OnePlus Nord 2 vs Nord CE vs OnePlus 9: which one has the better camera?

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Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The OnePlus Nord 2 seriously impressed us with its combination of excellent specifications and affordable price. With its vibrant 6.43 inch display, this Android 11 phone packs a powerful MediaTek processor, blazingly fast charging, and lightning-fast 5G connectivity. Not bad for a phone that costs just £ 399 (around $ 540 or AU $ 750, although it’s not available in the US or Australia).

But it is the cameras that particularly interest me. The Nord 2 has a 50-megapixel main sensor and an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens. To see how it compares, I went out to take some pictures with the cheapest North CE and the most expensive Oneplus 9.

We fall for it.

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OnePlus Nord2.

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OnePlus Nord CE.

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OnePlus 9.

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In this first test, the Nord 2 did a terrific job, producing an image full of detail thanks to this 50 megapixel sensor. The North CE has lifted the shadows a bit more, resulting in a less contrasting shot that I personally don’t like as much. It’s still not bad. The image of the OnePlus 9, however, is extremely vivid, looking almost poisonous to green leaves. I find it a bit too much and actually prefer the North 2 shot here over the three.

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OnePlus Nord2.

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OnePlus Nord CE.

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OnePlus 9.

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The story is much the same here. The Nord 2 produced a more punchy and vibrant shot than the Nord CE, which looks a bit drab and washed out in comparison. The Nord 2 also offers greater clarity in fine detail, thanks to the higher resolution. The OnePlus 9 increased the color to 11 again, resulting in an extremely vibrant photo overall. Your preferences may differ, but I again prefer the more natural tones of the North 2.

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OnePlus Nord2.

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OnePlus Nord CE.

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OnePlus 9.

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In my eyes, this is a win for both Nord phones, as the OnePlus 9’s shot has a lot more contrast and deeper shadows, which made the pastry side facing the camera incredibly dark. While the Nord CE is the brightest, I prefer the overall tones and contrast of the Nord 2 shot.

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OnePlus Nord 2, wide angle lens.

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OnePlus Nord CE, wide angle lens.

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OnePlus 9, wide angle lens.

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With wide-angle lenses enabled on all three phones, the OnePlus 9 is a clear victory here. Its shot is vibrant, crisp, and its solid grip on HDR means the vivid blue sky seen through the roof remains completely under control. In contrast, the North 2’s shot is a bit more washed out in the sky, with even the cheapest North CE managing to keep control over the highlights.

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OnePlus Nord 2, wide angle lens.

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OnePlus Nord CE, wide angle lens.

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OnePlus 9, wide angle lens.

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The wide North CE lens performed less well here, with a lot of blurring visible as it combats the bright skies. The Nord 2 shot kept this much more under control, but once again it was the OnePlus 9 that got the most balanced and vibrant picture here.

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OnePlus Nord 2, night mode.

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OnePlus Nord CE, night mode.

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OnePlus 9, night mode.

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To test each phone’s night mode capabilities, I set up a small still life scene in an almost completely dark room. All three phones did a great job of capturing loads of light, to the point that none of them really looked like night mode footage. The North CE is the weakest, with a darker shot, a bluer color cast, and less fine detail captured. The Nord 2 is decent, with a brighter look and more natural tones, but the OnePlus 9 has the most beautiful and crisp night mode of the three.

Which camera is the best?

Considering its higher price tag, it’s no surprise that the OnePlus 9 takes superior images in wide and night mode on all three phones. However, I found it so heavy with its contrast and saturation with images taken from its standard lens that I mostly preferred the look of the much more affordable OnePlus Nord 2. It’s quite the victory for a phone that OnePlus itself has called a “flagship killer” – it’s certainly a big fight against the company. own flagship.

While shots from the North CE are generally good for the price, there’s a noticeable drop in quality compared to its more expensive siblings, so it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re shopping with on a budget but also want a great camera experience. While image quality can be subjective, the Nord 2 offers a real compromise in performance and price that is worth considering even when compared to its high-end sibling.

Read more: OnePlus 9 Pro’s Hasselblad camera is great, but still needs some work

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