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OnePlus Nord 2 vs OnePlus 9R (2021): Which Smartphone Is Better?

Popular around the world, OnePlus has proven to be a worthy alternative over big brands like Apple and Samsung. Its expanding catalog, after all, boasts premium phones at half the price of the competition. The latest addition to its lineup is the OnePlus Nord 2, a mid-range device with flagship-tier features. However, it comes on the heels of a similarly positioned but slightly more expensive OnePlus 9R. With almost similar specs, which one is a better purchase? Read our comparison below to find out.

OnePlus Nord 2 vs OnePlus 9R Comparison Chart

ModelOnePlus Nord 2 5GOnePlus 9R
 OnePlus 9R 5G Dual LE2100 256GB 12GB RAM Factory Unlocked (GSM Only | No CDMA - not Compatible with...
PriceCheck at Amazon UKCheck at Amazon
Display6.43″ Fluid AMOLED display6.55″ Fluid AMOLED display
Screen Refresh Rate90Hz120Hz
Resolution2400 x 1080 pixels 410ppi, 20:9 ratio2400 x 1080 pixels 402 PPI, 20:9 ratio
Operating SystemAndroid 11, OxygenOS 11.3Android 11, OxygenOS 11.3
ProcessorMediaTek Dimensity 1200-AIQualcomm Snapdragon 870
RAM6GB/8GB/12GB8GB/12GB
Storage128GB/256GB28GB/256GB
Camera SystemRear: 50MP f/1.9 (main),
8MP f/2.3 (ultrawide),
2MP f/2.4 (mono)

Front: 32MP f/2.45
Rear: 48MP f/1.7(wide), 16MP f/2.2 (ultrawide), 5MP f/2.4 (macro), 2MP f/2.4 (mono)

Front: 16 MP f/2.4
ConnectivityWi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, USB Type-C 2.0Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, USB Type-C 3.1
5GYesYes
Fast ChargingYesYes
3.5mm JackNoNo
Battery4500mAh, 65W fast charging4500mAh, 65W fast charging
Dimensions6.26 x 2.88 x 0.33 in6.34 x 2.92 x 0.33 in
Weight189g189g

Design and Display

The OnePlus 9R has a better frame and display compared to the OnePlus Nord 2.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G vs OnePlus 9R Design Comparison
Unless you’re looking at their rear camera modules, the OnePlus Nord 2 can be mistaken for the 9R.

At first glance, it’s hard to see the difference between the OnePlus Nord 2 and the 9R. Both phones come with a flat display and a hole-punch camera in the top-left corner. Unless you’re meticulous, the thinner bottom chin of the OnePlus 9R may not be as noticeable, too. The cheaper Nord 2, however, is made from a plastic frame. With the 9R, you’re getting a more premium and polished device crafted from aluminum.

OnePlus shares that the glass front of the Nord 2 and 9R are built from Gorilla Glass 5. This should be enough to protect them against damage from drops. At 0.33 inches thin, it’s easy for them to slip from your hands. The phones are not water-resistant, too, and lack any IP certification. So like with other devices, getting an impact-resistant case is the best way to care for the Nord 2 and 9R.

When it comes to the display, the OnePlus 9R has a slightly larger screen real estate than the Nord 2. It also boasts a higher screen-refresh rate and screen-to-body ratio, although the aspect ratio for both is set at 20:9. The 9R also supports an always-on display and enjoys an advanced color-profile picker. Similar to other Android flagships, the OnePlus Nord 2 and 9R both feature in-display fingerprint sensors.

You can get the OnePlus Nord 2 in gray, blue, and green. Meanwhile, the OnePlus 9R is available in black and blue models.

Cameras

The OnePlus Nord 2’s triple-camera setup fares well against the quad-camera system of the OnePlus 9R.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G vs OnePlus 9R Camera
Both OnePlus phones — Nord 2 (left) and 9R (right) — carry noticeably large rear camera modules.

If the display and build are comparable, then the rear camera modules of the phone set them apart. With the OnePlus Nord 2, you’re getting a triple-camera system. At the heart of the setup is a 50MP main camera (wide) with the new Sony sensor and optical image stabilization (OIS). It’s also accompanied by an 8MP telephoto lens and a 2MP mono lens.

On the other hand, the OnePlus 9R features a quad-camera array. Taking cues from its predecessor — the OnePlus 9 — the 9R boasts a 48MP main camera with OIS. Users also get a 16MP ultrawide camera and a 2MP mono lens. Where the 9R has the edge is the addition of a 5MP macro lens with f/2.4. This should make for better close-up photos.

Selfie lovers, however, will appreciate the OnePlus Nord 2’s front camera more. The 32MP snapper delivers more detailed images compared to the 16MP lens of the 9R. Nonetheless, both devices will record video at 1080p at 30fps when using their front camera modules. Their main camera systems, on the other hand, will record 4K at 30fps, with the 9R also offering the option to record at 60fps.

Performance

When it comes to performance, the cheaper OnePlus Nord 2 runs close with the OnePlus 9R.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G vs OnePlus 9R Performance
The OnePlus Nord 2’s gallery (left) and the 9R’s video recording interface (right).

Both the OnePlus Nord 2 and 9R run on the OxygenOS based on Android 11. The Nord 2, however, is the first OnePlus device that’s also based on ColorOS — the operating system of Chinese telecommunications giant OPPO. While the hybrid OS sounds confusing, in practice, the merge aims to benefit OnePlus devices more. With the combination of two Android customizations, OnePlus hopes to provide faster software updates.

Although OnePlus isn’t dropping Qualcomm anytime soon, the Nord 2 does come with Mediatek’s Dimensity 1200 chipset instead. Depending on location, you can get either 6GB, 8GB, or 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. On the OnePlus 9R, you’re getting the Snapdragon 865. This is paired with either 8GB or 12 GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. Unfortunately, there is no microSD slot on both phones for expanded storage.

Based on single and multi-core processor tests, both 8-core processors run close. The 9R will have the advantage when it comes to gaming simply because most developers optimize games for Snapdragon processors. But the Dimensity 1200 does give the Nord 2 a 6% higher CPU clock speed and better battery performance.

Battery and Availability

While the OnePlus Nord 2 has a better battery and charging performance than the OnePlus 9R, the device is only available in the UK, continental Europe, and India.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G vs OnePlus 9R Battery
The OnePlus Nord 2 in Blue Haze (left) and the OnePlus 9R in Carbon Black (right).

Speaking of battery, you’re getting similar 4500mAH non-removable Li-Po packs on both. The OnePlus Nord 2, however, will give you slightly longer screen time. This is in part due to the lower screen refresh rate and the Mediatek chipset’s optimization.

When it comes to charging, both devices support 65W fast charging. Again, the Nord 2 has the edge. OnePlus’ new phone can be fully charged in 30 minutes, while the 9R takes 39 minutes.

Unlike other flagship devices, it’s good to know both the Nord 2 and 9R still come with a power adaptor in the box. You also get your standard paperwork and SIM-tray ejector. Plus, OnePlus already includes screen protectors with your devices.

The biggest drawback with the OnePlus Nord 2, however, is availability. According to the company, the OnePlus Nord 2 will only be sold in the UK, continental Europe, and India.

Verdict

The OnePlus Nord 2 is a compelling purchase over the OnePlus 9R, if only it’s more readily available in North America.

OnePlus Nord 2

The value-for-money purchase

OnePlus 9R

The more available budget flagship

It’s easy to assume that a lower-priced device will pale in comparison to a more expensive option. In the case of the ‘budget’ OnePlus Nord 2 and 9R, however, it’s the opposite. While the OnePlus 9R has a solid build and set of features, the OnePlus Nord 2 comes close in terms of performance. Yes, you will miss out on an always-on display and a higher screen refresh rate. But these features don’t impact the overall user experience on the Nord 2.

If anything, it even gives it a better battery life over the 9R. That being said, the Nord 2 isn’t going to be sold in North America. If you have an account with Amazon US, you can try your luck getting the device on Amazon UK. But if the limited availability is a hassle, then the extra dollars on the 9R might be worth it.

FAQs

📌 What are the key differences between the OnePlus Nord 2 and 9R?

The OnePlus Nord 2 is a more affordable mid-range device compared to the OnePlus 9R. In addition, the Nord 2 features a MediaTek chipset instead of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon. Design-wise, the OnePlus 9R also has thinner bezels and is crafted from an aluminum frame.

📌 Does the OnePlus Nord 2 have a headphone jack?

No, the OnePlus Nord 2 doesn’t have a headphone jack.

📌 Does the OnePlus 9R support wireless charging?

The OnePlus 9R doesn’t support wireless charging. At the most, you’re just getting a 65W fast-charging option.

📌 Does the OnePlus 9R camera system have zoom capabilities?

The main camera of the OnePlus 9R uses digital instead of optical zoom.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.