OnePlus Nord 2T review: minor improvements to a masterful midranger

In 2022, Oppo’s OnePlus sub-brand presents two radically different facets. On the high-end side, it has the OnePlus 10 Pro: a flagship-priced flagship handset that struggles to deliver truly flagship-level performance. But things are going much better for its Nord range, whose few flaws are justified by their average price.

OnePlus’ latest Nord device for Europe is the OnePlus Nord 2T. Pricing starts at £369 (€399, around $458) for a version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and goes up to £469 (€499, around $582) for 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. (the model I used). It’s a device that taps into the usual OnePlus strengths with 80W fast charging, a colorful 90Hz OLED display, and a physical alert slider to switch to silent and vibrate mode.

The changes are minor compared to last year’s OnePlus Nord 2. But with a lower starting price of £30, 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 24.

OnePlus’ Nord lineup has quickly become crowded and complicated since its debut just two years ago, and it now roughly consists of two groups of phones: one for Europe and India, and another for North America. The Nord 2T falls into the former category and is best considered a bloated version of last year’s Nord 2 (similar to what the OnePlus 8T was compared to the OnePlus 8 or the OnePlus 7T to the 7). I asked OnePlus if we would see a Nord 3 this year, but it was unwilling to divulge its unannounced product roadmap. The 2T is therefore effectively the northern European flagship for the moment.

So if the Nord 2T is a spec changed Nord 2, then which specs were actually changed?

From the front, it doesn’t look like much has changed. The 90Hz 1080p OLED display still measures 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 may look different – with an odd combination of two camera rings containing three sensors – the specs for these cameras are exactly the same as last time.

I like the screen of the OnePlus Nord 2T. It’s nice and smooth thanks to its 90Hz refresh rate, which is plenty fast for regular phone tasks like scrolling through social media feeds. Whites are bright, colors are beautiful and blacks are pitch black – it’s an OLED panel after all. An in-screen fingerprint sensor handles biometric security quickly and reliably.

The gray model’s finish is oddly slippery.

USB-C — but no headphone jack.

The sound is less impressive. Although the Nord 2T outputs stereo sound, it uses a downward-firing speaker on one side and its earpiece on the other. The result is an empty, hollow sound, although it is capable of becoming loud at maximum volume. There’s no headphone jack here, like last time, 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 gray model’s finish. There’s nothing wrong with a phone at this price having this design in theory (Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back with a plastic frame on the sides). But, in practice, the finish on my review sample feels incredibly slippery in the hand. It won’t matter if you use the transparent case that OnePlus includes in the box, but it might be annoying for all of you Never Casers. In contrast, it appears the green version of the 2T has a more standard gloss finish that I’ve had less trouble with in the past, but haven’t been able to use it in person.

One obvious spec that has been overtaken is the phone’s processor, but in practice its benefits seemed to have more to do with battery life than raw performance. The OnePlus Nord 2T uses a MediaTek Dimensity 1300 processor, which is a step up from the Dimensity 1200-AI used in the Nord 2. It has a more power-efficient design and it averages just under six hours of battery life. screen time. between charges, up from around five hours last time, despite the same 4,500mAh battery size. I would typically put the Nord 2T on charge at the end of the day with over 40% of its battery remaining.

Charging speeds are an easy-to-point spec improvement, but the differences in practice are less than you might expect. The Nord 2T now supports 80W SuperVOOC wired charging, down 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% in 15 minutes and to 100% in just under half an hour. For comparison, last year I was able to charge the Nord 2 from zero to 99% in 35 minutes, not much slower.

With its 6.43-inch screen, the Nord 2T is decidedly medium-sized.

OxygenOS continues to be a great version of Android.

The Nord 2T comes with OxygenOS 12.1, based on Android 12, and the company promises two major Android updates and three years of security updates. That’s not terrible, but it’s a bit 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’re hoping to use your midrange phone for as long as possible, an iPhone SE or Google’s upcoming Pixel 6A might be a better bet.

I continue to love the vision of OxygenOS on Android. It feels crisp and clean, and the features it offers on top of regular Android (such as its Optimized Charging feature, which prevents your phone from idling at 100% charge for extended periods when charging overnight) are useful without ever getting in the way. More importantly, it is pleasant and responsive to use.

The Nord 2T’s camera setup won’t surprise anyone familiar with its predecessor. On the back, there’s a trio of cameras: a 50-megapixel main, an 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor for black-and-white shots. And no, I also don’t know why OnePlus continues to include these almost useless monochrome sensors, especially when the black and white mode is buried in a submenu of the camera app. The 32-megapixel selfie camera uses the same hardware as last year.

Similar hardware means you can expect very similar photography quality here as with the Nord 2. In daylight, the Nord 2T prioritizes a punchy look with plenty of contrast. Shadows and highlights jump off the screen, and colors are deep and rich (but not overwhelming). Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) on the main camera makes it relatively easy to get crisp, sharp images of still subjects. Faces look a bit too sharp and bright from the rear camera, but selfie shots with the lower-res 32-megapixel sensor come off much better and are crisp and clear.

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

Even without using the Nord 2T’s night photography mode, the photos you get from the Nord 2T in low light are quite bright and I like the amount of detail it offers. There seems to be a bit of smoothing to reduce visual noise, but I can’t argue with the overall effect, and faces end up looking clear and relatively natural. Don’t expect much from the ultra-wide camera in the dark, where detail breaks down completely.

On the video side, the Nord 2T can shoot up to 4K at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps. But in practice, the footage the phone is able to capture is average, and while OnePlus claims it can shoot in HDR, its dynamic range isn’t great. With accurate colors and reliable focus, it’s not terrible, but it’s not anything special either.

Two camera circles, three camera sensors.

An alert slider lets you easily put the phone on silent or vibrate.

With a starting price of £369, it’s easy to forgive the Nord 2T’s few issues. It’s 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 whole.

In typical OnePlus fashion, the only real thing you compromise on with the Nord 2T is camera quality, and it might be worth waiting for the next Pixel 6A if that’s your priority on a mid-range device. And, no matter how good the camera, it’ll also get 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 big step up from last year’s model. But at this point it is not necessary. It works well and is fun to use, and if you don’t care about 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 Verge

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