Ameya DalviJul 29, 2022 20:03:16 IST
– Good build quality, polished design
– Fair mix of performance and features
– Good primary camera with OIS
– Vibrant 90 Hz Fluid AMOLED display
– Good battery life with 80W fast charging
– Value for money
– Very few changes from the Nord 2
– Still no 4K video recording on the front camera
– Competition has moved further ahead since the Nord 2
Price: Rs 28,999 onwards
Among all the Nord phones OnePlus has launched till date, the Nord 2 has been by far the best of the lot. Now that its successor, the OnePlus Nord 2T is here, I have had mixed feelings about it. Despite a gap of over three quarters between the launch of the two phones, OnePlus has hardly done anything different with it. On the bright side, they haven’t messed up anything that was good about the Nord 2. So let’s see if the OnePlus Nord 2T is worth your money.
OnePlus Nord 2T Design: Still feels premium and great in hand
The OnePlus Nord 2T does look good, but opinions were divided about whether it looks better than the Nord 2. We got the Jade Fog variant for review with a soothing colour shade and a glass back with a mirror finish that blends seamlessly into the plastic frame. The glossy edges tend to attract a few smudge marks and so does the glass back. In fact, the smudge marks are a lot more conspicuous here in comparison to the ceramic-like finish on its predecessor.
The build quality is quite solid, and the phone feels good in hand with even weight distribution. It weighs 190 grams and is 8.2 mm thick. The rectangular camera island at the back is noticeably bigger this time, despite hosting the same three cameras, and sports the same colour shade as the phone’s back. You may be pardoned for thinking it has just two rear cameras.
You get an in-display fingerprint scanner that’s highly responsive and works well, but unlike certain OnePlus phones, it is located a lot closer to the bottom edge rather than an inch above where it is easier to access. The SIM tray is present along the bottom edge of the phone and can accommodate two Nano-SIMs. Next to it is a USB-C port followed by a speaker. The volume rocker is placed along the left edge and the power button on the right edge along with an alert slider. All buttons are easily reachable without stretching much.
OnePlus Nord 2T Display: Been there, seen that
OnePlus has opted for the same display that was present on the Nord 2, which I believe was borrowed from the first Nord. You get a 6.43-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels and a 90 Hz refresh rate. About time they move to 120 Hz on the Nord too (non-CE at least). The HDR10+ compliant display is well-calibrated out of the box. It is protected against scratches by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
The black levels and contrast on the Nord 2T display are excellent and so is the colour reproduction. You get Vivid and Natural modes here with a slider for colour temperature. Beyond that, there aren’t many manual calibration options. Ambient display is available and you can either leave it on always or set it to turn on momentarily when you move the phone a bit. I always prefer the latter as it saves some battery.
OnePlus Nord 2T Performance: Slightly more powerful than its predecessor
The OnePlus Nord 2T is powered by Mediatek’s Dimensity 1300 SoC, which is just a minor upgrade over the Dimensity 1200 present in the Nord 2. Having said that, it is not a bad option for this segment. It is powerful enough for almost anything you would like to do on the phone, including gaming. Our test unit had 8 GB RAM and 128 GB of UFS 3.1 internal storage to go with it. Day-to-day operations were absolutely smooth and lag-free even when we opened multiple apps and switched between them.
The gaming experience was pretty decent too and perfectly enjoyable at medium to high settings depending on the game. The phone did not heat up much after 30 minutes of gaming. The dual speakers (the earpiece and the one at the bottom) produce good quality audio with a surprisingly good stereo effect. In addition to support for aptX, aptX HD and LDAC codecs over Bluetooth 5.2, the Nord 2T retains LHDC codec compliance that is still lacking on several more expensive OnePlus phones. The call quality is perfectly fine too.
In our usual synthetic benchmarks, the scores were in a similar ballpark as the Nord 2. The Nord 2T scored 4563 and 1328 in the 3D Mark Wild Life and Wild Life Extreme benchmarks respectively as opposed to 4218 and 1285 by its predecessor in those two tests. The average frame rate for the two phones stood at 27.3 and 8 fps vs 25.3 and 7.7 fps respectively. There is a noticeable jump in PC Mark Works 3.0 scores from 8075 previously to 9355 now.
The results were a mixed bag in Geekbench 5. While the Nord 2T got a higher multi-core score (2858 vs 2762), it couldn’t keep up with the Nord 2’s single-core performance (778 vs 815). Having said that, the difference isn’t massive in most of the tests, and you won’t feel any difference in performance in day-to-day tasks between the two phones. While the performance isn’t in the same league as the Snapdragon 8 series SoCs from the last two generations, it is perfectly acceptable for a phone that sells around 30K.
OnePlus Nord 2T Battery performance: Good battery life, very fast charging
The battery capacity is exactly the same as its predecessor. The 4500 mAh battery lasts for over 30 hours of normal use that includes a generous use of messaging and social media apps, browsing, a few calls, clicking a few photos, an hour of watching videos and half an hour of gaming. Nothing wrong with these figures at all. The company now bundles an 80W Super VOOC charger with the Nord 2T as opposed to a 65W option earlier.
It charges the phone from 0 to 100 per cent in just 33 minutes, which was pretty much the time taken by the 65W charger to juice up the Nord 2 with the exact capacity battery. While these are still excellent figures, the 80W charger doesn’t seem to provide any significant benefit over its 65W counterpart. I did try using a 65W Super VOOC charger with the 2T and it took just a couple of extra minutes to charge it fully, thus highlighting the point further.
OnePlus Nord 2T Camera performance: Copy-pasted from Nord 2, but no problem
OnePlus Nord 2T has exactly the same camera setup as the Nord 2 – front and rear. At the back, you get a 50MP camera with the Sony IMX766 sensor with PDAF and optical image stabilisation (OIS) that does most of the heavy lifting. Giving it company are an 8MP ultra-wide camera with 120 degrees FOV and a 2MP monochrome camera. Located in a punch hole at the top of the screen is a 32MP selfie camera with a Sony IMX615 sensor.
The overall performance is quite similar to that of the Nord 2, which wasn’t too bad for its selling price. The primary camera captures some quality shots in good to average lighting with good dynamic range. Colours feel fairly natural though not 100% accurate. The sharpening, saturation and noise are kept in check, and the output feels just right. Since there is no macro camera here, you may face the odd focusing issue when shooting from close range, but it captures ample detail in close-ups too.
The Portrait mode works well with good foreground and background separation. The output is generally good with human subjects or other objects. The camera app lets you adjust the level of background blur. In normal mode, you get the usual zoom and ultra-wide toggles, but there is no dedicated telephoto camera here. When using the zoom, the shots are digitally zoomed, but 2X zoom shots look sharp and are perfectly usable. Beyond that, they look washed out.
Just like most 8MP ultra-wide cameras, the one here is average at best. The output is fine in well-lit conditions, and while the dynamic range is decent, the images are noticeably poorer in detail in comparison to those captured using the main camera. But again, they are very much usable. Low-light photography on the main camera is good, and that’s the only camera you should be sticking to when the light drops.
It does a more than decent job even when not using the Night mode. Noise is kept in check and there is a good amount of detail in captured shots. Night mode definitely improves things further by enhancing highlights in dark areas of the picture; it just takes a couple of extra seconds to capture the image. The Ultra Nightscape mode present on the Nord 2 is missing here, but I didn’t really miss it. Avoid zooming or using the ultra-wide camera in low light, the output is nothing special.
The 32MP selfie camera does a good enough job to impress selfie enthusiasts. The captured images are sharp and the skin tone looks natural. You can click portrait shots too using the front camera, and they generally come out well. The front camera on the Nord series still cannot record 4K videos, and you will have to make do with 1080p resolution at 30 fps. You also get a Dual View video option where the front and rear cameras can be used simultaneously.
The rear cameras on the Nord 2T can record videos up to 4K resolution at 30 fps, and you can have 60 fps for 1080p videos. Super Slow Motion videos see a 4X enhancement here with the option of 480 and 960 fps max on 1080p and 720p videos respectively. You can also record time-lapse videos in Full HD resolution. Captured 4K footage on the main camera looks sharp and stabilised, courtesy of EIS (electronic image stabilisation) and OIS. 1080p videos shot on the main camera look good too, with an option of Ultra-steady mode with 60 fps.
Click here for some uncompressed shots taken using the OnePlus Nord 2T.
OS and user interface: OxygenOS 12 – deal with it (for a little longer)
The OnePlus Nord 2T runs the latest Android 12 with OxygenOS 12.1. Enough has been said about how this is more ColorOS than OxygenOS, and it’s all true. But what’s also true is it’s very much usable, and even more so if you haven’t experienced older iterations of OxygenOS. No we aren’t softening our stance on this issue but we are done ranting. It is what it is; deal with it! And probably for only a little longer, hopefully. OxygenOS 13 is just around the corner, and if it indeed does what it promises to, things are expected to return to the old normal. Let’s see.
As of now, even without its past glory, OxygenOS 12 is perfectly usable. It offers a handful of tweaks to customise it further, and the learning curve isn’t steep. You do not get ads or many unwanted notifications either, which is great. And most importantly, the company has committed two years of major Android updates and three years of security updates for this phone. That means one can be assured of getting OxygenOS 13 and beyond on the Nord 2T.
Final words: More of the same, but still offers solid value for money
The OnePlus Nord 2T can be purchased in India at Rs 28,999 for the 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage variant and Rs 33,999 for its 12 GB RAM variant with 256 GB storage. That makes it a thousand Rupees cheaper than the Nord 2, which is barely available now. Though not significantly different from its predecessor, you do get a phone with as good a design and performance and offers good value for money. Though it remains a good option under 30K, it has some stiff competition to deal with.
Here are some names that come to mind straight away. The two new launches from Xiaomi sub-brands top the list. We are talking about the Poco F4 5G and Redmi K50i that offer more powerful processors and comparable cameras. Then you also have the Motorola Edge 30 with a more robust photography department, 144 Hz OLED display and better UI. And lastly, the iQOO 7 that offers a 120 Hz AMOLED screen and Snapdragon 870 at a similar price. While the Nord 2T can compete well, life won’t be as smooth as the Nord 2 had it in 2021.