OnePlus Nord 2 review: Mid-range royalty

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(Pocket-lint) - The OnePlus Nord was the motion of a caller epoch for OnePlus. The erstwhile "flagship only" institution was present making mid-range phones. But the archetypal Nord was determination to amusement america the shaper could present large show successful a instrumentality that outgo little than fractional the magnitude of its top-tier devices. 

For 2021 the Nord is back, and this clip it's seemingly designed to cannibalise income of OnePlus' much costly phones. It's got a near-as-makes-no-difference flagship processor, apical specs, and a comfy terms tag to boot.

Design 

  • Dimensions: 158.9 x 73.2 x 8.25mm / Weight: 189g
  • Finishes: Gray Sierra, Blue Haze, Green Wood
  • Splash-resistant - but nary IP rating

With the Nord 2, OnePlus has designed a mid-range telephone that looks similar it's portion of the aforesaid household arsenic the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. It's the camera lodging that does it. 

The 2 main cameras person metallic rings astir them, and they're sat successful a metallic protrusion that's colour-matched to the solid connected the backmost of the phone. It adjacent features shiny chamfered edges. The Nord 2 has a overmuch neater and much purposeful plan than the archetypal Nord managed to propulsion off.

There's thing truly to outcry location astir successful presumption of the wide look though. It's precise overmuch your modular 2021 mid-ranger successful that it has a hole-punch camera stamped done the apical near country of the display, bladed bezels astir 3 of the sides, and that somewhat chunky "chin" to the bottommost edge.

Unlike the Nord CE which came earlier it, OnePlus opted to see an alert slider power connected the close broadside of the Nord 2. This allows casual switching betwixt ring, soundless and vibrate modes. In fact, successful a batch of ways, it's precise akin to the flagship OnePlus 9. 

The second-gen Nord uses the aforesaid operation of materials arsenic the archetypal too: a integrative framework sandwiched by solid connected beforehand and back. The differences are minimal. For instance, the alert slider is somewhat higher up the framework and the phone's wide size is somewhat smaller. 

It's inactive rather a chunky device, but it doesn't consciousness overly uncomfortable to clasp oregon usage day-in day-out. Although, our portion was the 'Blue Haze' colour, which is glossy and slippery. It seemed to gaffe disconnected immoderate brushed aboveground - similar the limb of a sofa - without immoderate encouragement. 

It doesn't pull fingerprints that severely though, which is simply a immense bonus for a glossy phone. We didn't find ourselves having to hitch it with a microfibre cloth each that often. Plus, portion it's not IP-rated against h2o and particulate ingress, the telephone is splash-resistant and should past if it gets rained on. Just don't spell submerging it successful water.

Display and software

  • 6.43-inch AMOLED display
  • 2400 x 1080 resolution
  • 90Hz refresh rate

As acold arsenic basal specs goes, there's not a immense magnitude of quality betwixt the show of the second-gen Nord and the first. It's got the aforesaid 2400 x 1080 Full HD+ resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+ precocious dynamic scope compatibility. 

What that means successful world is that it's bright, features precocious opposition levels and vivid colours. It's an AMOLED panel, arsenic is accustomed for OnePlus, and that means heavy achromatic levels too. 

If we're being critical, we recovered successful its default 'Vivid' mode that it over-egged the colours; blues, reds and oranges each go precise oversaturated and unrealistic. This became little of an contented erstwhile we switched the surface calibration to its 'Gentle' mode, making it look a batch much cleanable and natural.

Unlike erstwhile versions of the Oxygen OS software, The Nord 2 doesn't fto you get down into the nitty-gritty of calibration. Instead, you get those 2 mode choices and a slider to set colour temperature. 

When looking astatine mostly achromatic screens - similar settings paper oregon Google Play's update database - from an angle, there's immoderate colour shift. It skews a spot towards green, depending connected the angle. 

The 90Hz refresh complaint means that animations are fluid and responsive connected screen. That's not the astir awesome happening astir its refresh though, it besides features adaptive refresh tech. That means it'll lone footwear into those higher frames-per-second numbers erstwhile it needs, truthful doesn't discarded powerfulness erstwhile you're watching 25/30fps videos, oregon speechmaking a static page. 

On the whole, for gaming and movie watching, the sheet is large (well, erstwhile it's retired of its vivid mode). It doesn't rather get up to the highest brightness levels of the 9 and 9 Pro, but it's much than bully capable for regular usage and media consumption. Plus, it's flanked by stereo front-firing speakers to adhd a spot much extent to sound.  

On the bundle side, determination are hints wrong the latest mentation of Oxygen OS that amusement the power of Oppo. This is to beryllium expected, present that the 2 companies person joined their bundle and R&D teams. The settings paper looks overmuch much akin to Oppo's ColorOS, and OnePlus Switch has been dropped successful favour of a Oppo's Clone Phone app (albeit with OnePlus' reddish and achromatic colours). Similarly, the camera app appears to beryllium Oppo's too. Every present and past you'll spot a flash of Oppo, possibly successful a pop-up model connected the screen, but connected the aboveground it inactive feels precise overmuch similar OnePlus. If this shows signs of things to come, we fishy aboriginal versions of Oxygen OS volition beryllium adjacent much similar ColorOS.

Hardware and performance

  • MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI
  • 6GB/8GB/12GB RAM
  • 128GB/256GB ROM
  • 4500mAh battery
  • Warp Charge 65

For anyone who's followed OnePlus since its inception determination volition beryllium 1 happening that stands retired connected the Nord 2's spec list: the processor. It's not a Qualcomm-made Snapdragon chipset, alternatively OnePlus opted to spell with MediaTek. Specifically, this is simply a mentation of the Dimensity 1200. Technically speaking, it's really the Dimensity 1200-AI, which OnePlus says is exclusive to the Nord 2 and was co-developed betwixt the 2 companies.

In Snapdragon equivalent terms, it promises akin show to the Snapdragon 870, which we cognize is speedy and powerful. In each of our investigating the Nord 2 has been precise zippy and responsive. Interface layers glide effortlessly nether our fingers and each our favourite games and apps load without immoderate delay. 

Benchmark it against a apical tier Snapdragon 888-powered telephone and you'll decidedly spot a quality successful scores, but successful regular usage it feels imperceptibly antithetic to utilizing a high-end phone. It's that accelerated and responsive, which is large quality for MediaTek, who we're definite would emotion to shingle disconnected the content it's had that it lone makes cheaper, lesser processors for fund smartphones - that's conscionable not the lawsuit immoderate more.

As for different hardware details, successful the UK determination volition beryllium 2 RAM variants: 8GB oregon 12GB. Battery specs are the aforesaid arsenic astir caller OnePlus flagships: 4500mAh. And what's exiting is that it uses the split/dual artillery plan to alteration truly speedy charging. 

It ups the ante from 2020's Nord by making usage of the 65W Warp Charge technology. In existent beingness that means you'll wholly capable an bare artillery successful small implicit 30 minutes. That means that erstwhile the artillery dies, you don't request to interest astatine each if you person your Warp Charge adapter with you. Even plugging it successful for 10-15 minutes is capable to get a bully chunk of the artillery refilled. 

Not that artillery beingness ever gave america origin for concern. A afloat artillery would past america astir a day-and-a-half astir of the time, with a fewer hours of surface clip each day. We managed to drain it successful 1 time a mates of times, but this was connected days wherever we had agelong three-plus hr video calls connected Google Meet, arsenic good arsenic our accustomed clip spent gaming and societal media browsing. 

If there's a downside to the 65W Warp Charge adapter, it's that it's not the aforesaid arsenic the 65W adapter that comes with the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. It has a USB-A port, not USB-C, truthful you can't usage it with your existing cables for your laptops and tablets. 

Camera

  • Triple rear camera:
    • Main: 50-megapixel, f/1.88 aperture, optical representation stabilisation (OIS)
    • Ultra-wide (119.7-degrees): 8MP, f/2.25
    • Mono: 2MP
  • Selfie camera: 32MP

For its camera system, OnePlus went with a flagship prime sensor for the Nord 2's superior camera. That 50-megapixel sensor successful the main 1 is the aforesaid arsenic the sensor successful the Oppo Find X3 Pro and successful the ultra-wide camera of the OnePlus 9 Pro. 

In bully daylight outdoors it tin instrumentality lovely-looking colourful shots with this superior camera. Colours pop, positive details and extent look large too. It switches HDR mode connected erstwhile appropriate, and retains the colour and item erstwhile you usage the integer zoom function. That makes it rather a versatile lens. 

The superior camera is besides equipped with optical stabilisation for amended low-light performance, portion portion of the Dimensity 1200-AI's show boost means nighttime mode is amended this clip arsenic good - your nighttime shots volition travel retired wide and comparatively agleam arsenic a result.

OnePlus claimed successful its motorboat that nighttime mode was truthful bully you could usage it successful a country with 1 candle for light, but successful handheld mode that simply isn't true. However, extracurricular wherever determination are stars, thoroughfare lights and lighting from houses, it's effective. It tin instrumentality clean, agleam and crisp shots successful the nighttime fixed the close benignant of conditions.

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There's a little solution 8-megapixel ultra-wide alongside it, and it's erstwhile we switched to this we started to observe this mightiness not rather beryllium the flagship telephone it's trying to be. Colours and item are noticeably rougher erstwhile you power to this ultra-wide. Images look flatter and noisier, lacking extent too. Almost to the constituent wherever the images don't look similar they're taken connected the aforesaid phone. 

This is thing we've seen connected OnePlus phones before: it's that deficiency of consistency betwixt aggregate lenses that somewhat tarnishes the camera experience.

Verdict

Using the Nord 2 arsenic a regular instrumentality for a mates of weeks has near america with the feeling that precise small other is required for a large telephone experience.

From a speed, show and plan standpoint, it feels virtually nary antithetic to utilizing a due flagship phone. The lone happening that lets it down somewhat is the cameras. It's different lawsuit of having 1 bully superior camera, and the further 1 not rather being up to scratch. 

Still, if ultra-wide photography seldom makes it into your repertoire, you'll beryllium much than blessed with the OnePlus Nord 2. It's going to springiness a mostly flagship similar experience, astatine the fraction of the cost.

There is present contention from the likes of Poco and Redmi though, truthful OnePlus is surely not the lone competitory mid-ranger successful the pond. 

Also consider

Pocket-lint

Alternative photograph  1

Poco F3

It's uncommon to find a telephone that stands retired these days, but this handset decidedly does. It's speedy, has a large display, lasts each day, and won't outgo you overmuch wealth astatine all. Can't accidental amended than that.

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Writing by Cam Bunton. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 22 July 2021.

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