Like the proverbial son returning home, the OnePlus Nord was lauded as the phone that reminded everyone about the company’s roots. Now, the company is going back to the basics again with the launch of the Nord 2 5G.
While OnePlus says this is a mid-range phone, the lines separating it from the flagship models seem to be fast blurring. In India, three variants have been announced – 6GB+128GB for ₹27,999, 8GB+128GB for ₹29,999, and the 12GB+256GB for ₹34,999. For this review, we tested the top model. So can the Nord 2 5G repeat the massive success of the Nord? Read on.
Same ol’ design
When it comes to design, OnePlus’ phones are the Porsche 911’s of the smartphone world. While they evolve over time, to the untrained eye, they all look pretty much the same. Up front, the Nord 2 looks the same as the Nord CE, which in turn looks the same as the Nord (sans the extra selfie lens).
The camera housing at the back thankfully makes it easier to distinguish the new phone from its predecessors. The housing is a tad bigger and wider, and looks more in line with the times than the oblong camera housings on the Nord and Nord CE.
There are three colour options to choose from – Gray Sierra, Green Woods, and Blue Haze. We got the Blue Haze variant, which has a glossy reflective finish, and impressively doesn’t attract fingerprints that easily. As always, build quality is top-notch, and there are no signs of cost cutting anywhere.
The edges are rounded and smoothened for a nice feel, but it comes at the cost of grip. It’s not only a bit difficult to get a proper grip, but when kept on a slightly inclined surface, it tends to slip. Thankfully, there’s a bundled case that we highly recommend.
Fluidity at 90Hz
While we have used smartphones with 120Hz displays, in my opinion, a 90Hz display is good enough for day-to-day use. The 6.43-in AMOLED display is plenty bright, and serves up a rich and vibrant colour palette. You can even stream HDR10 content on the phone, so there’s little to complain here.
There are two AI-backed features that are a bit jargon-heavy, but do make a visible difference. The AI Color Boost automatically tweaks the colour saturation and brightness to deliver vibrance when watching videos on compatible apps YouTube, and VLC to name a few.
The AI Resolution Boost, on the other hand, upscales the videos you’re watching to the native display resolution. It won’t work on locally stored videos, but does make a difference on YouTube and Instagram.
A new dimension
One big change on the Nord 2 is what lies under the hood – a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 AI chipset. Despite switching teams, performance continues to be top-notch. As the name suggests, this is a highly customised version of the Dimensity 1200 chipset developed by MediaTek and OnePlus.
Overall performance is buttery smooth, or as OnePlus claimed “effortless”. Apps open and shut in a jiffy, which is also down to the constantly improving OxygenOS 11.3. Games like Asphalt 9: Legends work smoothly even at the highest setting. The smoothness of the 90Hz display only accentuates the gaming experience. The phone does get a tad warm when playing for a long time, but at no point did it get uncomfortable.
Unlike the Nord CE, there are stereo speakers onboard the Nord 2, which are plenty loud and give a sense of depth when playing games or watching videos. But the audio tends to get a bit distorted when you turn the volume all the way up.
On paper, the 4,500mAh battery is said to be good enough to last an entire day, and for most intent and purposes it is. But watch a few HDR videos, play graphic-intensive games, and the battery level starts dropping faster than water out of a leaky faucet.
That said, it takes next to no time to fully charge the battery, courtesy of WarpCharge 65W. The charging animation is a great indicator of just how fast the battery charges, and you can go from 0-100% in just 30 minutes. Time to say goodbye to overnight charging.
More light for your photos
OnePlus has made some big changes to the camera hardware, especially when compared to the first-gen Nord. You now get a 50MP Sony IMX766 primary sensor with OIS, coupled with an 8MP ultra wide-angle lens, and a 2MP mono lens.
In ideal day-light conditions (a rarity during my testing time), the Sony lens was able to capture some fantastic photos with a lot of details, great dynamic range and colours. The HDR mode also helps in bringing out more details in the photo.
The AI-mode, while helpful in most conditions, still boosts the colours a bit too much for our liking. The camera is also quite capable in indoor settings under low light conditions. It managed to preserve a lot of details and colours, while minimising the overall noise. The same can’t be said for the wide-angle lens though, which struggled to capture details in less than ideal conditions. The mono lens too is more often than not a pointless addition.
For selfies, there’s a 32MP Sony IMX615 camera, which does a decent job when shooting outdoors. It is quite capable indoors as well, which worked for us since we were stuck indoors during the entire testing phase.
OnePlus made a successful return to its roots with the Nord, and the Nord 2 5G continues on that tradition. A solid build quality, fluid display and performance, capable cameras, and stable software is what you get from the device. It is everything you expect from a premium mid-range smartphone.
But there are a couple of misses like no wireless charging or 3.5mm audio jack, and the lack of proper waterproofing. Though it can stand a few splashes of water, it is best kept away from the pool or the toilet seat. Still, these aren’t huge deal-breakers, and the Nord 2 5G is likely to sell like hotcakes.