid and enjoyable and it doesn’t hit the battery that hard when i want to indulge in some World of Warships or Altos Oddesy. Now while neither of these games are the most graphically intensive games out there they do still demand a bit of horsepower to make the work correctly. I have found that using the device to play games is an enjoyable experience and that is what really counts, to be honest (IMHO), not how many FPS you are getting!
Now in what seems to be an upset to the balance of all things techie, this performance is also backed up by a very good and long-lasting battery.
I am regularly able to get through a whole day with plenty of juice left in the tank.
This is over a mixed-use of streaming from Youtube Spotify browsing and emails with the occasional call thrown in for good measure. Some days I will even be able to stretch that single day out to two if I am very careful. The biggest drain on the battery is through the use of Satnav via Android Auto. This is hardly surprising as I am able to use it wirelessly in my newish car. In order to do this, it has to connect to the Wifi hotspot in the car. This means that alongside doing all the other complex tasks there is enough computing power left over to ensure all of the other areas are dealt with such as background notifications searching for new GPS when I move from one coverage area to the other. If I really want to make the phone work I will throw some Spotify into the mix for fun!
In summary, I am very very impressed with the speed and responsiveness of the phone, I also have no real concerns over the battery life especially as I can recharge it quickly with the aforementioned Warp Charge 65.
This is possibly the area of the phone that is the least interesting as the phone sports Oxygen OS11 which is a very close reproduction of the Pixel UI found on the Google Pixel Line up. This makes the phone a joy to use for the Android Purist and has long been one of the appeals to Oneplus owners. It is down to the software that I have bought 2 previous Oneplus devices. As is always the case with software things move forward pretty quickly and Oneplus for the most part are able to keep particularly on the Flagship line up. Whether the same will be true of the Nord Line up is yet to be seen but I have high hopes that we will see Android 12 on the Nord 2 in the not distant future. There are some features that have been added by Oneplus to enhance the UI experience but these have become less obvious over time as both Android has evolved and Oxygen OS along with it. The other thing of note here is that there are a lot of similarities starting to show up between Realme, Oppo and OnePluss what with them all being owned by BBK as the parent company. I am not sure how long Oxygen OS will remain but as long as they dont commit the utter travesty made by Realme in their launcher (see rant in Realme 8 Pro and Realme GT reviews), I will be happy for the merge to Colour Os to happen. As to when this will occur time again will have to tell.
So a big tick for the software as well this is looking like the real deal time to delve into the camera.
I have said it before and I will reiterate it again for the record and to give this review context. I am not a great photographer but i know what I like in terms of a good photo. I like being able to capture pictures easily with a minimum of fuss and complication. If I see something I want to be able to capture an image of it and that image to be as true to life as possible without having to faff and fiddle with settings. This is why AI-Assisted photography is a big plus in my book. It is also why I have always been a fan of the Pixel Camera since I first tried a Pixel 3 XL a few years ago. I now dual wield the phone I am testing alongside a Pixel 4a XL so this gives me a great chance to regularly compare the camera experience and quality between the two devices.
So with that established how does the Nord 2 stand up against my requirements. Well for the most part I am very happy with it and what it can do. I like the fact that we have got the ability to shoot using the 50 MP Sony IMX 766 sensor with a large f/1.88 aperture on the phone that even in its tops trim is under £500. I think it is great that OnePlus did not feel tempted to bring the Hasselblad “features” from the One Plus 9 series down to the Nord 2 as it has allowed them to concentrate on the basics and use the Sony sensor as it should be with a minimum of meddling. The AI from the Deminsity 1200 AI chip works very smoothly and the ISP is very effective at scene recognition allow the camera to tweak the settings on the fly with ease and speed. This is not just concentrated on the main camera as it works on the Ultrawide lens as well allowing for well support shots from the 8MP 119.7° ultra-wide-angle camera. Something that is also nice to see is that when you do switch between the 2 lenses there is little to no colour shift between them something I have seen on other more expensive devices. The last camera sensor on the rear is a Monochrome unit and this is useful in giving the whole setup that little extra boost when taking photos full of colour as this sensor can capture the dark shades well and it helps make the overall contrast mix very pleasing. I would actually go as far as saying that I am much happier with the camera setup on the Nord 2 than I was with the bigger brothers in the OnePlus range. it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t and this is largely down to the exclusion of the Hasselblad settings and tweaking that OnePlus added to the higher-spec devices.
I have included a few photos that were captured on the device below for you to assess for yourself.
However, this is not the camera section completed as there is also that front-facing 32MP camera which is the biggest sensor that has been put on a OnePlus device to date. With this phone being pitched more towards the mid to high-end market having a good selfie camera is very important as a lot of buyers of this device will potentially be in the 20 somethings age group and being able to take a good selfie is important to them.
If I am honest it is wasted on me as I don’t even like seeing myself in the mirror never mind being immortalised in digital form! What I can say is that the shots it produces are crisp and clear and I presume will be useful to the intended market who will no doubt use the phone for Tik-Tok and Instagram stories with great zeal!
Yes, I do realise how old that statement makes me sound! here is an example of the selfie camera in action.
There you have any review of the OnePlus Nord 2, A cracking phone that is well worth the money that is being asked for it. Does it have some faults, yes of course and it won’t be the phone for the absolute top end spec hunters. It is not intended to be for that market, this is the categories being occupied by the OnePlus 9 Pro 5G and OnePlus 9 5G. This phone is intended for those who are a bit more price sensitive but still want good value and features. I think this is the most competitive market segment at the moment and for me, it is actually turning out to be the most interesting.
Would I recommend this phone to people absolutely yes I would! It is defiantly one of my top 5 phones of the year so far and I have struggled to find anything that I would willingly replace it with. I am in a fortunate position to be able to play with phones from various different manufacturers that are aimed at all sorts of market segments. However, even with that being said I have started to come to the realisation that I don’t need to spend 4 figures on a “flagship” anymore as phones like the Nord 2 and its fellow competitors fulfil my requirements perfectly well.
If I had to cite a negative it would be the omission of QI Wireless charging on the phone but as mentioned above that is negated by the quick wired charge speed and it is probably more energy efficient.
So if you are in the market for a reasonably priced phone that will be a solid and safe performer and you don’t want to be an iPhone or Samsung sheep then it is well worth a look at the Oneplus Nord 2 as you won’t regret it. This is back to the original form of Oneplus with there “flagship killers” of old Well done.