OnePlus is known for creating some of the best limited edition phones in the industry; the Chinese manufacturer partnered with Disney for the OnePlus 5T Star Wars and OnePlus 6 Avengers Edition, and then switched gears to team up with Formula 1 outfit McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren and OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren.
For 2021, the brand is leveraging another beloved franchise for a limited-edition variant of the Nord 2. OnePlus is partnering with Bandai Namco to introduce the OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition, which is one of its most ambitious efforts yet.
The Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition is set to launch soon, and ahead of its debut, I had an email interaction with Oliver Zhang — who oversees OnePlus's product portfolio — to talk about what the company is doing to differentiate the limited edition model. Zhang noted that OnePlus's special edition products have to deliver in two areas: they should meet the "signature Fast and Smooth experience" that the company is known for, and the product should be "refreshing, exciting, and memorable."
With the Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition, OnePlus is looking to deliver on those two objectives. While all of OnePlus's limited edition products had a standout design and exclusive software features, it's clear that a lot of attention went into the PAC-MAN variant. For one thing, Zhang says that it is the first OnePlus phone to feature a "gamified" UI.
"OnePlus deeply customized the hardware and software of the OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition, infusing it with endless fun and entertainment from the classic PAC-MAN arcade game. The OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition is the first OnePlus phone with a gamified user experience at its core. We hope users will be as excited to delve into this phone as they were when they played PAC-MAN for the first time," said Zhang.
This software customization includes custom OxygenOS icons based on retro video games, unique static and live wallpapers and animations, the PAC-MAN 256 game pre-installed out of the box, a unique camera filter, and a lot more. "The OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition takes software customization to the next level with reimagined OxygenOS icons inspired by lo-fi video games, custom static, and dynamic wallpapers, along with custom animations, and even a custom camera filter," notes Zhang.
"In addition, the OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition also comes with PAC-MAN 256 pre-installed and a host of challenges baked into the system software that, once completed, unlock an array of exclusive PAC-MAN content. Finally, the OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition comes with its very own story depicting PAC-MAN's journey into the OnePlus universe."
It's not just the software where OnePlus is differentiating the Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition. The phone sports a unique design with a "dual film color, material, and finish (CMF)" that integrates PAC-MAN elements into the body, leading to a glow-in-the-dark back that outlines the PAC-MAN maze in neon.
"We paired OnePlus's signature design style with PAC-MAN elements from the arcade masterpiece to produce a rear cover that's elegant and entertaining at the same time. Turn off the lights, and the entire back of the device glows in the dark, revealing the classic, nostalgic PAC-MAN maze in neon with OnePlus Nord elements," said Zhang.
As is often the case with OnePlus's limited edition products, you'll find hidden Easter eggs throughout the interface, and Zhang said that it was a collaborative effort between OnePlus software teams in various countries to deliver the software customization. OnePlus global — including teams in China, India, and Europe — led the efforts on the custom icons, backgrounds, and animations, and the Indian software unit delivered the hidden challenges and Easter eggs.
As for the hardware itself, the Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Edition should have the same innards as the standard model, and that's a good thing; you get a 90Hz AMOLED panel, MediaTek's excellent Dimensity 1200 chipset, a 50MP lens at the back that takes good photos, and all-day battery life with 65W fast charging.
Clearly, the phone has a lot going for it, and there's good news on the pricing front as well. The Nord 2 × PAC-MAN Edition will be sold in a single variant with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and it will debut at ₹37,999 ($512) in India, £499 in the UK ($673), and €529 ($612) in Europe. For context, the standard 12GB/256GB Nord 2 costs ₹34,999 / £469 / €499, so you're paying just a slight premium to get your hands on the PAC-MAN version.
OnePlus's earlier limited edition phones were similarly accessible, so it is good to see that this particular trait hasn't changed. As a PAC-MAN fan, I'm very interested in seeing how the final product holds up, and I will have more to share on this front in the coming days.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.