OnePlus Nord 2T Review: Nailing the fundamentals, the same as it did before

OnePlus Nord 2T Review: Nailing the fundamentals, the same as it did before

Remember the OnePlus Nord 2? It was a phone that I crowned as one of my favorite phones ever released by OnePlus at the time, and with good reason. It packed excellent performance, a decent camera, and a good software experience into one affordable package. To me, that’s the entire essence of what OnePlus is about. Now the company is back with a refreshed OnePlus Nord 2T, and it’s more of the same with some additional bits and subtle differences on top.

Really, if you’re looking to pick up a solid mid-range smartphone and didn’t grab the Nord 2, then you should get the Nord 2T instead. If you have the OnePlus Nord 2, then you definitely aren’t missing out. As we identified in our review of the OnePlus 10 Pro, the difference between the 65W charger and the 80W charger is negligible at best, and that’s the “biggest upgrade” here.

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The MediaTek Dimensity 1300 is basically the same on the surface as the Dimensity 1200 from what we could gather and even using the devices side-by-side, the screens seem practically identical. Basically, the bottom line is that if you have a OnePlus Nord 2, then don’t feel jaded or as if you’re missing out: you really aren’t. However, the Nord 2 did set the bar pretty high, and the Nord 2T maintains that, marking it as an excellent smartphone for the price if you need a new one.

    The OnePlus Nord 2T is the latest mid-range offering from OnePlus, packing a lot of punch for the price.

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OnePlus Nord 2T display

OnePlus Nord 2T: Specifications

Specification OnePlus Nord 2T
Dimensions & Weight
  • 159.1 x 73.2 x 8.2mm
  • 190g
Display
  • 6.43-inch FHD+ AMOLED
  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • HDR10+ certified
  • Gorilla Glass 5
SoC MediaTek Dimensity 1300
RAM & Storage
  • 8GB/12GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 storage
Battery & Charging
  • 4,500mAh
  • 80W wired fast charging support
Security In-display fingerprint sensor
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 50MP IMX766, OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 8MP, 120° FoV
  • Mono: 2MP
Front Camera(s) 32MP IMX615, EIS
Port(s) USB Type-C
Audio Dual stereo speakers
Connectivity
  • 5G
  • 4G LTE
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • NFC
Software OxygenOS 12.1 based on Android 12
Colors
  • Gray Shadow
  • Jade Fog

OnePlus Nord 2T: A slightly different design

Back of the OnePlus Nord 2T

The OnePlus Nord 2T looks more or less the exact same as the OnePlus Nord 2, and that’s because it’s an extremely similar device as is. The biggest change is the back camera placement, which looks a little bit odd in comparison. There are two large circles and two smaller cameras inside the bottom circle. These cameras are the same as what was available on the original OnePlus Nord 2, just moved around a bit.

As for the display, you’d be hard pushed to find any differences between the two. It’s the same size, same brightness, same resolution, and same design. There is no visible difference between either of these two devices from the front. There’s still an alert slider on the side too. The display is consistent on my unit, both in its color uniformity and the 90Hz refresh rate.

As for the display, you'd be hard pushed to find any differences between the two

OnePlus Nord 2T with sunlight illuminating the OnePlus logo

All in all, it’s pretty much the same as what we found with the original Nord 2. I feel that it’s a bit of a downgrade in design, but functionally, it performs the exact same. There aren’t any real compromises that I’ve found, and you still even get the same gel case and pre-applied screen protector in the box.

I’m not sure why OnePlus even changed up the design, though it may be partially to give the illusion of change giving nothing else is really different. The same mediocre speakers are present, and the fingerprint sensor is still under the display.

OnePlus Nord 2T: Same performance as before

The Dimensity 1300 features an octa-core SoC, with a “prime” Cortex-A78 core clocked up to 3GHz, while the other three performance cores are Cortex-A78 cores clocked up to 2.6GHz. The other four cores are Cortex-A55 clocked at up to 2.0GHz. The Dimensity 1200-AI in the Nord 2 was worked on as a collaboration between OnePlus and MediaTek, whereas the Dimensity 1300 appears to be more of an off-the-shelf offering.

As for the GPU, it comes with a nine-core ARM Mali-G77 GPU, supporting MediaTek’s HyperEngine 3.0 gaming technologies. This includes 5G call and data concurrency support, as well as a multi-touch boost for increased touchscreen responsiveness. The complete combination also allows support for ray tracing in games and AR apps, and it also supports super hotspot power savings.

We couldn't really find any discernible difference between the Dimensity 1200 and the Dimensity 1300

You would think that the bumped-up chipset would at least net some gains, right? Seemingly that isn’t the case though, which we kind of expected given that we couldn’t really find any discernible difference between the Dimensity 1200 and the Dimensity 1300. The performance seems to be more or less the same, with both CPU Throttling Test and Geekbench 5 giving basically the same results, too.

When it comes to performance, really, it’s basically the same phone as the OnePlus Nord 2. I asked OnePlus about the differences when it came to the chipset, and the differences that they were able to note were in the video and photography realm. Our same findings still apply here as with the OnePlus Nord 2, and I tested a few games and benchmarking applications to ensure that was definitely the case. Games such as PUBG Mobile and COD Mobile run fine, and you can play games through the likes of Dolphin Emulator to varying degrees of success. It’s not going to be a perfect emulation device, but for the price and performance it offers, it does a pretty great job as a portable emulation machine on a budget.

Otherwise, you get up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. It’s a fast and smooth device, and if you’re not a gamer, then you likely won’t even notice that it’s not a flagship chipset in tow. There’s literally no reason to upgrade from the Nord 2 based solely on performance though, as it’s basically the same phone under the hood.

OxygenOS is still OxygenOS

The OnePlus Nord 2 was the first device from the company to launch with the merged result of ColorOS and OxygenOS, and it’s the same software here. It’s still clearly a skin on top of ColorOS, but that’s not inherently a bad thing. I love ColorOS on the OPPO Find X3 Pro for example, and it has a lot of excellent features. The OnePlus 10 Pro, on the software front, was one of the most polished experiences I’ve had with a OnePlus phone in years.

In terms of features, all of your favorite OxygenOS features are here on the OnePlus Nord 2T. It has the same user interface, the OnePlus Shelf (as part of the OnePlus Launcher), gaming mode, zen mode, and parallel apps to name a few. All of the features that people loved from OxygenOS were brought over in the integration, and so, the usual OnePlus-goodness should be present.

What’s interesting is that OnePlus notes the Nord 2T will get two years of updates, but it launches with Android 12. In theory, its software support window will bring it an extra platform upgrade ahead of the OnePlus Nord 2, though, given both devices’ similarities, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the company decided to treat them more or less the same when it came to updates.

OnePlus Nord 2T Cameras: Same cameras, too

The OnePlus Nord 2T is bizarrely the same phone in pretty much all aspects when it comes to the camera, too. OnePlus noted that there should be better nightscape results thanks to improved AI capabilities, but otherwise, the photos and videos are going to be the exact same. The photos and video taken below are from the OnePlus Nord 2, but they should be representative of what you can expect. The primary camera is capable of taking fantastic shots, though the others aren’t anywhere near as good.

OnePlus Nord 2

As noted at the time, the video performance of the OnePlus Nord 2 also greatly impressed me. It handled loud environments well and was a great aid in recording On Melancholy Hill by Gorillaz at a concert in London.

I wish OnePlus had bumped up some of the cameras here, particularly the auxiliary cameras. The wide-angle camera isn’t great, and the depth sensor could have been made into literally anything else that was more useful. The primary sensor is good, but that’s all there really is to write home about.

OnePlus Nord 2T Charging: 80W ≈ 65W, and battery is unchanged

The 80W charger is pretty much worse than the 65W charger included alongside the Nord 2

Here’s the other problem with the 80W charging “upgrade”. As we noted in our OnePlus 10 Pro review, it’s barely an upgrade, and the 80W charger is pretty much worse than the 65W charger included alongside the Nord 2.

OnePlus’ 65W charging brick is a great charger not just because of the high amperage it can provide to OnePlus phones, but it’s actually one of the best USB Power Delivery compliant chargers in general. It can charge a litany of devices at 45W without any problems, and I often used it to charge laptops, my Google Pixel, my Nintendo Switch, and other devices that accept USB Power Delivery.

In other words, bumping up to 80W charging feels very much like a marketing gimmick. It doesn’t really achieve much, and even if you gain a couple of minutes back of your time that you’re not wasting charging (if even), you’re losing out on so much utility from the charging brick.

On top of that, battery life is unchanged from my own usage. You’ll still get the same five to six hours of screen on time depending on how heavy your usage is, which is better than what most flagship devices are capable of putting up right now. The OnePlus Nord 2T can also charge up in roughly half an hour, which is extremely fast.

Why did OnePlus release the OnePlus Nord 2T?

OnePlus Nord 2T held in-hand

Don’t get me wrong, the OnePlus Nord 2T is an excellent smartphone in its own right… but I don’t understand why it was released in the first place. Whenever the company releases a “T” upgrade, there’s generally something substantial that has actually been changed, but that just isn’t the case here. Furthermore, the OnePlus Nord 2 was an already great phone that nobody was asking for an immediate successor to, so… why?

My theory is that MediaTek’s release of the Dimensity 1300 meant that the Dimensity 1200 was actually replaced. They’re essentially the same chipset from what we can gather, with a few minor improvements that to most users, won’t be noticeable. In that case, OnePlus decided to re-release the Nord 2 as it was a device that sold well according to reports, but couldn’t continue to produce more of it with the Dimensity 1200. Hence why we presume that the Nord 2T is being released with the Dimensity 1300, along with 80W charging tech just because the company has it. It would have been very confusing for consumers had OnePlus just launched this phone under the exact “Nord 2” branding — so the T moniker makes it easier to differentiate on these changed specs.

Of course, that could be entirely conjecture and may not be the reasoning at all, but it’s the only thing I can think of that makes sense. It’s not a ploy to try and get people to upgrade from the Nord 2 early, because I can’t imagine why anyone actually would — most people don’t upgrade year-on-year either. Instead, it’s OnePlus possibly dealing with supply chain constraints and finding a way to make the most of a difficult situation.

Practically every review you've read of the OnePlus Nord 2 will apply to this one, too

So, should you buy the OnePlus Nord 2T? The answer is actually a good yes. If you need a new smartphone and don’t want to spend top dollar on one, the Nord 2T is an excellent choice as the Nord 2 was before it. It even costs the same as the last Nord too, starting at €399 for the base model. Basically, it’s a great device in its own right, but practically every review you’ve read of the OnePlus Nord 2 will apply to this one, too. The biggest difference is honestly the slightly different design, and you don’t need to own the phone or see it in real life to get an idea of whether you like it or not.

You still get that flagship experience, and to most people, that’s more than enough. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, you may as well pick this up over the Nord 2, even though it’s basically the same phone… unless you really want the older 65W USB PD-compliant charger instead. That would genuinely be a pretty difficult choice for me.

    The OnePlus Nord 2T is the latest mid-range offering from OnePlus, packing a lot of punch for the price.

About author

Adam Conway
Adam Conway

I'm the senior technical editor at XDA-Developers. I have a BSc in Computer Science from University College Dublin, and I'm a lover of smartphones, cybersecurity, and Counter-Strike. You can contact me at [email protected] My Twitter is @AdamConwayIE and my Instagram is adamc.99.

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