My OnePlus Nord 2 review will be live at some point this week. As I am quite impressed with the camera, in relation to the price of the phone, I think it deserves a post dedicated to the camera. At the very least it gives me a page to dump all the photos on rather than in the main review.
OnePlus Nord 2 Camera Specification – A flagship sensor on a £400 phone
A quick overview of the camera specification:
- 50 MP Sony IMX766, f/1.9, 24mm 1/1.56″, 1.0µm with OIS
- 8 MP, f/2.3, 119˚ Ultra Wide
- 2 MP, f/2.4, Mono Lens
- 32M Sony IMX615 Front Camera
The 50 MP Sony IMX766 is the interesting camera while the others are relatively generic. The 50 MP Sony IMX766 is used on the OPPO Find X3 Pro, the Find X3 Neo (my personal phone and favourite phone this year), Realme GT Master Explorer and the Honor Magic 3. It is also the ultra-wide-angle sensor on the OnePlus 9 Pro and OP9.
It is, therefore, the cheapest phone on the (western) market that uses this sensor.
OnePlus Nord 2 vs OPPO Find X3 Neo – Should be the same
With OnePlus merging OxygenOS with Oppo’s ColorOS the Nord 2 and Find X3 Neo are effectively running the same primary camera hardware and using the same camera software.
The big differences are that the more expensive Find X3 Neo also has a 13MP optical lens and a larger 16MP ultrawide lens.
The OnePlus Nord 2 then uses the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI chipset, which has been custom tweaked for OnePlus to offer superior AI processing. The OPPO uses last years flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 865.
In theory, the 50 MP Sony IMX766 should offer about the same performance, but there is quite a bit of difference in some shots. In particular, the nighttime performance is very different.
I am not sure if this is OnePlus using different camera optimisations or if it is due to the AI performance of the MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI.
OnePlus Nord 2 vs OPPO Find X3 Neo – Night mode comparison
The following photos are not particularly good, but they show a striking difference in low light performance.
The photos are taken at 5 am with the sun thinking about coming up and some bright street lights.
The OnePlus in night mode ramps up the brightness with an ISO15868 giving the impression of much more light, it reminds me of how Huawei handled a lot of night scenarios with the P30 Pro and P40 Pro. The OPPO keeps things lower with an ISO of 6253.
Even when shooting in the normal mode, the OnePlus has the ISO set to 23000 while the OPPO is 2890.
Both cameras perform well in low light, the OPPO definitely seems more capable of handling very low light, but in most low light scenarios, I actually preferred just using the normal photo mode, which provided a more natural appearance.
OnePlus Nord 2 AI Enhancements
With the AI switched on, the OnePlus can be quite aggressive with it, which is good for people like me that are useless at photography.
In one of the below photos, I was trying to take a generic photo of a new Spy themed cocktail bar. Instead, the phone decided to focus on my birth mother taking off her bag, adding a bokeh effect elsewhere. The end result is much more artistic than I am capable of.
I have been very impressed with the primary camera of the OnePlus Nord 2. Few phones at this price can compete with it. As much as I love the OPPO Find X3 Neo, the UK price is a bit steep at £599 (it launched at £699).
When I expressed my opinion about the Nord 2 value for money on Twitter, some users were quick to criticise it, saying the Google Pixel 4a (or 4a 5G) would be a better option due to its excellent camera performance. I have not personally used the Pixel 4a, but I appreciate that the camera performance is very highly regarded. However, apart from the camera being good and excellent software support, the Pixel struggles to offer much competition elsewhere. In particular, the chipset is considerably slower, has slower storage, a smaller battery, and slower charging. So, my personal opinion is that the OnePlus Nord 2 offers better value with a much more rounded package. Of course, both the Pixel phones are getting a bit old, and the new Pixel 6 models may change that, but they will likely be premium priced.