OnePlus Nord 2T review – Why does this exist?

9 months, that’s how long it has been since I reviewed the Nord 2 from OnePlus, It was a knockout, I loved it and whilst I wasn’t reviewing other phones, the Nord 2 has had my SIM in it. So when I got the Nord 2T in for review I was a bit perplexed as to why this exists, and even after more than 2 weeks with it, I’m still not sure.

OnePlus Nord 2T
+ FOR
  • Great performance
  • Great screen
  • Amazing charging
  • Decent main camera
  • Nice design
- AGAINST
  • Secondary and tertiary cameras struggle
  • Existential crises of existence
  • About to be superceded?

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Disclaimer

OnePlus UK PR sent the Nord 2T to me for review, they haven’t seen this content before going live and have no control over it. No money has changed hands between either entity. The Nord 2T was used in the southeast of the UK on the Three UK Network, the software version was OxygenOS 12.1 build CPH2399_11_A.07.

OnePlus Nord 2T Review

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Overview 

The Nord 2T is the epitome of a minor refresh. OnePlus took a very well working formula and upgraded a few bits. The fast chip? How about a slightly faster one, that fast charging? How about even faster. That selfie camera? How about higher resolution, that is what the Nord 2T is, and that’s not bad, especially considering how good the Nord 2 was, but at the same time, I’m struggling to see why this needs to exist when, I assume, the Nord 3 is going to be released in a few months.

Let’s take a tour around the device. Upfront there is the same gorgeous 6.43” 90Hz Fluid AMOLED screen with a 2400×1080 resolution. This is perfectly dense without running into scaling issues or the chipset having to work too hard. There are slim bezels on the sides and top with a minutely larger one on the chin, it is noticeable, but not egregious. The earpiece speaker is hidden as a thin slit between the screen and the frame of the phone, and up in the top left corner is the new 32MP front-facing camera, this IMX615 is borrowed straight from the OnePlus 10 Pro. The right-hand rail of the phone has the power button and above it the iconic OnePlus alert slider, nice to see it still here, this does feel slightly firmer than the one on my Nord 2, but that could just be because of months of use. Flipping to the left-hand rail we see just the volume rocker.

OnePlus Nord 2T Review

On the bottom of the phone is the loudspeaker on the far right, the USB-C charging and data port, the main microphone and the NanoSIM tray. This double-sided tray only houses 2 NanoSIM cars, no MicroSD here. Going to the top of the phone shows us a solitary microphone, this is for noise-cancelling in phone calls or video recording. The frame on the Nord 2T is the same plastic as the Nord 2, a metalized fibreglass composite according to OnePlus.

The rear has the camera unit in the top left, with the OnePlus logo in the centre position and right at the bottom, we have the regulatory markings. This camera cutout is… weird. From a first glance, you would be forgiven for thinking this had 2 cameras, however, there are 3, and the placement of the lenses in the lower of the pair looks suspicious, so I lined up the cameras on the Nord 2T with my old Nord 2 and the two line up, the placement of the actual cameras is exactly the same, they just changed the exterior and it looks weird, I’m very much not a fan of this an prefer the smaller, neater more sensical approach on the Nord 2.

OnePlus Nord 2T Review

Spec Sheet

  • 159.1 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm
  • 190g
  • 6.43” Fluid AMOLED screen
    • 90Hz
    • 2400×1080
    • Gorilla Glass 5
    • Dual ambient light sensors
    • HDR10+ support
  • MediaTek Dimensity 1300
    • 1x Cortex A78 @ 3.0Ghz
    • 3x Cortex A78 @2.6Ghz
    • 4x Cortex A55 @2.0Ghz
    • Mali G77 MC9
    • TSMC 6nm
  • 8GB/12GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 storage
  • 4500mAh dual-cell battery
  • 80w SuperVOOC charging
  • Android 12 w/OxygenOS 12.1
    • 2 years of Android platform updates
    • 3 years of Android security updates
  • Cameras
    • 50MP Main Camera – Sony IMX577
      • 24mm equivalent lens
      • F1.9
      • 1/1.56” sensor size
    • 8MP ultrawide camera
      • 120-degree field of view
      • F2.2
    • 2MP monochrome camera
      • F2.2
    • 32MP Front camera – Sony IMX615
      • F2.5
      • 1/ 2.8” sensor size

 

For a more complete look at the specs for the OnePlus Nord 2T head on over to the GSMArena page for it here.

Performance & Use

One thing OnePlus did on the Nord 2T was upgrading the chipset from the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI to the Dimensity 1300. Is this a big upgrade? No, not really but it is a welcome one. The clock speeds of the Dimensity 1300 are the same, 3Ghz on the ultra core, 2.6Ghz on the Super cores and 2Ghz on the efficiency cores. The GPU is still a 9 core Mali G77, the 2 big changes are the move to TSMCs 6nm manufacturing node and the display pipeline now being able to accommodate screens of 2520×1080 at 168Hz, a whopping 24hz more than the predecessor.

OnePlus Nord 2T Review

So what does this mean in real use? The Nord 2T is every bit as snappy and performant as you would expect, I can only think of a single time where the phone left me waiting for a second and that was during setup whilst it was downloading all my apps, so I can give it a little pass there. The move to TSMC N6 should make it a little cooler, a little more efficient and that should give it an edge on the Nord 2, and it does but we’re talking about maybe a half-hour in my tests, the benefits are there, but when you’re coming from a great chip already, it is harder to see them. Using the Nord 2T in daily use is a pleasant experience, and I knew it would be, as I said, I’ve been using the Nord 2 for the better part of 9 months, and I knew what I was getting into here, a stellar performer, with great battery, insane charging and capable cameras.

Radio wise, the Nord 2T was great as well. MediaTek has stepped up their modem game with the Dimensity series and it shows. Almost everywhere I went I had LTE-A (or 4G+) in my local area, places that had just switched on 5G this caught onto them in a snap and numbers were impressive without wrecking my battery or burning a hole in the rear of the phone, which is something I can appreciate. Something I want to note here that I’ve appreciated is the phone knowing when to switch from a weak WiFi network to a stronger mobile network and vice versa, a lot of other phones struggle with this, and I can’t say the Nord 2T did in my experience.

Camera & Samples

This is a difficult one, the hardware is identical to the Nord 2, I have confirmed this to OnePlus, so the only upgrades here are thrones that come from the Dimensity 1300 and some software tweaks. The Nord 2 had a very capable main shooter, a usable ultrawide and the pointless monochrome, for the 2T that is very much true, just add a few % points, the Nord 2T does do better in brighter scenarios, with better contrast and accurately balancing white clouds from the blue sky and the different blue of the sea, amazing what software tuning can do.

OnePlus Nord 2T Review

The main camera, a 50MP Sony IMX577 is very capable, and over the last 9 months OnePlus has put in the work to make it even better here than on the Nord 2, it is faster to focus, it’s faster to adjust the white balance (and more accurate to boot). We are getting to a point where even lower-end android phones can “point and shoot” and get great images, you don’t need to spend £1000 on an S22 Ultra or swap to Apple to get this anymore, and that’s great for everyone involved.

OnePlus Nord 2T Review

 

I’m going to post a few images here side by side though and see for yourself the minute differences between the Nord 2 and the Nord 2T, bringing up the question again of this is so close, why does this need to exist?

OnePlus Nord 2T review

The Ultrawide is the same story, I was a little disappointed with the ultrawide on the Nord 2 when I reviewed it, It was good, yes, but it was such a step down from the main camera that it made you think twice about using it at all. Much like with the main camera, the ultrawide has improved here, but it is still a small sensor with small pixels, you can only do so much in software, and I would have much rather OnePlus include a larger more capable ultrawide sensor than the pointless 2MP monochrome camera, and at this point, I think I would even take a slight step down in main camera quality if it meant the budget for the ultrawide was increased for a more consistent experience among the 3 viewports in the phone.

The area I had hoped there would be a noticeable upgrade is in the front-facing camera, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case. Whereas the Nord 2 was an incredibly soft image, the Nord 2T is incredibly oversharpened and also cranked the saturation up to 11, making the ginger in my beard, the bags under my eyes and the scars on my face all appear far more prominent, which was not appreciated, and honestly felt like a much cheaper image and one from a few years ago, I’m hoping this is just beta software tuning and it can be improved after release, but right now, I’m not a fan.

Lastly is video recording, the bane of most Android devices’ existence, and whilst things have been getting better, especially in the mid and lower-end segment, this is still an area where Apple and the £420 (nice) iPhone SE is going to just destroy every android device sadly. But just like the photo quality, the step-up in SoC affected the video quality as well. Here are the video samples from the Nord 2T.

 

Software

The software has been a bit contentious for OnePlus in the last few years, slowly moving away from what the pure stock OxygenOS once was to the new feature-rich and stylistic approach, this only got worse when OnePlus announced they were merging software teams with Oppo and their ColorOS team specifically, people did not take the news well, and the first outing of the software (OxygenOS 12 on the OnePlus 9 Pro) was a mess, but they’ve changed their track a bit since then, it is now a common code base and each team builds their respective parts among that, instead of Oneplus taking ColorOS and “OxygenOS-ifying” it. 

 OnePlus Nord 2T Review

Oxygen OS 12.1 is based on Android 12 and it is a nice thing to see, the rollout of Android 12 has been one of the worst in recent memory, it’s taken even good, reputable brands a while to roll it out, and OnePlus’ recent Nords haven’t had it, even though they launched well after Android 12 did, heck, despite the hardware similarities, the Nord 2 still doesn’t have Android 12, so I’m glad to see it here. It’s smooth and simple, there are subtle hints of Material You around the place, such as the accent colours in the shade, the colour of the background and the keys on Gboard change as well, then there are the new material you widgets, overall I’m very happy with the software here, the more OnePlus has borrowed ColorOS things, the more stable it has been for me, little quirks I’d have like certain widgets not updating regularly or app notifications getting buggy are gone now, and whilst that could be down to the OnePlus team alone, it seems too coincidental that these bugs got squashed for me as soon as I started using the codeveloped software.

Battery

The 4500mAh battery on the Nord 2T is, can you guess kids? The same as the one on the Nord 2, it is a dual-cell 2250mAh pack, however this time, instead of charging at a maximum of 65w, an already absurd number, the Nord 2T steals the thunder (heh) by borrowing the 80w SuperVOOC charging capabilities from the OnePlus 10 Pro. 1-67% in just 15 minutes, 0-100% in just 27 minutes, that’s 5 minutes faster from 0-100% than the Nord 2, is that a lot, not really, but the gains at the lower end might be worth it for you if you are a clumsy charger. The 80w SuperVOOC brick and the special cable all come included in the box.

OnePlus Nord 2T Review

Sadly, the Nord 2T, like pretty much all OnePlus phones only supports 15w USB-PD (Power Delivery). Whilst I’m not expecting OnePlus to match the charging speed from USB-PD to SuperVOOC, the next step up to 27 or 33w would have made a big difference. I don’t always have my SuperVOOC chargers around me, but I *do* always have a USB-PD charger around, whether for my tablet or laptop, I think it is more than past time for companies to go past the bare minimum 15w USB-PD at this point.

Final Thoughts

The conclusion for the Nord 2T is weird because it is not a bad phone, but it just doesn’t need to exist. it is slightly faster than the Nord 2, it charges 5 minutes faster, It has a higher resolution front camera, but an entirely new SKU 9 months after launch for that? It doesn’t make sense to me. Unless OnePlus can no longer get their hands on the Dimensity 1200/1200-AI, in which this makes a bit of sense, but once again, just 3 months away from a year old, I feel like letting stock run dry and making people excited for the Nord 3 would be better.

 

We have a great phone, with a great screen, that’s fast, lasts a while and charges fast, and I didn’t think I’d be able to be this ambivalent towards it, but here we are, with the Nord 2T at £369 for 8GB/128GB or £469 for 12GB/256GB, I’m not sure why this exists, and I’m not sure why you should buy this.

About Domenico Lamberti

Technology has been a big part of my life for years, whether it be ripping the family computer apart to see how it worked, playing with the new phones that Dad brought home from work. Senior Reviewer for MTT.

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