OnePlus Nord 2 5G OnePlus Nord 2 5G

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OnePlus Nord 2 5G: Rekindling an old flame

The one you’ll always go back to

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It’s been three years since I last held and spent significant time with a OnePlus phone. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long probably because we’ve been stuck indoors for over a year now, but it has and I’m pretty excited to be back in OnePlus’ arms. Specifically, the OnePlus Nord 2 5G.

In the last three years, OnePlus’ reputation has taken a bit of a dive. Once touted as the champion of tech bros who saw the brand as a cool alternative to the iPhones and Samsungs of the world, OnePlus has since gone on a new direction. With its merger with the other BBK Company OPPO, the message that echoes in the annals of tech twitter and socials is that its “OPPOfication” is ultimately a bad thing.

But that’s a topic for another article. For now, we’re looking at one of the results of this new direction — the Nord. As the company marketed it, Nord is supposed to be a return to form for OnePlus. It’s a smartphone that doesn’t compete with the flagships. Rather, it’s everything that OnePlus has always promised — a capable but more affordable phone so that people don’t feel like they settled.

Here’s a quick look

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

It looks clean as ever in this Blue Haze colorway. It says blue but it really looks more like teal in person. The phone also comes in Gray Sierra in the Philippines and Green Wood in the parts of the world.

The camera module is easily noticeable

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

That’s a 50MP, f/1.9 wide angle main sensor along with an 8MP, f/2.3 ultrawide angle sensor, and a 2MP, f/2.4 monochrome lens. We’ll get to the samples later.

Sound mode slider and power button

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

The sound mode slider has been a staple for OnePlus phones. It’s a convenient way to switch from Ring, Vibrate, and Silent modes. Just right underneath it is the power button. The volume rockers are on the left side of the phone.

Usual ports at the bottom

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

At the bottom are the usuals — speaker grille, USB-C port and the SIM card tray. The OnePlus Nord 2 5G supports dual nano SIM cards.

Glass and plastic build

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

The phone has a glass and plastic build. That’s Gorilla Glass 5 for the front and back with a plastic frame. This helps make it feel a little more premium than most other phones in its price range. But the glass back is slippery AF.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

Thankfully, OnePlus included a clear jelly case in the box. There’s also a slight pattern to it that adds a little bit to the design. I certainly recommend using the OnePlus Nord 2 with a case to avoid the risk of it slipping out everywhere like how you let your ex slip away.

Breathing Oxygen again

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

The one thing that really makes me want to keep coming back to OnePlus is OxygenOS. Now based on Android 11 and on Version 11.3, the OS is still as clean and snappy as ever.

There was news a couple of months back that it was merging with OPPO’s ColorOS. I’ve used a handful of OPPO phones in the last three years and can say it’s ColorOS that really took plenty of inspiration from OnePlus.

The two are nearly identical now but OxygenOS comes with less native (bloatware) apps and its animations, while subtle, still make it seem like a smoother OS overall.

Spending time day-to-day 

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

Daily life with the OnePlus Nord 2 5G is nothing short of enjoyable. It’s a pretty good size with its 6.43” display. Not too big, not too small. Just right.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

On lazier work days, I usually start by browsing through my emails. Marking as read the unimportant ones, and immediately replying to those that need an urgent response.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

After switching over to my laptop for work, I usually have the phone in hand to check socials and get a brief reprieve from the worries of the job. That means watching a few clips on TikTok, seeing what’s going on in stan Twitter, and occasionally visiting crush’s IG profile.

That’s about my normal usage day-to-day. Initially, I thought the 4500mAh battery drained a little too quickly. But as the days went on, the battery consumption became steady, lasting me a day or a day and a half before I juice up.

Charging the phone isn’t a hassle. It supports up to 65W charging. Yes, it comes with a charger in the box, but I used a different 65W charger and I still get the promised 1-100 percent in 30 minutes, or at least that rate of charging.

Media play

Naturally, you’ll drain the battery longer with more media play. I don’t really play a lot of games on my phone but for every review, I do take time to go a few rounds on Call of Duty: Mobile.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

What I noticed is the phone heats up rather quickly. I could already feel the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 5G pumping heat after just three rounds of multiplayer battles. It never gets too uncomfortably hot but it’s another reason to suggest using this with the case on.

Video viewing is pretty great too. As mentioned earlier, the screen is a decent size and is perfect for watching quick clips on YouTube like this TWICE JIHYO x Cosmopolitan Behind the Scenes on YouTube.

OnePlus Nord 2 5G

The notch housing the 32MP front facing camera is on the upper left hand side when held upright and on the lower left side when in landscape mode. It’s a nice spot since it’s barely noticeable and is a spot you’ll likely cover with your hands anyway.

A pleasant surprise for the eyes

Since I already mentioned the front facing camera, let’s dive right into the camera samples starting with some selfies.

Pardon my face, I really dislike taking selfies, but couldn’t help but do so on the OnePlus Nord 2 5G. The one on the left is a regular selfie while on the right side is one taken with portrait mode.

Love the implementation of the bokeh here. It looks natural and I don’t look like some weird sticker slapped onto the background. It is worth noting that this was taken under fantastic natural light. I tried taking some at night but the results I wasn’t too happy with. Those samples, though, aren’t for public consumption. Just take my word for it.

1X, 2X, 5X

The 50MP main camera is pretty outstanding and I was surprised at how good some of the photos came out despite me zooming in. Just look at the samples below:

1X

2X

5X

The ability to zoom and still retain a fair amount of detail can be pretty useful as demonstrated in the samples above.

The portrait mode on the main camera looked pretty good too. Although I can’t say my model was too eager to be photographed.

Most of these were taken with AI assist turned off. Sometimes they are enough. Other times you get a more dull looking image — which is actually better for post processing. But if you want something that already pops, just go ahead and toggle the AI button on.

You can also play around with filters built into the camera if you’re not keen on post processing.

The wide angle camera, despite having less megapixel count than the main shooter, is still pretty serviceable. Here’s a side-by-side shot of the main and ultrawide cameras.

Fantastic at night

What really stood out to me is how good its night mode is. I took shots of a couple of feline friends and they came out better than I hoped.

These shots look fantastic and retain plenty of detail despite the relatively low lightsource. I swear it did not look this bright in real life. Here are a few more night shots.

Is the OnePlus Nord 2 5G your GadgetMatch?

The first OnePlus I owned was the OnePlus 3T. It cost about the same as this version of OnePlus Nord 2 5G that I reviewed. That’s PhP 21,999 (around US$ 438) for the 8GB/128GB variant. There’s also a 12GB/256GB variant that retails for PhP 25,999 (around US$ 498).

It’s a sweet spot of a price for something that offers wonderful performance with surprisingly good cameras. I keep telling most people that nobody really “needs” a flagship. At least, not in 2021. The only feature I missed from flagships is the wireless charging, but I can live without that, just like most people.

I was worried about OnePlus because of all the negative chatter online. But using the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, I was reminded of everything I loved about OnePlus. A clean UI, a capable daily companion, and now with cameras that are a joy to use. Plus, the logo is still kind of cool.

The OnePlus Nord 2 5G has sparked my affection for OnePlus once again. It certainly is my GadgetMatch, and I can confidently say it can just as easily be yours too.

Computers

Apple M2 Mac mini Review

More Affordable, More Powerful

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Apple silently revealed the 2023 M2 Mac mini to the world.

Back in 2005, the Mac mini G4 was the cheapest Mac you can buy for US$ 499.

Almost 18 years after, the Mac mini still is the cheapest Mac at just US$ 599.

That’s still a lot of savings versus buying a US$ 1299 iMac.

The biggest difference? The newest Mac mini runs two of the most powerful chips right now — the M2 and M2 Pro.

But is it actually the right Mac for you?

Watch our Apple M2 Mac mini review now!

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Gaming

Forspoken review: Outspoken with little to speak of

Wait for a sale

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Forspoken

It doesn’t take a lot to create a decent roleplaying game. All you need is a fish-out-of-water character, a vast open map, and a seemingly endless list of objectives. Though it has all three, Forspoken struggles to keep up with its pretenses as a Western roleplaying game.

First, the good

Credit to where it’s due, Forspoken is a fun game for the first few sections. Exploring the incredibly huge map with magical parkour is enjoyable. Eclipsed only by Elden Ring’s Torrent, magic parkour is one of the most innovative ways to quickly traverse large distances, especially after learning more advanced techniques.

Likewise, fighting balanced enemies with limited powers provides enough of a challenge to keep players on their toes in Athia. Neither the player nor the first enemies feel overpowered.

Unfortunately, the game’s novelty quickly evaporates after you figure out that you have to repeat the same motions dozens upon dozens of times. Forspoken’s map is much larger than it ever should have been. Though abundant in number, every point of interest is separated by large distances, some platforming challenges, and a battle sequence. The greater map is empty. Do this over and over, and the game gets stale quick. With adequate rewards, this shouldn’t be a problem, but Forspoken also suffers from a communication issue.

A communication issue

For most roleplaying games, completing an objective on the map usually nets palpable rewards for the player: a significant experience boost, new skills, new gear, or a bag of loot. An open-world game necessitates a lot of exploring. Even if a game is repetitive, earning substantial rewards is satisfying, at least. Forspoken does not have this — not in an easily discernible way, at least.

Treasure chests, which account for most of the points of interest on the map, reward players with a litany of crafting materials. Most of which will go unused because the game doesn’t easily tell players how to use them. After a dozen hours of collecting materials, I had a wealthy cache of each ingredient to make practically anything. Even then, I had little idea where each one went.

The map’s major rewards — new cloaks, new nail arts, and experience — also do little to explain how Frey improves with each completed objective. Clearing out an enemy camp, for example, rewards players with +1 magic. The game does not tell you how much damage that conveys. Certainly, after completing a few of these, Frey feels stronger, but it’s not easy to see how much stronger, especially when most enemies are bullet sponges with absurd health pools anyway.

Plus, these don’t even scratch the surface of objectives wherein the main reward is literally just a lore dump you have to read from a menu.

Forspoken

Difficulty shouldn’t always mean more enemies

Another issue with clearing out Athia’s large map is how Forspoken handles difficulty. Though there are options to adjust difficulty, the game relies on a limited bag of tricks to make it more difficult for players: increasing enemy health and quantity. In moderation, relying on this strategy works. However, Forspoken does this to an obnoxious level.

Prepare to fight five mini-bosses in one encounter for a lore entry. What compounds this issue more is an insane enemy health pool which causes encounters to last a lot longer than they should. One mini-boss encounter took me 15 minutes, even with appropriately leveled gear and the right spells.

Because of the sheer number of enemies, an encounter can stun-lock Frey for an absurd amount of time. The player can hardly prevent this since it relies on chance. Despite offering a wide array of moves, the risk of knockbacks shoehorn players into a slow run-and-gun tactic (which might not even play into an enemy’s weaknesses), instead of using each ability to the max.

On paper, Forspoken’s combat offers a fluid way to take down enemies by seamlessly switching between spells and moving through the battlefield with magic parkour. Unfortunately, an imbalance in enemy strategies bogs the game down in prolonged sequences that often reward players with only middling boosts.

Forspoken

A lack of optimization

For a game released on modern hardware, Forspoken took a while to launch. The game was delayed a few times. Given how delays often work, you’d think that it would release in a fairly optimized state. It’s not.

Though I haven’t hit major game-breaking bugs, there were a number of performance dips throughout the game. Even on performance-focused settings, framerates dropped to a standstill when there were high particle effects on screen. Frey constantly clipped through the terrain and found herself stuck on finnicky edges (which sometimes required reloading from previous saves).

The game is also dragged down by numerous cutscenes. Though not a bug per se, it’s not a great sign of optimization that the game has to pause for a cutscene just to show enemies arriving. For a game featuring fluid movement and combat, Forspoken often takes players out of the action by pausing for unnecessary cutscenes.

Forspoken

Better on sale

Overall, Forspoken is persistently flawed. However, amid the game’s shortcomings, the title still has an exciting combat and movement system. Plus, if you disregard the tedious open world, Forspoken’s linear story, featuring the wide range of abilities, are enjoyable. My interest always bounces back after beating one of the game’s main bosses.

Still, it’s hard to call Forspoken a game worthy of its AAA price tag. It might be better to wait for a discount.

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Computers

MSI Summit E16 Flip review: Creator on the go

A plethora of ways to be as productive and creative as possible

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We all love a good 2-in-1 device that gives us everything we need all in one go. From portability to productivity, devices like these truly bring out the best in everyone no matter what kind of use case you throw at it. Such is the case for MSI, a brand notably known for gaming hardware but has their fair share of productivity-focused laptops, as well.

One such 2-in-1 device under MSI’s portfolio is the MSI Summit E16 Flip, complete with hardware and features for the more well-rounded user out there. With a rather slim form factor, the device would ideally mix both portability and productivity in one. Also, it comes with some external hardware that elevates the productivity just a bit further, as well.

With all these in mind, is the MSI Summit E16 Flip a worthy option for all your productivity needs?

Performing above expectations

The MSI Summit E16 Flip performs rather fantastically for any given situation; whether you’re working or watching, it has the hardware to keep up. Inside this machine is a 12th generation Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM — a standard for most productivity-laden devices. Most applications run smoothly on this device, which is expected as a daily driver for most tasks.

It also comes with a 16:10, QHD+ anti-glare display, which does provide a bigger canvas for multitasking with multiple windows open. This IPS touch display is quite bright and color-accurate, especially at peak brightness and in broad daylight. Whether you’re working during the day or watching movies at night, this device is perfect for these activities.

Gaming and creating on the go

Much like all other MSI laptops, the MSI Summit E16 Flip comes with a dedicated NVIDIA RTX 3050Ti GPU inside. Although not as powerful as oher mobile GPUs, this one packs a punch for a good balance of gaming performance with high quality graphics. When throwing in Esports titles, the device poured in high frame rates suited for competitive play.

Of course, a powerful GPU also enables greater performance when editing photos and videos in high quality, as well. This is also helped out by the display having a 165Hz refresh rate with a 1ms response rate, so you don’t miss out on any out of place pixels. From our tests, render times for HD videos were decent enough — about 2 minutes for a 15-second video with many visual elements.

A pen and large display for your notes

Part of the package for the MSI Summit E16 Flip is the addition of the MSI Pen for those who prefer a pen over a mouse/trackpad. This additional accessory links up quite quickly, and lasts for more than a day on a full charge. Also, it comes with a few magnetized areas so it sticks to the side of the laptop or the top of the display for ease of access.

Ideally, you’d need something like the MSI Pen if you’re more into drawing illustrations or taking down handwritten notes — and it shows. From legible handwriting to brush strokes, the device was able to pick up on these inputs well. It even supports other Windows gestures like zoom, drag, and multi-select — essentially replicating the wide trackpad.

Although, from our usage of the device, the display has this slight problem with rejecting palms on top of it. While writing with the MSI Pen, it is natural to rest your palm somewhere on the display yet even inputs from that get picked up. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but something to be wary of.

Lasts decently long for consistent productivity

Longevity is another thing the MSI Summit E16 Flip provides, specifically on the battery side of things. Throughout our usage of the device, on normal usage, it lasts around 10-11 hours which is pretty decent for the hardware. Accounting for higher quality videos playing, the device lasted for 9-10 hours on average.

When gaming full time or even rendering higher quality videos, the battery does take a hit, as expected. For full time video rendering, it drained its battery after three and a half hours on average, while gaming cut it down to around two to three hours.

Although, if you need to get back into your productivity workflow, the MSI Summit E16 Flip restores its battery quickly with the charger it comes with. On average, charging the device took around two hours from nothing to full, which should put you back in action.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Starting PhP 130,999, the MSI Summit E16 Flip has everything you need in a 2-in-1 device when you’re on the move. From the hardware to the accessories, it’s a well-rounded machine designed for the multihyphenated or those who work and play hard. Also, its overall design makes it a bit easier to bring around.

If money isn’t entirely an issue, this laptop is one great upgrade option out there both as a work machine and a creator hub. Accessory-wise, the MSI Pen should be on your list of must-haves when purchasing this device, in case a mouse doesn’t suit your liking.

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