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OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
Aug 04, 2021
OnePlus officially brings the OnePlus Nord 2 to the scene. This smartphone has one crystal-clear goal - to be the next flagship killer as a part of the company’s “Never Settle” innovations.
OnePlus already has a proper flagship series, but they also have a flagship grade price. This is where the Nord and Nord 2 come into picture - with flagship features at a mid-range price and reclaiming the title of “flagship killer”.
The Nord 2 5G has a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 SoC under the hood, a better main camera with a new Sony IMX766 sensor, dual speakers and a large 4,500mAh battery supported by 65W Warp Charge.
The Nord 2 is not an entirely new phone, it has the original Nord’s Fluid AMOLED panel but with a single selfie camera sitting behind a punch hole. The selfie camera is the same as the original Nord’s - 32MP camera.
158.9x73.2x8.25mm, 189g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 5), glass back (Gorilla Glass 5), plastic frame.
The Nord 2 comes in a spectacular looking box that’s screaming a killer phone inside. Inside the box you’ll find a 65W charger, a proper 6.5A-rated USB-A-to-C and a soft transparent case.
The units in France also have a pair of wired headphones in the box, that’s how things are in France (it’s the law).
The phone comes with a pre-applied screen protector, technically it’s just a cheap film to keep away the scratches but is a huge smudge magnet, worse, it’s hard to clean. We recommend peeling it off immediately.
If you ignore the camera module on both OnePlus Nord and Nord 2, then you’d definitely say that they both look alike. They have the same size and weight, not just that the shape also looks similar. The front has a flat glass while the back has curved long sides and the plastic frame is also curved,too.
The OnePlus Nord 2 is available in three colors - Gray Sierra, Blue Haze and Green Wood, and each of these have a different finish on the rear panel. The Gray Sierra has a matte finish, the Blue Haze comes with a glossy-like finish and the Green Wood option has a faux leather finish.
Let’s begin with the front which is equipped with a 6.43” Fluid AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support and 1080p resolution. The bezels are reasonably thin which is slightly thick at the chin. There is an under-display fingerprint sensor, and it’s incredibly fast and accurate.
You can see the speaker grille on the top above the display, under which there is the earpiece which also doubles as the speaker.
The entire front is covered with Gorilla glass 5 sheet, so is the rear panel but with trendy curves on its longer sides. The camera island looks amazing with its two step kind brushed aluminum - jutting out metal and then rings.
The camera module houses the 50MP main camera accompanied by an 8MP ultrawide shooter, 2 MP depth sensor and a dual-tone LED Flash.
The frame is glossy and a bit curved. Although the paint job hides the smudges pretty well, they are still there.
The left side of the frame is home to volume keys sitting alone. The right side on the other hand accommodates the power/lock key and the three-step silencer (sound, vibrate and mute positions).
The top houses a secondary mic. The primary mic and your mouthpiece is at the bottom alongside with the dual-SIM tray, the USB-C port and the bottom-firing speakers.
In our opinion, the OnePlus Nord 2 strikes a great balance between size, look, build and grip - something we rarely see these days. We would have appreciated it if the phone had an IP rating as well.
OnePlus Nord 2 5G is equipped with a 6.43-inch Fluid AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate, 20:9 aspect ratio and 2,400 x 1080p resolution. The screen is protected by a sheet of Gorilla Glass 5.
The handset supports up to 90Hz refresh rate. The phone allows you to choose between 60Hz and 90Hz. There is no dedicated Auto Select, but the 90Hz seems to act like Auto - it runs all compatible apps (excluding games) in 90Hz and falls back to 60Hz when viewing static images and videos.
As for the brightness, it maxes out 438 nits when adjusted manually. When using the Smart Ambient Brightness in bright light, the brightness can go as high as 633 nits. The minimum brightness the phone can offer is 2.0 nits.
The display is tuned to support DCI-P3 (Vivid mode) and sRGB (Natural mode) color spaces. Both the options have good accuracy and are not too saturated but the white and gray hues are a bit bluish. No worries, it can be fixed by using the warmest setting of the Color Temperature Bar.
Battery Life & Charging Speed:
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G packs a 4,500mAh battery under the hood. The battery capacity and screen are similar to the one featured by Realme GT, but the Nord 2 has a less powerful Dimensity 1200 SoC and a 90Hz screen refresh rate.
As for the battery life, it can survive nearly 25 hours of 3G calls. It can last for roughly 16 and a half hours of web browsing or you can watch videos for 16 hours. That’s pretty amazing compared to other competitors.
OnePlus Nord 2 comes with 65W Warp charge support. The phone is shipped with a proper 65W brick and a 6.5A-rated USB cable. There is no support for wireless charging or reverse charging.
The company explains that the battery is divided into two cells which are monitored by 12 temperature sensors. It takes the phone 30 minutes to charge back to 100% from 0%. Indeed it charged 98% of the battery in 30 minutes.
The OnePlus Nord 2 has two speakers - one on the top (earpiece) and the other one at the bottom. The speaker at the bottom seems to have more bass and maybe a bit more louder compared to the one on the top. The sound is well balanced and tuned in both landscape and portrait orientations.
The speakers on Nord 2 5G are similar to the Realme GT 5G’s. The speakers lack a bit of mid-tones, but high-tones seem well presented.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G comes with the best chipset that MediaTek has to offer - Dimensity 1200 5G. OnePlus thought that the Dimensity 1200 fits the Nord 2 better compared to other SoCs. Although Dimensity 1200 is the flagship chip from MediaTek it’s comparable to the Snapdragon 870 in terms of performance. Definitely not the fastest but still among the top tier segment.
The MediaTek flagship chipset is supported by 6/8/12 GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128/256 GB UFS 3.1 storage.
Moving on to the benchmarks, the phone manages to score 814 points and 2792 points in the single-core and multi-core Geekbench 5 tests, respectively. As for the AnTuTu score, the phone scored 598,022 points in the AnTuTu 9 test.
These scores are quite close to the Mi 11 Lite which runs Snapdragon 780 and OnePlus 9R which is equipped with Snapdragon 870.
Paired with the fan-favourite OxygenOS which is among the fastest launchers in the market, makes it impossible to not recommend this phone.
The main camera on the Nord 2 by default saves images in 12.5MP resolution. The photos shot with HDR mode look quite good. They have high contrast, pretty wide dynamic range and accurate colors. The images look a bit over-processed and the detail seems good, although it took a hit from HDR.
The photos taken without the help of HDR are also nice. They have plenty of detail and sharpness. The colors seem true-to-life, contrast is great and the dynamic range is wide.
In our opinion, it’s better if you leave the HDR option turned off. The photos turn out to be better without it.
Nord 2 offers an AI Photo Enhancement toggle, which is found on several Realme phones. It can recognize up to 22 different scenes. It turns an HDR photo into an HDR image with eye-popping colors, depending on the scene.
Although there are 2x and 5x toggles on the viewfinder there is no lossless zoom offered. The option is purely digital zoom, cropping and upscaling, which might seem good on the Nord’s display but the same can’t be said when viewing it on a computer.
The phone also has a 50MP resolution mode. The high-res photos look okay but look slightly noisy and not very detailed. Downscaling a 50MP shot to 12.5MP may yield slightly better results in more complex scenes.
The images clicked with the ultrawide camera look a bit over-processed due to the Auto HDR. The photos are quite detailed, have good colors and dynamic range is pretty wide. The contrast seems unnaturally high and the foliage looks artificial.
The photos taken without the HDR support aren’t better - they do look more natural though, but they are less sharp, better foliage and high noise.
Low-light image quality:
The regular photos taken at night time with the main camera are impressive. They are detailed, with good exposure, amazingly low noise and spectacular color representation. The photos look quite natural although there seems to be multi-stacking at work.
However, for clicking photos at night time we recommend you use the Night mode as it takes magnificent photos. Compared to the regular shots the ones taken using the Night Mode are more detailed, with low noise, even more saturated colors and amazingly balanced exposure. The software restores the blown highlights and reveals more details in the shadows.
We suggest not to expect too much sharpness from the 2x zoomed photos since they are cropped and upscaled from the regular photos.
The stills captured by the 8MP ultrawide camera taken without the Night Mode are okay and usable. They are dark, noise reduction is balanced, and it stops before washing out the fine details, hence making them showable - but that’s on you to decide.
The Ultrawide camera also has Night Mode support. The Night Mode significantly boosts the brightness and exposure. The software also clears the noise and improves the sharpness and details along with colors.
The 12.5MP pictures captured by the main camera with the help of the 2MP depth sensor look pretty good. The subjects have plenty of detail and sharpness. The images have true-to-life colors and great contrast. The simulated blur looks okay, but the subject separation from the background, although not perfect, seems fine for this price range.
Unlike the original Nord the Nord 2 has a single selfie camera - it’s a 32MP camera with fixed focus. The selfies clicked in ideal light conditions have amazing sharpness, details, contrast, colors, dynamic range and rendition.
You can also take selfie portraits - the photos have good contrast and colors along with average level of subject separation. The subject doesn’t seem to have that much detail, though, just downscale the images to 8MP and you’ll get perfect pictures.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G captures videos with its main camera and ultrawide shooter. The main camera shoots videos up to 4K at 30fps and there’s also 1080p at both 30fps and 60fps. The ultrawide camera and selfie shooter are capped at [email protected] video capturing.
All the cameras have Electronic stabilization and it’s always-on and applied to all resolutions and frame rates. The main camera also has OIS. As for the sound, it is recorded in stereo.
The 4K footage from the main camera is excellent - the level of detail is abundant and has just the right amount of sharpness which gives it a natural look. The noise is nicely low, the colors are true to life and the dynamic range is quite wide.
The 1080p videos shot with the ultrawide camera are pretty nice. The details seem okay, the noise is low and the dynamic range is amazing. The colors seem washed out, though.
The phone supports AI Night video - just click the AI button when recording a video in low-light conditions. The videos are shot in 1080p at night and do look good. It highlights the light sources giving them a better look and color saturation.
Compared to the regular 4K footage the 1080p AI clip looks brighter. The videos also look more sharp and less noisier due to the lower video resolution.
OnePlus Nord 2 5G is a flagship killer smartphone which offers flagship grade specs at a mid-range price. It’s been a while since the company announced a flagship killer but here is the Nord 2 successfully reclaiming the title.
The phone has a 90Hz Fluid AMOLED display, MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chipset, a flagship grade 50MP Sony camera with OIS and amazingly fast 65W Warp Charge.
The OnePlus Nord 2 is a worthy smartphone with a superb set of flagship grade features offered at a lucrative price - definitely a flagship killer.
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