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Guidelines for great creative from the world’s largest video sharing site

YouTube has recognized the difficulty brands face to create content that effectively captures their audience’s attention and have developed a very helpful and comprehensive Playbook for Creative Advertising. The playbook is a detailed guide based on a collection of learnings from some of the most successful videos and campaigns on YouTube and is a fascinating read for brands, businesses and agencies alike.

Our Video and YouTube marketing guide, for Individual and Business Members, will help you grow your business online using video content and video platforms. The guide covers the production of video content but the core focus of the guide is to help you form a strategy for using video as part of your overall marketing as well as to show you the practical steps to take for success with this fast-growing medium.

Download our Premium Resource – Video and YouTube marketing guide

Our guide shows you how to review the full opportunities from video marketing whether you are a company looking to integrate video marketing more into your campaigns or a marketing agency looking to improve your video marketing services.

Access the Video and YouTube marketing guide

Incorporating video into your marketing strategy is a big step for any sized business. Whether you’re integrating video content into your always-on activity or planning video marketing within a campaign, you want to be sure all your channels are working together efficiently and effectively.

That’s why we recommend applying the RACE Framework to structure your marketing planning in the context of your customers’ omnichannel journeys.

Structured across reach, act, convert, and engage, our framework empowers marketers to use data to track and measure their marketing channels and make smart decisions to win more customers.

The ABCDs of effective creative for YouTube





A: Attract Frontload your story arc

Regardless of the format, it’s crucial to capture the audience’s attention early on. Users have limited time and attention so it’s important to hook them quickly.

This example from US nappy brand Luvs is a great example of a story that immediately grabs your attention from the very beginning before cleverly taking you quickly and concisely through to the core brand message.

Use people and familiar faces

Featuring a person, especially someone familiar, famous and/ or friendly, at the beginning of the ad can lead to increased viewership. As humans, we’re automatically drawn to creative that features someone we can relate to and YouTube have indicated that celebrities, women, and children often have the highest impact.

B: Brand

Although standing out and grabbing attention is key, it’s essential to have clear, prominent branding within the ad. Whilst it’s important to integrate your brand within the first 5 seconds, the trick is to do so naturally so that the brand feels a part of the story rather than something separate.

It’s also worth acknowledging that how you feature your brand will depend on the brand metrics you’re looking to influence. For example, ad recall is the extent to which an ad is remembered regarding a brand, product or service, whilst brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with a particular brand of goods or services. All the tactics featured with the ‘Brand’ section (as well as the other three sections), can impact these two metrics in different ways.

Brand placement

The Zach King Tic Tac ad is a great example of making the product and brand the star of the show. It helps that the content itself is clever and fun, and in addition to this the logo features in the first five seconds and is intrinsically tied to the product throughout the ad.

C: Connect

The power of storytelling is something we’ve covered on Smart Insights previously and is one of the most effective ways of connecting with the viewer and keeping them engaged for longer, all of which is associated with a lift in brand awareness and consideration.

Create an emotional connection

Developing content that has an element of humour or suspense is associated with an increase in ad recall. In some ways, this might seem obvious but for a small brand looking to break-through this is one of the best opportunities to stand out and build awareness when up against larger opposition with established brands and deep pockets, something Dollar Shave Club proved back in 2012:

Break the fourth wall

Interacting with the viewer directly, as demonstrated in the Dollar Shave Club example above, is a great way of creating a point of difference by challenging the audience’s preconceptions. Breaking the fourth wall has been associated not only with an increase in brand lift but also an increase in engagement with the narrative, both during and after the story has ended. Here’s another classic example from Old Spice:

D: Direct

The final element in YouTube’s creative principles is concerned with what you want the viewer to do after you’ve captured their attention. This is a crucial step in digital and something not always possible with traditional video and therefore a great opportunity to signpost a next step and boost brand lift at the same time.

Use a clear call to action

YouTube’s interactive platform features enable marketers to enhance their calls-to-action within the videos and provide an easy path to continued engagement and an opportunity for viewers to take an action right from the video player.

In addition to info cards, there are also call-to-action overlays, shopping cards and end screens. You can find more information on interactive elements on Google Support.


When you’re brainstorming and crafting video concepts, remember ABCD:

Make an impact from the very start to grab the viewer’s attention, integrate the brand naturally to improve ad recall, establish a connection with good storytelling and finally use a clear CTA to drive brand lift and make it easy for viewers to take action.

Book your free 1-2-1 consultation call to discuss your options and identify opportunities for your business to grow through video, digital, or omnichannel RACE planning

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Where Do China And India Stand In Terms Of Blockchain?

China is growing its investments in Blockchain tech and India needs to catch up

Last year China launched the Blockchain Service Networks (BSN) in more than 100 cities. This was a step towards enhanced use of blockchain technology and is anticipated to reduce the cost of doing

China and Blockchain Where Does India Stand?

Last year China launched the Blockchain Service Networks (BSN) in more than 100 cities. This was a step towards enhanced use of blockchain technology and is anticipated to reduce the cost of doing blockchain-based business . Blockchain technology has gained a lot of attention in recent years. It was initially exclusively associated with cryptocurrencies and their trade. Later, blockchain showed capabilities that could be used by many industries. According to the Markets and Markets report , the global blockchain market size is estimated to reach USD39.7 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 67.3% between 2023 and 2025. This humongous growth can be a result of blockchain being successfully implemented in enhancing business processes, security, and streamlining supply chains by many industries. Blockchain uses distributed ledger technology for digital transactions , in peer-to-peer networks and connected nodes. This disruptive tech is highly accepted for its secure immutable transactional platform. Reports revealed that China has the most number of blockchain patents in the world and there are a lot of giant tech companies and cryptocurrency forms in China that are betting on blockchain technology. The country is successfully leading the race by taking blockchain technology beyond the crypto world and using it to enhance the economy. Although China has effectively banned privately held cryptocurrencies , it widely promotes digital payments, and hence the recent introduction of digital Yuan, a state-owned digital currency. The Blockchain-based Service Network is initiated by the State Information Center, UnionPay, China Mobile, and Red Date. According to a white paper released by the BSN base, it is a cross-cloud, cross-portal, cross-framework, global infrastructure network used to deploy and operate all types of blockchain applications. China has established several policies and national standards for blockchain technology. The country identifies blockchain as a significantly disruptive technology that can efficiently drive innovation and industrial transformation. Chinese financial institutions are one of the primary adopters of blockchain by leveraging its capabilities in cross-border payments, asset management, financial supply chain management, etc. Ant Group, the parent company of Alipay, launched a blockchain-powered platform for cross-border trade settlements and has been thriving in blockchain patents in recent years. China has been using blockchain to make its security networks more efficient and many companies are leveraging it for logistics management . Using blockchain in supply chain and logistics improves traceability and reduces transaction costs.Speaking to Gadgets Now , Ashok Kumar Das, Associate Professor in the Centre for Security, Theory and Algorithmic Research, IITH, Hyderabad, said that considering the tech giants betting on blockchain and the Government’s interest in driving innovation, blockchain offers great opportunities for young researchers in India. He further mentions that the research in the blockchain is largely limited to IITs and IIITs in India but might soon reach other institutes considering the wide and potential applications of blockchain. India recently released a revised bill for the regulation of crypto trade in the country. However, the Finance Minister revealed that the country is not looking forward to completely banning cryptocurrency and the technology associated with it. The government made it clear that blockchain is here to stay considering its wide use cases and capabilities. The Business Standard report quotes Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remarks on the blockchain, which goes, “A lot of fintech companies have made a lot of progress on it. We have got several presentations. Much work at the state level is happening. And, we want to take it in a big way in IFSC or Gift City in Gandhinagar.” India has been dealing with a surge in cyberattacks and security breaches in recent years, especially with the ongoing digital transformation. Blockchain can be efficiently utilized to secure networks and transactions in financial institutions. In fact, this cutting-edge technology has even proved effective in curbing the circulation of fake news. The distributed technology and transparency guaranteed by blockchain makes it an ideal tool to secure data in various industries like finance, healthcare, the insurance industry, and more. India needs to focus on research and enable innovations to keep up with other countries.

Is Developing Human Brain Cells

Exploring the ethical choices of brain cell-based AI models in the recent future

Cortical Labs believes its hybrid chips could be the key to the kinds of complex reasoning that today’s computers and AI cannot produce. Another start-up making computers from lab-grown neurons, Koniku, believes its technology will revolutionize several industries including agriculture, healthcare, military technology, and airport security. Other types of organic computers are also in the early stages of development. While silicon computers transformed society, they are still outmatched by the brains of most animals. For example, a cat’s brain contains 1,000 times more data storage than an average iPad and can use this information a million times faster. The human brain, with its trillion neural connections, is capable of making 15 quintillion operations per second.

This can only be matched today by massive supercomputers using vast amounts of energy. The human brain only uses about 20 watts of energy or about the same as it takes to power a lightbulb. It would take 34 coal-powered plants generating 500 megawatts per hour to store the same amount of data contained in one human brain in modern data storage centers. Companies do not need brain tissue samples from donors, but can simply grow the neurons they need in the lab from ordinary skin cells using stem cell technologies. Scientists can engineer cells from blood samples or skin biopsies into a type of stem cell that can then become any cell type in the human body.

People will no doubt be much more willing to donate skin cells for research than their brain tissue. One of the barriers to brain donation is that the brain is seen as linked to your identity. But in a world where we can grow mini-brains from virtually any cell type, does it make sense to draw this type of distinction? If neural computers become common, we will grapple with other tissue donation issues. In Cortical Lab’s research with Dishbrain, they found human neurons were faster at learning than neurons from mice. Might there also be differences in performance depending on whose neurons are used? Might Apple and Google be able to make lightning-fast computers using neurons from our best and brightest today? Would someone be able to secure tissues from deceased geniuses like Albert Einstein to make specialized limited-edition neural computers?

Such questions are highly speculative but touch on broader themes of exploitation and compensation. Consider the scandal regarding Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used extensively in medical and commercial research without her knowledge and consent.

Henrietta’s cells are still used in applications that generate huge amounts of revenue for pharmaceutical companies (including recently to develop COVID vaccines. The Lacks family still has not received any compensation. If a donor’s neurons end up being used in products like the imaginary Nyooro, should they be entitled to some of the profit made from those products?

As recently discussed in a study there are no evidence neurons on a dish have any qualitative or conscious experience so cannot be distressed and without pain receptors, cannot feel pain. Neurons have evolved to process information of all kinds – being left completely unstimulated, as currently done all over the world in labs, is not a natural state for a neuron. All this work does is allow neurons to behave as nature intended at their most basic level. Humans have used animals to do physical labor for thousands of years, despite often leading to negative experiences for the animals. Would using organic computers for cognitive labor be any more ethically problematic than using an ox to pull a cart? We are in the early stages of neural computing and have time to think through these issues. We must do so before products like the “Nyooro” move from science fiction to the shops.

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Developing A Test And Learn Programme

How to utilise continuous improvements and ‘big bets’ to achieve operational and strategic excellence

To drive meaningful digital transformation at scale, businesses must therefore be open to the adoption of a test and learn culture, which will enable marketers to optimise digital media activation, create first-class digital experiences and develop learning across the organisation. Much of this will be dependent on each organisation’s stage in the digital transformation journey:

Three big digital trends

The importance of developing a test and learn culture is reflected in the numerous digital trends impacting businesses today. However, I’d like to highlight three that I believe are particularly significant and should influence test and learn planning for digital marketers across all types of businesses:

‘Big data’ has grown up

The concept of ‘big data’ has been a familiar theme within the marketing world for at least the last five years, and yet with some predicting that 2023 would be the ‘year of the customer’ there has been an increased emphasis on customer-centric marketing, meaning data must be used intelligently to drive results.

Advanced analytics, better consumer profiles and the right market and customer insights are becoming essential in tying marketing campaigns together to create more integrated experiences.

Mobile continues to dominate

Source: Benedict Evans, 2023

More than half of our waking time is spent on media and much of that time is now consumed on mobile devices. Mobile is an increasingly ubiquitous presence in our lives (49% of Millennials check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up in the morning!) – we’re now in a truly ‘mobile-first’ world.

Mobile accounts for over a half of ecommerce traffic and a third of sales

More than half of Facebook’s base is mobile-only

App usage (90% of time) dominates browsers in mobile usage

As Benedict Evans from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz demonstrated last year, ‘mobile’ no longer means mobile – consumers regularly consume media on mobile devices more within the home than outside, highlighting the importance of developing a first-class mobile customer experience.

‘Content shock’ is real

Source: business2community

‘Content shock’ (coined by Mark Schaefer in 2014), is the result of consumers rejecting brand content due to exponentially increasing volumes intersecting our limited consumption capacity. Basically, people are fed up of poor quality content and are finding ways to filter this out so they can consume what really matters to them.

We can see examples of content shock in Facebook’s decision to dramatically reduce organic reach and the continuing rise of adblocking across all device types:

Source: KPCB, 2023

The average person is exposed to over 400 messages a day. Attention is at a premium and brands must respond accordingly by producing genuinely high quality, relevant content to earn this increasingly precious commodity.

Introducing a test and learn approach

Every test and learn programme will differ based on each business’s appetite to testing and their use of digital marketing in general. However one approach I’m currently adopting takes into account two aspects:

Continuous improvements – running trials to optimise day-to-day activations)

‘Big bets’ – to gain operational lessons and strategic insight to apply across the business

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter writing in HBR in 2006, successful innovators use an ‘innovation pyramid’, with several big bets at the top that get most of the investment; a portfolio of promising mid-range ideas in test stage; and a broad base of early stage ideas or incremental innovations. This concept allows ideas and influence to flow up or down the pyramid.

For the purpose of this post, I thought I’d bring this approach to life by providing examples of two areas of continuous improvements and one ‘big bet’ to demonstrate:

a) how these areas relate to the digital trends highlighted earlier in the post

b) how these areas could fit into a digital test and learn programme

The following examples are just a sample of many others that could be used and I’ve tried to keep these fairly broad so they can be applied to different businesses, small and large, across B2C and B2B.

Two areas of continuous improvement 1. Mobile optimisation

Although 2023 cannot be regarded as ‘the year of mobile’ (that came and went at least two years ago!), mobile strategies are maturing and it is essential that brands take a ‘mobile-first’ approach to meet consumer expectations. Mobile cannot be a less-than-web experience – it has to be the experience.

Source: Google, 2014

Test and learn opportunity:

Mobile has fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Consumers are more loyal to their need rather than a brand so it’s important to test being present at the right moments, e.g.:

Prompt potential consumers ‘in-store’ with targeted promotions

Provide help and guidance when it’s needed, e.g. specific searches on YouTube or Google

Reach consumers where they’re spending their time

Source: KPCB, 2023

Test and learn opportunity:

Establish a presence across multiple platforms

Source: Benedict Evans, 2023

Mobile has led to an ‘unbundling’ of the web. We now consume content across browsers and apps, although the trend is moving more and more towards native apps which could signal the death of the hyperlink.

A mobile-first approach means that mobile must be the ultimate experience, with the web becoming merely an add-on (a complete 180° shift from where this was before).

Test and learn opportunity:

Establish a presence across multiple platforms, including responsive/ adaptive design that works across desktop and mobile, as well as native mobile apps. How is your audience consuming mobile content? What channels and platforms work for them? Where are the optimisation opportunities? Mobile apps don’t work for everyone but if there is an opportunity to test without too much risk it may be worth looking into.

2. Measurement and analytics

Effective analysis and insight should underpin everything we work on as digital marketers. Without a thorough understanding of what is and isn’t performing, you will not have the right actionable insights to make correct decisions.

Establish a measurement framework

A measurement framework/ model is a way to structure your thinking, prioritise goals and organise the KPIs and metrics you’ll use to measure performance.

Avinash Kaushik is a leading thought leader on this subject and as he explains:

“The root cause of failure in most digital marketing campaigns is not the lack of creativity in the banner ad or TV spot or the sexiness of the website. It is not even (often) the people involved. It is quite simply the lack of structured thinking about what the real purpose of the campaign is and a lack of an objective set of measures with which to identify success or failure”.

Test and learn opportunity:

Before jumping into a digital campaign or project, consider creating a measurement framework to structure how all of the following work together:

Business objectives

Macro and micro goals

Key performance indicators (KPIs)



The example above shows how goals, KPIs and segments are flow from the high-level business objectives that have been set out. The key is to understand how this framework might apply to your business and test a similar approach.

Run regular A/B testing to improve relevance

A/B or multivariate testing should form a key part of your ongoing test and learn programme. By experimenting with different types of content versus a current experience across web pages, social channels and/ or apps, you’ll be able to more accurately determine which variant performs better for a given conversion or goal.

Using the data from A/B testing removes guesswork and subjectivity, giving you the confidence to make more informed, data-driven decisions.

Test and learn opportunity:

A/B testing doesn’t have to be a complex or expensive process. Start small and experiment using particular pieces of content that have generated discussion or debate internally.

If you’re testing something more experimental or risky, take ‘controlled risks’ by showing the new content to only a small proportion of the audience (e.g. 10% of traffic). As you build an understanding and confidence in your hypothesis you can begin to increase the scope of your testing ‘landscape’.

One big bet Dynamic content and personalisation

‘Big bets’ can be anything that has the potential to enhance or optimise the organisation across multiple levels. Unlike the more operational continuous improvements highlighted above, ‘big bets’ often require more planning and investment, but if successful have the potential to future-proof a business.

For this post I’ve chosen to look at dynamic content and personlisation as an example of a ‘big bet’. This is closely linked to all three of the trends highlighted at the start of the post (data, mobile and ‘content shock’) and as I’ve tried to do throughout the post, this idea can apply to large and small businesses alike.

Optimise content to drive action

The essence of personalisation is about using content that is most relevant to the audience in order to generate higher engagement and conversion. One method of doing this is to use dynamic content, essentially showing the same web page to two people but serving different content within that page based on what we know about them:

Test and learn opportunity:

First and third-party data can be used to create more relevant and compelling experiences, and iterative platform testing can be used with or alongside A/B testing tools to learn about what is/ isn’t working. Take the time to find out what type and quality of data you have and run small tests initially to optimise content for different audience groups.

Create personal video and TV experiences

Test and learn opportunity:

Source: Google, 2023

A core goal for marketers should be about producing content and communications that matter to the audience. Programmatic marketing is something we’ve covered previously, but in a nutshell it’s about enabling brands to be responsive to their audience in real-time, with highly relevant messaging and creativity. The objective is to tailor messages to the right person, at the right moment, in the right context.

Test and learn opportunity:

Depending on device, location and weather, content can be delivered programmatically to different audiences and this is something that can be tested across different campaigns.

Google offers an excellent guide to getting started with programmatic marketing, with a useful checklist of key steps:

Organise audience insights

Design compelling creative

Execute with integrated technology

Reach audiences across screens

Measure the impact


Whilst it would be both unwise and costly to carry out tests for every trend that arises, an effective test and learn programme can enable us to carry out tactical and strategic experiments to build learnings and help us understand what works for our business.

Moving Medical Advances Into Developing Nations

Moving Medical Advances into Developing Nations New agreement aims to remove licensing barriers

Photo by iStock

Boston University has added its support and signature to a pioneering statement of principles meant to help make medical breakthroughs available to people in developing countries.

The statement, signed November 9, meets an emerging BU priority, according to Ashley Stevens, BU Office of Technology Development (OTD) executive director of technology transfer and president-elect of the Association of University Technology Managers: to ensure that “drugs and vaccines that result from academic research are available affordably in the developing world soon after their approval in the developed world, not 10 or 15 years later.”

The Statement of Principles and Strategies for the Equitable Dissemination of Medical Technologies, signed by BU, Harvard, Yale, Brown, the University of Pennsylvania, Oregon Health and Science University, and the AUTM, establishes seven guidelines to follow in drawing licensing agreements with medical companies.

More institutions have signed on to the document since its release, including the National Institutes of Health and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The organizations, according to the statement, “are committed to implementing effective technology transfer strategies that promote the availability of health-related technologies in developing countries for essential medical care.” Those technologies focus on drugs and vaccinations, but include medical diagnostics and devices.

The signatories want to prevent their intellectual property rights from serving as unwitting barriers to providing health-care breakthroughs to the developing world.

The document lays out several paths toward that end. Among them, research organizations agree to seek licensing partners willing to make patenting concessions, such as agreeing not to patent products in countries where cheaper generic versions could be made or selling patented goods through a tiered-pricing system.

Medical partners who do not abide by their contract could risk losing their patent license or having it opened to competitors.

By signing the statement, research institutions also agree to develop new health-related technologies to combat diseases that afflict populations in developing nations, diseases ranging from tuberculosis and AIDS to water-borne maladies.

Andrei Ruckenstein, BU associate provost and vice president for research, says the push for universities to develop favorable licensing terms started in 2001 with lobbying efforts by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, a national student group focused on making academic inventions affordable to underserved populations.

Stevens, Gerald Keusch, a School of Public Health professor of international health and Medical Campus associate provost for global health, and Kevin Outterson, an associate professor in the School of Law, have been working on trying to implement more egalitarian licensing agreements for years. According to Stevens, BU first implemented strategies in new licenses for drug and diagnostic discoveries in October 2007.

In June 2008, Stevens and colleague April Effort, an OTD licensing associate, coauthored an article in the journal Licensing Executives Society identifying eight licensing strategies to promote global social responsibility.

Financial incentives are used to sweeten licensing deals. Companies could agree to sell their drugs at a lower cost in the developing world, while keeping prices high in places like the United States. Or, research institutions could offer to lower or eliminate their patent royalties.

But companies don’t need much pushing to enter into these new licensing agreements. “The pharmaceutical industry is moving in this direction,” Stevens says.

It’s bad press, he adds, for biomedical companies to fight against the importation of cheaper drugs to treat the poor. Some have moved toward partnering with nonprofits to develop drugs, sold their products at cost, or given away samples, partly to improve public image, partly to broaden market share.

Alex Lankowski (MED’12), a leader in the BU chapter of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, says his student group supports Stevens’ work and is thrilled by the statement’s release. In many ways, he says, it echoes UAEM’s Responsible Licensing Statement of Support.

Even so, the student group is not ready to declare its mission accomplished. “It’s unclear whether the mechanisms laid out in the document will actually achieve the ultimate goal of improving access to medicines,” Lankowski says.

He thinks research organizations should establish an oversight committee to ensure transparency and design a way to measure real-world results.

“We’re interested in seeing that our future patients actually have access to the medications that are developed at our University,” Lankowski says. “The responsibility of the physician doesn’t end at providing care to his patient.”

Leslie Friday can be reached at [email protected].

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Oneplus Nord 2 Second Opinion: Struggling To Stand Out

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The OnePlus Nord was the company’s first foray into the mid-range market. After several rather underwhelming follow-up attempts at the budget end of the market, the company is back with the mid-range OnePlus Nord 2. However, the market for affordable smartphones is more competitive than ever. The Nord 2 has its work cut out if it’s to stand out.

I definitely agree with our initial review of the phone, which you can find below, but have some additional avenues I want to explore. So let’s get into Android Authority’s OnePlus Nord 2 review second opinion.

Our verdict: OnePlus Nord 2 review — Powerful hardware, ailing imaging

Pretty much everything you want from a phone?

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

OnePlus dropped the “pretty much” from its slogan this year, claiming that the Nord 2 offers “everything you could ask for” in an affordable smartphone package. With an improved camera sensor, bigger battery, Gorilla Glass 5 protection, and super-fast 65W charging onboard, OnePlus has clearly improved on last year’s formula. Combined with a smooth 90Hz AMOLED display, Android 11 out of the box, and plenty of storage, it’s hard to argue that the Nord 2 fails to offer a well-rounded package for a mid-range price.

The 65W charger bundled in the box takes the phone from empty to full in just 31 minutes, which is as fast as the company’s flagship smartphones. It’ll also charge at 18W via USB Power Delivery. The 90Hz display is snappy and smooth for browsing and looks great when gaming. But the real speed boost with the Nord 2 comes from the new MediaTek Dimensity 1200 AI processor.

The Nord 2 offers a major performance boost over the Nord, but maximizing the chip’s potential drains the battery too fast.

So does the OnePlus Nord 2 provide absolutely everything you need? Well, it’s missing a headphone jack (a common feature at this price), although it does support AptX, AptX HD, LDAC, and AAC Bluetooth codecs. There’s no IP rating whatsoever, no HDR gaming support, and no wireless charging here either. Even so, the decent-looking 90Hz display, super-fast charging, 5G networking, and solid all-day performance will have most people’s daily use cases completely covered.

What’s perhaps more questionable are the options that OnePlus touts and then disables. The phone is clearly riding the limits of its battery life and dials back on some features as a result. More demanding gamers and multimedia enthusiasts may find that the phone doesn’t quite offer everything they’d want.

Cameras: Starting from scratch, again!

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

If there’s one thing you can guarantee about every OnePlus release, it’s that the cameras will underwhelm at launch and there’ll be some vague promise about patches to improve quality. The OnePlus Nord 2 is no different. Despite boasting the same 50MP IMX766 sensor found in the OnePlus 9’s decent wide-angle camera, the results definitely don’t live up to the quality of its more expensive sibling.

Generally speaking, the camera’s white balance is good outdoors but more hit-and-miss indoors. OnePlus hasn’t managed to match the color profile or exposure when moving between the main and wide cameras. The 50MP main camera takes 12.5MP snaps by default and captures a decent amount of detail, albeit with too much sharpening applied. The 8MP wide-angle camera is poor by virtually all standards, particularly when it comes to detail capture.

The first major problem I have with the Nord 2’s camera is oversaturation. Greens and blues in particular are pumped up to ludicrously unrealistic levels. The HDR effect, while powerful and quite effective most of the time, ends up adding an unnecessary amount of bloom and edge smudging, as does engaging the AI enhancement toggle. The second problem is a lack of dynamic range, which results in some pictures looking underexposed with clipped highlights and crushed details in the shadows. Then there’s the image clean-up, which relies far too heavily on sharpening to extract details. The results are messy even without close inspection, particularly when pushing the phone out to 3x zoom and beyond.

There are always compromises at lower price points and the OnePlus Nord 2 can deliver some reasonable photos. But compared to other phones on the market the imperfections are obvious. The camera’s saving grace is that it performs quite well in low light. Combined with OnePlus’ powerful night mode, the phone can capture some decent snaps when the lights go down, although you can often spot noise and banding from the lack of dynamic range.

Without Hassleblad, the OnePlus Nord 2 camera’s color processing is back to being bad.

I’ve taken some comparison shots with the slightly more expensive OnePlus 9 below. I think the results speak for themselves. The Nord 2 is clearly a backward step for the company’s photography processing capabilities.

Software controversy?

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The OnePlus Nord 2 runs the somewhat contentious Oxygen OS 11.3 software. I find Oxygen OS 11 perfectly serviceable, striking the right balance of useful features without feeling bloated. It’s definitely a departure from the stock-like approach of previous years, but the skin looks appealing and is hugely customizable, Zen Mode is as good as ever, and OnePlus’ apps all do everything you’d expect of them.

But OnePlus’ closer partnership with OPPO has raised further eyebrows about the future direction of the software. OnePlus previously confirmed to Android Authority that the Oxygen OS skin would continue to be used for global devices, although that doesn’t rule out Color OS and Oxygen OS becoming increasingly similar in the near future. A few features from Color OS have already made their way into Oxygen OS, such as the camera apps and settings. This is definitely something to consider regarding future updates, as we can’t be entirely sure just how close the phones from these two companies will become.

OnePlus improves its update promise for the Nord 2, but it’s far from the best in the business.

With regards to updates, the Nord 2 will receive two major Android updates and three years of security updates. That’s fairly standard and obviously better than the single upgrade provided to the OnePlus Nord N10 and N100. It still falls short of OnePlus’ flagship promise, though, as well as rivals Google and Samsung, the latter of which has promised four years of OS updates for all its post-2023 handsets, including mid-rangers. OnePlus isn’t quite keeping up with the competition here.

OnePlus and OPPO integration: Reasons to be nervous and excited

OnePlus Nord 2

The OnePlus Nord 2 follows up the company’s mid-range debut from 2023. The phone builds on last year’s formula with a new design, faster processor, and the 50MP camera sensor from the higher-end OnePlus 9 series.

See price at Amazon



See price at OnePlus

See price at Amazon

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