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    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Review – You Might Settle For This One

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    By Akhil Kapoor - 
    25th Jul 2021
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    OnePlus Nord CE 5G
    Review Summary

    While we are yet to test the device completely and understand how it performs in real life, I still believe the pricing of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G could be more aggressive and OnePlus could have brought it down to under Rs.20,000 segment. At least the base variant. Otherwise, I am a fan of how fast the OnePlus phones charge and the overall battery life they promise.

    PROS
    • 90Hz Fluid AMOLED display
    • WARP Charge 30T Plus
    • Awesome grip and in-hand feel
    • 3.5mm headphone jack
    CONS
    • No upgrade in design
    • Could be priced under 20000
    Key Specs
    Battery Capacity
    Battery Capacity
    4500 mAh
    Operating System
    Operating System
    Android v11
    Screen Size
    Screen Size
    6.43 inches
    Highlights:
    • No
    • Gorilla Glass 5
    • 4500 mAh
    • Android v11
    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Review

    OnePlus has made it clear by now that no matter what budget you have in your mind to buy a new phone, there will be a OnePlus smartphone sitting there to your saviour in that price segment. Right after the huge success of the OnePlus Nord which is still not easily available to buy due to high demand, we have the OnePlus Nord CE 5G taking up the gears to be your next smartphone. A little more is ready to be served to you with a slimmer design and bringing back the 3.55 headphone jack which people craved in the mid-range smartphones. The main highlight of the OnePlus Nord CE is that it is 5G enabled while there is a little upgrade in the camera where you get a 64MP triple camera setup. Now you also get a slightly new type of charging as well which is called the WARP Charge 30T Plus paired with a 4,500 mAh battery. And I think that is all. That sums up the new OnePlus Nord CE 5G.

    Also Read: OnePlus 9R Full Review 

    But I am sure you guys would be really keen to know how the OnePlus Nord CE actually performs in the mid-range segment. A lot of you would even have a doubt if this would be the best bet if you have Rs.20,000. Well, don’t worry, just slide through and give this review a 5-minute read to know all about the new OnePlus Nord CE 5G. I’m sure this will help you land on a decision.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Price in India, Variants, Availability

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G with Snapdragon 750G is finally launched in India and comes at a really competitive price. OnePlus Nord CE price in India starts at Rs.22,999 for the 6GB+128GB storage variant. It is available in two more trims where the 8GB+128GB variant is priced at Rs.24,999 and the price of the 12GB+256GB variant is Rs.27,999 in India. Additionally, you can use HDFC bank credit cards for an instant Rs.1,000 discount on the purchase of OnePlus Nord CE 5G from Amazon India. It is available to pre-order starting 11th June while you can shop it from the OnePlus official website starting 16th June. Let’s see how hard will it be to grab the new Nord this time (last year it was painful)

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    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Specs at a glance

    Before we talk in detail about the OnePlus Nord CE 5G let’s see what the on-paper specs look like?

    • Display: 6.43 inches 90Hz Fluid AMOLED
    • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
    • Storage: 6GB/128GB, 8GB/128GB, 12GB/256GB
    • Software: OxygenOS based on Android 11
    • Rear cameras: 64MP (main) + 8MP (ultra-wide) + 2MP (mono)
    • Battery: 4,500 mAh, WARP Charge 30T Plus
    • Weight: 170g
    • Dimensions: 15.92 x 7.35 x 0.79 cm
    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Design and Build

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G follows true to the ‘core’ principle and adopts a lot from the original Nord. I found the OnePlus Nord also quite appealing when it comes to design and so looks the Nord CE too. The dimensions have changed a little here, actually very little. OnePlus Nord CE is a little lighter with just 170 grams on hands and gets a little thinner as well with just 7.9mm thickness. For all the OnePlus fans who complained about the missing headphone jack in the original Nord, hurrah! OnePlus Nord CE features a 3.5mm headphone jack in the bottom left corner sitting right next to USB Type-C charging port.

    Planning to upgrade? Sell Your Old Phone in 60 Seconds From Home

    According to OnePlus, Nord CE 5G is the thinnest OnePlus smartphone after the OnePlus 6T at 7.9mm. Talking about the front, the display is huge with tightly packed bezels around the edges and they are considerably thin including the chin. There’s a rather huge punch-hole snapper on the top-left corner that could’ve been reduced in size a bit.

    Moving on, the back panel is matte and glossy and maintains a no fingerprints and smudges zone for hours on use. OnePlus has stuck to its no fancy designs promise, offering the OnePlus Nord CE 5G with a rather simple-looking vertically-stacked triple rear camera setup and a plain back with a OnePlus branding at the dead centre. The panel is made up of polycarbonate which is a sort of plastic. But I highly doubt that you will get it the first time you hold the phone given its glasstic appearance.

    The back panel is curved on the sides and since the Nord CE 5G is slender and slim, it is perhaps the grippiest phone I have earlier tested. The rear camera bump sticks out of the back panel a bit, however, using a TPU case provided by OnePlus or others will help you get away with any scratches if you tend to keep the display face up.

    The frame is plastic as well, however, it has been altered as a glass-reinforced polycarbonate that gives it a glossy aluminium-like appearance while still being plastic. There’s no IP rating on board.

    The volume rockers are on the left along with a Dual SIM card slot, the power button is on the right. The top has a secondary mic while the bottom has everything from a 3.5mm headphone jack (yes), a USB-C 2.0 port, a primary mic, and a bottom-firing single loudspeaker and that is all.

    OnePlus Nord CE comes in three colour variants where you get one new shade added here. You get the Blue Void, Carbon Ink and Silver Ray (my favourite this time).

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Display

    I could not see much of a difference here in the display of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G. It sports a 6.43-inches 90Hz Fluid AMOLED display, the same we saw on the parent OnePlus Nord which launched last year. No doubt it is a smooth display with the 90Hz refresh rate but that is pretty standard now. Have a look at iQOO Z3 which offers an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate.

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    The display on-board OnePlus Nord CE 5G is nothing sort of average. It is a 6.43-inch Fluid AMOLED panel with 1080 by 2400 pixels resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio. It has a rich 410PPI density to go for. The display is a standard 60Hz refresh rate with a punch-hole camera at the front.

    It’s an AMOLED panel and offers inky blacks and brighter whites which is everything you need on a smartphone for media consumption. The display comes with Widevine L1 certification which means you can stream HD resolution of videos on streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix among others. The display supports sRGB and DCI-P3 coverage, however, misses HDR10 certification.

    The display has a high resolution of 1080×2400 pixels and a 20:9 aspect ratio which is great for media consumption. It gets sufficiently bright at 429 nits on peak manual and 607 nits of peak auto-brightness. Although it fares lower than Nord for max auto, it is still great for viewing the screen even under bright sunlight.

    The device handles 90Hz pretty well as both the hardware and software are optimized for it. The smart switch option travels from standard 60Hz when the user isn’t interacting with the screen or watching videos to a 90Hz high refresh rate when scrolling and transitioning. OnePlus has an upper hand with a smooth high refresh rate with ease. As usual, some content is displayed in 60Hz by default irrespective of the HRR mode if engaged such as when playing videos, playing games that are not optimized for HRR, and so on.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G has one of the well-executed high refresh rate controls on any mid-range smartphone out there and this cannot be denied irrespective if you are right-winged or left-winged (in terms of smartphones, of course).

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Performance

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G chipset with an 8nm fabrication process at work. The chipset has an octa-core arrangement with two 2.2GHz Kryo 570 cores and six 1.8GHz Kryo 570 cores. The graphics are handled by an Adreno 619 GPU. Nord CE 5G has three storage trims i.e. 128GB+6GB, 128GB+8GB, and 256GB+12GB. OnePlus Nord CE 5G uses LPDDR4X RAM and UFS 2.1 storage.

    Talking about pure numbers, OnePlus Nord CE 5G scored 1812 points on the GeekBench 5 multi-core test while the single-core test gave it 641-points. AnTuTu 8 gave Nord CE 5G 318,672 points which are almost in line with the original Nord while Poco F3 scores double at 631,850 points. The Snapdragon 750G which is technically just a slightly trimmed version of the Snapdragon 765G stands firm, scoring almost comparable scores on all benchmarking tests I ran.

    Now about the practical performance. Day-to-day tasks including calling, messaging, social media, browsing, and others are a piece of cake and it doesn’t even put a dent on the processor. Something like playing graphics-intensive games like Call of Duty Mobile is something people do to test its actual performance. Tuning the graphics to High and frame rate to the highest available settings would give you an amazing gaming experience.

    Gaming on OnePlus devices has always been fun as all its smartphones are fitted with comparatively performance-friendly chipsets and the Snapdragon 750G is no exception even though it is a mid-range chipset and not a flagship one. You can go for PUBG Mobile (BGMI in India), Asphalt 9: Legends, Forza Street, and hundreds of others games without any issue. The gaming-oriented features including FPS meter, DND, mistouch prevention, and others enhance your gaming experience to a great extent.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Software

    OxygenOS is here to stay so don’t worry. With Nord CE 5G, you get 2 years of major Android OS upgrades and 3 years of security patches as well. The OxygenOS 11 packs in a myriad of features including polished and highly-optimized UI, Always-On Display, battery management on the device is excellent and so is the optimization settings. OnePlus doesn’t bundle its phones with much bloatware and there are no ads either so you are basically working on a speedy Android custom UI which is truly impressive.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Camera

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G focuses a lot on the cameras this time, probably after the feedback, they got on the original OnePlus Nord camera which was not really loved by many. Nord CE features a triple rear camera setup in the same fashion as the Nord but with an upgrade in the megapixels.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G packs in a triple rear camera. This includes a 64MP primary snapper at the back with PDAF, f/1.8 aperture; a secondary 8MP ultrawide snapper with f/2.3 aperture with 119-degree field of view; and a tertiary 2MP depth sensor with f/2.4 aperture. This is all about the rear cameras. The front, on the other hand, has a single 16MP snapper with an f/2.5 aperture.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G doesn’t sport the best camera setup, to be honest. There’s no OIS and AF in most cases.

    The daylight shots using the massive primary camera are a class apart. It is on par with the price class. All the shots I captured had a wide dynamic range, ample amount of details, and no apparent traces of noise. OnePlus smartphones do shine when it comes to daylight photography and that goes for all the models out there.

    Check out for indoor shots and the quality deteriorates a bit. The shots were software and lacked clarity but as I said, daylight photography is better but the story changes as the intensity of light decreases. There’s a 64MP resolution mode on the primary sensor that gives you larger photos with finer details and along with it, you get amplified noises in the shots. Go for 2x zoom and you still get good-quality shots. In fact, 3x zoom is equally good as well, however, as you zoom forward, details fade and noise amplifies.

    Nighttime photography on the primary camera is below average. Detailed retention is scarce based on the light conditions when using regular mode. The night mode called Nightscape on OnePlus Nord CE 5G sharpens the image, boosts contrast, and overall, enhances the image quality a bit.

    We have an 8MP ultrawide sensor on-board which is usually the same resolution as plenty of smartphones out there. The sensor captures wider shots and is of decent quality. The dynamic range and sharpness are something that takes a hit compared to the primary sensor and the colours look a bit more saturated.

    Night mode on the ultrawide snapper does the same with the shots such as bumping the contrasts, brightens the shots and that is something that gives an artificial look.

    You can capture portrait shots using the rear camera which was good-looking but nothing amusing comes out of it. Edge detection and separation and application of the bokeh effect are good though.

    Finally, we have a bumped-up 16MP selfie shooter which is the same as the original Nord. Shots are truly amazing, the dynamic range is wide, and the shots are highly detailed. Even portrait shots using the front cam have an excellent edge detection algorithm in place.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G is capable of shooting 4K videos at 20fps with EIS using the primary cam. For the 8MP ultrawide snapper, you are limited to 1080p only and the same goes for the front camera.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Battery

    I really loved the battery life on the OnePlus Nord which offered more than 6 hours of screen-on-time. Thanks to the battery optimizations offered by OxygenOS. And now, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G comes with a little extra battery capacity of 4,500 mAh. So you can expect it to be definitely better than a lot in the segment. With WARP Charge 30T Plus, I can ensure you it is going to be a crazy experience while charging your phone.

    This time around, OnePlus used a larger battery pack on Nord CE 5G at 4300mAh compared to the one on the original Nord. I was able to get 6.30 to 7.00 hours on a single charge which isn’t bad but not better than the Nord. In essence, the battery lasts for a day with a mix of usage. You can tweak the power-saving modes to get around the morning of the next day before you charge the phone.

    The phone goes a 30T Warp Charge that uses its ultra-fast 30W charging speeds to juice up the battery from 0 to 99 per cent in an hour. A mere 15 minutes of charge will give you 32 per cent of battery backup which is enough to get around half a day (or more) of basic calling and texting with ease. It takes a total of 1:03 hours to fully charge which is faster than Nord and Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro among others.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G Audio, Connectivity, Security

    Unlike many of its competitors, OnePlus Nord CE 5G resorts to a single bottom-firing loudspeaker. It is loud but not loud enough that a dozen people gathered around the phone can hear it audibly for instance. The lows are okayish while other frequencies such as mids and highs are excellent even with a single speaker setup.

    OnePlus Nord CE 5G arrives with a tonne of connectivity features including Bluetooth v5.1 with aptX HD, LE, and A2DP. There’s dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac support along with NFC. You get a USB-C 2.0 port along with a much-needed 3.5mm headphone jack with Nord CE 5G.

    The phone is 5G supported which means you can connect to 5G networks in India but hey, it is still a year or more away. Till then, strap two 4G SIM cards on Nord CE 5G. Network reception and the sound quality were on-point and I had to face issues whilst I was testing the phone on Airtel 4G and Jio 4G.

    You get an under-the-display fingerprint scanner with OnePlus Nord CE 5G which is blazing fast. The responses of the OnePlus smartphones have always been great thanks to the highly optimized hardware and software calibration. Just a tap and you have successfully unlocked the phone. There’s a Face Unlock mechanism as well that works fine too and it is snappy unlike many of its rivals. Then you have the usual stuff, PIN, and Pattern unlocking mechanism.

    Pros & Cons

    Pros:

    • 90Hz Fluid AMOLED display
    • WARP Charge 30T Plus
    • Awesome grip and in-hand feel
    • 3.5mm headphone jack

    Cons:

    • No upgrade in design
    • Could be priced under 20000
    Verdict
    This was my detailed hands-on review on OnePlus Nord CE 5G after using the phone for more than 15 minutes. Some minor things that I didn’t like about Nord CE 5G are the missing alert slider (yes, it’s gone), cameras are average. On the flip side, it has an overall clean UI, stunning 90Hz display which is well-calibrated, a 3.5mmheadphone in 2021 exists, exceptionally long battery life and a few other things sprinkled here and there. Starting at Rs 22,999/-, Nord CE 5G is an excellent buy, to be honest. Of course, it has some shortcomings but let me tell you that even flagship phones have cons. Overall, Nord CE 5G has an excellent display, good design, exceptional chipset, decent cameras, excellent battery life which makes it a good buy. If you want to look out for alternatives, you have Xiaomi Mi 10i, iQOO Z3, Samsung Galaxy A52, and Poco F3 in the comparison.


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