[i2pc pros_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-up” show_title=”false” title=”Pros & Cons” show_button=”false” pros_title=”Pros” cons_title=”Cons” heading_pros_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-down” ][i2pros]Strong overall package.
Good 90 Hertz AMOLED
Good battery life +
Fast charging speed fast dimensity processor
Solid main camera
[/i2pros][i2cons]Little more power than its predecessor.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 will go on sale on March 10th with a brand new and fast MediaTek Dimensity 900 processor. We had been testing the 35,000 Tk mid-range 5G smartphone for a good two weeks. How does it compare to the competition?
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 competes with the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G, and the Realme 9 Pro, or Realme 9 Pro+. However, there is not much change in the hardware of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 compared to its predecessor, the first Nord CE – you can see the differences in the next section:
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 takes up the design of the Oppo Find X3 Pro with 3D curved glass. Only that the Nord CE 2 mainly uses plastic. I personally like the look, and the curvature offers the index finger a little support during use.
The feel is solid, the quality is impeccable, and the frame is beautifully rounded on the front and back, but the “plastic bomber” cannot make a high-quality impression. The Nord CE 2 is available in two color variants:
Gray Mirror (our test device): This shows a grey-silver back with a very glossy effect, which partly looks like a mirror. Unfortunately, this variant is very susceptible to fingerprints.
Bahama Blue: This is the flashy but chic variant. The back shines in a satin-matt blue with a pink shimmer. The new version should also be less prone to fingerprints.
The smartphone remains pleasantly light at 173 grams, and the dimensions of 160.6 x 73.2 x 7.8 millimeters are reasonably compact. Despite the low thickness of the Nord CE 2, we have retained the 3.5mm jack connection. Next to it are the USB-C 2.0 port and the speaker. The frame has the power button on the right and two buttons on the left for volume control, with the SIM slot above it. The “Core Edition” saves you the typical OnePlus alert slider.
In addition to the smartphone with the protective film already attached, the OnePlus packs the SuperVOOC 65 charger with the red USB-A to USB-C cable, a matte plastic cover with the North arrow, and the usual slips of paper in the black box.
Protective covers: we still had the typical sandstone cover in the press kit. The rugged black or blue protective case offers a strong grip, which is a blessing on the slippery Nord CE 2.
The display has taken over from its predecessor. An AMOLED panel is used, which measures 6.43 inches diagonally in a 20:9 format. The black border around the display measures 3mm at the top, 2mm on the left and right, and only the chin below is a bit overflowing at 6mm. The punch hole notch on the top left is 4.5mm in diameter.
With a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, the Nord CE 2 achieves a sharp pixel density of 409 pixels per inch. The AMOLED achieves a maximum brightness of 1000 lux in the sun. In addition, the color calibration and the contrast are automatically adjusted to the environment if desired.
The AMOLED display has a refresh rate of 90 Hertz. Content, therefore, appears smoother than with normal 60Hz panels. However, there are already a few smartphones with 120Hz AMOLED in the price range. The touch panel works at a sampling rate of 180 Hertz. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 is certified with both Widevine L1 and HDR10+: We tested this with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.
The colors of the panel are strong and lively by default. “Mild” colors are also available on request. You can also adjust the screen color temperature, the font size in four levels, and the display size in five levels. In addition, an adjustable and terminable eye comfort mode is available, as well as the video color amplifier and an adaptive energy-saving mode. Also built into the software is a fully customizable always-on display. OnePlus has also expanded the options for one-handed use, with new gestures and functions.
The Nord 2 showed the way, the Nord CE 2 is now following suit. OnePlus relies on MediaTek. The Dimensity 900 was presented in May 2021 and is already being manufactured using the energy-efficient 6nm process. The octa-core consists of 2 x Cortex-A78 cores with a maximum of 2.4 GHz and 6 x Cortex-A55 cores with a maximum of 2.0 GHz.
A Mali-G68 MC4 takes over the graphic tasks. There is no trace of thermal throttling/throttling of the performance due to excessively high temperatures in the Dimensity 900. The benchmark results are impressive in the middle class. But there are even more powerful smartphones, such as the Realme GT Master or the Poco F3.
The big leap is not the change compared to the predecessor! The Snapdragon 750G of the first Nord CE already worked very efficiently and offered 5G connectivity. The Dimensity 900 offers around 10% more performance, but this is largely generated by the GPU.
The Nord CE 2 is only available in a memory version with 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.2 system memory. The storage space can be expanded by up to 1 TB with a microSD card via the triple slot. The RAM achieves a data rate of 42.8 GB/s and the UFS memory is by no means a bottleneck, with 995 MB/s reading and 828 MB/s writing.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 is delivered with Android 11 and the Oxygen OS v11.3 (build number in the test: IV2201_11_A.09). interface above it. 2 years of Android updates and 3 years of security patches are promised. We have the following information about the update to Android 12: The major update is coming “soon” or “this year” and will still be called Oxygen OS.
Bloatware is not pre-installed from the factory, the Google Play Store is ready to use, and the Safety Net Check is passed. The Oxygen OS system also runs smoothly with the Dimensity 900 and offers enough additional functions and customization options.
So the fast, user-friendly, and optimized Oxygen OS as we know it… Not quite: Color OS can always be seen in some places: this was noticed last year with the Nord 2, and now a few places have been added, such as the complete point “Battery” in the settings.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 offers enough hardware power and also has performance reserves for the next few years. You don’t have to shy away from any 3D game, you can do extensive multitasking and enjoy flawless system performance. As known from the Nord 2, the MediaTek Dimensity 900 also harmonizes with Oxygen OS v11.3. But (!) a Realme GT Master with Snapdragon 778G or Poco F3 with the Snapdragon 870 show that a lot more is possible at the price.
Last year, the 64MP sensor from Samsung got a lot out of it, and the OnePlus Nord CE almost prevailed over the Redmi Note 10 Pro in the camera comparison. The new OnePlus Nord CE 2 takes over the sensors and continues to focus on software optimization. Is that still enough compared to the competition? Not much has changed with the Redmi Note 11 series, but the new Realme 9 series is now pushing ahead. The camera sensors of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 in detail:
Main camera: 64MP (Omnivision OV64B ?), f/1.79, pixel size: 0.7 µm/64M; 1.4 µm (4-in-1) / 16MP, Autofocus: PDAF + CAF Video: 4K/30fps, 1080p/60fps, Slow motion: 720p/240fps, Stabilization: EIS
Daylight The Nord CE 2 snaps 4624 x 3472 images via pixel binning. Even after a year, the 64MP does an excellent job with enough light. Then the amount of detail is sufficiently high, the contrast is high, and the colors are crisp and sharp. The depiction is also realistic. One could criticize the sometimes not entirely successful white balance.
A 64MP mode is also available again to capture even more details. The mode should only be used if the image is cropped/zoomed afterward. The results look appealing up to a magnification of 2x digital zoom.
You have to make significant compromises as soon as the weather gets worse, you photograph indoors under artificial lighting, or the subject is simply not that photogenic. The software optimization of the recordings is no longer sufficient here: washed-out structures creep in and the scenery becomes dreary overall.
The 2MP macro sensor is back! Although it is still possible to set the focus ultra-close / up to 4 cm), the resolution is simply too low. The main camera simply makes it better here: The focus is set reliably, and, above all, the colors remain natural.
Last year, Hasselblad significantly improved the portrait shots: before, the person was never really sharp, but after the OnePlus 9 flagships, the mid-range models also got their turn. People are now presented much better, and the quality of the bokeh shots is impeccable.
The separation between foreground and background works wonderfully as soon as a face is recognized and the blur effect/degree of blurring can be freely selected. A new filter, “Bokeh Flare”, is also available for portrait pictures.
OnePlus calls its own night mode “Night Scape.” In my opinion, you really don’t miss an OIS: I had to sort out almost 5% of all-night shots.
The 64MP sensor is not particularly bright, but the strong night mode gets a lot out of it. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 manages to capture an amazing amount of light and subjects that are just lit up come into their own. The really black sky and natural display of light can also be praised.
If you zoom in closer to the night shots, you will find visible ISO noise, a little too few dynamics, and also errors in the composition of structures. The pictures at night are not better than average either.
The 8MP ultra wide-angle sensor is not a highlight in the Nord CE 2 either. With the resolution, the extra-wide shots quickly begin to look pixelated and coarse. The high contrast is intended to conceal this, but it seems exaggerated. The UWW camera of the Nord CE 2 cannot be used more than situationally. As you can imagine, it doesn’t get any better at night. At least the night mode is also available for the ultra wide-angle sensor.
In the punch-hole notch, the Sony IMX471 shoots pretty selfies with 16MP at a large aperture of f/2.45. Even if we have a fixed focus, the distance with the selfie arm can be chosen very generously. The Sony sensor captures many wonderful details, and the good camera software does the rest. Without many words: Selfies are great.
Selfie bokeh is also possible with the software and works well. However, the user then becomes somewhat blurred. You can use all the options for retouching, beautifying, and filters as you wish. Even at dusk, the selfies begin to rustle.
It is filmed with the main camera at a maximum of 4K / 30fps and 1080p / 30fps with the UWW / front camera sensor. When it comes to videos, the simple 64MP sensor in the OnePlus Nord CE 2 is left behind: The image dynamics are not exactly high and the image is not that crisp. It is also not possible to switch live in the video between the main and ultra-wide-angle sensors.
With the AI / NPU of the Dimensity 900, video recordings now have more software improvements available: colors are saturated with the “AI” (similar to HDR) if desired, and a live night mode revamps night recordings. A significant upgrade is an ultra-stable mode, which stabilizes videos much more than the normal EIS. This is limited to the main camera at 1080p / 60fps. The (normal) EIS then takes over at 4K / 30fps. The front camera also stabilizes the image via the software.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 has a fair-weather camera again: During the day, you will hardly miss its flagship – but it looks different under trickier conditions. If you shell out a little more money, you can already get flagship camera sensors.
All current connectivity standards are supported with the Dimensity 900. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 transmits problem-free on the 5G network via both SIM cards. In the triple slot, two NanoSIM cards for DualSIM can be used simultaneously with a MicroSD card for memory expansion. The reception benefits from the plastic housing and proved to be very strong in the practical test. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 supports the following LTE and 5G frequencies (including 5G DSS):
VoLTE / VoWiFi are available for telephoning. A second noise-canceling microphone filters out most of the background noise. In practice, the ear speakers could be a bit louder, but I never had any problems. Unfortunately, the Nord CE 2 does not offer stereo sound. Only the lower speaker is used for media operation. This can be used for a video from time to time, but it is one of the worst ones.
The connection standards are brought up to date with the successor. The Nord CE 2 connects to the WLAN via WiFi 6 / ax. My 100,000 DSL line can be completely exhausted. With other devices, the connection works via Bluetooth 5.2. aptX HD and LDAC are also supported for audio transmission. The sound is optimized via “Dirac Audio”. Thanks to the 3.5mm jack, conventional headphones can also be connected.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 offers GPS via the satellites A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, and QZSS, and an e-compass for navigation. In buildings, the location is determined by accuracy of 3m. Accurate to within 1m outdoors. The built-in sensors include acceleration, light, and proximity, as well as a gyroscope. Google’s Sensor Core is supported for AR applications. Mobile payment via NFC is also no problem with the Nord CE 2.
Biometric unlocking: Like its predecessor, the Nord CE 2 has an in-display fingerprint scanner. The unlocking puts a smile on your face in practice – lightning fast and reliable, as you are used to. Alternatively, the front camera can also be set up for face unlock.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 offers a battery capacity of 4500mAh. But the question is whether the new Dimensity 900 in the 6nm process works more efficiently than the 8nm Snapdragon 750G, which inspired us in this regard.
In the PC Mark battery benchmark (version 3.0 – display set to 200 lux), the Nord CE 2 achieves an impressive value of 14 hours and 18 minutes with a refresh rate of 90 Hertz. Throttled to 60 Hertz, 17 hours and 6 minutes are possible. In the streaming test via YouTube (Full HD, speakers on), the OnePlus Nord CE 2 only needs 6% per hour.
On paper, the successor comes close to the Nord CE with SD750G and proves that the new MediaTek Dimensity processors are on par in terms of efficiency. In practice, the new OnePlus mid-range smartphone lasts just as long. The Nord CE 2 with Dimensity 900 also qualifies for use over 2 days: a good 9 to 10 hours of display-on-time was possible with one battery charge.
The Nord CE 2’s Warp Charge has been replaced by SuperVOOC: We don’t care, because with the 65-watt fast charging technology, the Nord CE 2 pumps the 4500mAh battery up again in no time at all., In 10 minutes you charge from 20 to 60% and have enough battery again to get through the day.
The Nord CE 2 charges from 0 to 80% in 21 minutes, and a full charge takes just under 38 minutes. The Nord CE 2 also stays cool enough to play 3D games during fast charging. Overnight, the smartphone charges more slowly with the optimized night charge and does not “overcharge” either. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 reaches a maximum of 18 watts via power delivery. Wireless charging is not supported.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 can be used perfectly in practice, offers solid hardware, but still leaves mixed feelings. The motto for the OnePlus Nord CE 2 is “a little more than you’d expect”. And unfortunately, that hits the nail on the head: The successor really only offers minor improvements. And that at a higher price and then with the strong competition.
Of course, you have to watch the supply situation in comparison to the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G and the Realme 9 Pro. Perhaps a model could stand out here. But then the glorious OnePlus Nord 2 or Xiaomi 11T would still be available for a small surcharge.