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OnePlus Nord 2T 5G review: Long-lasting, fast-charging mid-range 5G phone gets a chipset upgrade

This affordable 5G phone has a lot to recommend it, but the speakers are poor and neither the camera hardware nor the screen have moved on since last year's model.
sandra-vogel.jpg
Written by Sandra Vogel, Contributor on
Pros
  • Great battery life
  • Fast charging
  • Bloatware-free
  • Alert Slider
Cons
  • Awful speakers
  • Cameras could be better
  • No IP rating

OnePlus has built its reputation on good-value mid-range and flagship-class smartphones, and last year I was impressed by the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, which in the UK costs from £369 with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. Now we have an updated version in the shape of the OnePlus Nord 2T 5G. Will we be similarly impressed? 

There are two variants of the Nord 2T 5G. The entry-level 8GB/128GB model costs £369/€399, while the top-end 12GB/256GB model -- which I was sent for review -- costs £469/€499. Like its predecessor, the Nord 2T 5G is not officially available in the US, although you can find the 8GB/128GB version online for $499.

OnePlus Nord 2T 5G

The OnePlus Nord 2T 5G has 6.43-inch AMOLED screen and runs on MediaTek's Dimensity 1300 chipset with 8GB or 16GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of (non-expandable) storage.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

My review handset had a deep, slate-grey back which OnePlus calls Gray Shadow. The matte finish is smooth but not as slippery as many, and the glass back remained admirably fingerprint-free. This colour is available in both the 8GB/128GB and the 12GB/256GB configurations. 

There's also a pale-green option, which OnePlus calls Jade Fog. Although I've not seen this model, it appears to have a more reflective and perhaps more slippery glass finish. If you prefer this colour, you'll have to settle for the entry-level configuration. 

OnePlus Nord 2T: cameras

Rear cameras: 50MP wide angle, 8MP ultra-wide angle (120°), 2MP monochrome.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The rectangular camera bump protrudes significantly from the back, which means the phone isn't particularly stable on a desk when the screen is prodded. You can use the bundled bumper case to solve this issue, but this will mask the colour and texture of the backplate. 

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There are two large circles in the camera bump, with a single lens in the top one and two in the one below it. I found the mix of symmetry and offsetting rather appealing. At the front, there's a single hole-punch camera in the upper left of the screen. The screen itself sits within small bezels that deliver a screen-to-body ratio of 85.8%.

OnePlus Nord 2T: Alert Slider

The Alert Slider on the right-hand side has a stippled finish.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

OnePlus's useful Alert Slider, which allows you to switch between silent, vibrate and ring modes, sits on the upper right edge of the handset. The Alert Slider has a stippled finish, making it easy to find by touch alone, and difficult to confuse with the smooth power button sitting just below it. There's a volume rocker on the left edge, while the bottom houses the USB-C charging/connection port, a speaker grille and a SIM caddy that can accommodate two SIMs. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a mid-range handset, there's no IP rating for dust and water resistance.

The AMOLED screen is little changed from last year's specification. It measures 6.43 inches across the diagonal, has a resolution of 2,400 by 1,080 pixels (20:9, 409ppi), a refresh rate of 90Hz and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Last year's OnePlus Nord 2 had an AMOLED screen the same size, with the same resolution and refresh rate. I liked it then, and I like it now. 

OnePlus says the screen now has two ambient light sensors to ensure that automatic brightness changes are better calibrated. This is one of those little usability tweaks that can make quite a big difference in everyday use.  

I've lamented the lost Reading Mode in previous reviews of OnePlus handsets, and I'm doing it again here. It is a real shame there is no monochrome setting that can automatically kick in when e-book readers -- or, indeed, any other apps -- are started. But it was gone in the previous version of this handset, and it remains gone. 

OnePlus Nord 2T: Bedtime and Eye Comfort modes

Greyscale is available in Bedtime and Eye Comfort modes, but can't be set to activate when particular apps are launched.

Screenshots: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

There is a greyscale setting tucked away in Bedtime mode, which can be scheduled to come on at set times or activated manually via a Quick Settings menu icon. It's also an option in Eye Comfort mode. That's a start, but if greyscale is available, it would be nice to be able to have it kick in when specific apps are opened. 

Other screen tweaks include the ability to set the refresh rate to 90Hz or 60Hz and to apply 'Video colour boost'. The higher refresh rate and colour enhancement will both result in higher battery usage. 

Stereo speakers deliver sound via the grille on the bottom edge of the chassis and the handset's earpiece above the screen. There's plenty of volume, but the audio quality is among the worst I've heard for a long time. There's no bass to speak of, treble is harsh, and overall sound is fuzzy. This is not the handset to buy if you like to play audio from your phone rather than use a headset. 

According to OnePlus, the Nord 2T 5G is the first to market with the new MediaTek Dimensity 1300 chipset. This delivers decent 458 (single core) and 2700 (multi core). The multi core result is in the same ballpark as the Honor 50 (2885) and last year's Nord 2 (2518), although the single core result lags behind (458, versus 775 and 733 for the Honor 50 and Nord 2 respectively). 

My review handset's 256GB of storage had 233GB free after Android 12 and OxygenOS 12.1 have taken their share. There's no MicroSD card for adding external storage. Now that OnePlus is firmly embedded within the Oppo stable there is a lot of similarity between handset features across the brands, and OxygenOS shares much with Oppo's ColorOS, so that OnePlus has lost quite a bit of what made it unique.

Still, the OnePlus Shelf – which is accessed by sweeping downwards from the top right of the screen – is distinctive and takes you to a configurable set of apps. Unfortunately, this is more of a hindrance than a help for those who, like me, just want to sweep down anywhere and get the standard Android menu. Shelf can be disabled if you don't like it, and the OnePlus Nord 2T largely avoids excessive bloatware. 

Although there are three rear cameras, only two – 50MP f/1.8 wide angle and 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle (120°) – really matter. The third member of the trio is a 2MP f/2.2 mono camera that's used to enhance black-and-white shots taken with the wide and ultra-wide units. The front camera is a 32MP f/2.4 wide angle shooter.  

This is pretty much the same camera setup as on the year-old OnePlus Nord 2. Still, the Nord 2T shoots perfectly acceptable photos, and OnePlus has augmented low-light shooting via software to make night shots look brighter. That said, OnePlus might do well to replace the mono camera with something else. 4K video shooting is limited to 30fps, and slow motion 1080p video is shot at 120/480 fps, 720p video at 240/960 fps. 

OnePlus has equipped the Nord 2T with a 4500mAh battery. Despite numerous attempts, it completely refused to run the PCMark for Android Work 3.0 battery life test for me. However, my three-hour YouTube test saw it drop 18% from a full charge, suggesting total battery life of just under 17 hours. In real-world use I easily made it past a full 24 hours without needing to recharge. 

When a charge was required, the 80W SuperVOOC charger was great. On one occasion I started charging with the handset at 12% and it rose to 39% in five minutes, to 60% in 10 minutes, to 76% in 15 minutes, 91% in 20 minutes and was at 100% after 25 minutes.  

OnePlus Nord 2T: fast charging
Chart: ZDNet

Conclusions

The OnePlus Nord 2T is a frustrating handset in that it shares some of its core screen and camera features with a phone that's a year old, while marrying these with fast charging and an updated chipset. And while the speakers are truly awful, the Alert Slider is great. 

Prospective purchasers clearly need to weigh up these pros and cons, but it must be said that, for the price, the OnePlus Nord 2T remains an attractive mid-range contender. 


OnePlus Nord 2T 5G specifications

Dimensions73.2mm x 159.1mm x 8.2mm
Weight190g
Display size/type6.43 inches AMOLED
Resolution2400 x 1080 (20:9, 409ppi)
Refresh rate90Hz
Colour gamut supportsRGB, DCI-P3
CertificationHDR10+
ProtectionGorilla Glass 5
OSAndroid 12, OxygenOS 12.1
ChipsetMediaTek Dimensity 1300
RAM8GB, 12GB
Storage128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slotno
Battery4500mAh
Battery charging80W SuperVOOC (1-100% in 27 mins)
Rear cameras50MP f/1.8 wide angle (OIS), 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle (120°, EIS), 2MP f/2.2 monochrome
Video (rear cameras)4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120/480fps, 720p @ 30/60/240/960fps
Front camera32MP f/2.4 wide angle (EIS)
Video (front camera)1080p and 720p @ 30fps, time lapse
Networks5G (SA, NSA), 4G LTE, WCDMA, GSM
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
Bluetooth5.2
NFCyes
PositioningGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, NavIC
Sensorsin-display fingerprint sensor, accelerometer, electronic compass, gyroscope, ambient light, SAR, proximity, sensor core
Ports & slotsUSB-C, dual Nano-SIM
Buttonsgestures and on-screen navigation support, volume (left), power (right), Alert Slider (right)
Audiostereo speakers
3.5mm audio jackno
In the boxOnePlus Nord 2T 5G, 80W SUPERVOOC power adapter, USB-C cable (USB 2.0), phone case, screen protector (pre-applied), SIM tray ejector, welcome letter, quick-start guide, safety information & warranty card
Price£369/€399 (8GB/128GB) • £469/€256GB (12GB/256GB)

Alternatives to consider

The mid-range 5G smartphone market is an increasingly crowded place, and there's plenty of choice around the $400 mark. We've highlighted three phones here -- for US buyers seeking maximum affordability, we'd suggest the OnePlus Nord N20 5G in place of the Nord CE 2 5G, which is not officially available in the US.

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