At a time when the tech world is flooding with upper mid-rangers, we have another one. As one would expect, it’s from OnePlus to join the growing Nord lineage. Hence, the Nord 2 is here. And not just as an on-paper successor to the first Nord but as someone who looks fiercely competitive to take on the overcrowded semi-premium segment and even its own cousins.
The Nord 2 gets a slight facelift, capable power gear, and loads of additions that are currently tempting many. I, for one, was enticed too. So, is it the upper mid-range phone that is everything one can ask for? Is it the kind of OnePlus phone we need every year (only with upgrades, of course)? I have spent ample time with it to be able to answer these erupting questions.
This packaging is clearly different. Umm, okay, only for the Nord but one can’t deny its good looks. It might be difficult for you to differentiate between a Nord 2 and a OnePlus 9/9R but it’s a device that can attract. Plus the great build quality and the well-distributed weight clubs comfort with pretty, much like the pair of heels that doesn’t end up leaving shoe bites on your feet.
At 189 grams, the phone doesn’t feel too difficult to use with one hand. Be it the in-display fingerprint sensor placed near the chin, the notification panel or the physical buttons, everything is easily accessible. Speaking of which, it retains the alert slider that is a thing for just Apple and OnePlus.
One might debate the use of a plastic frame (something that differentiates it from the 9R). But, you may not even feel it considering you get a neat finish. My unit wore the same colour we have seen on previous OnePlus phones and is the symbolic colour of the Nord lineup: Blue. This one offers a glossy, satin-y finish and a “no dust/smudge” policy.
The front isn’t different from a 9 or 9R either. There’s a punch-hole screen that spans 6.43-inch, which is the same size as the original Nord. The bezels try to be as thin as possible but we can see a significant chunk at the chin. Fret not, it isn’t bothersome. The display gets a screen protector but my advice to you is that go for a sturdier tempered glass.
Here’s what comes with the phone. You get a USB Type-C cable, a 65W power adapter, and the usual manuals. What might feel fancy to many is the presence of a Red Cable membership card and another Apple-like element: stickers. There’s a transparent case too, just in case.
Here’s the same old story: a punch-hole screen and a 90Hz refresh rate and the AMOLED-ness. But, it’s a happy story. The comfortable enough screen size, topped with punchy colours and smoothness makes for a great day(s) of binge-watching. The colours are vivid and this makes the viewing time pleasant. There’s a hint of saturation but it’s too little to even bother. The two display modes: Natural and Vivid are all for bright videos. The latter only takes it a notch up.
To further this, we have the first AI bit that OnePlus Nord 2 entails. This is the Video Enhancement Engine feature that boosts the colours and makes videos sharper. While there isn’t a great difference that you will see, this bit does work and the viewing experience takes the enhancement route. Although, it will take a toll on the battery so it’s up to you if you want to toggle away.
There’s also the customisable Always-on-Display functionality and an in-display fingerprint scanner that is fast.
The Nord 2 is a melange of a capable MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI chip and more things that can make the phone sail through the pool of tasks we have for it. This is the same chip we saw on the Realme X7 Max and the Oppo Reno 6 Pro and my friend over here at BGR India was in praise of the same. My unit came with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which is more than one can ask for.
This is the same way I can describe my experience with the Nord 2. The phone gracefully manages all the tasks it is expected to perform. Hopping from app to app, surfing the net, staying hooked to the phone’s screen for numerous videos and my favourite social media apps: all are a cinch for it. Top this with prolonged camera usage, online shopping and few more tasks, and you still won’t witness any stuttering.
Gaming of various kinds (casual and graphic-intensive) was smooth and easy too. This is the place where we see the second AI bit, which optimises the GPU, Network, and CPU performance. Shadow Fight 4 was a smooth runner too. 40 to 45 minutes of gameplay led to a 5 per cent battery drop. But, the phone did warm up a little during these gaming sessions.
A major role in all the smooth sailing is played by the OS optimisations. The phone gets OxygenOS 11.3 based on Android 11. This is sprinkled with ColosOS 11.3 as a result of the Oppo-OnePlus collab. This merger results in a few visual changes: you get to see a change Settings menu, camera app, the battery section, and even the option to disable the app drawer. But what still acts as the glue to bind ColorOS and OxygenOS is the latter’s clean, bloatware-free look. Despite the changes, you will find the phone running smoothly as before. Plus the Zen Mode is the “Zen” you need to balance out the stressful work-leisure life. But, it isn’t the smoothest of them all and has its own share of buggy obstacles: occasional touch issues and unstable brightness levels are a few of them. That said, OnePlus is usually known for solving such issues with updates and since the Nord 2 is promised to get up to 3 years of updates, we can expect timely solutions.
The Nord 2 gets dual speakers that are fairly loud and clear. During calls, the volume levels weren’t up to the mark as it required to be set to full volume for interruption-free conversations. So was the case while listening to music.
This is where the Nord 2 can be termed an upgrade to its predecessor. It gets the main camera that the high-end OnePlus 9 has in the form of an ultra-wide lens, an ultra-wide camera, and a monochrome lens. This time, the dual front camera setup is a no-show and there’s a single one instead. Some noteworthy camera features have made it to the phone too: an improved Nightscape mode, Portrait mode, Dual-view videos, some visible AI enhancements, and more.
Not just on paper, the Nord 2’s cameras are something in real life too. Images are high on vivid colours and there are details too. But, the inclination is more or less towards saturation. Plus, not all the cameras prove to be the best. If I have to rank, it will be the main camera > the ultra-wide camera > the monochrome lens. In broad daylight and even the slightly low-light conditions, the 50-megapixel primary camera holds the fort well for the Nord 2. This only goes on to diminish in terms of details if you are shooting in the evening. Plus OIS helps ensure non-shaky images.
The ultra-wide camera does its job well but loses on the details and there’s edge distortion too. The monochrome lens is just there and doesn’t make a significant contribution to the Nord 2 camera performance. The black and white shots turn out well but OnePlus could have gotten away from a dedicated mono lens. A macro camera would have more sense right now.
The disappointment further continues with the Portrait mode. All you get is over-exposed and muted photos with no sharpness. This is when I was reminded of how the OnePlus 5’s portrait mode was: something more distinguishing with natural tones. The device supports up to 5x zoom and images turn decent enough. Going beyond that mark will give you an animated output. The AI toggle is said to further enhance the photos but ends up in more exposure and a smudged result. The Nightscape mode can help you take decent images in low-light but will have a yellow tint to them.
Selfies turn out pretty good. In daylight or even in the case of indoor shots, the front camera churns out good-looking photos. The colour reproduction isn’t that natural but if you often find yourself applying filters to the selfies you post, there won’t be a need anymore.
As for the videos, the colour reproduction and stabilisation have been akin to the primary camera’s still images. Dual-Video mode is a pretty decent addition and can help Vloggers and Instagrammers big time.
The combination of a 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast charging and the battery optimisations is really good. With my kind of usage that involves all the things I mentioned above, the phone was able to end my day at 20 to 30 per cent. Throw in some more tasks (such as the AI optimisations) and it will impact the percentage by a maximum of 10 per cent. Even this is fine at the end of the day.
And when the battery goes from 5 per cent to 100 per cent in just 35 minutes, do we even have anything to worry about? On a fine day when I had to rush out in about 30 minutes with the Nord 2, I didn’t have to worry about the almost emptied battery icon. Even though the phone lacks wireless charging, I don’t have anything to complain about.
With a number of visible changes, the Nord 2 isn’t just another upgrade but a true one. It involves maximum things we require from a phone: fast performance, fast charging, vivid viewing experience, decent enough cameras, and a clean UI. And, it’s future-proof too. All this starting at under Rs 30,000 and anyone could be lured.
But, it comes with its share of caveats. To start with, it is slightly more expensive than the first Nord. The cameras aren’t the best, a 120Hz display could have been done, and a totally different design could be adapted.
Despite these, it is a phone that gives us what most of us are seeking: a premium experience that doesn’t go south of Rs 40,000. It competes well with the likes of the Mi 11X, which becomes a topic of debate due to the not-so-easy MIUI 12 and even the OnePlus 9R that is slightly expensive. If I have to recommend it, the Nord 2 is an easy choice.
The post OnePlus Nord 2 Review: A different dimension for the Nord appeared first on BGR India.