To sum up this OnePlus Nord 2T review: if you want one of the best cheap phones but you also don’t want to miss out on fast charging, decent performance and a good camera, then this phone will absolutely be worth considering.
Earlier this year the OnePlus 10 Pro managed to win me over and pitted itself firmly against other flagship devices from the likes of Google, Apple and Samsung. But not everyone is willing to spend so much on their next handset, and OnePlus has an answer for that. It’s where this smartphone maker thrives and always has done.
The original OnePlus Nord proved that you don’t need to spend loads of money on your next handset. As they've expanded the range this has only become more true. Gone are the days of making huge sacrifices because of a tight budget - mid-range phone tech is having its moment right now.
An evolution of the OnePlus Nord 2, the OnePlus Nord 2T takes an already successful formula and makes it even better without revamping the phone entirely, hence the name 2T as opposed to 3.
I managed to get my hands on one, and here you’ll be able to find out exactly what I thought about it. Long story short, it's one of the best Android phones out there right now.
OnePlus Nord 2T review: price and what’s new
You’ll be able to buy the OnePlus Nord 2T from the 24th of May 2022, prices start from £369 for the model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You can also buy it with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for £469. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see where you can buy one.
The OnePlus Nord 2T is unlikely to come to the US, and we haven't heard about availability in Australia just yet.
At launch, the OnePlus Nord 2T costs a similar amount to the OnePlus Nord 2, so how is it different? The OnePlus Nord 2T has had a bit of a refresh with new colours and a redesigned camera module as well as updated hardware under the hood. There’s now a MediaTek Dimensity 1300 chipset to power it and brand new 80W charging that OnePlus claims can give you a day of use in only 15 minutes.
When it comes to the camera, the rear hardware is the same as it was in the Nord 2 and the front camera is 32MP which is the same as the OnePlus 10 Pro. You will also be able to make use of more effective AI-enhanced photography and HDR video.
OnePlus Nord 2T review: design and display
Arguably one of the best looking cheap phones you can buy, the OnePlus Nord 2T comes in two colours - Grey Shadow (black) and Jade Fog (blue). I got my hands on the latter and its shiny reflective back is definitely eye-catching and looks a lot more luxurious than it actually is. You can’t deny that OnePlus makes some good looking handsets and this phone is a fantastic example of that.
Gorilla Glass 5 covers the front and back so the phone feels durable but it does pick up light fingerprint marks here and there. They’re easy enough to wipe away though, and the phone comes with a protective case included in the box which will solve that problem anyway. Unfortunately, there’s no official IP rating here so the OnePlus Nord 2T can’t claim to be waterproof or dustproof.
The metalised plastic side rails are a great way to save on cost without affecting the look of the phone. Built into it, there’s a USB-C charging port, a power button and a volume rocker as well as the beloved alert slider which gives you a quick way to switch between its vibrate, silent and loud modes. Along the bottom edge, there’s also a downwards firing speaker and a SIM card tray.
Sporting a 6.43-inch FHD AMOLED display with HDR10+ support, the OnePlus Nord 2T looks sharp, bright and colourful. It’s a pleasure to stream video on and I was able to edit the occasional photo on it too because the on-screen content seems to come across pretty accurately. While it won’t quite match up to the likes of the OnePlus 10 Pro in terms of quality, it really isn’t miles off either, it will be perfectly fine for most people.
A 90Hz refresh rate means the phone feels very smooth to use, every scroll and swipe is effortless although it won’t be quite as silky as phones that boast a 120Hz refresh rate, the difference isn't dramatic but it is most noticeable when you play mobile games.
Dual ambient light sensors on the front and back of the phone can adjust the automatic brightness level more accurately based on your surroundings. It seems to work because I sat in a park on a very sunny day and could still see the screen well enough to compose a couple of photos on the camera.
Given its screen size, you would expect this phone to be a good size to use one-handed, and it is. Weighing about 190g and measuring 159.1 x 73.2 x 8.2mm, I thought it was very comfortable to use day-to-day. I could also easily slip it into my jeans pocket without feeling weighed down or without it poking out too much.
OnePlus Nord 2T review: camera
One area that hasn’t changed much is the camera system because if something isn’t broken, why fix it? You can expect the same 50MP main camera, 8MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP monochrome lens with a 32MP front camera - that’s actually the same selfie snapper as on the OnePlus 10 Pro.
Like the phone that came before it, the OnePlus Nord 2T takes fantastic shots, especially considering its price. The shutter speed is almost instant so you won't miss a moment, and the camera settings are straightforward to navigate. If you tend to just point and shoot, this phone will do a great job.
Photos came out looking sharp, bright and with a fair amount of detail. It's only when you look very closely that you notice slight blurring of the fine lines where it hasn't quite managed to pick up components that are further away. Colours don't always look as vibrant as they could be. I found reds, in particular, looked a little washed out at times.
Still, for a mid-range phone, the camera system is impressive. I snapped shots of landscapes, cityscapes, flowers, people and buildings. For the most part, I was pleased with the results. You can see some examples of shots I took on the OnePlus Nord 2T below.
The monochrome lens is still a bit of a puzzle to me. I wasn't sure many people would make use of it last time, and I'm still not sure now. It works well but seems a lot less useful than having a telephoto lens in its place.
The zoom range on this phone isn't great, it only goes up to 10x digital zoom and it's not especially effective either. I was happy with the ultrawide mode though that manages to fit more into the shot without losing out too much on quality.
Snapping selfies is one thing the OnePlus Nord 2T does very well. They come out looking true-to-life with accurate colours and a flattering amount of contrast. Not everyone will care about that, but big social media users will definitely see the benefits.
You can shoot video in 4K at 30fps or 1080p at 30/60fps. It looks really nice - smooth, not shaky and quite sharp. Super Slow Motion is likely to be popular too, giving you 1080p video at 120/480 fps.
OnePlus Nord 2T review: performance and battery
To cut to the chase of this section, I can tell you that the OnePlus Nord 2T goes above and beyond a lot of its competitors when it comes to performance, but you can’t really compare it to phones that cost twice the price because it doesn’t come anywhere near them.
In terms of hardware, the OnePlus Nord 2T packs the MediaTek Dimensity 1300 chipset and an ARM Mali-G77 MC9 GPU with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you do want to get more from the phone, you can opt for the model that comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage instead.
On Geekbench 5, the OnePlus Nord 2T picked up scores of 842 in single-core and 2,850 in multi-core. Those scores place it a step above its predecessor and a lot of its biggest rivals as well, including the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G and the Oppo Find X5 Lite.
I thought the OnePlus Nord 2T coped well with most of the tasks I could throw at it, whether that was flicking through lots of apps, streaming Netflix shows or even opening up a mobile game or two. It won’t be the best phone in the world for gaming but amongst the cheap phones crowd it’s one of the better ones because it didn’t heat up too quickly.
It almost goes without saying that this phone has 5G support for the most up to date connection speeds when you’re out of the house, as well as Wi-Fi 6 for when you are at home.
For extra security, you can choose to use the in-display fingerprint scanner to unlock the display. I was seriously impressed with the speed and efficiency of the reader, it works instantly each and every time. My only niggle with it was that it’s placed all the way down at the bottom of the screen so not where my thumb naturally rests on the frame. You can also use facial recognition to log in if you prefer.
Keeping things up and running throughout the day is a 4,500mAh battery, it lasted me a good amount of time before it needed recharging again. I'd say it lasted longer than a workday but not much more than that. When I ran a video playback test on it, the OnePlus Nord 2T lasted 14 hours in total so it won’t wow you like the Samsung Galaxy A53 which lasted 25 hours in the same test, but it’s still going to be good enough for most.
One of the major selling points of this phone is that it comes with the same 80W SUPERVOOC charger as the OnePlus 10 Pro. Fast charging is one of the biggest smartphone trends this year so to see it included here is really exciting. It may not seem like the most thrilling feature but it does make a huge difference day to day because you only need to plug your phone in for a matter of minutes to get a full day’s charge. In my experience, it only took about half an hour to charge the phone from completely flat to full.
OxygenOS 12.1 is the brain of the operation, it’s based on Android 12 and you’ll get 2 years of operating system updates to go with that, as well as 3 years of security updates.
I like Oxygen OS because it’s simple and intuitive to use, and it doesn’t make apps and icons look too cartoonish, which a lot of others do. It’s also not anywhere near as buggy as some other smartphone makers’ take on the system.
You get all of Google’s apps pre-loaded onto the phone when you first boot it up, luckily there aren’t loads of other apps you need to sort through, you get almost a blank slate to start with.
OnePlus Nord 2T review: verdict
An excellent mid-range phone, the OnePlus Nord 2T builds on already very strong foundations. While it won’t match up to the top-tier flagships, it does go above and beyond a lot of other phones at this sort of price.
The camera system is fantastic, the performance is stellar, the design is very cool and it charges super quickly. Granted it would be nice to see a little more in the way of battery life but you can’t have it all when you’re on such a tight budget.
It’d be hard not to recommend this to anyone looking for one of the best Android phones on a budget. It's a complete marvel of a mid-range smartphone.
OnePlus Nord 2T review: also consider
The mid-range phone market is huge right now, so there are loads of other options to consider, like the iPhone SE (2022) which is the best cheap phone for Apple fans. Despite its price and slightly outdated design, you’ll still get a strong camera, a very fast processor and 5G connectivity.
If you like the look of the OnePlus Nord 2T but it’s still a little pricier than you were expecting, take a look at the OnePlus Nord CE 2. It condenses all of the best parts of the Nord series down into an even more affordable handset.
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