OnePlus Nord CE Review: Just Settle
As OnePlus’ most affordable offering, the Nord was launched last July. In a period when people were hesitant to spend too much, Nord was the first to offer 5G for less than Rs. 30,000. This new OnePlus Nord CE 5G boasts 3 rear cameras, quick charging, 5G connectivity, and a much lower price. This Core Edition (CE) of the OnePlus Nord offers many of the features that made the Nord so attractive — triple rear cameras, super-fast 5G speeds, and an attractive design — but it also offers even lower prices.
OnePlus Nord CE’s base 64GB variant comes in at Rs 22,999, bringing back the 3.5mm jack but sacrificing a back and front camera when compared to the standard Nord. A 64-megapixel primary camera is also featured onboard the OnePlus Nord CE, which is the first smartphone from the brand to boast such an advancement. Let us take a look at how the smartphone fairs in the real world and whether or not it is worth your money.
- The OnePlus Nord CE does look and feel very much like the original Nord but it’s pleasantly slimmer and lighter at the same time. This is the slimmest smartphone OnePlus has ever released in the past 3 years. Plastic still constitutes the back, but it’s not immediately evident it’s not glass. Fingerprints do not adhere to the back of the phone.
- There’s a 6.43-inch FHD+ Fluid AMOLED display on the front, with a cutout for the selfie camera. The Nord CE’s display closely resemblance to the Nord on paper, with a few minor differences. Inky blacks make the screen stand out among other devices in its class. OnePlus also packs a decent in-display fingerprint scanner, although it’s slower than the more traditional side-mounted optical scanner. Even though the screen is razor-sharp, there won’t be any dazzling effects like some of the previous screens on OnePlus devices. Nonetheless, it is “good enough” for Netflix and YouTube viewing, but under direct sunlight, it may appear a bit washed out.
- Graphically demanding titles such as BGMI, Asphalt 8 or Call of Duty mobile ran fairly well and users can enjoy a very high calibre of gameplay with little to no frame drops. Nonetheless, it doesn’t match up to the original Nord or even the newer OnePlus 9R or OnePlus 8T in terms of performance.
- We had no surprises when we used the OnePlus Nord CE 5G, and it performed as expected. The phone’s day-to-day performance remains top-notch for the most part. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 750G on the Nord CE isn’t as speedy as last year’s Nord with the Snapdragon 765G, but its performance is acceptable particularly when paired with Oxygen OS, a superb Android 11-based interface. Apps were quick to load apps and multi-tasking was super easy. The Nord CE does seem more performant compared to competing devices with similar hardware, but not significantly.
- This phone has truly outstanding battery life. Despite its small size, the device boasts a powerful 4,500 mAh battery that powers a 90Hz 6.43-inch AMOLED screen. In our usage, the phone lasted for over a single day on a single charge. Medium to heavy usage would easily let it last a full workday. The great battery life paired with the 30W Warp Charge 30T Plus charger in the box makes for truly amazing battery and charging performance.
- The OnePlus Nord CE features a triple camera setup; there’s a primary 64-megapixel sensor, paired with f/1.79 aperture and EIS; a secondary 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with a 119-degree field of view; and a third 2-megapixel black and white camera. This smartphone was able to take some great pictures in daylight with rich, saturated colours, decent level of detail. Photos taken in low light turned out to be mediocre with noise and grains in the background. Due to lack of stabilisation, many of the night mode photos tend to be blurry. The Nord CE misses out on the colour accurate processing of its flagship phones.
- The photos from the ultrawide camera are not very sharp, and the dynamic range is not very wide. The colour rendition is also drastically different from the main camera. Compared to a traditional unit, the ultrawide unit produces much more saturated colours.
- For taking selfies, it is also just average. While its 16-megapixel Sony IMX471 camera isn’t the workhorse, it gets the job done for most people.
- As for the videos, recording maxes out at 4K 30fps for the primary lens and 1080p 60fps for the selfie shooter. The footage comes out to be decent, with decent stability and good enough colours for posting on social media. The stream takes a hit in low light as with the photos.
- The OnePlus Nord CE lacks water and dust resistance, leaves wireless charging behind; these are two reasonable compromises at this price point.
- For some reason, the much-loved alert slider that distinguishes OnePlus devices from others has been removed from the Nord CE.
- There’s an essentially useless 2-megapixel monochrome lens that didn’t do much even in night mode or portrait mode.
- The haptics on the phone are below par. OnePlus has dropped the z-axis haptic motor, and there’s no support for a microSD card slot and stereo speakers.
Overall, the OnePlus Nord CE isn’t a particularly game-changing smartphone and definitely, it’s not a better phone than the original Nord. Regardless, it is a good option for those who do not mind spending less, are looking for a reliable battery and want a decent display that can get the job done. It is worth noting that OnePlus also has a good update policy that covers two years of software updates and three years of security updates, so your OnePlus phone should be up-to-date.
The phone doesn’t come with too many compromises if you’re on a tight budget. There are still a few elements this phone may need to improve — mainly its camera performance. In light of other mid-range smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Max and the Mi 10i, it becomes harder for the Nord CE to justify its worth. There are some slight performance drops, but nothing dramatic. The phone will be able to handle normal tasks like texting and using social media. It is also a pretty decent option for anyone looking for a compact device with a clean software experience.