Tag Archives: OnePlus

The Nord 2. A New “Flagship Killer” from OnePlus?



OnePlus LogoOnePlus’ Nord smartphone has been tremendously successful in Europe and today the company announced its successor, the Nord 2. As is OnePlus’ style, the phone’s been comprehensively teased for several weeks with the tagline, “Pretty much everything you could ask for” and resurrecting the “flagship killer” moniker from the early days of the brand. Bold claims. Let’s see if they’re any way justified.

The Nord 2 sits atop OnePlus’ mid-range devices, below the OnePlus 9 but above the Nord CE 5G and N-series of phones, so I think we should be expecting a well-specified device with quality materials that most smartphone users will be pleased to use. That’s confirmed by OnePlus CEO, Pete Lau, who says, “The OnePlus Nord 2 5G reaffirms our commitment to sharing great technology with the world. With advancements in smartphone technologies even in the mid-range, we are now able to deliver premium experiences on more accessible devices. We are confident the Nord 2 is a worthy successor to the original OnePlus Nord.

Taking a look at the specs, the biggest news is that the Nord 2 has a MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI CPU inside. For those unfamiliar with MediaTek, it’s a Taiwanese firm and is the third largest fabless IC designer in the world with chips in thousands of products round the world. The Dimensity 1200 is MediaTek’s top of the line ARM chipset and the AI suffix indicates that this is special “artificial intelligence” variant for OnePlus. In terms of performance, OnePlus expect the Dimensity 1200-AI to boost CPU by 65% and GPU by 125% in comparison with the original Nord and to be on a par with the Google Pixel 5 and the Samsung S21.

In terms of RAM and storage, there will be three variants (but not all will be available in all territories) – 6 GB+128 GB, 8 GB+128 GB and 12 GB+256 GB. The 6 GB+128 GB option is not expected to be available in the UK

On the screen front, the Nord 2 sports a 90 Hz Fluid AMOLED display measuring 6.43″ with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels (410 ppi) which matches the screen seen in the CE 5G but is slightly smaller than the one from the 9. There’s no substantial difference from the screen on last year’s Nord in terms of spec, though the new Dimensity 1200-AI chipset intelligently enhances the display of photos and videos to make them look their best.

As would be expected, the Nord 2 supports 5G offering nearly 3 Gb/s in perfect conditions and there’s the usual dual-SIM tray for those looking to have, say, separate personal and business SIMs.

Round the back, it’s an offset triple-camera array with a 50 MP Sony IMX 766 sensor for the main camera with OIS. This camera sensor was used in both the 9 and 9 Pro for the ultrawide, so it’s a top notch unit. In addition, there’s an 8 MP 119.7° field of view wide-angle camera with EIS. The third lens is a 2 MP monochrome unit for black-and-white fun. On the front, the selfie cam is a massive 32 MP IMX615 Sony sensor which will give some excellent selfie shots as it’s one of the largest front-facing cameras in the OnePlus range.

The camera app supports Nightscape for taking photos in low light conditions down to 1 lux and the Dimensity 1200-AI provides additional enhancement recognising 22 different photo scenes in order to adjust the settings for the best possible shot. The Nord 2 offers Dual View Video too, recording both the front and rear cameras simultaneously. Great for creative types or those wanting to indulge in a bit of adrenaline pumping action (though it might be a good idea to get a protective case first….)

Powering the Nord 2 is a 4,500 mAh battery which takes advantage of Warp Charge 65 and will charge 0 to 100% in 30 mins. Both battery size and charging speed are a step up from the original Nord. As expected, it’s a USB C port on the bottom, but while there’s no 3.5 mm audio jack, there are stereo speakers. Size-wise, the Nord 2 is 159 x 73 mm x 8.25 mm which is pretty much the same size as the original Nord and the CE 5G. It weighs in at 189g, give or take.

Speaking of the back, the Nord 2 has a lovely feel to it, with a cool glass texture. There are three different phone colours – Gray Sierra, Blue Haze and Green Woods. Sadly, the Green Woods isn’t coming to the UK but may be available in other countries. The Gray Sierra version is slightly different from the other two, with changes to the antiglare glass to make it feel thinner.

The Nord 2 comes with OxygenOS 11.3 which is based on Android 11 and OnePlus is now committing to two major Android updates and 3 years of security updates. I think that’s great to hear and in an increasingly resource-aware world, it means that you could be using the Nord for three years without worry. Being OxygenOS 11, the Nord 2 comes with many of the same software features as its older siblings, the 9 and 9 Pro.

Let’s talk pricing….

OnePlus Nord 2
8 GB + 128 GB: GB£399 in Blue Haze and Gray Sierra
12 GB + 256 GB: GB£469 in Gray Sierra only.

The Nord 2 will be available to pre-order now from both OnePlus and Amazon, with first deliveries expected from 26 July onwards. Orders from OnePlus will come with Google Stadia Premiere Edition bundled in as a free gift too. The Nord 2 will go on general sale in all channels including John Lewis, Three and O2 from 28 July.

So far, what I’ve seen looks good. The Nord 2 is a step up from the original and continues to slot in neatly below the OnePlus 9. With the 9 priced from £629, there’s clear water between the two in pricing and I’m struggling to think of the differences: 120 Hz screen, wireless charging, Hasselblad camera tweaking…there’s not much really. Is it a “flagship killer”? Not in the sense of having unbeatable specs, but definitely in terms of thinking about what’s really relevant in your phone and what it’s worth.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be sent a OnePlus Nord 2 for review: see below for an unboxing and early first impressions. I’ll follow the video up with a further review after I’ve used it for a couple of weeks.

Thanks to OnePlus for providing the Nord 2 for review.


Hands-On with the OnePlus Nord CE 5G



OnePlus LogoThe OnePlus Nord CE 5G drops into the crowded mid-range market where there’s no shortage of competitors wanting to take your money. OnePlus pitches the CE as “Core Edition” focussing on key features requested by its user community: “Heavy on features, light on price” says OnePlus. Obviously, there’s 5G in the CE, but what else does this new Nord offer? Let’s take a look…

Back view of OnePlus CE 5G smartphone showing sea green colourThe Nord CE 5G arrives in a black cardboard box with Nord branding picked out in reflective navy blue. There’s a clear contrast between the Nord’s black box and the red boxes reserved for the higher-end models. Opening the box reveals the CE 5G phone itself, along with a semi-transparent bumper case, a SIM tray tool, a few small manuals, a Warp charger and a USB charging cable.

Unwrapping the Nord CE 5G, it’s clear that it continues OnePlus’ current design cues which stretch back at least as far as the 7 series. There’s nothing unexpected here – flat glass front, pinhole camera top left, power button on right, USB C on the bottom, smooth curved back with attractive colouring, vertical triple camera array. It’s largely by the numbers. What’s different? There’s no alert slider but the 3.5 mm headphone jack makes a return to the smartphone. I think the restoration of the jack is a good move at this price point: my daughter prefers wired headphones as she’s less inclined to lose them and if she does, they’re cheaper to replace.

Sizewise, the CE 5G is within a millimetre or two of most recent OnePlus handsets at 159 mm x 74 mm, but it’s only 7.9 mm deep, making it the thinnest OnePlus since the 6T. Weighing in at 170 g, it’s lighter than the Nord by 14 g, though you’re unlikely to notice the difference day-to-day. The back of the CE 5G is polycarbonate rather than glass and it doesn’t quite feel as premium as I’d like but the Blue Void colour is lovely. It’s very similar to the Glacial Green of the OnePlus 8 but as you rotate the phone from the back to the front, the curved edge of the back takes on this lovely purple tone. There are other colours, Charcoal Ink and Silver Ray, but I’ve not seen them in the flesh. The Silver Ray version is only available with the large memory capacity (12 GB + 256 GB)

Front view of OnePlus CE 5G showing home screenTurning on the CE 5G begins to show off the lovely 90 Hz Fluid AMOLED 6.43″ display (2400 x 1080 pixels, 410 ppi). It looks good, it’s fast and it has the controls of its more expensive siblings – screen calibration, refresh rate, vision comfort, reading mode. I do like the dynamic wallpapers that OnePlus offers and the Nord CE 5G comes with a couple of new ones that show off the display when the phone is unlocked.

In terms of sound, I’ve mentioned the return of the headphone jack, which is a good thing for a large chunk of the possible purchasers of the CE 5G. For speakers, there’s only the one at the bottom next to the USB C port. “It’ll do” is about as best as I can muster. It’s quite loud but playing music above two-thirds volume will start to distort the speaker and don’t expect much bass.

Powering the Nord handset is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G Mobile Platform to give it the full title. Simplistically, this is a perfectly acceptable workhorse platform that offers some improvements over the 765G in the Nord. In day to day use, it’s a fine processor and keeps up with most activities. Will it run Fortnite? Yes, it does run Fortnite reasonably well, but there are definitely times when it stutters and all you can do is pray that it’s not at an inconvenient time. However, I have won a solo Battle Royale on the Nord CE 5G so it’s not a big deal. For something a bit more gentle, Pokemon Go runs beautifully. For the nerds, the phone scored 639 single-core and 1798 multi-core on Geekbench 5, putting it in amongst the Pixel 4, the Xiaomi Mi 9 and the Samsung Galaxy A51.

Powering the phone is a 4,500 mAh battery which easily gave me a day of use as long as I wasn’t burning through it with non-stop gaming. Even the battery does get a bit low, the supplied Warp 30T Plus charger is supposed to get the battery from 0% to 70% in 30 minutes. In my test run, it didn’t quite hit the 70% mark in the half-hour, but it was literally only a few minutes behind. The charger itself has a USB A socket, so the charging cable is USB A to USB C.

Cameras….The Nord CE 5G officially has three cameras on the back and one selfie camera around the front. The smartphone uses the same camera app as all the other OnePlus phones as far as I’m aware and offers time-lapse, panoramic, slow-motion, video, photo, portrait and nightscape and pro modes. Starting with the selfie cam, it’s a 16 MP Sony IMX471 that OnePlus has used many times. I feel it takes good enough selfie photos with reasonably accurate skin tones. For the rear, there’s a 64 MP main camera, an 8 MP ultra-wide with 119° field of view and a mono 2 MP unit that’s mainly used for depth sensing (as far as I know). The brand of the camera sensor is not revealed in the specs.

To review the rear cameras, I took a few photos to see how they turned out. Overall I was happy enough with the snaps but there are a couple of issues. First, colour saturation could be stronger: here’s my cat on a red blanket. The red of the blanket is way stronger than it appears to be in the picture.

Next, on ultrawide shots, even with ultra-wide lens correction turned on, you get this kind of motion blur effect on the edges of the shots. You can see it in the picture below. Again the colours of the flowers could do with just being that bit brighter too.

These would be my main two concerns, but I did take some other pictures that I’m really quite pleased with. I thought it handled close up shots better than panoramic ones. That bee has some load of pollen…

 

 

I think it would be fair to say that the Nord CE 5G takes photos that are acceptable without being outstanding.

Lastly, the CE’s OxygenOS 11 is based on Android 11 with OnePlus keeping tinkering to the minimum but adding value where it can. That’s the OnePlus way and to extend that value, the company is committing to 2 years of software updates and 3 years of security updates.

Clearly, the Nord CE 5G has loads of other features that you’d expect as standard: Wi-Fi bgnac, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS, in-display fingerprint reader, dual SIM slot and so on. Rather than review each in turn, I’ll simply confirm that everything is as you’d expect.

Let’s talk about covers…OnePlus sent four bumper covers with the Nord – black, blue, purple and creme. They’re flat colours with flecks of straw through them. Again, using my daughter for her opinion as a prospective purchaser, she liked the purple one but thought that golden glitter mixed in would’ve been much better. I’m with her on this one. These will be priced at GB£17.99 when they’re available.

For most territories outside of the Americas, the CE 5G is the fourth Nord device alongside the Nord, N10 5G and N100. If you are looking to understand where the Nord CE 5G fits in the OnePlus line-up, it’s below the Nord but above the Nord N10. In terms of base pricing, the Nord is GB£379, the CE 5G is £299 and the N10 is £249, though the N10 has slightly less memory at 6 GB rather than 8G.

The Nord CE 5G comes in two variants for the UK:

  • 8 GB + 128 GB: GB£299 / 329€
  • 12 GB + 256 GB: GB£369 / 399€

So does the Nord CE 5G meet expectations as a “Core Edition” focussing on what’s really needed without all the frippery? On the whole yes: 5G, great screen, powerful enough processor, day-long battery life, fast charging, 2 years of software updates, lovely colour. There’s plenty to like but there are some negatives: the rear cover could be better though once the phone is in a case, it’s not noticeable, and the camera does have some failings. Overall, the Nord CE 5G is a good all-rounder without being exceptional. The snag is that there’s plenty of competition to consider as well. If you like it, the phone is on sale from the OnePlus store.

Thanks to OnePlus for supplying the Nord CE 5G smartphone for review.


OnePlus Apps – Clipt, TagHost, WellPaper



OnePlus LogoOnePlus are well-known for their successful range of smartphones but what’s less well known is that they have a small but growing collection of handy Android apps – Clipt, TagHost and WellPaper – produced by their software development team, OneLab Studio.

Mauve Clipt LogoSelected TextStarting with Clipt, it’s a handy clipboard tool that let’s you copy’n’paste between your mobile devices and your PC’s Chromium-based browser. In addition to the Clipt app on the Android devices, you need the complementary Chrome extension, plus access to Google Drive to get it all working smoothly.

Clipt works with four different types of material – text, links, images and files – in slightly different ways but it’s really effective. For sending text and links from your phone or tablet to a PC, Clipt extends the built-in copy’n’paste function to offer a “Clipt” menu option which will push out whatever is highlight. For images, you use the Share to…..Clipt, and for files, Clipt works with the Files app to browse and find files.

On the browser side, the pinned Clipt extension brings in the transferred material almostly instantanously. I can get a picture I’ve discovered on the web on my phone into a Word document on the PC in three taps / clicks. On phone (tap 1) Share to… (tap 2) Clipt and finally on PC (click 3) Paste. It really is that simple.

You can go the other way too. Say you’ve found a funny clip on your PC but you want to send it via WhatsApp on your phone. Copy the link and Clipt will have it ready for you on your phone to simply paste into WhatsApp.

It’s brilliant if you’re one of these people who are constantly juggling PCs, Chromebooks, tablets and phones. I’d really recommend trying Clipt.

TagHost Hash LogoRanked HashtagsTagHost is tool for Instagrammers to see which hastags are the most popular in amongst lots of small but subtle variations. First, find a post on Instagram that’s of interest and then paste it into the TagHost app. The app will extract all the hastags from the post and any post comments below. Once the hashtags have been collected, Tag Host will show how popular the tags are so that you know which ones to use in your own posts. In the example to the right, #watchfam and #watchcollector are hot, #watchtime and #watchfreaks are not. It’s straightforward and keeps your ‘Gram posts tidy but effective.

Three coloured square filters at an angleSquares Show ActivityFinally, WellPaper is a live background which keeps track of your activities during the day and presents them as one of three different visualisations; Composition, Radial and Glow.

Composition is a Mondrian-esque wallpaper that uses rectangles to represent the relative proportion of time spent in each activity area. Radial is a soft blend of colour, almost like an artist’s palette, that morphs during the day. Last, Glow uses concentric rings to show busy-ness.

Concentric RingsWellPaper uses six categories: Lifestyle & Comms, Info & Business, Game, Social, Entertainment and Tools to track and show your use of apps on your phone. Each apps time within the category is further broken down but at present you can’t choose which category an app falls into. For example, Slack might be Social or it might be Business, depending on how you use it.

Regardless of which visualisation you like, you can quickly get an idea of your activity and if you’re over doing it when it comes to your social networking or gaming.

That’s three useful apps from the team at OnePlus. I’d particular recommend Clipt and I have WellPaper running on my OnePlus 9 as I write.


Get Your Game On With OnePlus and Google Stadia



OnePlus have partnered with Google’s Stadia and consequently their latest smartphones will come with a free Chromecast Ultra and a Stadia controller. Stadia is Google’s cloud-based gaming platform and offers instant gameplay without lengthy downloads.

OnePlus has a history of gaming promotions with PUBG and Fortnite taking advantage of fast smartphones and high refresh rates. I think the Bhangra Boogie Emote is still available…

At OnePlus, we are very close with our community of tech enthusiasts and a lot of them are avid gamers, so we know that mobile gamers are looking for a more immersive experience. That’s exactly what we are delivering with this unique bundle. By partnering with Google to offer Stadia Premiere Edition to our customers, we’re able to push the limits of gaming, making the best gaming experience even more accessible for the growing number of mobile gamers”, says Tuomas Lampen, Head of Strategy OnePlus Europe.

Outside of the promotion Stadia Premiere Edition costs GB£89.99, so it’s a good freebie. Google Stadia comes in two tiers, standard (aka Base) and Pro. The Pro tier has a free month trial and then costs GB£8.99 per month and offers an ever-increasing selection of games. If you don’t go Pro, individual games can be purchased as desired. There’s a extensive library of games with recognisable titles – Hitman, Tomb Raider, Hello Neighbor, Final Fantasy – but they do cost roughly the same as titles on other gaming platforms.

Stadia works across Google’s platforms – Android phones, Chromebooks, PC Chrome browser and on the TV via Chromecast. It’s a neat idea, especially if you aren’t wedded to an existing gaming ecosystem. To be fair, there have been some concerns about Google’s commitment to Stadia but as it’s a freebie, I’d take it and play.

The promotion is available to purchasers of OnePlus 9 Pro, 9, 8 Pro, 8T and Nord smartphones in UK, France and Germany from oneplus.com until 30th September.


Pre-Orders Open for OnePlus Watch



OnePlus’ partnership with Hasselblad has produced two very well-received devices in the shape of the 9 and 9 Pro smartphones. I’ve been using the OnePlus 9 for a couple of weeks now and it’s a lovely phone that takes great pictures…but we’re not here to talk about the phones but rather the new OnePlus Watch.

A Black Smart WatchThe OnePlus Watch is the company’s first global foray into wearables (ignoring the OnePlus Band which was only available in India) and pre-orders open on Wednesday 14th April for the two new smartwatches. Priced at GB£149/US$159/€159, it’s competitive against similar smartwatches from Fitbit, Samsung and Huawei. Deliveries are expected at the end of the month and the Watch goes on general sale on 30th April.

Two models are expected to up for pre-order, Moonlight Silver and Midnight Black, with the announced Cobalt Limited Edition coming later. With a 46 mm case, it might be a minimalist design but it’s a big watch that’s not going to be missed on anyone’s wrist. The Watch supports over 110 activities including swimming which is possible due to the IP68 water resistance rating. There’s built-in GPS so no need to carry your phone on a run.

The round display is a 1.39″ AMOLED display at 326 ppi and is protected by a sapphire glass crystal which provides good protection against scratches. Handily, the Watch takes standard watch straps so it’s easy to switch them out for something more personal.

Battery life is rated at over 2 weeks (yep, two weeks) and even the most active athlete will get over a week. The Watch uses Warp Charging and about 40 minutes will get it charged up from flat.

I’m looking forward to buying one for myself: I really need to lose a few pounds after lockdown but I think I’m going to wait for the Cobalt LE.

Pre-orders open Wednesday at OnePlus.com and Amazon.co.uk for £149.


OnePlus Lights Up London with a Moonbow



OnePlus‘ partnership with Hasselblad and the recent launch of the OnePlus 9 series of smartphones have been greeted with almost universal acclaim. To celebrate this and the open sale of the 9 Pro, OnePlus’ latest crazy publicity stunt has been to generate a “moonbow” in London and capture it with the OnePlus 9 Pro.

What’s a moonbow? Officially, it’s much like a rainbow but with moonlight rather than sunlight creating the bow. In this case, OnePlus have cheated a little and put the rainbow round the moon by generating a cloud of mist and a high-powered light. Regardless, it’s still pretty impressive.

Naturally occurring moonbows are very rare, mainly because the light from the moon isn’t anywhere near as bright as sunlight, so it’s extremely hard for the human eye to spot the spectral colours in the dark. OnePlus helped out to make it a bit easier to spot – “Using high-powered light projections beamed through a wall of mist set under the perfect light conditions of the full moon, OnePlus created London’s very own first-ever man-made Moonbow in front of Tower Bridge, shot on the OnePlus 9 Series. The man-made Moonbow took 12 hours of on-site build time, used 60 tonnes of environmentally friendly recirculated water an hour and was created by a high power 20,000-lumen light projector.”

Of course, the moonbow had to be captured using a OnePlus 9 Series camera, co-developed with Hasselblad. Their emphasis is on natural colour calibration and while I wasn’t actually there to take the photo, it seems pretty realistic and I’d be happy with the photo if I’d just taken it on my smartphone.

At the moment, OnePlus is running a series of photo competitions based on a number of weekly themes – True Attitude, True Love, True Freedom and True You. Each week Hasselblad photographer Julius Hirtzberger will choose a winner from photos tagged with #TrueColors on Instagram. The winning photographers will receive a OnePlus 9 Series handset and other goodies. Visit @oneplusunitedkingdom for more details.


OnePlus 9 Series Launches Tomorrow To No-one’s Surprise



OnePlus‘ spring event usually heralds the launch of the company’s products for the year, with a further hardware refresh in the autumn – the xT models. This past year’s been a bit different on two fronts, and not just because of a global pandemic. To start with, the Nord series of mid-range phones was announced at a summer event and secondly, the CEO of OnePlus, Pete Lau, seems to have given away all the surprises in advance of the main event. For sure, OnePlus always did drop a few heavy hints as part of the publicity run-up, but this time I think they’ve outdone themselves. Maybe there will be a “one more thing” but who knows?

Here’s what we do know already.

  • There will be three phones, the OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9R for India. Colours are “Morning Mist”, “Pine Green” for the 9 Pro and “Winter Mist” for the 9 but I imagine there will be others. The camera array has moved to the top left and appears to be coloured as the back of the phone.
  • The display is LTPO, QHD+, smart 120Hz refresh, native 10-bit color depth (1.07 billion colors), 1300 nits brightness, MEMC and HDR10+.
  • The phones will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chipset.
  • There will be a 4500 mAh battery with Wireless Warp Charge 50 giving 50 W of wireless charging that will go from 0% to 100% in 43 minutes. Using the cable will take 29 minutes.
  • There’s a strong partnership between OnePlus and Hasselblad to co-produce the imaging on the 9 series with a focus on Natural Colour Calibration. The cameras will use the Sony IMX789 and IMX766 sensors. The latter is used with the ultra-wide lens for 50 MP images. There will be a new tilt-shift feature for that miniature model world look.
    From the pictures, it appears that the 9 will have three lenses with four on the 9 Pro.
  • There might be some interesting cases.
  • A OnePlus Watch will be announced with 110 workout modes. It’s going to have a round dial.

So, if after all that, you still want to watch the launch event, you can follow along at www.oneplus.com/launch with the event kicking off on 23 March at 10:00 am EDT / 14:00 GMT / 15:00 CET / 7:30 pm IST.