The search for the true north is continuing at an even faster pace this year. It hasn’t been too long since we saw the OnePlus Nord CE 5G launched in India and in terms of pricing, that’s there and thereabouts where last year’s OnePlus Nord was priced. Albeit a little lesser, but then, there was also some give and take on the spec sheet. Joining the party is the new OnePlus Nord 2, which now means the Nord smartphone line-up in India will be a very capable troika, at least for the time being. And alongside the OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9R, with the OnePlus 8 Pro and the OnePlus 8T still on sale, this is the widest the OnePlus phone line-up has ever been. And if you look carefully, the OnePlus Nord 2 is filling in a very important price band too.
How Much Does A New OnePlus Nord 2 Cost? There Are three configurations that you’d be able to choose from. Prices start at Rs 27,999 for the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage option. Then there’s the mid-spec 8GB + 128GB option priced at Rs 29,999 and the highest spec OnePlus Nord 2 phone will cost you Rs 34,999 for 12GB + 256GB. The Green Woods colour will actually be an India exclusive for the time being. There are already offers on the OnePlus India store—including Rs 1,000 discount if you are paying with an HDFC Bank card and 5% cashback if you buy this with an American Express card. There should be similar limited period offers on Amazon.in as well once the phone is available for orders. Just for comparison, the prices are definitely a notch higher than the Rs 24,999 starting price for the OnePlus Nord, and that’s reflective of the upgrades all through. Also, the Realme X7 Max 5G prices start around Rs 26,999 which is whereabouts the OnePlus Nord 2 as well, particularly if you can avail the card payment discounts.
The OnePlus Nord 2’s work is cut out though: It arrives at a time when the Realme X7 Max 5G, powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chip, is readily available. Then there is the Poco F3 GT which also derives the power from the same chip and adds some really cool elements to the mix, for design and functionality. Price differences may finally decide what’s in your budget or you’d simply buy the one that catches your attention the most. Be it the design, be it the features or simply, which brand you prefer more. But the thing is, quite rapidly, the Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000 price band for Android smartphones is fast becoming the MediaTek monopoly. And why not, considering the sort of performance and experience that the Dimensity 1200 has delivered in the phones we’ve tested. And in this case, it is a further evolution into the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI, which has just brought the hardware and software even closer together.
A New Direction, And Starting The Journey With A Lot Of Power: OnePlus hasn’t mucked about with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7-series chips and then gotten themselves into countering a perhaps tough perception battle about performance and longevity. It is true, any Snapdragon-powered phone that isn’t running the newer Snapdragon 8-series chip must answer those questions. Instead, it is the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor that is powering the OnePlus Nord 2. This is an iteration of the most powerful processor that MediaTek has to offer, at this time. A quick run through what the Dimensity 1200 is all about reveals this is a 6-nanometer chip, has 1 Ultra Core clocking up to 3GHz, 3 Super Cores up to 2.6GHz and 4 Efficiency Cores that clock up to 2GHz. The performance is 22% faster than its predecessor chip and battery efficiency will be as much as 25% more. It is 5G ready, of course, and graphics see a massive boost as well. There is an ever-widening world beyond Qualcomm chips, and this MediaTek flagship chip is indeed becoming popular. The Realme X7 Max 5G got its elbows out with this one, as well the Poco F3 GT and the Oppo Reno 6 Pro. Yet, the OnePlus Nord 2 gets a secret ingredient. The AI bit. So much so that this chip in the OnePlus Nord 2 is called the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI.
Does That Impress In The Real World? Very much so. Things are really heating up in this segment of smartphones and the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chip sits at the very heart of what’s happening. OnePlus gives you the choice of 6GB, 8GB or 12GB RAM with your new Nord 2 5G, but irrespective of which one you finally splash the cash on, what you’ll get is equivalent consistent performance. Best case scenario, the performance of the OnePlus Nord 2 is as much as 65% faster for the CPU and 125% faster for the GPU—that’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, we are comparing with. No surprise then that never once did I notice the Dimensity 1200 processor struggling to keep up, heating up as it handled tasks or stutters with app loading or app switching. What also helps is the OnePlus OxygenOS continues to be the slickest, if not the slickest, Android customization across all Android phone brands and devices. Barring of course Google’s own Pixel phones and Nokia’s Android One series devices. In fact, this runs a newer iteration of OxygenOS at the time of launch, which is OxygenOS 11.3 while even the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro at the time of writing this are updated to OxygenOS 220.127.116.11 versions. The “AI” bit adds those unique elements under the hood, such as making YouTube videos look better, and of course photography, for instance.
Warp Charge, Faster Than Before: The other big upgrade that the Nord 2 5G brings along is the Warp Charge fast charging which now gets bumped to Warp Charge 65. That’s up from Warp Charge 30T that the OnePlus Nord did. The OnePlus Nord 2 gets a 4500mAh dual cell battery and from a fully discharged state to 100% charge can be achieved in 30 minutes or so. Not exactly Warp Charge 65T, but this much needed upgrade brings the OnePlus Nord 2 in line with the positioning of this being an alternate Android flagship phone.
Ah Yes, The OxygenOS Inspiration Now Comes From Oppo: The wheels of change are already in motion. OnePlus clearly lists OxygenOS 11.3 as based on Android 11 and Color OS 11.3, the latter being the software that is found in Oppo’s phones. The syncing of synergies should see more of this happen in the coming months, across phones, as software development becomes centralized. There may be changes to how OnePlus phones look and feel on the software side of things, at some point, but there aren’t any glaring overhauls visible at this time. Except the Settings app, which just doesn’t look as cool and intuitive as before. One can hope that OnePlus phones continue to remain bloatware free, as they always have been. Things as they are, there is the definite sense that it retains all the elements you’d associate with OnePlus phones, which is great news if you are upgrading from an earlier OnePlus phone to this.
OnePlus Nord 2 Has A Definite Family Resemblance: One glance at it and you’re left in no doubt about the antecedents of the OnePlus Nord 2. It follows the Nord and the Nord CE 5G, and more than anything else, it is the design language that remains familiar. Albeit there is the camera module design which seems to be paying respects to the more expensive siblings, the OnePlus 9 series. You’d have guessed where I’m getting at by now. The OnePlus Nord 2 looks the part, feels very much like how OnePlus phones always do and there are absolutely no rough edges to call out. So much so, my favorite alert slider is back—this is incredibly convenient when you wish to switch between Ring, Vibrate and Silent modes, without having to unlock the screen and fiddle with the settings there. As the world passes you by and the countdown to the next Google Meet or Zoom meeting is ticking over.
Life’s Colours, As You Search For The True North: The Nord didn’t do boring colours last year, and it doesn’t change with the OnePlus Nord 2. This time around, you’ll be able to choose the Nord 2 5G in Gray Sierra, Green Woods and Blue Haze. These aren’t just colours though, because each gets a very distinct finish. The Blue Haze that you see photographed here effortlessly pulls off the very nice porcelain-esque look and succeeds the marble-like finish that the predecessor had. I’m quite surprised how well this hides fingerprints, smudges and dust in general, not something a lot of phones with a glass-like finish at the back can claim to do this effectively. Green Woods will get a leather-esque finish which I absolutely expect will look high value. Gray Sierra should appeal to the more conventional sense, where you’d want an understated colour option and that’ll get some shiny elements to brighten things up.
You May Have Questions About This Display: The OnePlus Nord 2 doesn’t change much in terms of the display size and has the 6.43-inch screen real estate which is very much what the Nord and the Nord CE 5G also have. That means, the Nord 2 5G isn’t increasing in dimensions, which is great news if you are a bit worried about smartphones growing larger in size with every iterative specs upgrade. This still remains relatively compact, and that’s great if you don’t want anything larger. A lot of similarities remain on the specs front too, and this Fluoridated screen also has the 2400 x 1080 resolution and supports the 90Hz refresh rate. There’s support for sRGB and Display P3 colour standards. Much like its more expensive siblings, the OnePlus Nord 2 also gets you a variety of display options, including Video Enhancer, Vibrant Colour Effect and the Reading Mode. You could always point to the spec sheet and say that this could have upgraded to 120Hz refresh rate, but as things are, the Nord 2 5G is delivering across multiple uses I put this through—emails, web browsing, photo editing, reading eBooks and some amount of video consumption across a variety of apps.
Cameras Are Consistent, And That’s Half The Battle Won: This isn’t a Hasselblad tuned camera, let us get this very clear from the outset. Yet, those learnings could very well be the x-factor with the upcoming software updates to tweak camera performance as more and more user feedback filters through. What you get with the OnePlus Nord 2 is a triple camera system, with a 50-megapixel Sony IMX 766 wide camera joined by an 8-megapixel ultrawide camera and a 2-megapixel mono lens. The selfie camera is a 32-megapixel snapper. From what is available and the standpoint of the price tag it sports, the OnePlus Nord 2 does impress with the photography performance. Photos in good light look very detailed, have really nice dynamic range, are crisp and you’d like this if a balanced reproduction is what you appreciate. The finer details are picked out very well. Colours are rendered brilliantly as well—for instance, the different green shades on trees are distinguished extremely nicely. But at no point does this lean towards being vibrant or unnaturally boosting colours. Low light photos could do with some tweaking though, particularly for the differentiation between the darker and lighter parts of a frame of inconsistent lighting. Yet, all said and done, this certainly an upgrade over the predecessor, and indeed most of its similarly priced rivals, which is definitely a step forward.
THE LAST WORD: ALL GROWN UP ON THE SPEC SHEET, AND THE PRICE TAG TOO
We have seen the tremendous value the OnePlus Nord brought to the table last year, and in that sense, the OnePlus Nord 2 isn’t exactly that much of a breath of fresh air as its predecessor was. Yet, the annual refresh has pushed things forward, significantly. With the new MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chip under the hood, this is now closer to being an alternate Android flagship phone while saving you a lot of money in the process. No longer will there be questions asked about how high a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7-series chipset can punch. At the same time, a lot of things remain consistent. The display size and the design language, the clean OxygenOS, incrementally more pixels for photography and consistent battery life. Oh, and the Warp Charge 65 too. Yet, and as I’ve illustrated before, the pricing does push the Nord 2 5G a step up. It tries to fill the gap between the OnePlus Nord CE 5G and the OnePlus 9R.