OnePlus Nord 2 5G review: Flagship-like performance


The smartphone experience on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G

OnePlus Nord 2 5G has a bright AMOLED display that’s pleasant to use both outdoors and indoors. Another thing we appreciate is that the display is tuned to comply with the DCI-P3 and sRGB color spaces, with good color accuracy. The fast 90 Hz refresh rate of the screen makes everything feel responsive and smooth. Also, the Oxygen OS v11.3 custom Android build offers a great user experience without annoying bloatware and ads. All Android apps work very well, including mobile games.

Oxygen OS v11.3 is a sleek Android version

Watching movies and listening to music is an enjoyable experience, even without a headset. However, the speaker system on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is not as good as those found on more expensive flagships. We don’t recommend setting its volume to the maximum, as the high-frequency sounds are too loud and high-pitched. Also, the bass is lacking compared to flagship smartphones. However, we must not forget that the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is cheaper than a flagship smartphone, and some trade-offs were required.

Watching movies on the OnePlus Nord2 5G

Phone calls made on this phone are clear for both parties, and we didn’t encounter signal reception issues. The suppression of ambient sounds works very well too.

Both the fingerprint sensor (placed on the bottom part of the display) and the face unlock are accurate and fast. Decide which one you want to use depending on your personal preference.

The battery is not a strength of the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, but it’s not a weakness either. The smartphone can easily last a day of regular use on a single charge. If you are a light user, you can have it last for up to two days. However, you will be impressed by the 65W fast charging on this phone. You can charge it from 0% to 100% in 30 to 32 minutes.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G is a well-built smartphone that delivers what you need, including a good quality display, fast unlock options, solid performance, and excellent fast charging.

The camera experience on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G

Taking pictures on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is a fast and mostly pleasant experience. The camera app has plenty of configuration options, and it is relatively easy to use. By default, the primary camera takes pictures using 12.5 Megapixels. However, you can turn on the option to use the maximum of 50 Megapixels, but we don’t recommend it, as you don’t see any major improvement in picture quality. The best results are obtained with the default resolution.

Options offered by the Camera app

When you take pictures with the primary camera, you get satisfying results with photos that have high contrast, accurate colors, and a wide dynamic range. However, when you turn on the HDR feature, the results feel a bit too over-processed, and we recommend that you don’t use it for picture-taking. The Night Mode delivers generally good results, with good color reproduction and without too much noise. Also, the optical image stabilization does a good job, both day and night. Unfortunately, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G doesn’t offer optical zoom. Instead, you get only digital zoom which crops and upscales your pictures. This is okay to look at on the phone’s display but not good on a computer monitor. Therefore, the quality of your photographs suffers quite a bit, even if you use only 2X zoom. When taking macro shots, you get good color reproduction, but you may not be satisfied with how the camera focuses on your subject.

Selfies have good contrast and colors, but the subject separation may not always be great. For a better understanding of this smartphone’s camera performance, take a look at the picture samples below:

This smartphone can record video with both its primary camera and the ultrawide one. However, the 4K resolution at 30 frames per second is available only on the primary camera. Videos look good both in 4K and 1080p, with low noise, and good color reproduction. One good example is the landscape below:

While electronic stabilization is available on both cameras, optical image stabilization is available only on the primary camera, and it delivers better results. Again, the digital zoom may be problematic. When you zoom in and out as we did in the video below, you get a suboptimal experience.

You can also record slow-motion videos on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, and they tend to look pretty good, as long as you don’t use the zoom feature. To see how well it works, take a look at the sample we filmed below:

OnePlus Nord 2 5G offers a balanced picture-taking experience. For the best results, we don’t recommend enabling HDR or increasing the resolution to 50 MP. Sticking to the default camera configuration is a much better idea. Video recording is a cool experience, too, with satisfying results, as long as you use the primary camera and don’t zoom it. Overall, we are satisfied with the camera experience offered by the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, and we believe you will be too.

Android 11 and bundled apps

OnePlus Nord 2 5G comes with Oxygen OS v11.3 - a custom Android 11 operating system developed by OnePlus. It has some personalization options outside the basics offered by Android, and all of them are about improving the user experience. The company provides two years of software updates for OnePlus Nord 2 5G and three years of security updates. This support window is not as long as the one advertised by Samsung, but it is longer than many other manufacturers.

There are few preinstalled apps

Another upside is that the smartphone comes with very few built-in apps:

  • Clone Phone - you can use it to migrate your data from another smartphone to your newly purchased OnePlus Nord 2 5G.
  • Community - an app where OnePlus users can get help, exchange tips and ideas. You can also use it to access the OnePlus Store.
  • File Manager - a helpful app for managing the files and folders found on your smartphone.
  • Games - an app for optimizing the performance of your mobile games.
  • Netflix - the popular movie streaming service that needs no introduction.
  • Recorder - records audio and uses your smartphone as a microphone.
  • Weather - we all need a weather forecast now and then.
  • Zen Mode - an app to monitor your phone usage, which helps you take some time off from the digital world.

The Oxygen OS v11.3 on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G has a few built-in apps and useful customizations on top of the standard Android 11 experience. The phone will get three years of security updates and two years of software updates. We love the approach taken by OnePlus, and we hope it becomes popular in the world of Android smartphones.

Performance in benchmarks

To evaluate the performance of this smartphone as objectively as possible and compare it with other phones, we ran several benchmarking apps. The first was Geekbench. OnePlus Nord 2 5G scored 807 points in the Single-Core tests and 2714 points in the Multi-Core tests. These scores place it close to the European version of the Samsung Galaxy S20+.

Geekbench scores

We then used PCMark for Android to measure how well this smartphone works for productivity. It scored 8482 points, a bit higher than the OnePlus Nord CE 5G.

The score in PCMark for Android

In the 3DMark benchmark app, we ran the Sling Shot test. OnePlus Nord 2 5G rendered an average of 55.10 frames and 40.20 frames, respectively, and it had a score of 7112 points, similar to that of a Samsung Galaxy S20. An excellent result!

The score in 3DMark

For mobile gaming, we also ran the Car Chase and 1080p Care Chase Offscreen tests from GFXBench. OnePlus Nord 2 5G rendered an average of 40 frames per second and 46 frames, respectively. Another positive result for users who are into mobile gaming. While this smartphone won’t deliver performance near this year’s flagships, its graphics chip is powerful enough for pleasant mobile gaming.

The score in GFXBench

To evaluate the autonomy offered by OnePlus Nord 2 5G, we used PCMark’s Work 3.0 battery life test with the display brightness set to Auto. The battery lasted 14 hours and 2 minutes.

The PCMark Work 3.0 battery life test

Unfortunately, we don’t have 5G connectivity in our area, so we couldn’t test the mobile data speed you get with this smartphone.

The benchmarks we ran confirmed that the OnePlus Nord 2 5G offers excellent performance for a phone at its price. The MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI SoC that powers this phone is surprisingly capable, and it works well for mobile gaming too, not just productivity and your casual mobile apps.

Do you like the OnePlus Nord 2 5G?

Now you know what we like and what we don’t like about the OnePlus Nord 2 5G. It is a solid smartphone that competes successfully with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy A72 5G. Furthermore, we believe it to be a balanced device that offers a lot of bang for the buck. Before closing this review, tell us your opinion about the OnePlus Nord 2 5G in a comment below.

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