OnePlus Nord 2T 5G review: Too late to the party
Traditionally, OnePlus’s “T” models would arrive around six months after a new model’s release, adding a few upgrades along the way to keep the phone fresh and desirable until the true sequel came along. The OnePlus Nord 2T 5G follows the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, released in July 2021, so it’s here at about the time we would expect to be hearing about a Nord 3.
Does that mean it has been treated to more hardware upgrades than other T models in the past? No, but OnePlus has cut the price which may help soften the blow. Let’s take a good look at the new phone.
The OnePlus Nord 2T 5G is shaped, sized, and weighted almost identically to the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, with a body 8.2mm thick and 190 grams in weight, but it has a different camera module design and comes in two different colors. Our review model is in Gray Shadow and the Gorilla Glass rear panel has a slight texture to it. Visually, it recalls OnePlus’s popular Sandstone finish, but not when you touch it. A brighter Jade Fog color is also available which should inject some life into the look. I definitely miss the beautiful Blue Haze finish of the Nord 2.
On the back is a sizable camera module containing two circular sections with three cameras, plus two flash units mounted alongside it. It’s inoffensive looking but hardly attractive, and I sigh every time I see the unaligned cameras in the lower circular section. I’m sure there’s a technical reason as to why they aren’t set in-line, but when everything else is symmetrical apart from those two cameras, it’s visually distracting.
Included in the box is a TPU case with an opaque finish and an unusual line pattern over it, elevating it above the usual free case some phones come with. I’ve used it with the phone because, in its gray color, the Nord 2T looks very dull. The case makes it look more interesting and adds some protection at the same time.
One thing I liked about the Nord 2 was the family resemblance. It looked a lot like the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, but the Nord 2T is very much its own device and shares nothing, apart from the handy Alert Slider on the side of the body, with the OnePlus 10 Pro. While the design leaves me cold, the Nord 2T is well-built from good materials, in particular the use of Gorilla Glass over the screen and for the back panel.
Inside the camera module is a 50-megapixel Sony IMX766 camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) and an f/1.8 aperture, plus an 8MP wide-angle camera with a 120-degree field of view and electronic image stabilization (EIS), and a 2MP monochrome camera. It will record video up to 4K at 30 fps, and around the front is a 32MP selfie camera. This is the only hardware upgrade over the Nord 2, which had a 16MP selfie camera.
Improvements in performance come from the MediaTek Dimensity 1300 platform powering the Nord 2T, according to OnePlus, bringing greater AI image processing ability for Nightscape photos and when shooting HDR video.
There has definitely been some refinement over the Nord 2’s camera, which can only be down to the Dimensity 1300 chip as there are no changes on a hardware level. Nightscape photos balance color and detail very well, creating an atmosphere suited to the environment without upping the brightness too much. Portrait shots with the rear camera also look good with strong edge recognition and a deep depth-of-field.PreviousNext
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The main and wide-angle cameras may still need some software changes, as they can both suffer from over-exposure and leave some photos washed out, especially when shooting in bright sunlight. I’m using the Nord 2T ahead of release, and this may be fixed before the phone officially reaches customers. Overall, for the price and specification, the Nord 2T takes good photos most will find perfect for social media and capturing holiday memories, practically regardless of the environment.
Software and performance
The Dimensity 1300 processor launched in April 2022 and is very similar to the Dimensity 1200 but is built using a 6nm process rather than a 7nm process, which should provide some efficiency benefits. It comes with either 8GB or 12GB RAM, and 128GB or 256GB storage space, plus 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi 6.
I’ve been using the Nord 2T on a daily basis for almost a week and it has been a fine companion, performance-wise. Playing Asphalt 9: Legends presents no problem, it’s fast and smooth, and it can handle 2160p resolution YouTube videos with ease. The screen has a 90Hz refresh rate and it scrolls smoothly throughout the operating system, Google Discover, and in apps like Twitter.
Unfortunately, the screen isn’t very bright, and outside on sunny days legibility is quite low. I’ve also found the auto-brightness can still be slow and dimwitted, despite the addition of two ambient light sensors to combat this issue. It may improve with a software update though. There are stereo speakers and although they get loud, they’re very tinny. On the wireless audio side, it’s great to see AptX and AptX HD support when using wireless headphones.PreviousNext
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Like the OnePlus 10 Pro, the Nord 2T has Android 12 with OxygenOS 12.1 installed. My experience echoes that which I had on the OnePlus 10 Pro, and I’ll direct you to my review of that phone to learn more, and also how the same problems exist across OxygenOS, ColorOS, and RealmeOS. Regarding the experience on the Nord 2T, it has been mostly reliable, and all the apps I require have run without issue.
But the issues that bother me about OxygenOS still remain. It’s bloated with unnecessary features and it requires effort to make it work in an acceptable way right from the outset, making it frustrating to use early on. Notifications aren’t always reliable either, with the always-on screen not showing new messages, and a vibration alert only coming when you unlock the phone for another reason. This may be tied to the software’s aggressive power management, another pain point seen on OnePlus, Oppo, and Realme phones.
OxygenOS was once a selling point of OnePlus phones, but the recent changes have had a negative impact, and it has fallen way behind Samsung’s OneUI, Google’s version of Android, and Apple’s iOS.
The OnePlus Nord 2T comes with an 80W SuperVOOC fast charger which takes the 4,500mAh battery to about 70% in 15 minutes, and on to full capacity in 25 minutes. My tests have shown that OnePlus’s claim of 67% in 15 minutes and 27 minutes to fully charge the battery is accurate, as I usually charge it with a couple of percent battery left.
Such fast charging is a huge benefit. I haven’t charged the OnePlus Nord 2T overnight, I just charge it when necessary during the day. It’s so quick, I haven’t found the need to have a specific, daily charging plan. This brings me on to the Nord 2T’s other strength in this department.
Although the capacity of the battery is modest compared to some other phones, it has proven to be an efficient phone, with the battery keeping up for two days of average use. Light use will see the battery stretch out for three days, highlighting the Dimensity 1300’s efficiency when not under load.
Price and availability
The OnePlus Nord 2T will be released in the U.K. on May 24 and cost 369 British pounds for the 8GB/128GB version, or 469 pounds for the 12GB/128GB model. This works out to around $460 and $580. For reference, the model tested for this review is the 12GB/256GB version, but unless you think you will absolutely need the additional storage over time, the cheaper 8GB can use an extra 3GB of Virtual RAM if you ever want extra ability, making it the sensible choice.
In addition to the U.K., the Nord 2T will be sold across Europe. It will not be released in the U.S., where those who want a Nord fix from OnePlus should look at the Nord N20 5G instead.
The OnePlus Nord 2T 5G is a simple update to the OnePlus Nord 2, so it’s a little surprising it comes at a time when we may be expecting a OnePlus Nord 3. Most of the OnePlus Nord 2’s pain points remain as well — the speakers are still tinny, the screen isn’t bright enough, and there’s no water resistance — leaving the new MediaTek Dimensity 1300 processor to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to improving performance and appeal.
While OnePlus has moved from the OnePlus 9 Pro to the OnePlus 10 Pro, the Nord 2T hasn’t made such a jump, so it feels like a phone that should have been released at most six months after its predecessor, and not 10 months. However, since the price is lower than before it’s still a solid purchase, but this also reflects how little has really changed compared to 2021’s Nord 2.
Is there a better alternative?
For under $500, or around 400 British pounds, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G is a better alternative. The software is more attractive and easier to live with, plus the design is excellent, there’s water resistance, and the screen looks great. You miss out on fast charging though. If a OnePlus phone is a must-have we’d recommend spending less and getting the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G. It’s prettier and still has fast charging, a 90Hz screen, and a decent enough camera.
The Nord 2T isn’t especially durable, so if that matters, consider the Nokia XR20. It costs about the same and although the camera and processor aren’t standout features, its toughness, software commitment, and extended warranty make it long-lasting. The Google Pixel 5a should be a consideration if you can find it cheaply, or wait for the Google Pixel 6a.
Finally, if you’re not set on an Android phone then take a look at the Apple iPhone SE (2022), which has excellent software and long-term support, plus a good camera and screen, along with strong performance.
How long will it last?
OnePlus will send two major Android updates and three years of security updates to the Nord 2T. However, it does not have any water resistance. As mentioned earlier there is a TPU case in the box for protection. The processing power, camera ability, and fast charging mean even though the phone isn’t a flagship model it should still last for two years.