The original OnePlus Nord released in 2020 was OnePlus’ attempt to return to its roots, but the succeeding Nord releases made some quarters question whether Nord was really being used as a way to drive sales volume. Fast forward to 2021, and we now have the official successor, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G. There’s a lot of interesting changes to this phone that reflect on their journey from a startup to a mainstream phone sub-brand under OPPO, and does it represent welcome change? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
The design sticks to the Nord design language, with the camera module updated to reflect a style that has defined phones in 2021. The phone still is glass-like with a plastic frame, with Gorilla Glass 5 protecting both sides of the phone.
The back features the OnePlus logo as well as the camera module that houses the three cameras: 50MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, and 2MP mono. The ring of the lenses themselves are raised higher than the module, so it’s a bit worrying that it might get scratches over time when you put it on hard surfaces. So better use the protective case included in the package.
In the hands, the phone feels lightweight but feels really well-made despite the use of a plastic frame.
The main screen has a large 6.43-inch Full HD+ Fluid AMOLED display. A screen protector is pre-installed for your assurance. It also has thin bezels with a hole punch on the upper left for the 32MP selfie shooter. Found above it is the earpiece, which also doubles as a secondary loudspeaker for stereo sound.
Look on the left side, and you will find the volume buttons.
On the right is the power/lock button and the switch for activating silent, vibrate, or ring. The buttons are made of plastic, clicky yet firm.
At the top, we have the secondary microphone.
While down at the bottom, we have the card tray for two nano-sized SIM cards, the main microphone, USB-C port, and loudspeaker.
Display and Multimedia
The OnePlus Nord 2 retains the display of the original Nord, albeit being a tad smaller. This results in a 6.43-inch Full HD+ Fluid AMOLED display with a density of 410PPI, which is more than enough for a phone of this size.
Colors and viewing angles are on par with what you expect from AMOLED displays, and its peak brightness can help you in situations where you would need it.
You have the usual suite of display customization like the Eye Comfort mode, color temperature, screen color mode, refresh rate toggle, and the option to hide the front camera. What’s new here is the option to reduce contrast in low light conditions for dark mode, allowing apps to render in their intended aspect ratio, and the AI-based video enhancement features such as resolution boost and color boost.
The ambient display also makes its appearance, as with any other OnePlus phone that runs the latest version of Oxygen OS.
When it comes to audio, the phone uses a combination of a bottom-firing loudspeaker and earpiece speakerphone to make a stereo setup. The phone can be loud, but the sound profile is heavily biased towards mids. There is an option to tune the speakers to a preset value in the settings, those who want a richer experience will benefit from wireless audio devices.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G has a total of four cameras — a triple setup at the rear consisting of a 50MP main, 8MP ultrawide, and 2MP monochrome. Meanwhile, for selfies, it has a single 32MP shooter.
When it comes to quality, photos look natural, have decent details and accurate colors. The ultra-wide-angle camera has a wider field of view, but there is a noticeable drop in image quality. The HDR mode does a great job as well here, and we recommend you to use it if you want social media-worthy shots.
For night mode, OnePlus has updated its low-light photo capabilities with a new Nightscape Ultra mode which gives us excellent images without losing much detail and retaining colors and highlights. Well, there’s a little bit of noise, but it’s not that bothersome.
For selfies, it is quite pretty good in well-lit conditions and can capture some sharp selfies with natural-looking skin tone. It supports portrait shots as well, but the background blur feels a bit too strong and unnatural.
For videos, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G can shoot up to 4K resolution at 30 fps. Quality-wise it looks sharp, and thanks to its OIS, it made the whole process smooth.
OS, UI, and Apps
Oxygen OS 11.3 based on Android 11 runs the software department and is where the first signs of integration with OPPO’s colorOS appear. The settings menu may be very similar to the one in ColorOS 11.3, with a few tweaks to keep the core Oxygen OS experience. Longtime OnePlus users may need some time to get used to the new menu placements, but the runway has been paved with other OxygenOS11 changes that have been rolled out.
Pre-installed apps are kept at a minimum, including the standard Google apps and a couple of proprietary apps like the OnePlus Community app. Netflix is also pre-installed to ensure HDR 10 support.
Storage-wise, we’re getting 128GB of total storage space for the unit we have, and if that’s not enough, make sure to get the 256GB model. Either way, there’s plenty of storage as bloat is kept to a minimum.
Performance and Benchmarks
The phone is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 with a 3.0GHz octa-core CPU and Mali-G77 MC9 GPU. Our unit has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but there’s also a 12GB + 256GB model. While this is the first time that OnePlus has used a non-Snapdragon chipset, the new CPU range proves to be capable of competing with Snapdragon’s top-end offerings and also allows OnePlus to bring the speed it’s known for to mid-range devices. Check out the benchmark scores we got below:
• ANTuTu v8.3.4 – 548,758
• 3D Mark – 4,317 (Wild Life) – 25.9 Ave FPS, 1,303 (WildLife Extreme) – 7.8 Ave FPS
• PC Mark – 13,170 (Work 3.0)
• Geekbench 5.4.1 – 845 (Single-Core), 3,350 (Multi-Core), 5,674 (OpenCL)
• AndroBench – 1,783.59 MB/s (Seq. Read), 973.22 MB/s (Seq. Write)
Asphalt 9 defaults to 60fps on this device, which is surprising given the game’s high resource demands and temperature remained manageable despite long hours of gaming on this device at a high-performance setting. Running Genshin Impact at its highest settings also didn’t sweat out the device.
For biometrics, there is an under-display fingerprint sensor and face recognition, and both are incredibly fast and accurate.
Connectivity and Battery Life
The OnePlus Nord 2 has all the modern connectivity features such as dual SIM support, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and 5G.
Power is handled by a 4,500mAh battery with support for Warp Charge 65T. Battery life can easily last you a couple of days with normal use and can be charged quickly from 0 to 100% in less than 40 mins. In the PCMark Work 3.0 Battery Test, it got a score of 17 hours and 34 minutes.
At PHP 25,990 for the bigger 12GB + 256GB and PHP 21,990 for the 8GB + 128GB model, the OnePlus Nord 2 is a solid midrange device with flagship-level performance and a clean OS that long time users will appreciate.
OnePlus’ departure from Snapdragon chipsets may raise some eyebrows because it brings with it its own set of challenges when it comes to software support, but the ColorOS integration is well-timed and hopefully brings more benefits in terms of stability and frequency of the promised software updates the device is expected to receive.
Overall, we think the OnePlus Nord 2 is easily the midrange phone to beat in 2021.
OnePlus Nord 2 5G specs:
6.43-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080) Fluid AMOLED display, 410PPI
90Hz refresh rate. HDR10+
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI CPU
ARM G77 MC9 GPU
8GB, 12GB LPDDR4X RAM
128GB, 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
Triple rear cameras:
• 50MP F1.8 (main)
• 8MP F2.25 (ultrawide)
• 2MP F2.4 (mono)
32MP F2.45 front camera
5G, 4G LTE
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, NavIC
Dual stereo speaker
Fingerprint scanner (in-display)
OxygenOS 11.3 (Android 11)
4,500mAh battery w/ 65W Warp Charge
158.9 x 73.2 x 8.3 mm
Blue Haze, Grey Sierra, Green Woods