Gadget

OnePlus Nord 2T initial review: Pointless refresh?

(Pocket-lint) – When OnePlus announced the first Nord, it heralded something of a change in approach by the company. In some ways, reverting back to its roots by offering a fast, capable phone that cost a lot less than the flagship alternatives without much in the way of compromise. 

Since then, OnePlus has increased its range of products dramatically and often offers different models in different regions that aren’t available elsewhere. A picture that’s perhaps further confused now by the latest refresh which sees OnePlus updating the Nord 2 to the Nord 2T just half a year or so since the last one was made available. 

What’s more – on paper – there doesn’t appear to be much difference between them. So is it a pointless refresh, or a phone worth its place in the OnePlus range

Our quick take

Our first thoughts on the Nord 2T are a little torn. On the one hand, it should to be a very solid, easy-to-recommend phone that fits in comfortably underneath the £400 price bracket (if you get the 8GB model). There’s no doubt it is a competitive mid-range phone. 

On the other hand, despite some improvements, we’re struggling to see the need for it to exist at all except for OnePlus to be able to stay ahead of the curve and talk about how it has the latest Mediatek Dimensity 1000-series processor. 

We can’t imagine it will provide a significant boost over the Nord 2 in any way except – perphaps – the charging speed, which even then is only shaving a few minutes off the full charge time. 

OnePlus Nord 2T initial review: Pointless refresh or fine-tuned upgrade?

For

  • Fast and fluid performance
  • Practical build and design
  • 80W fast charging
  • Starting price is competitive
Against

  • Divisive camera layout design
  • Not much of significance has changed since Nord 2

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Design 

  • 159.1 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm
  • 190 grams 
  • Grey Shadow and Jade Fog colours
  • Glass front and back, plastic frame

It’s rare for a company to upgrade and refresh a product line, introduce a tweaked design, and make it worse. And yet, OnePlus has managed it with the OnePlus Nord 2T. Of course, from the front it’s basically identical to its predecessor, but from the back it most definitely isn’t. 

Pocket-lintOnePlus Nord 2T photo 5

The neat, attractive camera housing with two vertically aligned cameras has been replaced by what we consider – quite frankly – a monstrosity. 

There are two very large dark circles. The top one surrounding the main camera, and the other playing home to the ultrawide and low resolution monochrome sensor, aligned in a twitch-inducing off-centre layout. 

It’s big, bulky and ugly, and has no purpose. And worse: the two large circles aren’t even the same colour. One has a definite blue tint to it, while the other is a grey/black. We suppose – at the end of the day – there’s nothing practically wrong with this, the whole thing is just a tad bemusing. 

Otherwise, the phone is as sensibly designed as its predecessor. The large-ish size of the phone isn’t inconvenient thanks to some practical curving on the glass at the back. Similarly, the completely flat surface on the front makes it easy to type on with two hands. 

Pocket-lintOnePlus Nord 2T photo 12

It’s the same materials as the original Nord 2 as well, with glass on the front and back, with a metallic finished plastic frame around the edges. These appointed with the usual buttons and ports, including the alert slider switch which OnePlus has featured on many of its phones over the past few years. It allows easy switching between ring, vibrate and silent modes. 

On the whole, while we’re unconvinced by the change in camera housing design, the phone feels well made and practically sized and shaped. The camera change just feels like something OnePlus did to make it look different to the regular Nord 2, without any real purpose. 

Display

  • 6.43-inch (1080 x 2400) AMOLED display 
  • Up to 90Hz refresh rates
  • HDR10+ certified 

It’s not the first or last time we’ve said this in regards to the Nord 2T, but the display is identical in spec to its predecessor. 

Pocket-lintOnePlus Nord 2T photo 14

It’s a 6.43-inch fullHD+ (1080 x 2400) AMOLED display that’s capable of reaching 90Hz refresh rates and is certified for HDR10+ content. That means, not only will it offer a fast/smooth experience when interacting with the software, but also that it’ll be a great panel for watching your favourite HDR-enabled content on. 

On first impressions it seems a strong panel, certainly when it comes to fluidity of animation within the main user interface. Initial swipes and drags on the display are instantle responded to with the appropriate animation. 

It’s not looking perfect on the colours front, with some over saturated colours showing their heads. However, we know OnePlus often allows a lot of customisation within the display settings to adjust this, so we’ll play around some more and watch a few more videos before coming to a full conclusion.

Hardware/performance

  • MediaTek Dimensity 1300 processor
  • 5G – WiFi 6 – Bluetooth 5.2 – aptX HD/LDAC
  • 4500mAh battery – 80W SuperVOOC wired charging

Perfomance and hardware capabilities are a big selling point for the flagship Nord phone. That’s the same on the Nord 2T. It’s not quite top-tier flagship power, but – with its upgraded processor – the Nord 2T should deliver near flagship levels of speed and fluidity. 

Pocket-lintOnePlus Nord 2T photo 7

This is one are where the Nord 2T does differ from the Nord 2T, in a way. It features a MediaTek Dimensity 1300, where the previous model had the Dimensity 1200. That slight bump should mean a slight increase in speed. It’s helped along by either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, ensuring there’s plenty of memory at hand to run your most demanding tasks without an issue. 

That’s alongside 128GB or 256GB of storage, and a 4500mAh battery. Those specs are identical to the Nord 2, however, this new model charges quicker. OnePlus has equipped it with the same 80W SuperVOOC wired charging that’s on the OnePlus 10 Pro, and means you’ll get a full chage in under half an hour. 

When you combine all of that with the Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6 and 5G support, the overall experience of the phone should be one of speed, and getting things done quickly. We’ll have to test further to see just how much of an upgrade it is over the Nord 2, but we suspect not a great deal.

Cameras

  • 50MP primary f/1.8 w/OIS 
  • 8MP ultrawide f/2.2 w/EIS
  • 2MP monochrome f/2.2 
  • 32MP selfie camera 

Like a lot of the rest of its specifications the Nord 2T’s camera loadout is essentially the same as the Nord 2. That means a 50-megapixel primary camera alongside an 8-megapixel ultrawide and a low resolution 2-megapixel monochrome sensor. 

Pocket-lintOnePlus Nord 2T photo 10

The 50-megapixel camera is the one that will likely prove to be the winner here based on our experience with the previous model. It’s got the same Sony IMX sensor that you’ll find in a number of flagship phones, including the Oppo Find X5 Pro and in the ultrawide of the OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus has said that having the upgraded MediaTek processor inside should mean a better low light and night photography experience thanks to an improved image processor, but we’ll have to wait and see exactly how much has improved there. 

As for the monochrome 2-megapixel sensor that’s mostly just there to add extra light data to improve the black and white photography mode, it’s not there to be used on its own. 

Pocket-lintOnePlus Nord 2T photo 6

Like everything else, we’ll spend more time with it to see how it actually performs. We suspect it will be at least as good as its predecessor, if nothing else.

To recap

On the one hand we have a phone that’s offers a lot of performance and capability for its price tag. On the other, there’s no significant change from the Nord 2 and so we don’t really think this needs to exist as good a phone as the Nord 2T likely is, so was its predecessor.

Writing by Cam Bunton.


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