OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype

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OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
Business Insider India
  • The OnePlus Nord 2 is the latest offering from the company for those who want a balance of price and performance.
  • Nord 2 starts at ₹27,999 for the 6GB RAM variant and it also comes in 8GB and 12GB RAM variants.
  • It is a huge upgrade over the original Nord, which was released last year.
When OnePlus introduced the Nord series in 2020, it was the beginning of a new segment for the company, which is essentially where it started seven years ago in terms of price. The OnePlus Nord 2, as the name suggests, succeeds the original Nord, which was well-received in the Indian market. The reason was its relatively affordable price with the experience of a OnePlus phone that's been the key selling point for most OnePlus devices.

Still, last year was different as Nord was the only smartphone from the company in the mid-range segment, but now there is the Nord CE which makes the company’s smartphone portfolio even more confusing for those looking for a phone under a budget. The company, however, pitches the Nord 2 as a filler for the gap between its flagship phones and the affordable Nord CE to give consumers more options with lesser compromise.

There are several reasons why the Nord 2 is a phone worth attention. Starting with being the first device to be launched after OnePlus' integration with Oppo, to being the first smartphone from the company to feature a MediaTek chipset. But in my review, I've chosen to discount these factors and look at the value for money proposition that OnePlus has been selling to its customers.

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Although I have spent more than ten days with the Nord 2, it will only give you an idea of how the device performs when it's new. Long term performance usually deteriorates, but OnePlus phones have a good track record on that front, as of now.

So let's find out what makes it relevant while it sits between the Nord CE and 9R.

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OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
OnePlus Nord 2 has thin bezels and a punch hole camera on the front.Business Insider India

OnePlus Nord 2 price in India


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The Nord 2 price in India starts at ₹27,999 for the base 6GB RAM and 128GB storage model and goes up to ₹34,999 for the 12GB RAM and 256GB storage model. There's also an 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model priced at ₹29,999.

How is it to use the OnePlus Nord 2?



The short answer to this question is smooth — just how the company advertises it. Design-wise the Nord 2 is a mix of the original Nord and the OnePlus 9-series smartphones. I say so because the back of the device is identical to its predecessor, and the camera module on the top left looks a lot like how it's on the OnePlus 9-series. It definitely looks fresher in comparison to the Nord CE, and the credit goes to the camera module with two large lenses giving it a modern-looking vibe.
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OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
OnePlus Nord 2 has a non-reflective glass back.Business Insider India

It comes in three colour variants, where the grey and blue variants feature a glass back and the green variant has a leathery feel to it. It's 8.25mm thick and weighs around 190 grams.

If you're bored of the glass back finish and would like to try something different, the green is the one for you. It has Gorilla Glass 5 on both front and back, and is a well-made phone overall, feels solid, looks good, button placement is on point, and the 6.43-inch screen can be used with one hand without a stretch unless you have tiny hands. Its looks might not turn heads, but you can't call it boring either.

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OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
This is how the OnePlus looks from the side.Business Insider India

When you unlock the phone, you're treated with the same display that's seen on the original Nord and the Nord CE. It is a 6.43-inch AMOLED with a 90Hz refresh rate and full HD resolution. The display is crisp, bright, and very responsive, which is one of the better things about most OnePlus phones. However, it is not the best display we've seen in this price range. As for toppings, it has got some AI enhancements like 'AI Color Boost' and 'AI Resolution Boost' which upscales content for apps like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and a couple more.

OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
OnePlus Nord 2 displayBusiness Insider India

All those AI features debut courtesy of the tweaked version of the Oxygen OS 11.3 sharing Oppo's ColorOS 11.3 codebase. If you're not a keen observer of the UI, you might not even notice what has changed, but if you observe closely, the whole camera app is borrowed from Oppo's ColorOS. There are some tweaks in the settings menu as well. The fonts, icons, and animations, though, are still unchanged.

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While that's new for OnePlus phones, it's not something worth complaining about as long as it works well. In my experience, the software felt snappy and well-optimised. However, you might have to start living with the Oppo and OnePlus intersection as future phones are very likely to have these elements.

OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
OP Nord 2 camera UIBusiness Insider India

The Nord 2 comes with an impressive set of stereo speakers similar to the OnePlus 9 Pro. The fingerprint sensor is also very quick and responsive. I usually keep the haptic vibration turned off, but it's worth praise on the Nord 2. The haptic is equivalent to that seen on high-end phones from Apple and Samsung.

Nord 2 performance, gaming and battery


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The Nord 2 is the first OnePlus phone to come with a MediaTek chipset. It features the MediaTek Dimensity 1200, which is a Qualcomm 870 equivalent that is seen on phones like the Mi 11X and iQOO 7.

It's hard to tell any difference between a Snapdragon-powered OnePlus phone or the Nord 2 in day to day use. It can handle almost everything you throw at it with ease. The only unusual experience was heating while gaming for a long stretch. I played around 4-5 'search and destroy' rounds on Call of Duty: Mobile with max graphics settings to realise it's getting slightly warmer than usual.

While heating was one concern, what's impressive here is the battery performance. The Nord 2 has the same 65W Dash Charge tech as the more expensive 9-series. It gets charged from 0-100 in 35 minutes and offers a screen on time of over six hours with medium to high usage and can last a day if you don't use it more often.
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It's a good daily driver for anyone between an aggressive phone user to a light user. Even if you find the battery draining faster, the 65W charging should keep you sorted in most cases.

OnePlus Nord 2 Camera performance



The Nord 2 has a three-camera setup where the 50-megapixel primary camera uses a Sony IMX766 sensor with f/1.8 aperture. It's the same sensor seen on Oppo's flagship Find X3 Pro, which is a camera beast. The other two are an 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor.
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OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
OnePlus Nord 2 has three cameras on the back.Business Insider India

If there's one huge difference between the Nord CE and Nord 2, it's the camera performance. With its visibly larger camera lenses, the Nord 2 captures the natural depth of field, accurate colours and ample details in bright daylight.

OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
Primary camera close-upBusiness Insider India

It's a great pocket camera under a budget if you like to click photographs. Not just that, it also clicks some amazing photos in low light.
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OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
Low light shotBusiness Insider India

There's hardly any phone in its price range that can match up to its low light camera performance from both rear and front cameras.

OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
OnePlus Nord 2 primary camera. (Resized and compressed)Business Insider India

The ultrawide lens is also much improved over its predecessor. It now captures sharper wide-angle shots with a much better dynamic range.
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OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
Wide angle shotBusiness Insider India

The same goes for the front camera as well, as it captures great details with colours. It does some AI face correction to enhance skin tone and smoothness but that's minimal and looks good in photos, videos and even video calls.

OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
Landscape shot (Resized and compressed)Business Insider India

Portrait shots from both front and back cameras look quite impressive too. The depth effect doesn't look artificial, as it captures great details on the subject and processes gradual blurring of the background like a real bokeh shot.
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OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
Portrait shotBusiness Insider India

The video performance of the Nord 2 is also at par for its price. It offers 4K at 30fps from the rear and 1080 at 60fps from the front camera. The microphone quality, autofocus speed and OIS make it a suitable camera for vloggers and content creators alike.

What could've been better?



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OnePlus has packaged the Nord 2 quite competitively. If you compare it with the competition, the only area where it might lose an edge could be gaming, but that's also negligible as the difference isn't noticeable in general performance. There are better options for smartphone gamers, so that's one reason why hardcore gamers might want to skip it in this price bracket.

OnePlus Nord 2 review — catching up to the hype
OnePlus Nord 2 displayBusiness Insider India

Should you buy it?



The Nord 2 is an easily recommendable smartphone under the ₹30k price range. The best variant to go for is the 8GB + 128GB as 8GB RAM is good enough for most of the stuff you'd expect to do on your smartphone. The 12GB RAM and 256GB variant costs ₹5000 more and should be an option only if you are a very aggressive user and 128GB won't suffice.
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Compared to its predecessor, competitors — the Nord 2 offers a great set of cameras for its price, and the 65W charging is another much-appreciated convenience. So if you don't need a phone primarily for gaming, the Nord 2 has everything to offer that one may ask for.

SEE ALSO:
Oppo Reno 6 Pro 5G review – buy it if you want a mid-range smartphone with some interesting camera features
Nothing ear (1) review – clean sound, transparent design for the win
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