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Upgrade with ‘Core’ features – Gadgets To Use



OnePlus started a new “Nord” series last year which was focused on offering affordable smartphones with flagship-level specs. The first phone, OnePlus Nord was a hit among users because of the value it offered (including 5G support) for its price and now the company has introduced another phone in the series after almost a year. OnePlus Nord CE 5G is another effort at making 5G phones more affordable, however, this time, some features of this phone may not seem as good as its predecessor.

That “CE” in its name stands for “Core Edition.” OnePlus claims the new phone doesn’t have some of the original Nord’s features, but it does have all the “core” features at a more affordable price. So, in our OnePlus Nord CE 5G review, we’ll try to find if it’s really an upgrade with those core features.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G Review

Pros:

  • Compact Design
  • 90Hz AMOLED Display
  • 3.5mm Headphone Jack

Cons:

  • Average Camera Performance in Low light
  • No Waterproofing
  • No Stereo Speakers

Key Specifications

Display 6.43-inch FHD+ (2400×1080) pixels Fluid AMOLED, 90Hz 
Dimensions, and Weight 8.3 mm thickness, 178.8 g weight
Operating System Android 11 with OxygenOS 11
Processor Snapdragon 750G 8nm, octa-core up to 2.2 GHz 
Rear Camera 64MP + 8MP Ultrawide + 2MP Depth
Front Camera 16MP
Battery and Charging 4500mAh, 30W Fast Charger inside the box
Audio, Connectivity Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, 5G, Dual 4G VoLTE, 3.5mm jack, Superlinear speaker
Variants and Price in INR 6GB+128GB- 22,999 | 8GB+128GB- 24,999 | 12GB+256GB- 27,999

OnePlus Nord C3 5G Box Content

Before we go forward, let’s take a look at what comes inside the box of this new OnePlus phone.

  • OnePlus Nord CE 5G Unit
  • 30W Fast Charger
  • USB Type-A to Type C Cable
  • Transparent Silicone Case
  • User Manuals

OnePlus Nord CE 5G Design and Build

Starting with the design, the phone looks pretty cool with its matte finish design and reminds of the original Nord, especially the Blue Void color variant that we got. It has a sky blue color on the main back panel that becomes a tint of purple at the edges. The best part of the back panel is that it doesn’t attract fingerprints.

The back panel feels solid. Though it is plastic, still, it doesn’t seem so at the first look. The frame is also made of plastic which gets a shiny look and goes well with the blue color of the back panel. The camera module does pop out slightly but this isn’t an issue as you will be using a case.

There is a big display on the front which has a small cut-out of the front camera at the top left. The bezels are small with a slightly large chin at the bottom.

The best thing bout Nord CE’s design is that the phone is very comfortable to hold as it is very slim with 7.9 mm thickness and lightweight too, despite having a big battery. Moreover, it is curved along the edges which make it even easier to hold and use with just one hand.

Moreover, the placement of buttons is also well within the reach of one hand and you don’t need to move it much in the hand while using. The volume buttons and SIM card tray are on the left and the right side houses the power button. There is the return of the 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom and it also accompanies a mic, the loudspeaker grille, and type C port.

The fingerprint scanner is under the screen and it sits a bit lower which makes our thumb bend a bit more while unlocking. There is everything as it should be but OnePlus has taken away its signature alert slider from the Nord CE.

Display Quality

OnePlus Nord CE also has a similar 6.43-inch Fluid AMOLED screen to the previous Nord, however, there are some downsides to this new panel. The Nord CE’s display comes with similar specs like FHD+ resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate but it lacks HDR 10+.

The screen also is a bit behind in terms of brightness as well when compared to the original Nord. On our brightness tester, it gave a reading of 559LUX which is not much seeing a mid-range phone that too from OnePlus.

However, its full HD resolution makes it sharp and it offers vibrant colors too, so its good enough for gaming and watching videos. The daylight viewing is quite good and the auto-brightness mode handles it well.

There are some modes in the display settings which make it easier to view in different lightings. There are vision comfort, reading mode alongside dark mode, and ambient mode. You can also change the refresh rate settings between 90Hz and 60Hz.

Talking about refresh rate, the 90Hz option makes it smooth while scrolling fast or gaming. The phone also comes with a refresh rate adjustment feature which makes it default 60Hz when you stop scrolling or watching videos.

Hardware and Performance

The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 750G chipset which is a downgrade from the Snapdragon 765G on the original Nord. It doesn’t happen often when a newer phone in the series uses low-end hardware than its predecessor. However, as per OnePlus’ perspective, since this is a “Core Edition”, they need to keep the price down while offering other main features.

Irrespective of a degraded processor than last year, our review unit (12GB+256GB model) felt very smooth in most performances. We ran several benchmarks on the phone and you can see the results below. OnePlus offers LPDDR4X RAM and UFS 2.1 storage with this phone and you can see the read and write speed too in the below screenshot.

So, the performance on benchmark tests is a little less than last year’s Nord. However, in real-life usage, you won’t be able to find much difference. It is capable of handling day-to-day tasks easily. If we talk about gaming, you won’t be disappointed in that area too. The latest Battlegrounds Mobile India runs quite well.

You can lay this game with HD graphics and a high frame rate, which will be good enough for most gamers. We played for almost an hour on the Nord CE and it made the device slightly warm, but it was nothing you can worry about.

Apart from gaming, we also tested the Nord CE 5G in different tasks including browsing, opening multiple apps, and video streaming and the phone performed well in all areas. We did not notice any lag and it holds all the multitasking pretty well.

Coming to the software, the new phone is running on the latest version of Oxygen OS based on Android 11. Just like earlier, the OxygenOS 11 makes the phone even more capable with the clean custom Android skin. There are no bloatware apps and it only has Google apps and OnePlus’s own apps.

This is another reason that the phone is not filled with ads and irritating notifications. The OxygenOS comes with tons of customization options for a more personalized experience and this includes different icon packs, system icons, fonts, fingerprint unlock animations as well as accent color. The phone also comes with Always-on-Display which is also customizable.

Another good thing OnePlus is offering with this phone is the promise of 2 years of software updates and 3 years of security patch updates. So if you are buying the Nord CE with Android 11, you will eventually get the Android 13 update.

Camera Performance

The Nord CE 5G sports a triple camera setup instead of a four-camera setup we have seen on the Nord. However, this comes with a 64MP primary sensor, which can be seen as an upgrade over a 48MP main camera on the last year’s Nord. Along with this, here is a similar 8-megapixel secondary ultra-wide camera and a third 2-megapixel mono sensor.

In our review, we found out the Nord CE 5G cameras to be capable of clicking really good pictures during the daytime. The daylight pictures capture enough details and the colors are also accurate. However, low-light photos were not of the same quality and struggle to capture details. Overall, you still get good-looking photos for your Instagram.

In the auto mode, the primary camera captures good details with a wide dynamic range, and you will hardly see the noise at first. However, it doesn’t capture colors very nicely and leave shades of colors in the whole image. While in Portrait mode, it fails to capture the edges perfectly. The results are not satisfactory in this mode.

There is a High-res mode too which uses the 64 resolution of the main camera. It offers larger pictures with some finer details, but pictures come with more sharpness and thus increased noise. And don’t forget about the larger file sizes (the following image was 19MB before resizing it for web).

The phone has a dedicated night mode too, just like other OnePlus phones. The mode dubbed Nightscape works well to improve the camera’s low-light photography which sharpens the overall image. However, it then loses its natural colors. This mode also takes a few extra seconds to capture the shot, still, you should use this for all the low-light pictures.

Lastly, the 2MP monochrome sensor is not much of usage. The wide-angle camera captures much area as well as better colors than normal mode. Overall, as we mentioned above, the camera is not that bad for social media uploads. Check out some other camera samples below.

If we talk about video recording, the phone supports up to 4K video recording at 30fps, as well as some other modes like slow-motion and time-lapse as well. There is no OIS in the main camera and it comes with only EIS.

Coming to the front camera, there is a single 16MP sensor in the punch-hole for selfies. This camera is more effective than the rear one and I am impressed with the results. The daylight selfies capture enough details and offer a wide dynamic range too. The selfie portrait mode is also okay.

Overall, I liked the camera but it is not up to mark in some conditions, but then again if you are taking pictures to share on Instagram and other social media, these will do just fine.

Note: All camera samples are resized for the web.

Battery and Charging

OnePlus Nord CE packs a bigger 4500mAh battery than 4115mAh on the original Nord. It also comes with OnePlus’ proprietary Warp Charge 30T Plus in the box. This is a 30W charger that can charge the phone from 0 to 50% in just 20 minutes and 100% in just 1 hour.

If we talk about battery life, it can be enough for one day if you are a normal user.  The battery drains quickly when the phone is used for gaming, video streaming, or recording.

Audio and Connectivity

The phone has a single bottom-firing speaker, which is loud and less distorted. However, at this price, they could have easily offered stereo speakers.

In our testing, it produced 100+ dBA reading which is loud enough when you are listening inside a closed room. Moreover, in sound settings, it has Dirac Audio Tuner and Equalizer in earphones.

For connectivity, the phone has all the usual features including WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS, and NFC. As you might already know, for network connectivity, it supports 5G network and Dual 4G VoLTE as well.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G Common Queries

Q. Is OnePlus Nord CE waterproof?

A. No, it is not. OnePlus does not offer any IP rating for protection on Nord CE 5G.

Q. Does OnePlus Nord CE support always-on display?

A. Yes. Nord CE comes with AOD support.

Q. Does OnePlus Nord CE have a high refresh rate display?

A. Yes, Nord CE 5G comes with a 90Hz refresh rate AMOLED display.

Q. Does OnePlus Nord CE have a dedicated SD card slot?

A. No. OnePlus never offered expandable storage and that continues with the Nord CE.

Q. Will OnePlus Nord CE 5G get the Android 12 update?

A. The Nord CE comes with a promise of two years of Android updates with three years of security patch updates. So it will definitely get the Android 12 update.

Q. How is the battery backup of OnePlus Nord CE?

A. In our OnePlus Nord CE 5G review, we managed to get 1 day of battery life on normal to moderate usage. So this is not bad.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G Review: Conclusion

Coming to the conclusion of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G review, the phone does have all the “core” features such as a 90Hz AMOLED display, a capable camera setup, and a big battery with a fast charger. It also offers 5G connectivity at a much affordable price which is definitely a plus point for this phone. Moreover, despite having downgraded hardware, the new Nord CE can still manage everything you do on day-to-day usage. If you’re on a strict budget under 25K then there’s not a better option than this, but if you are ready to spend a few thousand more, you should go for the original Nord.

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