With the Nord 2, OnePlus has focused on making the most important parts of a mid-range smartphone as good as they can be.
You won’t find many flagship features on the OnePlus Nord 2, but the tech it offers is high quality and it’s excellently designed. And for just £399, you’ll get a reliable, smooth experience for a very reasonable price.
First impressions and design
The Nord 2’s slick, durable design is evident as soon as you take it out of the box.
The Nord 2 has a plastic-based frame like most smartphones at this price, but it also has a Gorilla Glass finish around the entire body. This makes it feel a lot sturdier and more professional to the touch than some of its rivals.
It’s not the lightest mid-range phone on the market, but this gives it more of a premium feel. Sometimes, handsets of this price can be so light that it feels a bit like you’re holding a children’s toy phone. But this one has a nice heft to it. So it’s reassuring that OnePlus has kept the design strong without driving its cost up too high.
As normal, the Nord 2 comes with volume up-and-down buttons on its left edge, and a power button on the right. What’s slightly different is its silent (or ‘ringer’) button, which is also found on the right edge. This is more of a slider that offers three different options: Ring, Vibrate and Silent.
Unlocking the Nord 2
You can choose to unlock the Nord 2 with either your face or your fingerprint. Setting up Face Unlock was incredibly quick — just one glance at your face in the setup and it’s good to go.
The fingerprint sensor works just as well as most mid-range smartphones. Although the Nord 2 is another handset that falls victim to poor sensor placement. It’s slightly lower than where your thumb naturally rests when holding it with one hand, so you have to awkwardly stretch for it each time.
OnePlus Nord 2 colours
The handset comes in three colour options: Gray Sierra, Blue Haze and Green Wood.
But if you’d still prefer to be safe and keep your smartphone in a case, the Nord 2 has some brilliant designs available for a small additional fee. You can choose between the elegant Desert Mirage, the hectic Doodle Chaos or the smart Sandstone Black.
OnePlus Nord 2 cases
Is the OnePlus Nord 2 waterproof?
The Nord 2 is not water resistant. It has no IP rating, which means you cannot submerge it in water, unlike the latest phones in the flagship OnePlus Pro range.
OnePlus Nord 2 screen and display
The Nord 2’s 6.4-inch display is as bright and detailed as you’d expect from a smartphone at £399.
There’s nothing overly impressive to report in terms of picture quality here. It’s a fairly standard 1080 x 2400 screen with 409ppi pixel density. But there are still some elements that put the Nord 2’s display above other mid-range devices.
Firstly, the Nord 2 has an AMOLED screen, which is based on OLED technology. This means each pixel can omit its own light or even turn itself off for darker scenes. Tying this in with a feature called HDR10+, the colour range on this phone is hugely impressive.
Essentially, this means that high-quality Netflix and Amazon Prime videos will look very impressive on this screen. And with a 20:9 screen ratio, the Nord 2 is ever so close to the ratio Hollywood filmmakers use to film blockbuster movies and shows (21:9).
So if you can’t wait until the evening to watch the latest episode of your favourite show, you could still get a somewhat immersive experience watching it on your commute.
OnePlus Nord 2 refresh rate
Picture quality isn’t the only important part of a smartphone’s display. You’ll also want everything to move smoothly to reduce choppy scrolling or blurry motion.
Thankfully, the Nord 2 has a 90Hz refresh rate, which means scrolling through social media will feel a lot smoother than many other mid-range phones (and even the best iPhones). Fast-moving video scenes will also be a lot clearer as a result.
It’s not the highest refresh rate you can get in a smartphone, but it’s certainly noticeable compared to phones that have a 60Hz screen. And it’s quite satisfying to use if you’ve never owned a 90Hz phone before.
As for how the Nord 2’s display looks in general, OnePlus has spared no space either side of the screen.
There are very thin bezels on the left and right sides of the phone, which means images will appear nice and large while you’re scrolling through Instagram or watching a YouTube video.
The back camera layout is very symmetrical and easy on the eye, especially compared to smartphones that have several lenses all dotted in different places around the camera bump.
It comes with a vibrant default wallpaper that helps to showcase its impressive colour range. The wallpaper runs a little flowing animation when you unlock the phone too, which is a nice touch.
OnePlus Nord 2 camera
The Nord 2’s camera doesn’t offer many unique or headline features, but it performs the job of ‘camera’ extremely well.
Pointing and shooting various scenes and settings will give you colourful, detailed images with no editing needed. And it takes very good pictures of people, treating them with accurate lighting and focus.
The Nord 2 boasts a stunning 50MP camera, so every shot you take will be packed with detail.
If you enjoy editing your photos, you can crop in very far without losing much quality. That’s super handy if you took an image of something far away, but you want to make it more prominent in your photo afterwards.
The main triple camera also has HDR technology, which means the colour range it captures is very realistic. And that was evident in the photos we took. Similar colours are distinct from each other, and the images generally look very similar to the real-life setting.
You could even sense the AI imagery working to properly light peoples’ faces. This is something that a number of phone makers won’t put as much time into perfecting for a mid-range handset.
The 50MP camera also means you can shoot 4K video, which is the standard for flagship smartphones but a great bonus for a handset of this price. Just be aware that recording in 4K uses up a lot of storage very quickly.
This resolution can only be captured in 30fps, though, unlike the much smoother 60fps that most of the high-end phones offer. If you choose to shoot in 1080p (Full HD), however, you will get the option to record in 60fps.
Note: ‘Fps’ stands for ‘frames per second’, and it’s how we’re able to see video. The number represents how many still images (or ‘frames’) are shown within one second of video. The more frames there are in one second, the smoother the motion will appear. The fewer, the less smooth it will seem.
The OnePlus Nord 2 has a 32MP ‘hole-punch’ selfie camera in the top left of the screen. While this really helps to maximise screen space, as is the case with all hole-punch cameras, it comes with some issues.
Similarly to the OPPO Find X3 Lite, selfies on the Nord 2 will noticeably warp your face with a ‘fish-eye’ effect. And because the lens is in the corner, lining up a well-positioned selfie can be quite difficult if you’re normally used to the camera being in the middle of the screen.
That said, the lighting on the Nord 2’s selfies is a lot warmer and more accurate than similar smartphones, like the OPPO Find X3 Lite. This is primarily thanks to another HDR feature, ‘Auto HDR’, which corrects the colours a little better and makes the whole shot look less pale, which some Android phones are a little guilty of.
The Nord 2’s Night Mode was a little frustrating to use, and the results weren’t very satisfying.
It was difficult to capture moving objects on Night Mode
As is the case with Night Mode on every phone, it takes a little longer to capture the scene in order to effectively enhance the lighting. You’ll get a three-second countdown where you have to keep the phone relatively still so the AI knows which parts of the setting to light properly.
However, unlike Night Mode on some other phones, the slightest twitch or movement while taking the shot caused it to be very blurry.
With Night Mode on other handsets, it’ll account for a bit of movement while maintaining a good-quality — and still — image. But the Nord 2 didn’t seem to take effective low-light pictures unless we kept the phone perfectly still for the entire countdown.
While that’s obviously what you should do to make sure Night Mode has its full effect, we do think it should anticipate the occasional slight movement while you’re taking the shot.
There can be many situations where you can’t remain frozen solid for several seconds to take a quick picture in low-light. And if you happen to do so on the Nord 2’s Night Mode, it might end up ruining a shot that you can’t recreate again.
The OnePlus Nord 2 doesn’t have an optical zoom lens, so if you want to focus in on something far away before shooting, you will lose some quality in the image. This is because it relies on digital zoom, which uses AI to fill the image with extra information as you get closer in.
Plus, with a maximum digital zoom of 10x, it also doesn’t attempt to go as far as many other smartphone cameras. So you likely won’t be able to get a super-detailed shot of a specific object in the distance. But if you’re not too fussed about the quality, it will certainly still do the job.
Additional camera features
There aren’t many interesting extras to the OnePlus Nord 2’s camera. You’ll find a few options to choose from in the ‘More’ section of the camera app, but they’re almost exclusively ones you can get on any other mid-range Android phone. These include:
- Dual-view video
- Time lapse
- Pro settings
- ‘Extra HD’
OnePlus Nord 2 battery, performance and storage
Using the OnePlus Nord 2 day-to-day was comfortable and frustration-free. Everything was buttery smooth and reliable, which is the most important quality for a mid-range phone under £400.
Battery and charging
Here is another area where OnePlus really impresses. Not only does the battery fully charge incredibly quickly, but it’ll also last you a very long time before it needs charging again.
If you use your smartphone a lot, you might regularly end up using it while it’s plugged into the charger. But with a battery like the Nord 2’s, which sits at a sizeable 4500mAh, it’ll easily last the whole day.
The Nord 2 comes with an insanely powerful 65W charger, which means it can fully charge (that’s from 0-100%) in just over half an hour. And since the battery is so huge, you won’t need to worry about topping it up regularly.
And for the people who are always in a rush, we even went through the effort of checking how quickly it was charging every ten minutes, just to see how much juice you could get in an even shorter time. Here are those results:
- 44% in 10 minutes
- 68% in 20 minutes
- 95% in 30 minutes
- 100% in 34 minutes
So as you can see, the Nord 2’s battery really holds up. And if you’re looking for a phone you can really power through, this one will certainly keep up.
Throughout our entire time using the Nord 2, we hardly experienced any lag, freezes or crashes, even when using multiple apps. This is thanks to its MediaTek Dimensity 1200 5G processor, which ensured everything ran smoothly, including games and video platforms.
OnePlus usually relies on chipmaker Qualcomm for its Snapdragon processors, which have a reputation as one of the best on the market. So we were concerned at first that MediaTek wouldn’t match the revered performance of a Snapdragon. But we’re happy to report that we were pleasantly surprised — the Nord 2 is a joy to use.
Like most mid-range smartphones now, the OnePlus Nord 2 is a 5G handset, which means you can benefit from ultrafast internet speeds in available areas.
Your 5G connection will depend on the mobile network you choose when you purchase the phone. So make sure to check the coverage maps for each network to see which one has the strongest 5G connection in your area.
The Nord 2 comes with either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage. Most smartphone users won’t have to worry about needing extra storage with levels like this.
However, if you take a lot of high-quality photos and videos, or want to download hundreds of albums and podcasts, you might find that you’d reach the storage capacity quite quickly. However, since there’s no expandable storage card slot on the Nord 2, you’ll have to rely on cloud storage.
Google Cloud Storage will probably be your easiest option as an Android user. It will mean all of your files will still be easily accessible, but you’ll need an internet connection to see them.
Smartphone makers often like to add very attractive, high-tech features to their handsets. It helps to set that particular smartphone apart and can make it more appealing amongst dozens of similar options.
The OnePlus Nord 2, however, has only one extremely attractive feature: all of the essential components are top-notch. It doesn’t need a 100x zoom, a Lidar scanner, or the smoothest screen motion possible, because what sets this handset apart is quality.
You won’t be buying something for a gimmick that you rarely use — you’ll be investing in something that you can depend on day in, day out.
So if you’re not fussed about the latest hyped-up technological features, the OnePlus Nord 2 will more than cover your needs. And for just £399, won’t have to dig too deep into your pockets for the privilege.
Get the OnePlus Nord 2 5G from Amazon.
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