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OnePlus Nord 2T review

OnePlus gives some welcome updates to an already great phone, but maybe not enough

The OnePlus Nord 2T, held in hand with the back facing the camera
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The OnePlus 2T makes an already great phone even cheaper. But upgrades to the charging and performance aren't quite enough to fully fight off the similarly priced Samsung Galaxy A53, or the potentially excellent Google Pixel 6a.

Pros

  • +

    80W charging

  • +

    Strong performance for a midrange phone

  • +

    Cheaper than comparable phones

Cons

  • -

    Below average software support

  • -

    No US availability

OnePlus Nord 2T specs

Starting price: £349

Display: 6.43-inch FHD AMOLED (2400 x 1080)

Refresh rate: 90Hz

Rear cameras: 50MP main (f/1.8), 8MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 2MP mono (f/2.2)

Front camera: 32MP (f/2.4)

Chipset: Dimensity 1300

RAM: 8GB/12GB

Storage: 128GB/256GB

Battery: 4,500 mAh

Charging: 80W wired

Software: Android 12 with OxygenOS 12.1

Size: 6.3 x 2.9 x 0.32 inches (159.1 x 73.2 x 8.2 mm)

Weight: 6.7 ounces (190 grams)

Colors: Jade Fog, Gray Shadow

The OnePlus Nord 2T follows the six-month refresh schedule that OnePlus normally only for its flagship phones, even though this new phone is a midrange device. The Nord 2T replaces the OnePlus Nord 2, which has until now been one of the best cheap phones you can buy. 

The good news is that the OnePlus Nord 2T improves on an excellent original. The bad news is that the competition has caught up big-time.

For the improvements, OnePlus has dropped the Nord 2T's base price, while updating the chipset and increasing the charging speed, as the 2T looks to distinguish itself from even its strongest competition like the Samsung Galaxy A53, iPhone SE (2022) and the upcoming Google Pixel 6a.

As you'll learn from our OnePlus Nord 2T review, the base model is a great purchase for buyers in Europe if you want to replace your phone with a fairly well-specced phone for less than £400. If you want more from your device though — particularly in terms future Android updates — you're better off picking something else, or waiting until July when we find out what the Pixel 6a can do.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: Price and availability 

You can buy the OnePlus Nord 2T from OnePlus (opens in new tab), Amazon and John Lewis in the U.K. As with previous top-of-the-line Nords, the 2T isn't coming to the U.S.

The basic version of the Nord 2T costs £349 for 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. That's not only £50 cheaper than the original Nord 2, but also £50 less than the Samsung Galaxy A53 and the upcoming Google Pixel 6a. The Nord 2T’s price also undercuts the iPhone SE by £70.

Alternatively, you can pay £449 for a Nord 2T with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage. Going for this edition takes you over the price of the standard iPhone SE, Galaxy A53 and Pixel 6a, except you get much more RAM and storage.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: Cameras

Photography is still an important part of the OnePlus Nord 2T's pitch. While the hardware hasn't changed, OnePlus emphasizes improvements to the Nord's photos, particularly night photography, thanks to the new chipset powering the phone.

The OnePlus Nord 2T, held in hand with the back facing the camera

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Nord 2T features a trio of 50MP, 8MP ultrawide and 2MP mono sensors on the back, with a 32MP selfie camera on the front. While that's one fewer camera than the Galaxy A53 offers, Samsung's handset still proves to be the best comparison to evaluate the Nord 2T’s cameras.

Starting with the main cameras, I tried a shot of this butterfly living sculpture in Paddington's Norfolk Square Garden. I appreciate the wider field of view on the Nord 2T's main camera, which made framing this shot much simpler than on the Galaxy A53. However, the OnePlus' image is much greener than it was in real life, giving the shot has a sickly hue. 

In contrast, the Galaxy A53 produced a more balanced shot in terms of color, though it lost some of the details in the rays of light hitting the butterfly's wing; the OnePlus managed to catch that effect.

I used this spot to test the OnePlus' 2MP mono camera. This is an auxiliary sensor for the phone’s other two cameras, supposedly adding extra detail when you enable the black-and-white filter within the Camera app. After trying a monochrome shot with both phones' main cameras, you can see there's considerably higher contrast in the Nord 2T's photo. It helps bring out some of the leaves from the background, though in some ways I prefer the flatter shot the Galaxy A53's made.

Later in the day, I took some night mode shots of Tufnell Park Underground Station. The colors are richer and details around light sources are sharper in the Samsung photo, while some of the OnePlus' image was washed out. The Nord 2T is pretty much on the money for colors in the rest of the image, though.

I aimed the phones at Bryan Kneale's Clove 2007 sculpture to test their ultrawide cameras. With that lens, the Galaxy A53 offers a slightly larger 123-degree greater field of view than the Nord 2T's 120-degree lens, letting the Samsung capture more of the scene. The A53 also offers a more saturated shot with more vivid colors that produces more obvious lines in the sculpture's concrete body. The OnePlus shot is more muted, but I don't think it's any better or worse than the Samsung's.

Finally we come to the portrait mode selfies shot with the phones’ front cameras. I appear in warmer colors in the Samsung's image, although overall I think the OnePlus does a better job of capturing texture across my face and shirt. 

Unfortunately for the Galaxy A53, its portrait effect has mistakenly included part of a branch in the foreground. The Nord 2T didn't, but owing to its different FOV, it didn't actually capture the branch. If you want to fit more people into your selfies, maybe turn to the Galaxy A53, but be prepared for some dodgy portrait cut-outs.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: Battery and charging

The most substantial upgrade from the OnePlus Nord 2 is the Nord 2T’s charging system. While the Nord 2 was no slouch with its 65W wired charging, the Nord 2T takes the 80W charging introduced with this spring’s OnePlus 10 Pro flagship for an even speedier battery fill-up.

The OnePlus Nord 2T with its 80W charger and red USB-C cable wrapped around it

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In our own testing, a drained Nord 2T reached a 59% charger after 15 minutes plugged in; by 31 minutes, the phone was fully charged That's far quicker than the Galaxy A53 managed with its 25W maximum charging speed (46% in 30 minutes), and Samsung’s phone doesn't even come with a charger in the box like the OnePlus Nord 2T does.

That overpowered charger feeds into a dual-cell 4,500 mAh battery, which is about the capacity you'd expect for this size of phone. The power pack drained about 12% after 2 hours of watching YouTube, which is a good sign that the phone will easily last you a day's moderate to heavy use. You shouldn't have to worry about carrying that 80W charger with you all the time.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: Performance

OnePlus has switched out the Dimensity 1200-AI chip from the Nord 2 for a newer Dimensity 1300 model in the Nord 2T. It's a minor upgrade, based on our benchmark testing.

The OnePlus Nord 2T, playing Grid Autosport

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I tested the basic 8GB model on the Geekbnech 5 CPU benchmark, 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimted and Wild Life Extreme Unlimited GPU benchmark and with TG's custom Adobe Rush encoding test. These results, and comparisons with the Google Pixel 5a, Galaxy A53 and iPhone SE, are below.

OnePlus Nord 2TSamsung Galaxy A53Google Pixel 5aiPhone SE (2022)
Geekbench 5 (singe-core/multi-core)420 / 2,672745 / 1,888581 / 1,3451,718 / 4,482
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (score/frames per second)4,522 / 27.12,268 / 141,678 / 108,352 / 50
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (score/frames per second)1,295 / 7.8623 / 4444 / 31,943 / 12
Adobe Premiere Rush (time to encode in minutes:seconds)0:511:581:590:27

The Nord posted an unusually low single core score on the Geekbench 5 test, but on the Geekbench multi-core score and other benchmarks, the OnePlus phone still beats the Pixel 5a and the Galaxy A53. To nobody's surprise, the iPhone SE still wins all of these tests by a mile, thanks to its A15 Bionic chip taken from the iPhone 13.

Keep in mind that the 12GB RAM version of the Nord 2T would likely do better on some of these tests. In fact, the 12GB RAM Nord 2 posted a superior Geekbench 5 result, although it didn't match up in the Wild Life tests.

In everyday use, the Nord 2T performed admirably when I played the Grid Autosport racing game. There was a bit of stuttering here and there, plus the graphics were understandably not as crisp as they are on more expensive phones, but driving around was overall a smooth and responsive experience.  

One final thing to mention here — storage capacity. You can get 128GB or 256GB worth of storage on the Nord 2T depending on the version. The iPhone SE starts at a mere 64GB, and its 128GB variant is more expensive than the 256GB Nord. The Galaxy A53 and Pixel 6a only have 128GB options, but Samsung's phone has a microSD card slot for up to 1TB more room. The Nord 2T doesn't have a microSD slot.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: Design

OnePlus seems to have taken my criticism of the Nord 2's generic design to heart and given the Nord 2T a more unique look. The front of the new phone is identical to its predecessor, with a left corner camera punch-hole and in-display optical fingerprint sensor. The metalized plastic side rails with the color-matched power and volume buttons and normal/vibrate/silent alert slider look the same, too. But the back of the Nord 2T has an all-new design not quite like any OnePlus before it.

The OnePlus Nord 2T in hand, from the front

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The old Nord 2 had a simplistic camera array, with the main and ultrawide cameras stacked on top of each other, with the mono lens tucked in on the side. The Nord 2T has taken this two-circle design, and increased their size so the ultrawide and mono sensors now share the same spot on the back. It neatens up the design a bit, but there's a lot of wasted space compared to the old design, which feels like OnePlus trying to make the cameras look more imposing than they are.

The OnePlus Nord 2T, laid face down on a stone bench

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You again have two colors to choose from: the matte-textured Gray Shadow and glossy Jade Fog. The Jade version I tried looks interesting, shifting between silver and green depending on how you look at the phone, but the back is very easy to cover in fingerprints. All the images you've seen in this article were preceded by me giving the phone a very thorough wipe-down with a microfiber cloth.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: Display

Just like the Nord 2, the Nord 2T uses a 6.4-inch FHD AMOLED panel with a fixed 90Hz refresh rate. That's a little smaller than the Galaxy A53's display, which also has the advantage of a 120Hz refresh rate. However the Nord can still lord it over the 6.1-inch Pixel 6a and the 4.7-inch iPhone SE, both of which are stuck with 60Hz refresh rates. That should make scrolling on the Nord 2T’s screen a lot smoother.

The OnePlus Nord 2T in hand, from the front

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The only difference OnePlus has to shout about between the Nord 2 and Nord 2T's panels are new ambient light sensors on the back and front of the 2T to judge the brightness of your environment and adjust the display accordingly.

Holding the phone in direct sunlight next to the Galaxy A53 5G, the Nord 2T was certainly brighter. That is until I turned on automatic brightness on the two phones, which for some reason gave the A53 some extra nits to outshine the OnePlus.

I tested the Nord 2T’s reactivity to changing brightness by laying the phones side-by-side and moving a book back and forth over the top parts of their displays, as that’s where the brightness sensors on phones lie. I couldn't see the Nord 2T start altering its brightness any faster than the Galaxy A53 did, but the speed at which the brightness moved from one level to another was much more gradual on the Nord than on the Galaxy.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: Software

OnePlus has brought the most recent version of its Android 12-based OxygenOS to the Nord 2T. That means you’ll get the familiar but handsome interface we've seen on devices such as the OnePlus 10 Pro. With little bloatware and some neat touches like a new shelf of widgets accessible from the top right corner, Oxygen OS still one of TG's favorite Android skins.

For updates, OnePlus promises two years of full platform updates and three years of security updates. That's not superb, given that you get five years of security updates with the Pixel 6a and four years of full Android updates with the Galaxy A53. The best Android phones are starting to add greater support, and OnePlus needs to follow suit.

OnePlus Nord 2T review: verdict

While not as big a rework as I would have hoped, the OnePlus Nord 2T is an improvement on the OnePlus Nord 2, which makes it one of the better cheap phones you can buy (unless you're in the U.S., unfortunately). Still, while I like the phone, recommend it comes with some caveats.

The OnePlus Nord 2T, laid face down on a stone bench next to a paper coffee cup

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The OnePlus Nord 2T is a better deal than the iPhone SE, whichever storage option you turn to. But Android fans who’d never consider an iPhone have a tougher choice. 

If you want to buy a mid-priced Android phone now, you’re picking between the OnePlus and the Galaxy A53. The lower starting price of the Nord 2T is a good reason to go with OnePlus’ phone, but paying extra for the Galaxy A53's higher microSD-enhanced storage capacity and software support could be more worthwhile than a fixed 256GB storage and extra RAM.

If you can, hold off on a phone purchase until July, as that’s when the Google Pixel 6a debuts. Google's Pixel A-series phones are excellent for their price, and we'd expect the 6a to be no different, with Google's powerful Tensor chip and established photography credentials. It’s not hard to imagine the new Pixel outperforming the OnePlus Nord 2T, even with the latter phone’s fast charging and fast-refreshing display. 

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.