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OnePlus Nord 2 review

Return of the flagship killer

OnePlus Nord 2
(Image: © Srivatsa Ramesh)

TechRadar Verdict

The OnePlus Nord 2 comes with a lot of improvements over its predecessor and it shines in all departments. It also brings insanely fast 65W fast charging and we are also pretty impressed with the camera as well for the first time on a Nord device. However, we’d have liked to see some upgrades on the display front. Regardless, the Nord 2 is an exciting addition to the Rs 30,000 segment in India and one of our new top recommendations.

Pros

  • +

    Smooth and stable software

  • +

    Insane fast charging

  • +

    Capable cameras

  • +

    Excellent low light photography

Cons

  • -

    Only 90Hz display

  • -

    Boring design

  • -

    No IP rating

The OnePlus Nord 2 is a huge step up from last year’s Nord and is one of the best successors we’ve seen in a long time. It comes with upgrades in almost all departments and for the first time, the phone shines in the camera department as well. 

The Nord CE was launched in India recently and that covered Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 segment in India which almost made certain that the Nord 2 would be priced close to Rs 30,000 一 and it did so. With the OnePlus Nord 2, OnePlus is climbing a step ahead just like it did with the number series.

The OnePlus Nord 2 is OnePlus’s first phone with a MediaTek chipset -- the Dimensity 1200 AI is an excellent chipset of choice and the phone shines with it. The Nord 2 also comes with insanely fast 65W fast charging which goes to 100% in just 30 minutes. The phone also comes with a 90Hz AMOLED display which despite not being the best in the segment, is good enough for most tasks. 

Further, the biggest leap for the OnePlus Nord 2 comes in terms of camera一 for the first time in the series’ history we were pretty impressed with the overall camera performance including photos, videos, night mode, and also selfies. Lastly, the Oxygen OS on the Nord 2 is now integrated with ColorOS codebase which does bring in a few changes, but the pure Oxygen OS stays the same 一 fast, fluid, and responsive.  

Mid-range OnePlus phones are always exciting

The OnePlus Nord 2 is one of the best successors we’ve seen in recent times. It brings a lot of improvements over its popular predecessor and seems set to replicate the same success.

The Nord 2 brings a lot of improvements from the last-gen popular mid-range smartphone and now with the second generation smartphone OnePlus is trying to replicate the same 一 it’s like the company has got a secret recipe for success. 

OnePlus Nord 2 price and availability

The OnePlus Nord 2 starts at Rs 27,999 in for the base 6GB+128GB variant, the 8GB+128GB variant is priced at Rs 29,999, and the top end 12GB+256GB configuration is priced at Rs 34,999. The Nord 2 is available in Gray Sierra, Blue Haze and Green Wood colourways. 

In India, the open sale for the OnePlus Nord 2 will start from July 28 on Amazon, OnePlus.in, and offline stores while Prime members can access the device starting July 26 during the Amazon Prime Day sale. The 6GB and Green Wood variants will be available later in August. 

With a price of around Rs 30,000, the OnePlus Nord 2 will rival the Poco F3 GT, Mi 11X, and Realme X7 Max

OnePlus Nord 2 price
ConfigurationPrice
6GB+128GBRs 27,999
8GB+128GBRs 29,999
12GB+256GBRs 34,999
(opens in new tab)

Buy OnePlus Nord 2 on Amazon (opens in new tab)

6GB+128GB: Rs 27,999

8GB+128GB: Rs 29,999

12GB+246GB: Rs 34,999

OnePlus Nord 2 vs OnePlus Nord specs

OnePlus Nord 2 vs OnePlus Nord (Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Nord 2Nord
ProcessorDimensity 1200 AISnapdragon 765G
Display6.43" FHD+6.44" FHD+
Refresh rate90Hz90Hz
RAM6/8/12GB6/8/12GB
Storage128/256GB128/256GB
Rear camera50+8+2MP48+8+5+2MP
Front camera32MP32+8MP
Battery4,500mAh, 65W4115mAh, 30W
Headphone jackNoNo
Weight189g 184g
Thickness8.2mm8.2mm

Design

OnePlus Nord 2 Blue Haze looks premium, thanks to the camera design.  (Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)
  • Weight: 189g; Thickness: 8.2mm
  • Gorilla Glass 5 on the back
  • Gray Sierra, Blue Haze and Green Wood colours 

OnePlus Nord 2 hasn’t changed much from its predecessor except for the camera module design. While this isn’t particularly bad, we would have liked to see OnePlus bring some more exciting colour options or change the design language. As we said in our OnePlus Nord review, the OnePlus Nord 2’s design also feels “boring”  一 allow us to explain. 

Don’t get us wrong for using the word ‘boring’. The OnePlus Nord 2 looks premium from a distance thanks to the new camera module design. In fact, the device also feels premium when you hold it 一 but the design is a touch lacklustre.

The OnePlus Nord 2 is available in Gray Sierra, Blue Haze and Green Wood colour options and we are using the Blue Haze colour for our review. The blue variant of the Nord 2 is dull when compared to the Nord from 2020, but it does look classy. 

The rear of the device is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 while a new design camera module, inspired by the OnePlus 9, sits on the top left. The power button is placed slightly on the upper side along with the alert slider. The size of the alert slide has been reduced and it is also more sensitive than earlier which might result in accidental triggers. It’s also hard reaching the physical slider with one hand. The Type-C charging port, SIM slot, speaker are on the bottom. This time around, you get dual stereo speakers on the Nord 2. 

The phone weighs 189 grams and measures 8.2mm 一 while this might not be the best we’ve seen, the device feels good in the hand and doesn’t feel too bulky to hold for a longer duration. Even though its glossy back is covered with glass, the Nord 2 did not attract any fingerprints or dust particles during our usage time which is quite impressive. 

There's no IP rating, but the company says it is a ‘Daily enhanced water-resistant device’ that can withstand splashes with no damages. 

OnePlus Nord 2 (Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

At the end of the day, the design of the phone is not the best we’ve seen as all the current-gen OnePlus devices look almost similar, but it’s not too bad to be a deal-breaker. We wish the upcoming OnePlus phones come with a new design language.

Display

  • 6.43-inch AMOLED display
  • 90Hz screen refresh rate
  • HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Widevine L1 support

OnePlus Nord 2 sports a 90Hz AMOLED display. (Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Just like the OnePlus Nord and Nord CE, the OnePlus Nord 2 also sports a 90Hz AMOLED display on a 6.43-inch panel. It has a 20:9 aspect ratio and the front is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 which does avoid scratches. Out of the box, you also get a pre-applied screen protector which we recommend not to remove for a few days. 

The device sports slim bezels on the sides and a thicker bezel on the top and the bottom. On the top left, you also get the camera cutout which blends nicely and you will; hardly notice it once you start using the device. The viewing angles are good, but the outdoor readability is just average. The peak brightness of the OnePlus Nord 2 is 600 nits which is just above average. 

The AMOLED screen is a flat one here and is the same as the one we’ve seen on the Nord. But, OnePlus has worked on MediaTek’s open resource architecture (DORA) and it has added some AI-centric features like AI resolution boost, AI colour boost which brings up the more vibrant colour. This works well and you can see the difference while playing videos. OnePlus says the AI Color Boos is compatible with YouTube, MX Player, and VLC while the AI resolution boost is compatible with YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram. 

The phone does support HDR playback and also supports HD streaming on apps like Prime Video and Netflix. The 90Hz screen refresh rate is good and smooth, but we would have loved to see the OnePlus offer a 120Hz refresh rate. The phone also comes with just average peak brightness and this is also another area where we’d like to see more improvement. 

Lastly, the phone does not support HDR gaming as of now, but it does support 90fps gaming on some titles. However, BGMI doesn’t support 90fps yet. While the display isn’t a particularly bad one, it does lack when it comes to peak brightness and also we’d have liked a 120Hz panel 一 the Xiaomi Mi 11X is still the best display in the segment and the cheaper Realme X7 Max offers a 120Hz AMOLED panel. Even the Poco F3 GT offers an E4 panel.

Performance

  • Dimensity 1200 AI
  • Up to 12GB LPDDR4X RAM and 256GB UFS3.1 storage
  • Nine 5G band support (NSA 一 N41, N78, N40 NSA 一 N41, N78, N28A, N1, N3, N40)

The major boost for the Nord 2 comes from the chipset inside. The OnePlus Nord 2 is the first OnePlus device to ditch Snapdragon processors and opts for a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 AI chipset. It is an octa-core chipset consisting of one Ultra Arm Cortex-A78 core clocked at 3GHz, three Arm Cortex-A78 super cores clocked at 2.6GHz, and four efficient Arm Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 2GHz. 

If you are wondering how the Dimensity 1200 AI is different from the Dimensity 1200, here is what OnePlus told us. MediaTek opened up the 5G AI platform (5G Open Resource Architecture/DORA) and OnePlus has worked on the DORA platform and worked to improve the camera and display performance and add more features to the phone. The Dimensity 1200 AI is a custom chipset for the OnePlus Nord 2 and is exclusive to OnePlus for now.

The device is available with two storage options 一 128GB and 256GB storage options. In terms of RAM options, the Nord 2 is available in three configurations 一 6GB, 8GB, and 12GB. We used the 12GB+256GB variant for our review, but most people will be satisfied with the 8GB variant as the price difference between the 8GB and 12GB varint is Rs 5,000. If you really want the device and have a tight budget, the 6GB variant will be available later in August. 

The Dimensity 1200 AI performs exceptionally well

The Realme X7 Max was India’s first phone with Dimensity 1200 chipset and the performance was excellent on that one and the same applies for the Nord 2 as well. The Dimensity 1200 AI is a powerful and capable flagship-grade chipset with support for multiple 5G band support in India. 

In terms of day to day performance, the Nord 2 is a smooth performer. We did not face any issues with the performance of any apps while we were using the phone. The Dimensity 1200 AI is a capable chipset and performs exceptionally well and purely for CPU performance, the Nord 2 beats the Nord and even Nord CE hands-down. It is also worth mentioning that there is a dedicated high performance in the settings which push the performance at the cost of power efficiency. By default, the phone will be in power efficiency mode 一 which isn’t a bad thing since you are getting good battery life. 

Gaming features on OnePlus Nord 2. (Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Taking care of graphics and gaming is the Arm Mali-G77 MC9 GPU 一 which does bring in an excellent performance. In terms of gaming, the OnePlus Nord 2 handled games like Asphalt 9, Call of Duty, and Battlegrounds Mobile India pretty well. In Call of Duty Mobile with very high graphic quality and a very high frame rate and with BGMI, we were able to achieve Ultra FPS, but for 60fps or extreme mode, you will have to settle for smooth. We did not face any major heating issues with our unit. Although it did get warm, there’s nothing alarming. 

Oxygen OS brings a bunch of nifty gaming-centric features as well

Overall, the OnePlus Nord 2 offers excellent performance be it with multitasking, intensive usage, and even while gaming. The partnership with MediaTek for OnePlus has turned out to be a huge success.

The in-display fingerprint scanner is extremely fast and responsive and so is the face unlock. Interestingly, the phone also comes with support for NaVIC navigation. The network and Wi-Fi reception was pretty solid as well.

Cameras

  • 50MP main camera
  • New camera app
  • Single selfie camera

The OnePlus Nord 2 gets a big jump here with a 50MP Sony IMX766 primary sensor(f/1.88) with optical image stabilization. The same sensor is also seen on the OnePlus 9/9 Pro’s ultra-wide camera. This is followed by an 8MP ultra-wide lens(f/2.25), and a 2MP mono lens(f/2.4). For selfies, the Nord 2 sports a 32MP single camera which might seem like a downgrade from the dual selfie camera on the Nord, but OnePlus has used a better sensor here 一 the Sony IMX615, which is quite impressive. 

To start off with, the OnePlus Nord 2 ditches the familiar OnePlus camera app for ColorOS’s camera application with a lot of options on the screen. Regardless, we are pretty happy to say that the OnePlus Nord 2 has a very capable main camera that not only shines in the daylight, but the performance is excellent in low-light with Night mode as well. 

The main camera can shoot images without much noise and produces excellent colours. The saturation level, dynamic range, and white balance are all on point. The HDR mode does a great job as well here and we’d prefer you to take images with HDR on so that all images are eye-popping and of course, social media worthy. The HDR modes do not mess up with colour balance 一 which is a good thing. The 50MP photos bring up more details to the images. 

Since the phone uses Oppo’s camera app, the colour tuning is now much better and the results which we got were pretty impressive. The app also comes with a bunch of camera shooting modes 一 if you want to explore more options, you can do them all within the same app. Under the “more” option in the camera app, you will also find a dual-view video which is new for the OnePlus that essentially records video from both the front camera and rear camera simultaneously. Apart from that, you will find HDR, AI, filters, and AI beautification on the screen. 

The Nord 2 uses AI technology to recognize 22 different senses automatically such as food, indoor, etc. and adjusts the colour and contrast level to suit. You also get AI video enhancement for video recording which improves more colour and contrast to the video. 

While the Nord 2’s daylight performance is very good and is slightly ahead in the segment, it takes a huge leap when it comes to low-light scenarios. With night mode features turned on, the Nord 2 captures excellent images without losing much detail and carrying colours and highlights. While the images still bring a bit of noise, this is by far the best we’ve seen in the segment. Overall, the night mode is worth checking out if you are getting the device. It is also worth mentioning that the night mode takes about five seconds to capture the image, but the wait is worth it as you can see from the images. 

Not only that, but the phone also captures surprisingly good images with 2x and 5x zoom 一 while it misses out on the macro sensor, the 5x zoom did help capture some decent close-ups.

The 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera brings a broader view and it does a good job during the daytime but struggles with details and colour at night. 

Lastly, the 2MP mono lens can take can shoot black and white pictures which are best served in the day 一 but, we don’t see this feature being used often.

Selfies are handled by a 32MP Sony IMX615 一 biggest front camera sensor on any OnePlus phone yet. The results were very satisfactory and we were able to snap some good ones. The AI algorithm can recognize up to 10 faces for selfies and that did work well in our case. You can also choose how much bokeh you need with the slier.  

Lastly, in terms of video shooting, the phone can go up to 4K 30fps, though the chipset is capable of handling 4K 60fps 一 OnePlus says this has been limited to 4K 30fps to help build a great user experience without compromising on quality. In terms of quality, the phone did perform well and the OIS made the whole process smooth and enjoyable. 

In a nutshell, the OnePlus Nord 2 has a great set of cameras that offer an excellent all-around performance 一 day, night, selfies, and videos. The OnePlus Nord is the best camera phone we’ve tested in 2021 around Rs 30,000 mark and we are quite happy that OnePlus has pulled off this time. If the OnePlus and Oppo merger means better camera capabilities, sign us up! 

Software

  • Android 11 out of the box
  • Two years of software updates, three years of security updates
  • Software merged with Oppo's Color OS software, but no bloatware

OnePlus Nord 2 and Nord  (Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

A few days before the launch of the OnePlus Nord 2, OnePlus in a forum post said that the company is working on integrating the codebase of Oxygen OS and ColorOS. The company also told us this is a change that you will likely not even notice since it’s happening behind the scenes 一 well, that’s not the case all with the new Oxygen OS 11.3 on the OnePlus Nord 2, but that’s not a bad thing. 

The OnePlus Nord 2 is the first device running on the unified codebase

OxygenOS is still one of the best software experiences you can get on an Android. The Oxygen OS 11.3 feels like a mix of Oxygen OS we knew from the OnePlus devices and some features from ColorOS.  

The merger also should mean faster updates 一 which is what exactly OnePlus needs right now as it is struggling to keep up with update timelines, thanks to the multiple phone launches. The majority of the UI, fonts, animations and first-party apps remain the same as previous versions. However, the camera app is now Oppo’s 一 more on that in a while. The settings app has been revamped too, but you’d notice it only if you look closely or compare it next to other OnePlus devices. 

Having said that, most of the Oxygen OS elements now feel more like ColorOS/Realme UI. While Oppo’s ColorOS does being some additional apps and some unwanted push notifications, the OnePlus Nord 2 lacks any of those, and in fact, the Nord 2 comes with fewer pre-installed apps compared to the Nord. If you are interested in checking out some comparisons between the previous Oxygen OS version to the current one on Nord 2, here is the OnePlus Nord 2 and Nord 2 comparison gallery

Some of the major changes are as follows: change in personalization, privacy, display, storage, tools, battery settings and notification UI elements. OnePlus has retained its features as well like FPS meter, do not disturb, heads-up notification, mis-touch prevention, graphic optimization, and prioritizes signals to the game to reduce latency. The OnePlus launcher is still one of the fastest and simple first-party launchers we’ve used. 

While some changes are noticeable, some are done under the hood and overall. We did like the new Oxygen OS experience on the OnePlus Nord 2 and this is by far the most stable version of the software we’ve tested on a OnePlus device in a long time. We did not encounter any bugs, glitches, or sluggishness during the review period. 

OnePlus has also confirmed the OnePlus Nord 2 will get two major Android updates and three years of security updates. One of the main reasons for the merger with Oppo’s codebase is to provide faster software updates and if OnePlus will stick to its promise and provide updates on time, that would make things more exciting for enthusiasts. 

Overall, the Oxygen OS experience on the OnePlus Nord 2 feels a bit different, but the same. With Android 12 coming soon, all the eligible OnePlus devices will be merged with the new codebase which could also mean a more polished software experience. 

Battery

  • 4,500mAh battery unit
  • Wrap Charge 65W fast charging 
  • 0 to 100% in just 30 minutes 

65W fast charging does 100% in just 30 minutes. (Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

The OnePlus Nord 2, similar to its flagship OnePlus 9 series brings a large 4,500mAh battery pack 一 nearly 10% jump from the Nord. Not only that but the Nord 2 also comes with a 65W in-box charger (Type-A to Type-C). The battery life overall is slightly improved from the Nord but could be better.

The Nord 2 did last us one full day without missing the mark on any given day. Our usage included extensive social media usage, gaming, camera usage, calls, and communication for work on Slack and mails throughout the day. We did manage to get about 5 hours on average on-screen on time while we also had a couple of days where we managed to hit the 6 and also 7-hour mark. 

In terms of charging, the OnePlus Nord 2 will blow your mind with its insanely fast 65W fast charging which charges the phone from 0 to 100% in just 30 minutes. We did run the test multiple times and every single time the phone managed to charge in or under the 30 minutes mark. 50% of the charge happens in the first 10  minutes or so 一 which is mind-boggling for a phone. 

Audio

Dual stereo speakers on Nord 2 (Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)
  • Dual speakers
  • Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX & aptX HD & LDAC, and AAC support 
  • No headphone jack

For the first time ever in the Nord lineup, OnePlus has added a dual stereo speaker setup which is pretty loud and enjoyable. But, the phone does miss the 3.5mm headphone jack 一 which isn’t surprising, but something worth mentioning. For wireless audio streaming, the phone harnesses Bluetooth 5.2 with support aptX, aptX HD, AAC, SVC, and also LDAC. We did have a good experience with Bluetooth audio as well. 

Should I buy the OnePlus Nord 2?

(Image credit: Srivatsa Ramesh)

Buy it if...

You want a great software experience

The Oxygen OS experience is still one of the best software experiences you can get in the Android world. With Oppo’s merger, things have already gotten better and updates should be more timely now.  

You take photos at night

While the OnePlus Nord 2 does an excellent job with its cameras in the daylight, the phone even shines in low-light photography. The new Nightscape Ultra mode brings a lot of details to the right image and is the best we’ve seen in the segment so far. 

You want fast charging

OnePlus was one of the first companies to offer fast charging and now, the company has finally taken a big jump from 30W fast charging to 65W fast charging which does the job in just 30 minutes. This will come in handy more than you’d think. 

Don't buy it if...

You want the best gaming experience

The Poco F3 GT (opens in new tab) is a far better option for gamers with its bigger display, better speaker setup and mechanical gaming buttons for added functionality while being cheaper.

You want a better display

The Xiaomi Mi 11X (opens in new tab) is still the best display in the segment 一 both in terms of brightness and panel quality. Compared to the Mi 11X, the Nord 2’s display feels quite dull and also the refresh rate is limited to 90Hz while the competition offers 120Hz.