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OnePlus Nord 2T review: Dash of future-proofing with a dollop of nostalgia

This phone feels familiar. But it’s okay.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: Dash of future-proofing with a dollop of nostalgia
OnePlus Nord 2T price in India starts at Rs 28,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The OnePlus Nord 2T is like a time machine. Unbox it, and instantly, you’re taken back. The near sandstone finish and the glossy silver frame holding it all together are an obvious throwback to the OnePlus One days. There’s, still, plenty of power under the hood here for the most discerning user. Relatively clean software, too. All of this won’t cost you a bomb either.

But there is a flip side. Regardless of all the nostalgia that it is able to invoke, the Nord 2T is also a familiar phone. Some would even say, it’s too familiar. Depending on where you stand, it could be a good thing, or, it could be a little unsettling. The reason being the Nord 2T is not a full-blown upgrade to the Nord 2. But since it’s coming almost a year after it, you’re bound to question the timing a bit and wonder, what happens when the Nord 3 comes around, eventually.

DESIGN & DISPLAY

The Nord 2T looks almost identical to the Nord 2. It fits the same broad template and dimensions. From the front, and sides, it’s almost indistinguishable. The back sees some refresh in the sense that OnePlus is using a slightly tweaked camera module giving you the impression it’s using bigger –updated—sensors. It is not, though the arrangement is surely eye-catching in this rendition.

OnePlus Nord 2T review
OnePlus Nord 2T in Gray Shadow would remind you of the OnePlus One in many ways. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

You get the same visual intrigue from the choice of colours, especially if you opt for the phone’s matte frosted Gray Shadow variant. It does an excellent job of mimicking the look and vibe of the original OnePlus One’s textured rear, though, once you start using it, you realise that it’s smooth(er) and a bit slippery. But it is more refined, naturally. It resists fingerprints and smudges well enough, too. OnePlus is offering the phone in a shade of Jade Fog also, which swings the other way with its glossy back panel.

The Nord 2T weighs around 190g and measures 8.2mm. It is not a big phone per se but it has a reassuringly solid heft to it. Maybe the use of copious amounts of glass has something to do with it. This is Corning Gorilla Glass 5. It could be the last of its kind to launch with an alert slider, according to some reports. All in all, the Nord 2T has nearly every ingredient in the book –except for maybe an IP rating—to confidently be seated in the same league as some of OnePlus’s more premium –and pricier— phones.

OnePlus Nord 2T review
The display is same as the Nord 2’s. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The display is same as the Nord 2’s— 6.43-inch 1080p AMOLED with 90Hz refresh rate. The touch sampling, which is 180Hz, and the fact that OnePlus continues to cap most— if not all— games that support high refresh rate at 60Hz make it abundantly clear that this is not an out-and-out gaming phone. That’s not to be confused with, “you can’t play high-end games on it at all” though. It’s just that phones with more powerful screens –now—exist at around the same price point.

Performance, otherwise, is nice and nimble. Colours look rich and viewing angles are just about right. Brightness levels could be tad higher but they’re acceptable and won’t leave you crouching for cover when you’re out and about in direct sunlight. There is support for HDR10+ playback, though it only works with Prime Video (and not with Netflix, for some reason). You get Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection and optical in-screen fingerprint reader for biometrics. This is fast and reliable.

PERFROMANCE & BATTERY LIFE

The Nord 2T is rocking the new Dimensity 1300 chip. Think of it as a Dimensity 1200 retrofitted with some gaming-focused enhancements, collectively referred to as HyperEngine 5.0. Everything else –CPU/GPU/clock speeds—remains the same.

OnePlus Nord 2T review
The phone is powered by Dimensity 1300. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The problem with such an approach is that the benefits you’re expecting aren’t always tangible, or even measurable, for that matter. OnePlus is also using the same fast LPDDR4X RAM (up to 12GB) and UFS3.1 storage (up to 256GB), in both phones. For the most part –and for most people—the Nord 2T would appear to work more or less the same way the Nord 2 did with a few subtle differences here and there whether it be in benchmarks or real-world use.

OnePlus Nord 2T review
You get an alert slider. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

It doesn’t make the Dimensity 1300 or the Nord 2T any less powerful, even though, it does tend to throttle a bit more aggressively than the Nord 2 did when pushed to keep the temperatures from hitting the ceiling. It doesn’t come at the expense of performance though. Only and only in some fringe cases like say when you’re playing a graphically demanding game like Genshin Impact, you’d notice some stutter or lag. The Nord 2T is generally a steady and speedy performer. It’s pretty efficient, too.

OnePlus Nord 2T review
It supports 80W fast charging. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Battery life is good. Casual users would be able to get a full day’s worth of usage out of the Nord 2T’s 4,500mAh battery which is same as the Nord 2’s. You get faster 80W charging (versus 65W in the Nord 2) with the bundled charger taking about 32 minutes to top it up from 0-100%.

CAMERAS & SOFTWARE

The Nord 2T has the same set of triple cameras (50MP main f/1.8 with OIS, 8MP f/2.2 120-degree ultrawide, and 2MP mono) on the rear and the same 32MP selfie shooter as the Nord 2. OnePlus would presumably have tweaked the tuning a bit. It has added a new 960fps slow motion mode in the phone as well. But overall, the Nord 2T’s photography chops, and output, are not that different from the Nord 2’s.

OnePlus Nord 2T review
There are three cameras on the back. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The main sensor, still, is the cream of the crop with fairly impressive results in good light be it in details, colours, or dynamic range though there is some room for improvement in HDR. It is promising in low-light, too, pulling out good amount of detail with exposure mostly on point. The ultrawide takes warmer photos by default across lighting scenarios. The 2MP monochrome is a mere spec filler.

The Nord 2T can record up to 4K@30fps videos (1080p@30fps videos with the ultrawide) and while colour, contrast, and detail are decent enough, stabilisation could be better.

The front camera takes good-enough selfies with mostly natural colour tones in good light, but quality goes for a spin as intensity of light goes down. It can do 1080p@30fps with videos coming out clean, especially when lots of light is available, with decent amount of stabilisation as well. Software-induced portraits are average at best though.

OnePlus Nord 2T review
The phone runs OxgenOS 12.1. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

That software, still, remains one of the biggest incentives to pick the Nord 2T. It runs the latest OxygenOS 12.1 with Android 12 and is eligible to get two major OS and up to three years of security updates. It supports more 5G bands, too. So technically, the Nord 2T is more future-proof than the Nord 2. As for the experience, it’s nice and fluid, with no ads or any spammy notifications. We did not encounter any odd bugs during our testing. OnePlus has optimised the phone well. At the same time, features like OnePlus Shelf and Scout, and Work Life Balance, add a level of individuality to it, some of which are more useful than you’d think.

ONEPLUS NORD 2T | SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

Stopgaps like the Nord 2T exist throughout the smartphone industry. They help brands keep the momentum going, especially when the predecessor –OnePlus Nord 2 in this case—was a hit. For consumers, it means getting access to newer technology the moment it’s available, which is always a nice thing to have. You’d want to get your hands on the absolute latest piece of hardware at any given point of time when you’re out to make a purchase, after all, unless of course budget becomes a constraint.

OnePlus Nord 2T review
OnePlus Nord 2T retail packaging. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Luckily, the Nord 2T costs lower than what the Nord 2 did at launch. OnePlus Nord 2T price in India starts at Rs 28,999. This is for a version with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. A version with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage will set you back by Rs 33,999. If you’ve been eyeing a phone at around Rs 30,000, the Nord 2T becomes a no-brainer. It is similar to the Nord 2 in many ways, and surely, we would have liked some more upgrades especially a different, possibly more powerful chip, but hey, a OnePlus Nord 2 with a dash of future-proofing and a dollop of nostalgia at a lower price isn’t such a bad deal. It is, in fact, a steal deal.

ProsCons
Premium glass buildNo high refresh rate support for many games
Good displaySome throttling under stress
Fast performanceNo IP rating
Clean, well optimised softwareMono camera just a spec filler
Loud stereo speaker output
Competitive main camera
Good battery life, quick charging

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