OnePlus Nord 2 5G review

GSMArena Team, 22 July 2021.

OxygenOS 11.3 brings hidden ColorOS code

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G runs on the Android 11-based OxygenOS 11.3, and it is the first phone to boot this specific version. While its number doesn't suggest anything major, there is, in fact, one big update - it has a unified code with the Oppo's ColorOS 11.3. That's part of the recent Oppo and OnePlus merger - and this under-the-hood tweak will enable smartphones from either company to receive the latest software advancements easily and on time.

Don't panic, OnePlus fans, OxygenOS is here to stay, and it will work as before; nothing user-related has changed or is about to change. That's what OnePlus is promising, at least, and we surely hope that's true.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G review

The OnePlus Nord 2 supports fingerprint unlock, and the optical sensor works very well - it's fast and with commendable accuracy. You can also add a face for an even speedier unlock - though this is not as secure.

There's is a Quick Launch feature (in Convenience Tools) that opens an app or executes a task if you keep your finger on the scanner for a second or two. There's plenty of slots to occupy, and you can cycle them by holding your thumb and swiping left or right.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G review

As we already mentioned before, the fingerprint scanner is not always-on unless you enable the Always-on Ambient Display. If not, you need to hit the Power key first, and they use the scanner.

The good news is that the Ambient Display can be always-on, scheduled, power-saving (on for just a bit), or shown only on pickup - the option we used, and we recommend.

Biometrics - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Fingerprint - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Quick Launch - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Quick Launch - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Quick Launch - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
Biometrics • Fingerprint • Quick Launch

And while we are talking about AOD settings - you can choose from many unique themes. It's also worth noting the Nord 2 offers Horizon Light, also known as Edge Light on other phones. It's independent of the Ambient Screen and lighter on the battery, and it is a good alternative to a notification LED.

Ambient Display - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Themes - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Horizon Light - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
Ambient Display • Themes • Horizon Light

The OxygenOS has lost its stock-ish looks a while ago, but it's still incredibly fluid and easy to use. It has no-nonsense homescreens, a simplistic and clean notification/toggles area, and an easy-to-use task switcher. An App drawer is available, too, and it is as clutter-free as one could hope for. You can opt out of the app drawer if that's your thing.

The task manager supports tap and hold on an app card, and you can enable Split Screen from the newly opened menu.

OxygenOS 11.3 - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review OxygenOS 11.3 - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review OxygenOS 11.3 - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review OxygenOS 11.3 - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review OxygenOS 11.3 - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review OxygenOS 11.3 - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
OxygenOS 11.3

OxygenOS supports different icon packs, so if you are not happy with the default one, you can opt for material style, pebbles, or you can even fully customize them by your liking. You can also change the system colors, the fingerprint scanner animation, the notification drawer icons, even the system font.

Customization options - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Customization options - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Customization options - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Customization options - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Customization options - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Customization options - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
Customization options

A notable feature is the screen-off gestures. You can play/pause the media player or launch an app or the flashlight by drawing on the locked screen. Some letters are easier to register and execute than others, and there's a learning curve to it.

You can also use some gestures with three fingers for easier screenshot taking.

Gestures - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gestures - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gestures - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gestures - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gestures - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
Gestures

There is also a Games app that helps you organize your downloaded games and tinker with some game-related settings and customize the behavior of notifications and incoming calls during gaming.

You may want to check the unique Zen Mode - it blocks the ability to interact with the phone and blocks distractions by the phone for a certain period of your choice, helping you regain your focus. You can still receive or make emergency calls. Practicing Zen Mode daily earns you rewards like medals for your digital-free time frames each day.

Gaming features and Zen Mode - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gaming features and Zen Mode - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gaming features and Zen Mode - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gaming features and Zen Mode - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gaming features and Zen Mode - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gaming features and Zen Mode - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
Gaming features and Zen Mode

OnePlus offers its own Gallery, File Manger, Notes and Weather apps. For everything else, you either use Google's or a third-party one.

Gallery - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Gallery - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review File Manager - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Weather - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Notes - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review Notes - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
Gallery • Gallery • File Manager • Weather • Notes

The OxygenOS is unbelievably fast and fluid, stutter-free and absolutely no-nonsense. It's one of our favorites, and we loved our experience with the OnePlus Nord 2 and its OxygenOS.

Performance and benchmarks

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G is equipped with the best MediaTek chipset to date - Dimensity 1200 5G. OnePlus isn't dropping Qualcomm in favor of MediaTek, in case you were wondering, but it decided that this platform fits better the Nord 2 narrative. While being the flagship MT chip, the Dimensity 1200 is comparable to Snapdragon 870 in terms of performance - meaning even if it is not the fastest, it is definitely part of the top-tier bunch.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G review

So, the Dimensity 1200 5G chip offers an octa-core processor with a rather familiar 1+3+4 core configuration - 1x3.0GHz Cortex-A78 + 3x2.6 GHz Cortex-A78 + 4x2.0 GHz Cortex-A55.

For graphics, the chipset has a total of nine Mali-G77 computing cores.

The Dimensity 1200 chip package also includes a potent 5G NR Sub-6 GHz and LTE, built-in combo modem. It is noteworthy that the Nord 2 5G and its Dimensity 1200 are capable of Dual SIM 5G standby (SA/NSA supported), which is not always a given.

Speaking of connectivity features, the chipset also has Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6, NFC and Bluetooth 5.2, with support for AAC, APTX, APTX HD, LDAC codecs. All of this and more is crammed into the chip package using a current and efficient, though not industry-leading 6nm manufacturing process.

The OnePlus Nord 2 is available with 6GB, 8GB and 12GB LPDDR4X RAM and you can choose between 128GB and 256GB UFS3.1 storage options.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G review

The synthetic performance of the Dimensity 1200 processor is on par with the Mi 11 Lite 5G's Snapdragon 780 and close to OnePlus 9R's Snapdragon 870.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    3448
  • OnePlus 9R
    3117
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    2909
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    2792
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    2614
  • Poco X3 Pro
    2574
  • OnePlus Nord
    1953
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    1812
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    1780

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    1029
  • OnePlus 9R
    969
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    967
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    814
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    803
  • Poco X3 Pro
    735
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    641
  • OnePlus Nord
    610
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    569

The synthetic performance of the 9-core Mali-G77 is quite good and not far from the flagship-grade Snapdragon 870 chip inside the OnePlus 9R.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    139
  • OnePlus 9R
    132
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    129
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    123
  • Poco X3 Pro
    102
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    89
  • OnePlus Nord
    55
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    46

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    97
  • OnePlus 9R
    93
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    86
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    75
  • Poco X3 Pro
    75
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    65
  • OnePlus Nord
    38
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    34

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus Nord 2
    4224
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    4216
  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    4212
  • OnePlus 9R
    4154
  • Poco X3 Pro
    3401
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    3136

Unfortunately, the OnePlus Nord 2 allows only one app to run at 90fps - the game Brawl Stars. OnePlus is promising to whitelist more games in the future, but for now - all benchmarks and games (excluding Brawl Stars) are capped at 60fps. The potential is there, though, and we hope OnePlus keeps its promise.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    85
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    79
  • Poco X3 Pro
    67
  • OnePlus 9R
    60
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    57
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    57
  • OnePlus Nord
    34
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    30

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    50
  • OnePlus 9R
    49
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    44
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    38
  • Poco X3 Pro
    38
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    35
  • OnePlus Nord
    19
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    17
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
    16

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9R
    34
  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    34
  • Realme X7 Max 5G
    31
  • Poco X3 Pro
    27
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    26
  • OnePlus Nord
    13
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    13

The AnTuTu 9 score chart is all over the place, but what we can take from it is that the Nord 2 is doing very well in terms of performance and is pretty close to the SD870-powered Black Shark 4.

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9R
    676913
  • Xiaomi Black Shark 4
    605569
  • OnePlus Nord 2
    598022
  • Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G
    522490
  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    391770

Well, the performance of the Dimensity 1200 isn't an exact match to the Snapdragon 870's, but we'd say it's in the top-tier ballpark, and that's plenty enough for a €399 smartphone. The OnePlus Nord 2 5G has the raw power to handle every task and game in the next few years hiccup-free, and if allowed by its maker, it can do HRR very well, too.

OnePlus was recently found to prevent certain apps from accessing the most powerful core. The company stated that it is due to battery-saving optimizations and doesn't affect the actual performance.

We did not notice this behavior on our Nord 2 unit - the Vivaldi web browser scores as much as Chrome. As far as we managed to check, Chrome is also definitely utilizing the powerful core. We are glad that there doesn't seem to be any preferential treatment between apps any longer.

As a positive turn of events from these discoveries, OnePlus has promised to push a firmware update that will allow the users to disable such automatic throttling across the affected devices.

Stability and sustained performance are important, and that's why we ran our usual stress tests on the Nord 2. The phone has aluminum chassis but a plastic frame, and it seems most of the heat is dissipated from a spot on the rear glass near the camera. While at 100% the phone gets quite warm, the hot part is actually tolerable on touch, and it is far from your palms fingers, so you'll rarely touch it.

So, The Nord 2 scored a 60% stability score on the 3D Mark Wild Life Stress Test - an uninspiring number. Oddly, it did much better on the CPU Throttling test we ran for a whole hour. The Nord 2 cooling solution allowed the CPU to keep 76% of its maximum performance - an impressive number for a non-gaming smartphone.

3D Mark Stress Test - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review 3D Mark Stress Test - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review CPU Throttle test - OnePlus Nord 2 5G review
3D Mark Stress Test • 3D Mark Stress Test • CPU Throttle test

All things considered, we'd say the OnePlus Nord 2 is not only well equipped for top-notch performance, but it is also cooled well enough to support peak performance for prolonged periods of time. And note that no game or app uses 100% of the available resources. We did not notice throttling or unusual heating no matter the game we played.

Finally, OxygenOS and its default apps simply fly on this Nord 2, and we had one of the most enjoyable Android experiences we've had since, oh well, the OnePlus 9 trio.

Reader comments

  • McVitas
  • 14 Sep 2022
  • ppv

So I have compared my old Galaxy S10 with this one and I am surprised that photos are much better on OnePlus BUT videos seem to be the opposite! Much better on S10! See my review here https://community.oneplus.com/thread?id=1155569713972510724

  • An0n
  • 04 Sep 2022
  • txE

Look how oxygen os is now colour os for OnePlus. There's no sight of vanilla aosp looks in the oxygen os now, it's pitiful. OnePlus in past nailed the aosp, shaped it with their own style, now just a colour os with OnePlus additional functi...

  • yabesh
  • 09 Aug 2022
  • rJq

I bought nord 2 5G at 2021 still it working amazingly because of dimensity 1200 AI chipset also with sony IMX 766 camera sensor. I think it's a flagship killer under 30000 price range.