It has been a while that any smartphone has stirred up so much excitement in me that I actually want to talk about it and openly recommend it. The Redmi Note 10 Pro from Xiaomi piqued my interest too, and I have recommended it quite often as a smartphone for value hunters.
However, the OnePlus Nord 2 has pulled off a massive one, and I can’t help but move it up to the top of my list. OnePlus used to be known as the brand that produced a category of smartphones known as flagship killers – top mid-rangers that are so good that you could ignore flagships and buy it, and be satisfied.
Then OnePlus moved on to creating flagships and left that market hanging. But the Nord 2 has changed the game once again.
What makes OnePlus Nord 2 5G the best budget phone money can buy in 2021?
First, it is powered by the new Dimensity 1200 chipset. This is a flagship-grade processor that goes head-to-head against Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888. And coupled with it are options of 8 GB and 12 GB of RAM. There is no question about what kind of performance the Nord 2 5G brings to the table. You can throw anything that any premium flagship can handle at this phone, and it will handle it like a champ.
The 6.43-inch display is not as compact as I’d like, but it is a fair compromise between compact and large, so I will take it. It uses an AMOLED panel, has 90Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling, and is protected by a sheet of Gorilla Glass 5. I’d have preferred 120Hz refresh rate, but this is a mid-ranger delivering flagship value, so some compromises are expected. I am good with this display.
Next, it has a main camera that uses the new flagship-grade Sony IMX766 sensor seen in the OnePlus 9 Pro, OPPO Find X3 Pro, OPPO Reno6 Pro+ 5G, and OPPO Reno5 Pro+ flagship smartphones. Again, as with performance, the Nord 2 5G delivers solid photography to the table.
Battery life is a top factor for me with smartphones, and by this I mean battery capacity, charging speed, and actual battery life numbers. Again, the Nord 2 brings flagship grade numbers to the game. It has a Li-Poly. 4,500mAh battery with fast 65W Warp Charge support.
65W fast charging means you can go from an empty battery to a full charge in 30 minutes. Earlier reviews of the Nord 2 have praised it for its frugal standby performance as well. What’s not to like? There is no wireless charging or reverse charging via USB-OTG present, but I can live with that. Most other mobile users can too.
I must not end this without mentioning the Nord 2’s dual speakers, as well as the wide 4G LTE and 5G band support. OnePlus threw everything in to make sure you can almost use it anywhere.
There’s a 32MP selfie camera, generous options of 128 GB and 256 GB internal storage (there is no microSD card slot), NFC, wide Wi-Fi and GPS support, as well as some attempt at shielding the internals from water and dust (though it does not have an official IP rating).
In summary, the Nord2 5G provides premium flagship performance, photography, storage, and battery, 5G connectivity, among other features, with a few compromises, all at prices that are hundreds of dollars below what you will pay for a proper premium flagship.
It is an impressive smartphone that excites me and should excite any value lover. The 8 GB/128 GB variant sells for about $500 (converted). The device isn’t officially available in the United States. If you want the 12 GB/256 GB trim, be ready to spend about $675.
The $500 price tag on the 8 GB RAM variant is extremely juicy and easily makes it my best budget phone of the year.
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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.