Naturally, this set the bar pretty high for the successor OnePlus Nord 2 5G. While the hype around the device is understandable, there are some caveats. For one, it’s not obvious why OnePlus decided to launch the Nord 2 so close to the release of the Nord CE that came out just a month earlier.
On top of that, OnePlus recently announced its merger with Oppo. As a result, the former’s much-loved OxygenOS will now be sharing its codebase with the latter’s ColorOS. Let’s see how all of that and more can affect your buying decision.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G is redesigned from the inside and out. Inspired by the flagship OnePlus 9, the camera module on the Nord 2 is the most prominent visual distinction between it and its predecessor. Inside the device is a “new” camera app UI replicated from Oppo’s ColorOS counterpart ready to surprise OnePlus fans.
Although carrying additional features, the new ColorOS camera UI might disappoint you if you’re a loyal OnePlus fan. A big part of what gave OnePlus devices their unique identity is OxygenOS’s clean and intuitive UI. In comparison, ColorOS simply doesn’t deliver the same level of consistency and doesn’t feel as OnePlus-like as you’d hope.
Unlike its predecessor with six lenses, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G has four lenses in total.
These include a primary 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor (same as OnePlus 9’s ultra-wide lens) with Optical Image Stabilization, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, a 2MP monochrome lens, and a 32MP front camera. It can shoot up to 4K video on the back and 1080p selfie video on the front at 30fps.
The predecessor Nord can shoot up to 4K selfie video at 60fps and features an additional 8MP ultra-wide lens on the front. While we are happy to have gotten rid of the frankly pointless 5MP depth and the 2MP macro lens found on the Nord, the 2MP monochrome lens on the Nord 2 serves no real purpose either. We’d prefer a 5MP telephoto lens instead.
As far as sheer image and video quality goes, the camera performance has some noticeable refinements. Although the Nord 2 does struggle with dynamic range and can over-sharpen images at times, it usually manages to take more detailed photos, works better in low-light conditions, and comes with more features than both its predecessor and the flagship OnePlus 9.
In a recent interview with tech YouTuber Dave Lee (Dave2D), OnePlus Senior Product Manager Sam Twist reflected on the Nord 2’s camera improvements as such:
A lot of the, what we call “Situational Photography”, is improved as well. So things like Nightscape—all of that is leveling up based on the MediaTek work and obviously the phenomenal hardware that we’re putting in.
Most of these improvements are due to Oppo’s AI features like AI Photo Enhancement, AI Video Enhancement, and Dual View Video now built directly into OnePlus devices. While these are helpful, they can cause images and videos to look a little too processed or unnatural.
The Nord 2 is capable of a so-so 2x optical zoom, but you can push it to max 10x digital zoom if you don’t mind losing a bit of clarity.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G is powered by the latest 6nm 5G-ready MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI chipset—comparable to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 chipset. Although not the best, the Nord 2’s performance is respectable for a mid-range phone. The handset comes with OxygenOS 11.3 skin glued together with ColorOS on top of Android 11.
Power-wise, the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chip houses an octa-core CPU paired with a 9-core ARM Mali-G77 GPU. The Nord 2 comes with 6GB/8GB/12GB of RAM and a beefy 128GB/256GB UFS3.1 storage.
The AnTuTu score (v8) for the Nord 2 clocks at somewhere around 512164 which is about 60% higher than its predecessor’s score at 315641.
While OxygenOS isn’t as stock-looking as it used to be, it’s still very fluid. Plus, there are tons of gestures and customization features available like Zen Mode and Convenience tools to change the feel and functionality of the device.
The low latency, the reduced heat generation, the better battery optimization, gaming mode, and dual stereo speakers are all welcomed upgrades that make media consumption and gaming more immersive on the Nord 2.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G features an adaptive 90Hz Fluid AMOLED panel with HDR 10+ support and can hit a peak brightness of 630 nits. Although that is adequate for indoor use, you might struggle to use the device outdoors, especially under a bright afternoon sun.
The display on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G stretches to 6.43 inches with FHD resolution at 1080×2400 pixels with a 409 ppi density. It scales to about 85.8% screen-to-body ratio, with a tall 20:9 aspect ratio.
Although not much is new about the Nord 2’s display, OnePlus did manage to introduce two new features on the successor: AI Color Boost and AI Resolution Boost.
The former helps enhance colors and will automatically convert SDR to HDR to deliver a more vibrant and vivid viewing experience. The latter can enhance video resolution to HD on popular social media apps to otherwise blurry videos.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G packs a decent 4500mAh battery which is a 10% improvement over its predecessor’s 4115mAh battery. The handset supports OnePlus’s signature 65W Warp Charge. Thankfully, the power adapter and Type-C cable come included inside the box.
The 65W Warp Charge can take the device from empty to full in just about 30 minutes. The battery on the OnePlus Nord 2 is split into two cells which are monitored by 12 temperature sensors to avoid overheating. Sadly, the handset does not support wireless charging or reverse wireless charging.
5. Build Quality
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G comes with Gorilla Glass 5 protection on both rear and front, with a fiberglass polymer which is essentially just a metal-coated plastic frame. The back has a glossy finish and looks stylish, giving off a premium flagship vibe (although a matte option would certainly be good to have).
The slight chin on the bottom bezel is a little distracting, but the overall feel and look balances this out. Although a little bulkier than its predecessor, the Nord 2 sits comfortably in hand. The design appeal is quite similar to the first Nord, but has more curves and looks more rounded on the edges and corners.
After removing the iconic Alert Slider on the recently released OnePlus Nord CE, OnePlus brings it back on the Nord 2. Much like the first Nord and Nord CE, the Nord 2 doesn’t come with an official IP rating for dust or water resistance but has built-in seals that can handle daily mishaps.
A Better Nord With Smart Compromises
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G is full of improvements and compromises. Luckily, the former trump the latter. Granted, the missing front ultra-wide lens, the not-so-OnePlus OxygenOS, and the pointless 2MP monochrome do not inspire confidence.
However, the plethora of added AI features, a more powerful processor, an arguably better design, the improved battery capacity and charging speed, potentially faster software updates, and tons of other behind-the-scenes tweaks make the OnePlus Nord 2 5G a very impressive mid-range phone.