Smartphones, Tablets & Wearables

OnePlus Nord 2 5G review: Return of the flagship killer?

While OnePlus enters the high-end segment with the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro smartphones, it presents an attractive mid-range model with the OnePlus Nord 2 5G that follows up on the old promise of the “flagship killer”. The predecessor released last year was already a complete success – can the Nord 2 have a similar impact? Our review of the smartphone in the variant with 12 GB RAM and 256 GB storage clarifies these and other questions.

Technical data

Operating system Android 11 / OxygenOS 11.3
Display 6.43″, 2400 x 1080 pixels, Fluid AMOLED, 60 / 90 Hz, 410 PPI
SoC MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI
CPU 1x 3.00 GHz Cortex-A78,
3x, 2.60 GHz Cortex-A78,
4x 2.00 GHZ Cortex-A55
GPU Mali-G77 MC9
RAM 8 GB / 12 GB (test unit)
Memory 128 GB / 256 GB (test device)
Battery 4,500 mAh, permanently installed, 65 watts wired charging
Dimensions 158.9 x 73.2 x 8.25 mm
Weight 189 g
Interfaces USB-C 2.0 (OTG), Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS
Sensors In-display fingerprint sensor, accelerometer, electronic compass, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, SAR sensor, proximity sensor
Inserts 2x Nano SIM (5G)
Camera (rear) 50 MP, f/1.88, dual-LED flash, OIS, videos @4K/30fps (camera 1); 8 MP, f/2.25, EIS ultra-wide-angle lens (camera 2); 2 MP, f/2.4 monochrome (camera 3)
Camera (front) 32 MP, f/2.45, EIS, videos @1080p/30fps
Available colors Gray Sierra, Blue Haze (test unit)
Price € 337.49 *

Scope of delivery

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G comes in a sleek matte black box that presents the showpiece when opened. Besides the usual manuals and safety instructions as well as the SIM tool kit, a transparent protective case, the typical red Warp USB Type-C cable, and the Warp Charge 65 power adapter can be found underneath. Commendable: The manufacturer already equips the smartphone with an applied screen protector at the factory, which left a good impression in our test.

Workmanship and design

In terms of the display, OnePlus has opted for a 6.43-inch fluid AMOLED display for the Nord 2 5G, which comes with a 21:9 aspect ratio. Many of the specifications have thus been taken directly from the OnePlus Nord CE 5G.

The display takes up almost the entire front of the smartphone, which is only interrupted by a punch hole in the upper left corner. It houses the 32-megapixel camera with Sony’s IMX615 sensor and f/2.45. However, OnePlus has removed the second front-facing camera with ultra-wide-angle lens from the predecessor. Fortunately, the display’s edges are very narrow, which results in a harmonious overall look.

The back of the OnePlus Nord 2 5G speaks the design language that the manufacturer already used for the 9-series – only the Hasselblad logo is conspicuous by its absence. Thanks to rounded edges, the smartphone feels very good in the hand. The dimensions of 158.9 x 73.2 x 8.25 mm also qualify the device for users with smaller hands.

There are no shortcomings in terms of build quality: The materials feel high-quality, and you will fortunately not find any gaps or sharp edges. However, the Blue Haze (turquoise) model we were provided with subjectively looks a bit cheap – even though it does not feel that way at any time.

The volume rocker of the OnePlus Nord 2 is located on the right side of the visually separated metal frame, and the manufacturer installs the practical aging slider for muting or activating the smartphone’s vibration mode as well as the power button on the left side.

On the bottom, you will find two speakers, the USB-C port, and the SIM card slot that can hold two dual-nano SIMs. Convenient: Both slots can use 5G at the same time, but using an eSIM and expanding the storage are not possible. On the other hand, there is no IP certification: OnePlus consistently does without protection against dirt and water in the new mid-range model.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

Display

We really liked the colorful 6.43-inch AMOLED display, which has a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels. The pixel density is 410 ppi – a good value, especially in the mid-range smartphone category.

The picture is bright and rich in contrast, although it cannot quite reach the dark black levels that we are usually used to from OLED panels. Compared with the predecessor, the display is not quite as bright, but it is still more than respectable.

The color temperature is a bit cool, which is why the screen tends to have a slight blue cast. However, this can be controlled with the help of the processor’s AI functions: If you activate “AI Color Boost”, colors and color gradients are noticeably optimized.

A refresh rate of 90 hertz is also enabled by default, which enables smooth scrolling. Alternatively, you can switch to a 60 Hz mode in the smartphone’s menu. The fingerprint sensor of the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is also installed directly in the display and works quickly and very precisely. Face Unlock is also available on request.

Hardware & Benchmarks

CPU-wise, the Nord 2 relies on the brand-new 6nm MediaTek Dimensity 1200 AI processor, which OnePlus claims will offer 65 percent faster CPU performance and 125 percent higher GPU performance than the OnePlus Nord released in July 2020.

This additional hardware power is felt in every situation and results in a high-performance smartphone that can handle 3D applications, elaborate games, and large computing tasks with ease. We particularly liked the efficient heat regulation in the test.

However, the CPU has to admit defeat to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 in a direct comparison and does not reach its rates in benchmark tests. Thanks to the choice of 8 or 12 GB of RAM, multitasking is no problem, regardless of whether many computationally intensive apps are running in the background or 4K video content including HDR is streamed.

If desired, a high-performance mode can even be activated, which actually represents a measurable performance gain and consistently delivers better benchmark results. This allows running absolutely all apps with the SoC’s maximum performance – even when the battery capacity is dwindling. Strangely, this option is hidden deep in the smartphone’s battery settings.

On the other hand, the stereo speakers installed on the bottom of the device could not convince us in the test. The sound is muffled and a bit tinny, and the acoustics are audibly quieter than the competition in this price range even on maximum volume.

Benchmark results of the Nord 2

The benchmark results show decent scores across the board, thanks to which the smartphone can position itself in the upper mid-range. As expected, the Nord 2 clearly beats the direct predecessor (including Snapdragon 765G 5G). However, the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI cannot quite keep up with the OnePlus 8T (Snapdragon 865) that is about a year old.

Nevertheless, the performance is sufficient to run even complex games like Call of Duty: Mobile or Genshin Impact smoothly on the highest settings. Here are some benchmark results at a glance.

Geekbench 5.4.1 single-core/multi-core 812/2,589 points
Geekbench 5.4.1 OpenCL 4,808 points
PCMark for Android Work 3.0 8,456 points
AnTuTu 597,624 points
3DMark Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Unlimited 6,945 points
3DMark Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics 10,795 points
3DMark Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics 3,089 points
3DMark Wild Life 4,209 points

Software

On the software side, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G uses OxygenOS 11.3 based on Android 11. Unnecessary bloatware is consequently omitted, only a few OnePlus apps and Netflix are preinstalled. Overall, it is almost a pure, intuitive Android experience with few visual adjustments – we like it.

The OS works very fast and delivers a consistently excellent performance. A Dark Mode and the Do Not Disturb mode (“Zen Mode”) are also supported. The always-on display’s individualization options are also diverse, and you can choose between different designs, widgets and styles.

In addition, the Nord 2 claims to be future-proof: manufacturer OnePlus promises updates of two major Android versions and three years of security patches.

Camera

Officially, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G has a triple camera, which consists of a main camera with a resolution of 50 megapixels including optical image stabilizer (f/1.88), an ultra-wide angle lens (f/2.25; 8 MP; 120 degrees) and a monochrome lens (2 MP) – so in principle, there are only two cameras worth mentioning.

There is also a dual-LED flash, as well as a maximum tenfold digital zoom. Up to 5x magnification, there are hardly any compromises in terms of image quality. However, the quality quickly decreases beyond that.

The main camera actually uses Sony’s IMX766 sensor, which is the same unit as in the OnePlus 9. Nevertheless, the image quality cannot quite keep up with the manufacturer’s lower flagship model since the image processing via the Hasselblad cooperation is omitted here.

Nevertheless: Especially in good lighting conditions, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G delivers a convincing picture quality. Sharpness and image stabilization, as well as the dynamic range, are absolutely impressive, especially with HDR enabled.

Optionally, you can let the AI intervene. Thanks to AI Photo Enhancement, the Nord 2 is able to automatically recognize 22 different scenes and thus improve the coloring of nature, food or night photos. However, colors and contrasts appear heavily oversaturated and no longer have much in common with a natural picture.

The ultra-wide-angle camera with a viewing angle of 119.7 degrees, on the other hand, is merely average and has to struggle with problems in terms of exposure as well as sharpness. There are much better options in the mid-range segment here.

We recommend switching to the dedicated night mode, called Night Sight, in low light. This delivers a really satisfactory picture quality with the main camera – but you should better not zoom or switch to the ultra-wide-angle camera.

Selfie fans, on the other hand, will get their money’s worth with the 32 MP front camera, whose picture quality is really impressive. There are also various beautification effects to choose from, which you can use to tweak your self-portraits a bit and adjust the width of the face or the size of the eyes, for example.

Battery and runtime

So, in terms of camera equipment, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G cannot compete in the flagship segment, but it can in terms of battery equipment and runtime. The manufacturer equips the smartphone with a capacity of 4,500 mAh. Thanks to Warp Charge 65, the completely drained battery is fully charged again in around 33 minutes – an outstanding value that easily surpasses the predecessor (around 70 percent in 30 minutes).

OnePlus Nord 2 5G Battery

The MediaTek Dimensity 1200 AI processor also works surprisingly efficiently. On average, we achieved a screen-on time of around 7:30 hours during the test – a good result. Thus, the Nord 2 easily lasts for more than a day even during intensive use. Unfortunately, wireless charging is not supported.

Conclusion

With the Nord 2 5G, OnePlus puts together an excellent overall package in view of the price, which actually only leaves a few wishes unfulfilled in terms of features. The top model tested by us proves to be extremely performant and can even cope with demanding multi-tasking tasks as well as current mobile games.

The build quality is on a very good level throughout and the 90 hertz display is also pleasing in outdoor use. The battery life is also impressive, especially since the smartphone is quickly ready for use again thanks to Warp Charge.

However, it is not a flagship killer, and the OnePlus Nord 2 5G unfortunately has too much to criticize for that. The main camera shoots convincing pictures, but the other cameras do not. There is also no zoom camera, wireless charging, IP certification or a 120 Hz display.

Nevertheless, the Nord 2 is positioned in the upper mid-range segment and actually offers (almost) everything you would want from a smartphone. A convincing smartphone with a successful price-performance ratio that is hard to beat in the range around 400 Euros.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

Workmanship
Hardware
Multimedia
Performance
Battery
Value for money

86/100

Convincing mid-range smartphone with strong features, but drawbacks in camera and equipment.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G 8 GB RAM 128 GB - Grey Sierra price comparison


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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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While OnePlus enters the high-end segment with the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro smartphones, it presents an attractive mid-range model with the OnePlus Nord 2 5G that follows up on the old promise of the „flagship killer“. The predecessor released last year was already a complete success – can the Nord 2 have a … (Weiterlesen...)

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