The OnePlus Nord 2 should be the latest addition to a budget lineup that's already introduced us to a number of good phones. But with competition heating up among midrange phones, OnePlus is going to need to come up with a truly special device with its Nord sequel.
Having just launched the flagship-level OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, OnePlus' attention now turns to its next expect project — another cheaper phone belonging to its Nord series. But the OnePlus Nord will face stepped up competition from the just-announced Samsung Galaxy A52, not to mention the rumored Google Pixel 5a. It's a much more competitive field than what the original OnePlus Nord faced last year.
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The biggest mystery right now is which device the Nord 2 will replace. Besides the original Nord, there's the slightly cheaper OnePlus Nord N10 5G as well as the OnePlus Nord N100. However, leaked and rumored specs so far don't match up with a phone as cheap as the N100.
What we do know is the look of the OnePlus Nord 2 won't change too much, and for some reason, there could be one less camera on the back. Read on for the lowdown on what OnePlus Nord 2 details and rumors we have so far.
OnePlus Nord 2 price and release date
We have no specific leaks yet about how much the Nord 2 will cost. The best rumor that we've got to go on therefore is what the Nord and Nord N10 cost and when they appeared last year.
The OnePlus Nord, which is sold in the U.K. but not in the U.S., launched in August 2020, with a starting price of £379. The OnePlus Nord N10 followedf in November 2020, and sells for £329 or $300. So we can tentatively guess that the Nord 2 will arrive somewhere between summer and fall this year, costing somewhere between $300 to $400 depending on exact specs.
OnePlus Nord 2 design
Based on a set of leaked renders from OnLeaks, it looks like there won't be too large a departure from OnePlus' most recent phones. There's still a flat screen at the front with a punch-hole in the top left corner, and a plain plastic back with a rectangular camera bump on the top left, joined together by a metal rail running around the edge of the phone.
The one big change to the exterior of the phone is the placement of the fingerprint reader. The Nord N10 mounts its scanner on the back, within reach of your index finger. You can see this on the back of the phone in the renders, and how it helps clean up the look of the back.
OnePlus Nord 2 cameras
The Nord N10, the phone we believe the Nord 2 will replace, has four cameras — a 64MP main sensor, an 8MP ultrawide sensor, a 2MP monochrome sensor and a 2MP macro sensor.
With only three cameras, it's likely OnePlus has dropped one of the 2MP sensors, assuming the renders are accurate. Neither of these small sensors is particularly essential, so if reducing the total sensor count means an improvement in photography, that would be a fair exchange.
For what it's worth, the OnePlus 9 includes the monochrome lens in its three-camera array but not the macro lens. It's unclear if that decision says anything about what OnePlus is planning or the Nord 2.
OnePlus partnered with camera maker Hasselblad for the 9 series, an arrangement that will apparently last three years. We don't know the scope of this agreement, but it would be awesome if Hasselblad provided its expertise to OnePlus' cheaper phones too.
OnePlus Nord 2 processor and performance
One of the biggest leaks about the Nord 2 so far is that it could use a completely new kind of processor. OnePlus is allegedly looking at using Dimensity series chips from MediaTek, instead of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips as it has for every other phone it's made.
Since Dimensity chips are less commonly used in smartphones, they're cheaper to buy, despite offering equivalent performance levels in theory. This could make the Nord 2 cheaper in turn, which would be a crucial advantage among other midrange and budget phones.
In terms of memory, OnePlus could take one of two directions. The OnePlus Nord offered either 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, or 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, both fairly generous for phones at this price. The Nord N10 5G on the other hand comes in a single 6GB RAM/128GB storage version, which would probably result in a cheaper phone but also worse performance.
OnePlus Nord 2 battery and charging
With the size of the OnePlus Nord 2 staying almost the same as the first generation, we might expect another 4,300 mAh battery inside the upcoming model. It's not the largest battery around, but it was capacious enough to keep the Nord N10 going for almost 12 hours on the Tom's Guide battery test, a very impressive result that landed the device on our best phone battery life list. Adding it again to the Nord 2, assuming it can offer equivalent longevity, would be welcome.
A trademark of the OnePlus experience is charging speed, so we'd expect a charging brick with an impressive wattage. The Nord and Nord N10 both use 30W wired charging, while the N100 gets a less impressive 18W charger. We may see the same speeds again, but we can at least hope that OnePlus decides to add its flagship-level 65W charging, seen on the OnePlus 8T and OnePlus 9, to these budget phones too.
OnePlus Nord 2: what we want to see
With many OnePlus Nord 2 details still to emerge, we can't help but hope the phone maker turns its attention to a few critical areas with this device.
Better cameras: OnePlus has often had a problem when it comes to photography. This usually seems to come down to software issues rather than poor quality hardware, but nonetheless means the company's phones fall behind its major rivals in a key area. It would be fantastic if OnePlus leveraged its Hasselblad partnership to improve the cameras on Nord devices, but perhaps a more realistic dream would be for OnePlus to transfer what it learned about software image processing with the OnePlus 9 to the new Nord.
30W charging minimum: Compared to other phones in the segment of the market, the OnePlus Nord and Nord N10 charge much faster. The iPhone SE and Google Pixel 4a, for example, only charge at a sluggish 18W in comparison. This is why the Nord 2 needs to keep this feature or get even faster.
The reason we're a touch concerned is that the Nord N100 uses an 18W charger like the iPhone and Pixel. It's acceptable for a phone of this price, but sacrifices one of OnePlus' trademark speed-focused features.
The ideal situation would be for OnePlus to give its latest 65W charging system to the Nord 2, but we'd settle for 30W again since it should still give the phone an advantage compared to its Apple and Google rivals.
A balance of low pricing and high performance: Pricing is very competitive around mid-range phones. An extra $50 makes a difference when your competition costs around $300 to $400. As a result, companies don't have the budget to fit these phones with all the latest bells and whistles. They have to prioritize certain features above others, or end up with a high-quality phone that's too expensive to be competitive.
OnePlus historically offers powerful components for the asking price, but large quantities of RAM and high refresh rate displays are not always a priority for people buying this type of phone. The Nord 2 needs to walk a tightrope between directly competing with the Pixel 4a and others on price and its tendency to offer better features.
Hopefully OnePlus can figure out the right balance to make people feel like they're buying what they need and paying a good price for it.
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