OnePlus Nord 2T review: Small improvements on a masterful midranger

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OnePlus Nord 2T review: Small improvements on a masterful midranger

In 2022, there are two radically different sides to Oppo’s OnePlus sub-brand. On the premium side, there’s the OnePlus 10 Pro: a flagship handset with flagship features that struggles to offer flagship-level performance. But things are going much better for its North lineup, whose few flaws are justified by their mid-range price tags.

OnePlus’ latest Nord device for Europe is the OnePlus Nord 2T. Prices start at £369 (€399, about $458) for a version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, going up to £469 (€499, about $582) for 12GB RAM and 256GB storage (the model I used). It’s a device that plays to OnePlus’ usual strengths with fast 80W fast charging, a colorful 90Hz OLED display, and a physical alarm slide switch to toggle silent and vibrate modes.

The changes are minor compared to last year’s OnePlus Nord 2. But with a starting price £30 lower, it’s hard to complain about what’s on offer here. In the UK, the OnePlus Nord 2T is available for pre-order from today and will ship on May 24th.

OnePlus’ Nord lineup has quickly become crowded and complicated since its debut just two years ago, and now consists roughly of two groups of phones: one for Europe and India, and one for North America. The Nord 2T falls into the former category and is best seen as a beefed-up version of last year’s Nord 2 (much like the OnePlus 8T with the OnePlus 8 or the OnePlus 7T with the 7). I’ve asked OnePlus if we’ll be seeing a Nord 3 this year, but it wasn’t ready to reveal its unannounced product roadmap. So the 2T is the European North flagship for the time being.

So if the Nord 2T is a Nord 2 with upgraded specs, what specs have actually been upgraded?

From the front, it doesn’t look like much has changed. The 90Hz 1080p OLED display is still exactly 6.43 inches, and there’s still a small punch-hole notch in the top left with a 32-megapixel selfie camera behind it. And while the rear of the device might look different – with an odd combination of two camera circles with three sensors – the specs on these cameras are exactly the same as last time.

I like the screen of the OnePlus Nord 2T. It feels nice and smooth thanks to its 90Hz refresh rate, which is fast enough for normal phone tasks like scrolling through social media feeds. White is bright, colors are beautiful and black is black – it’s an OLED panel after all. A fingerprint sensor integrated in the display takes care of biometric security quickly and reliably.

The surface of the gray model is strangely slippery.

USB-C – but no headphone jack.

Sound is less impressive. Although the Nord 2T puts out the audio in stereo, it uses a downward-firing speaker on one side and its earpiece on the other. The result is an empty and hollow sound, although it can get loud at maximum volume. Like last time, there’s no headphone jack and no official IP rating for dust and water resistance.

While I think the Nord 2T strikes a good balance between a big screen in a thin and light form factor, I don’t like the finish on the gray model. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with a phone at this price point with this design (Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back with a plastic frame on the sides). In practice, however, the surface of my test device is incredibly slippery in the hand. This doesn’t matter if you’re using the transparent case that OnePlus includes in the box, but it could be annoying for all the never casers out there. In contrast, it looks like the green version of the 2T has a more standard glossy finish, which I’ve had less trouble with in the past, but haven’t been able to use personally.

One obvious spec that’s been bumped is the phone’s processor, but in practice its benefits seemed to relate more to battery life than sheer performance. The OnePlus Nord 2T uses a MediaTek Dimensity 1300 processor, which is an improvement over the Dimensity 1200 AI used in the Nord 2. It has a more energy-efficient design and average screen time of just under six hours between charges, up from around five hours last time – despite the same-sized 4,500mAh battery. Normally I would charge the Nord 2T with more than 40 percent of its remaining battery at the end of the day.

Load speeds are a simple spec improvement to point out, but real-world differences are less than expected. The Nord 2T now supports 80W SuperVOOC wired charging, up from 65W last time, and you still get the charger in the box. I was able to charge the Nord 2T from zero to 63 percent in 15 minutes and to 100 percent in just under half an hour. For comparison, last year I was able to charge the Nord 2 from zero to 99 percent in 35 minutes — not much slower.

With its 6.43-inch screen, the Nord 2T is clearly mid-range.

OxygenOS continues to be a nice, clean version of Android.

The Nord 2T ships with OxygenOS 12.1, which is based on Android 12, and the company promises two major Android updates and three years of security updates. That’s not bad, but it’s a little less than what we’re seeing from Google, Samsung, and Apple these days: five years, five years, and six years of security updates, respectively. If you want to use your mid-range phone for as long as possible, an iPhone SE or Google’s forthcoming Pixel 6A might be better choices.

I continue to like OxygenOS’ take on Android. It feels crisp and clean, and the features it offers on top of regular Android (such as the Optimized Charging feature, which prevents your phone from being left 100 percent idle for long periods of time when charging overnight) help without ever getting in the way. Most importantly, it’s beautiful and responsive to use.

The Nord 2T’s camera setup will not surprise anyone familiar with its predecessor. There are three cameras on the rear: a 50-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultrawide camera, and a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor for black and white shooting. And no, I have no idea why OnePlus continues to include those nearly useless monochrome sensors either, especially when the black and white mode is buried in a submenu in the camera app. The 32-megapixel selfie camera uses the same hardware as last year.

Because of the similar hardware, you can expect very similar photo quality here to the Nord 2. In daylight, the Nord 2T values ​​a powerful look with lots of contrast. Both shadows and highlights pop off the screen, and colors are deep and rich (though not overwhelming). The main camera’s Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) makes it relatively easy to get pin-sharp images of still subjects. Faces look a little too sharp and bright from the rear camera, but selfie shots with the lower-resolution 32-megapixel sensor fare much better, coming out clean and clear.

The same can’t be said for the quality of the phone’s ultrawide shots, which are blurry and desaturated by comparison. And the less talked about the useless monochrome sensor, the better. It’s a shame that all smartphones these days are expected to have multiple lenses because I’d be really curious to see what the Nord 2T’s camera hump would look like with just a single sensor. But I think a poor quality ultrawide is better than no ultrawide at all.

Even without using the Nord 2T’s night shot mode, the low light shots you get with the Nord 2T are quite bright and I like the amount of detail they offer. There seems to be a bit of smoothing to reduce visual noise, but I can’t dispute the overall effect, and faces end up looking clear and relatively natural. Just don’t expect much from the ultrawide camera in the dark, where detail falls apart completely.

On the video side, the Nord 2T can record up to 4K at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps. But in practice, the footage the phone can capture is average, and while OnePlus claims it can capture in HDR, its dynamic range isn’t great. With accurate colors and reliable focus, it’s not terrible, but it’s nothing special either.

Two camera circles, three camera sensors.

An alert slider lets you easily silence or vibrate the phone.

With a starting price of £369, it’s easy to forgive the Nord 2T’s few issues. This is a phone that’s slim in the hand, quick to use and has a screen that looks great to boot. Battery life is good, charging speeds are better, and the phone feels like a cohesive package.

In typical OnePlus fashion, the only compromises with the Nord 2T are camera quality, and it might be worth waiting for the upcoming Pixel 6A if that’s your priority in a mid-range device. And regardless of camera quality, it also gets you longer software support, which is important if you’re the kind of buyer who wants to get the most out of every phone purchase.

The OnePlus Nord 2T isn’t a huge step forward compared to last year’s model. But it doesn’t have to be at this point. It works well and is pleasant to use, and unless you’re keen on having the best camera, it’s an easy phone to recommend… as long as you live in one of the markets where OnePlus actually sells it.

Photography by Jon Porter / The Verand

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