Last year, when anyone asked me for a mid-segment phone they could buy, I would suggest the OnePlus Nord. OnePlus had entered this segment with devices that were dependable, ticked all boxes on features and banked on the brand image its flagships had created. A year on, it wants to take the story ahead with the OnePlus Nord 2, though this segment is much more cluttered now with good devices from Samsung, Xiaomi’s Poco and others.
Is the OnePlus Nord 2 also going to be in my good books? Read on.
OnePlus Nord 2 review: What’s new
OnePlus Nord 2 again has a trademark design which signals the brand you are using from far away. There are no new design elements, except for the camera module which has large owl eye-like lenses hinting at which feature this phone is serious about. Though OnePlus dropped the notification toggle on the Nord CE, this unique feature is very much a part of the Nord 2. The phone is still stylish and stands out, though I would have loved to see the new Green Wood or Grey Sierra colours, instead of the more common looking Blue Haze which I got for review.
Another interesting change is inside the hood. The Nord 2 is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200-AI processor, with the AI branding being unique to this phone so far. Hence the Nord 2 also adds an AI layer onto a lot of its features.
OnePlus Nord 2 review: What’s good?
The best thing about this phone has to be its camera, as the two large lenses at the back try to scream out every time you look at it. The main camera is 50MP, with a relatively large pixels size and optical image stabilisation makes the photos better in low light and also when you don’t have steady hands. I loved the colours on this camera which are vibrant though natural, especially the greens.
Also, you can see a lot of detail. Look at the dust on this miniature car even when it’s a complex shot with some leaves in the fore ground.
Interestingly, the camera shoots 12MP images by default from the main camera. While most cameras with higher pixel capabilities offer the change in settings, Nord 2 has this as a separate ultra-pixel mode. That’s when the images are shot in 50MP, with 1x, 2x and 5x options.
This makes sense because no one really uses a 50MP camera and if they do on a phone they struggle to make good use of those pictures. If you do use this mode, the images are very clear and detailed so that you can crop just a part of it if needed.
For the ultra-wide, Nord 2 has an 8MP camera which is decent, but not the best I have used. It does a good job and does not come with a lot of distortion or noise, which is an issue with this lens in many mid-segment phones. There is also a 2MP monochrome lens which is more for assisting the other cameras than doing stuff on its own. As a standalone it does a good job though.
The camera has an AI layer too and you can switch it on or off as you are shooting. This allows the camera to understand the setting and change variables if needed. For instance, it tweaks exposure indoors to bring in a little bit more light that the preset modes. There is AI video enhancement too, which works very well when you have different light settings during your shoot and the camera adjust to this really fast.
A lot of this is credit to the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor, which though unusual on a OnePlus phone seems to be delivering on its brief very well. Remember, the Nord 2 is aiming to a flagship in this range and is not in the same league as a budget phone.
The phone works very smoothly with whatever you do from browsing to long session on Whatsapp or Slack. The phone is confident enough of its processing power to offer a gaming mode that enhances the player experience. While playing a game like Free Fire, the setting gives you visibility on network capabilities and lets you answer calls directly via speaker. I also loved how frequently played games open in a jiffy if the setting is enabled. Even with long sessions, the phone is relative cool.
Another aspect that is hard to miss is the stunning 90Hz Fluid AMOLED display. Not much of a surprise coming from OnePlus, but still the fluid wallpaper on the homescreen springing up to life every time you unlock the phone is a pleasure to watch. The display is good enough to work well with just about 20 percent brightness when you are at home. But even in the bright sunlight it can stand its ground.
The OnePlus Nord 2 has a 4500mAh battery that comes with the WarpCharge 65 in the box. So while the phone easily lasts over 24 hours on a full charge, it takes just about an hour to get it back to full juice.
OnePlus Nord 2: What’s not good?
The phone does not have any headline issues. I did find some quirks though. For one, the camera app does not let you select what resolution you want to shoot a video in — if it is there, it is hard to find.
The camera reacts a bit weirdly to some colours like bight orange and ends up muting it to a certain extent. Also, with some ambient lights, it seems to lose its bearings a bit. Thankfully, all of these are clearly software level fixes and we know OnePlus phones just get better as the updates start rolling in.
OnePlus Nord 2: Should you buy?
The Nord 2 in my books stands up as a phone that will appeal to a wide range of people who don’t want anything special in their phone, but need the device to be good at everything it does. This is an all-rounder phone like its predecessor and will appeal to everyone from young adults to senior users who want to step beyond the range of the budget phone and get a top up for that extra spend in terms of performance, experience and camera capabilities.