OnePlus Nord 2T review: Second tier

The OnePlus Nord 2T makes improvements to the Nord 2’s formula, but despite higher numbers on the spec sheet, it fails to make any significant strides in performance or charging. Like its predecessor, it’s a perfectly average device that does what it promises but fails to make a splash amongst flashier alternatives.

As OnePlus flagships keep creeping up the price ladder, the Nord series has been propped up as the value alternative for the Oppo sub-brand. While the Nord brand itself has been diluted to include smartphones at an assortment of price tags, the original Nord‘s formula — solid performance, ad-free, clean — has since been copied and, in some cases, improved upon by many rivals.

In lieu of a OnePlus Nord 3, the Nord 2T is the 2022 affordable flagship from OnePlus, but it is entering a space that has a litany of excellent competitors. Clearly, just throwing specs in a nice-looking package won’t cut it anymore, and the company has long shed much of the goodwill it had fostered through prior excellence in software. In the Android Authority OnePlus Nord 2T review, we try to see if there’s still room for a phone that doesn’t aspire for much but tries to be exactly what it needs to be — a competent mid-range daily driver.

What you need to know about the OnePlus Nord 2T

OnePlus Nord 2T display switched on

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

  • OnePlus Nord 2T (8GB/128GB): £369 / €399 / Rs. 28,999 (~$405)
  • OnePlus Nord 2T (12GB/256GB): £469 / €499 / Rs. 33,999 (~$507)

The OnePlus Nord 2T is the first phone under the Nord lineup to gain the “T” moniker, a designation that was previously reserved for mid-cycle refreshes under the full-blooded OnePlus lineup. As such, true to the mid-cycle upgrade designation, the OnePlus Nord 2T is a marginal update despite being introduced one year after the launch of the OnePlus Nord 2.

The upgraded mid-range flagship brings a spruced-up design, and a little more power via the Mediatek Dimensity 1300 chipset. That said, the phone levels the playing field as far as charging speeds go with rapid 80W charging support (with a compatible charger included in the box).

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Like its predecessors, you’re still missing out on nice-to-have additions like wireless charging and even an IP rating. The camera setup doesn’t get much of an upgrade either with the exact same sensors as the model before it.

The OnePlus Nord 2T is being offered in two different color options — Jade Fog and Gray Shadow — and a choice of two SKUs (listed above). We’ve got the full-blooded 12GB RAM model in with us for this OnePlus Nord 2T review.

The OnePlus Nord 2T is available via both the OnePlus brand website as well as Amazon in the UK, the rest of Europe, and India (where it is also available through offline retail at OnePlus stores).

What’s good?

OnePlus Nord 2T in hand showing back of the phone

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The general fit and finish of the Nord 2T bears mentioning for how well it is put together. We’ll reserve comments on the actual look of the phone for later, but as far as build quality goes, everything from the buttons to the finish on the back of the phone feels premium to the touch. The soft-touch Gorilla Glass 5 is scuff and fingerprint resistant — a nice change over the more conventional gloss finish. My only real gripe here is that OnePlus continues to use a polycarbonate frame that doesn’t feel quite as high-end as the rest of the phone.

OnePlus Nord 2T side profile

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Nord 2T also has a certain heft to it which helps with how the phone sits in the palm of your hand. The large 6.43-inch screen is also easy to reach even with one hand. And yes, despite its increasing scarcity on OnePlus phones, the much-loved alert slider is still available for muting notifications with a quick slide. The optical fingerprint reader too remains the same as on the original Nord 2, but that’s not a bad thing. I found it to be quick and reliable over the week that I tested out the phone. Similarly, audio quality from the dual speakers has a noticeable skew towards the bottom-firing speaker. I found the output and peak-volume levels satisfactory for listening to music or podcasts around the house. There’s even a hint of bass.

Mediatek’s new-fangled Dimensity 1300 chipset finds a home in the Nord 2T but you’d be hard-pressed to find a tangible difference in performance compared to the Nord 2’s Dimensity 1200 processor. That shouldn’t be a surprise since the Dimensity 1300 has the same CPU and GPU configuration. There are a few AI-enhanced optimizations that might make a difference in gaming, but considering practically every game we tried was locked to 60Hz, I wouldn’t go in expecting much. Not that the phone needed a lot more performance — it maintains a steady clip in everyday tasks, and even demanding games aren’t much of a chore for it either. I tested out popular titles like Genshin Impact and Call of Duty: Mobile, where the phone kept up a solid frame rate. The former title is particularly demanding but it was completely playable, though I’d recommend cranking down the texture quality for the smoothest experience.

Similarly, charging power has also got an on-paper boost to 80W. That’s a decent bump up over the 65W charging on its predecessor. However, that number doesn’t really translate to a real-world difference. Charging speeds weren’t that dissimilar to the Nord 2, with a full charge taking just under 40 minutes. As for endurance, the Nord 2T comfortably lasts a full day of use but most should expect to top off the battery overnight.

The Nord 2T’s performance and charging speeds are technically better on paper than the Nord 2, but there are no measurable gains to be found. They’re still great for the price though.

On the software front, Oxygen OS 12 (version 12.1 here) continues to be a love-hate relationship. It’s far from the original stock-like experience of Oxygen OS, and you’ll find plenty of features — like a pull-down widget shade — borrowed from Color OS. My experience with the software was largely bug-free, and despite all (generally useful) additions, the software still looks and feels clean. There’s no bloatware to be found, barring apps for Spotify and Netflix, nor will you find any ads.

What’s not so good?

OnePlus Nord 2T close up of camera

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

OnePlus hasn’t really been at the forefront of design in a long time, but the Nord 2T is as generic as phone designs get. What’s even more egregious is that the company seemingly dug through the parts bin at Oppo to develop the phone’s blueprint. The Nord 2T’s enormous camera module is borderline hilarious to look at, and the secondary cameras’ asymmetric layout does it no favors aesthetically.

Elsewhere, the haptics aren’t much of an upgrade over the lackluster feedback on the OnePlus Nord 2. Cranked up to the max, the typing experience still feels hollow and doesn’t hold a candle to what you get from several competing devices.

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I was also less than impressed by the Nord 2T’s display. It’s not bad, but features like 120Hz support are increasingly common at this price point — something the Nord 2T lacks (though we do at least get 90Hz instead of a basic 60Hz refresh rate). Moreover, the phone displayed inconsistent HDR tone mapping in content and misses out on support for formats like Dolby Vision, putting the screen here far behind those of the likes of Xiaomi or Samsung.

OnePlus is promising two years of Android updates and three years of security patches, which isn’t the worst, but it lags behind Samsung’s guarantees of up to five years of security patches, and is also worse than what Nothing is offering for the Phone 1. It’s not a great look to be outmatched here by a debuting company.

OnePlus Nord 2T camera review

The phone also carries forward the same cameras as the OnePlus Nord 2 before it. As such, there are no surprises on the imaging front, though there’s a little more polish out of the box than what we saw with its predecessor. The primary camera is capable of competent-looking shots in ideal conditions and not-so-competent shots in anything but that. The 50MP sensor initially debuted on the OnePlus 9 Pro but the camera tuning here isn’t quite as good. Shots in good enough lighting impress with decent dynamic range and excellent detail.

HDR performance can, however, be a bit hit or miss and the camera can, on occasion, bump up the saturation levels dramatically. I observed significant shutter lag while shooting HDR content or any shot in an indoor setting. This wasn’t an issue when the sun was out, but it took several tries to get a sharp-looking image indoors. Like most OnePlus phones, crushed shadows continue to be a concern.

While the primary shooter is capable enough, the ultrawide camera utterly falls apart. There’s just not enough detail here and images end up being noisy even in reasonable lighting.

OnePlus’ struggles with getting the camera right continue on the Nord 2T.

Low light photography is also not something the Nord 2T excels at. The primary camera dramatically bumps exposure levels but fails to tame highlights, resulting in blown-out images. Moreover, there is very visible smudging and a watercolor-like effect because of the heavy noise reduction algorithms in use.

Indoors, the watercolor effect gets even more pronounced, and the night mode does a whole lot of nothing to fix it. In fact, it gets a lot worse when you switch over to the ultrawide camera, and it’s just not worth trying to take a lot of lowlight shots with that sensor.

I wasn’t too convinced by the front-facing camera either. To start with, the camera defaults to significant face retouching. This adds to the inherent shutter lag on the phone. When you switch off retouching, things improve to a degree, but the camera struggles to retain fine details like textures on fabric and skin. Switching on portrait mode brings back the shutter lag and dramatically bumps noise levels. I’d recommend keeping it switched off.

Video quality on the OnePlus Nord 2T hasn’t improved over the outgoing model either and continues to cap off at 4K/30fps when other phones in its price tier are offering 4K/60fps. That said, the phone does an excellent job at capturing rich, saturated colors. Stabilization is also effective at taming camera shake. Overall, the footage looks good enough but far from exceptional.

You can take a look at full resolution OnePlus Nord 2T camera samples at our Google Drive link.

OnePlus Nord 2T specs

OnePlus Nord 2T Specs

Display

6.43-inch Fluid AMOLED
2,400 x 1,080 resolution at 410ppi
20:9 aspect ratio
90Hz display refresh rate

Processor

MediaTek Dimensity 1300

GPU

Arm G77 MC9

RAM

8GB or 12GB
LPDDR4X

Storage

128GB or 256GB
UFS 3.1

Power

4,500mAh battery
Warp Charge 80 (80W wired charging)
No wireless charging

Cameras

Rear:

– 50MP main (1.0µm, ƒ/1.88, OIS)
– 8MP ultrawide (119.7-degree FoV, ƒ/2.25, EIS)
– 2MP monochrome (ƒ/2.5)

Front:

– 32MP single (0.8µm, ƒ/2.45, EIS)

Video

4K at 30FPS recording
1080p at 30/60FPS recording
720p at 30/60FPS recording

Slow-motion/time-lapse: 1080p/120FPS and 720p/240FPS

Audio

Dual stereo speaker
No 3.5mm headphone port
Bluetooth 5.2
Support for aptX & aptX HD & LDAC & AAC

Connectivity (India)

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 2.4G/5G, 2×2 MIMO

Bluetooth: 5.2

NFC: Supported

LTE: 4×4 MIMO, support up to DL Cat 18/UL Cat 13
(1.2Gbps / 150Mbps), depending on carrier support

GSM: GSM850, GSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900
WCDMA: B1/2/4/5/8/19
LTE-B: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/34/38/39/40/41
NR NSA: N41, N78, N40, N79
NR SA: N41, N78, N28A, N1, N3, N79, N40

Connectivity (UK/Europe)

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 2.4G/5G, 2×2 MIMO

Bluetooth: 5.2

NFC: Supported

LTE: 4×4 MIMO, support up to DL Cat 18/UL Cat 13
(1.2Gbps / 150Mbps), depending on carrier support

GSM: GSM850, GSM900, DCS1800, PCS1900
WCDMA: B1/2/4/5/8/19
LTE-FDD: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/18/19/20/26/28/38/32
/34/39/40/41/66
NR NSA: N1, N3, N7, N8, N20, N28, N38, N41, N78
NR SA: N1, N3, N7, N20, N28, N78, N41, N8

Ports

USB-C port (2.0)
Dual nano-SIM slot
No 3.5mm headphone port
No microSD card slot

Software

Android 12
Skinned with Oxygen OS 12.1

Dimensions and weight

159.1 x 73.2 x 8.2mm
190g

Colors

Jade Fog, Gray Shadow

In the box

– Phone
– Warp Charge 80 wall adapter
– Warp USB-C cable
– Phone case
– Screen protector (pre-applied)
– SIM tray ejector

OnePlus Nord 2T review: The verdict

OnePlus Nord 2T back lead image 1

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The OnePlus Nord 2T is as generic as phones come, and isn’t going to be making waves anytime soon. However, that may or may not be a negative in your books, as the phone gets most of the fundamentals right. The performance is satisfactory and so is the build quality. Meanwhile, though the secondary ultrawide leaves much to be desired, the primary camera is competent enough for day-to-day use.

However, things don’t look quite as positive once you start looking at the alternatives. The phone goes up against the likes of the Poco F4 (£379) which has a larger, more fluid 120Hz display. It also has a Snapdragon 870 chipset which just about evens out the phones in terms of performance. In addition, the Poco F4 ships with a slightly larger battery and an IP rating.

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The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G (£399) is another very strong alternative that sets itself apart from the bunch with its vibrant 120Hz super AMOLED display, IP67 rating, and capable quad-camera setup. The phone further distinguishes itself with a massive 5,000mAh battery and long software support.

The Google Pixel 6a (£399) has a few areas that are beginning to show their age — notably the 60Hz display and slow charging — but it’s an easy contender thanks to its custom Tensor chipset, Pixel-exclusive software features, and photography pedigree.

For those in India, there’s also the Xiaomi 11i Hypercharge (Rs. 26,999) to consider, which has the same high-end display as the Poco F4 but drops the performance to a Dimensity 920 chipset. On the other hand, the significantly faster 120W charging might appeal to those looking for the fastest possible top-ups.

The Nothing Phone 1 (£399) is the latest in a long list of alternatives that trounce the Nord 2T in more ways than one. The snazzy design makes the phone stand out like nothing else. The spec sheet might not be as power-packed, but it’ll do the trick for most users. Additionally, despite being the company’s first phone, Nothing has done a surprisingly good job with the primary camera and is even offering a better update promise than OnePlus. All in all, an excellent option for fashion-conscious buyers.

The Nord 2T has a long list of alternatives that best it in terms of specs, experience, and sometimes both. So where does that leave the phone? While the likes of Xiaomi and Realme might impress through flashy specs, there’s a certain stigma associated with on-screen ads and a general proclivity to include a wide range of pre-installed apps. The OnePlus Nord 2T comfortably sidesteps that with its clean software build. That, coupled with good-enough specs, could be just the incentive buyers need to opt for the Nord 2T, just don’t expect any kind of wow factor. However, if you can score last year’s OnePlus Nord 2 (£399) on a discount, it might be the better deal, as the Nord 2T barely improves on the formula.

oneplus nord 2t

OnePlus Nord 2T

The OnePlus Nord 2T builds on the previous generation’s formula with faster charging and a spruced-up design.

Top OnePlus Nord 2T questions and answers

The OnePlus Nord 2T supports 5G on 11 different bands, but does not support mmWave 5G compatibility. That’s not a big miss as the phone will not be launched in North America.

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