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OnePlus could have made the 9T but it's making a Pac-Man phone instead

a promotional image for the OnePlus Nord 2 x Pac-Man Edition
(Image credit: OnePlus)

Update: We've now got a look at the OnePlus Nord 2 Pac-Man Edition, and it looks surprisingly nice. 

As night follows day, OnePlus has yet another special edition phone, this time drawing misty-eyed nostalgia inspiration from 1980s arcade gaming with the OnePlus Nord 2 x Pac-Man Edition. 

Much like the name suggests, this phone will take the OnePlus Nord 2 and give it a rear cover and user interface influenced by the colors and aesthetic of Pac-Man. Sadly, OnePlus has merely teased this phone rather than shown it off. But I don’t really know why the company bothered in the first place.  

The rear of the phone is set to come with “a dual-layer design with phosphorescent ink applied to its innermost layer” that enables the phone’s back to glow in the dark; I don’t know who’s asking for a luminous phone but it’s definitely not me. 

On the design side that’s it. But OnePlus explained that the Oxygen user interface it puts on top of Android, which I’ve always been rather fond of, is getting a dose of tweaks that “nods to Pac-Man.” 

Again, what this will look like is anyone’s guess at the moment. But I wasn't so impressed with the changes to Oxygen OS brought in with the OnePlus 8T, as they added a degree of fuss to the cleaner interface. So I can’t imagine a slathering of 80s era neon-colored gaming decals and nods will improve the situation. 

But then beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and one might find the idea of a modern smartphone with a retro twist to be a treat. Yet, it’ll only be a treat you can get in the U.K. for £499, Europe for €529, and India for 37,999 Indian Rupees; there's no word on a future U.S. release. 

And for those that have a competitive streak, you have a chance of winning the OnePlus Nord 2 x Pac-Man Edition if you get a high score in a version of Pac-Man on the OnePlus website. That may float your boat, but to me it all feels a bit like OnePlus has given up the ghost with what it used to be as a brand that always kept moving and produced flagship-chasing phones for affordable prices. 

The reason for this conclusion is that for the past four generations of OnePlus phones, we’ve had the T version follow them some six months later. These phones would take the models from earlier in the year and upgrade a few key features. 

For example, the OnePlus 6T brought in an optical under-display fingerprint scanner and some camera improvements. And the OnePlus 7T added a 90Hz refresh rate for the non-Pro phones, So I had been expecting to see the a OnePlus 9T build upon the successes of the OnePlus 9. 

But OnePlus revealed that it won’t be making a 9T, and the OnePlus 10 is but a rumor at the moment. So I find it baffling that the company is dedicating time to make a special edition of a budget-to-mid-range phone rather than stick to its guns in producing flagship killers. 

In our OnePlus 9 review, we were suitably impressed with the camera upgrades it brought to the table, thanks to its partnership with camera maker Hasselblad. But at the same time, it isn’t perfect, especially when it comes to handling colors and offering a dynamic display refresh rate. 

These are areas a OnePlus 9T could improve upon, especially in the face of the Google Pixel 6 and iPhone 13. But no, the Chinese phone maker once praised for its laser-focus on giving users what they want has instead come up with a gimmicky phone. 

Granted, some people may be salivating over the OnePlus Nord 2 x Pac-Man Edition, much like the OnePlus 8T Cyberpunk Edition caught a few admiring glimpses. But then again OnePlus makes very nice looking and well-built phones anyway. So I really don’t get why it’s bothered to then mess with that formula with a special edition handset that could end up being rather gaudy. 

Of course, I could be proven wrong and OnePlus comes up with a handset that’s a high-point of industrial design. But really, I just wish that OnePlus went back to its roots and just focused on creating the flagship-killers it cut its teeth on, as I’m really starting to miss those. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.