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OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Delivers "Core" OnePlus Experience
If there is one Android smartphone brand that pops up in mind when you hear premium/high-end smartphones it's OnePlus. The company started its journey with the OnePlus 1, a smartphone that offered top-tier specifications at a much lower price than the competition.
- Great day-to-day performance
- Bloatware free Android 12 OS
- Good battery life
- No ultra-wide angle lens
- No 4K video recording
A lot has changed over the last few years since the introduction of the sub smartphone brand Nord. With the OnePlus Nord series, the company caters to the mid-range smartphone segment and offers the same OnePlus experience (mostly) at a much lower price tag.
The latest entrant in the OnePlus Nord series is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, which also happens to be the most affordable 5G smartphone from the company. The base model of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G retails in India for Rs. 19,999 and offers 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
At around Rs. 20,000 price mark, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite must compete against the likes of the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G, Realme 9 Pro, and even the Motorola G71 5G. Does the most affordable Nord has everything to take on these biggies? Read our review of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G to find out more.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Design
Despite being the lite version of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, the new OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has a sense of freshness when it comes to design. Although it does not use a glass back panel like the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, despite having a plastic back panel feels solid in hand.
I have been testing the Blue Tide variant of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, and I liked the gradient finish on the back. Do note that, the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G also has a slightly large footprint when compared to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G due to a large display and a bigger battery.
The phone retains the 3.5mm headphone jack and has a microSD card slot. However, this time around, it's a hybrid slot, so one can use two SIM cards or a SIM and a microSD card on the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, while the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G has a dedicated microSD card slot with two nano-SIM card slots.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is a regular-sized mid-range smartphone, and it is also the first OnePlus smartphone with a fingerprint sensor embedded on the power button. Overall, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is a very practically designed smartphone without any practical compromises.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Display
This is the second smartphone from the OnePlus series to feature an IPS LCD screen. Unlike the OnePlus 2, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has a 120Hz screen with FHD+ resolution, and there is also a punch-hole cutout on the top left corner. There is a bit of a chin, and the display is protected by an unknown 2.5D curved tempered glass.
As the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has an IPS LCD screen, it does not match the contrast of a phone with an OLED display. However, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G definitely has one of the good IPS-grade screens that does offer punchy colors that are slightly on the saturated side.
There is Widevine L1 certification, and the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G does support HD streaming on major OTT platforms like Hotstar, Netflix, and Prime Video. However, there is no support for HDR streaming. And then on top of that, the phone just has a mono speaker at the bottom, which although gets pretty loud, there is no proper stereo effect due to the hardware limitation.
If we look at the competition, phones like Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G has a 120Hz AMOLED display, while the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has an IPS LCD screen. If you are an avid content consumer, then we suggest you get a smartphone with an OLED display rather than the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Cameras
Although the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has a triple camera setup at the back, it is mostly like a single camera setup. There is a 64MP sensor accompanied by a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro lens. At the front, the device has a 16MP selfie camera with support for 1080p video recording capability.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G does not support 4K video recording, and this is due to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC's limitation. Both the primary camera and the selfie camera can only record up to 1080p videos at 30fps. Again, given the price range, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G should have included an ultra-wide-angle lens.
Coming back to the actual camera performance, the 64MP sensor takes native 16MP images. When used in daylight conditions, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G takes good photos with lots of detail. You can take close-up shots like this to get a natural bokeh around the subject.
The selfie camera also does a good job of capturing selfies. There are built-in filters like skin texture, cheeks, eye size, and nose that will help you capture social-media-ready selfies. Also, note that the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G uses the same selfie camera sensor as the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Performance
Under the hood, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC powers the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G smartphone, and the device is available with 6/8GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 128GB of internal storage with a hybrid microSD card slot for additional storage expansion. The Snapdragon 695 is a mid-tier 5G chipset with an octa-core CPU design offering up to 2.2GHz clock speed.
The graphics-intensive tasks are taken care of by the Adreno 619 GPU, which can handle games like COD: Mobile at high graphics settings without any issue. In fact, the smartphone retained 92 percent of its peak performance after stress testing the CPU for 60 minutes. The OnePlus ord CE 2 Lite 5G handles normal day-to-day tasks like watching videos and surfing social media platforms with ease.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Software And Connectivity
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 ships with Android 12 OS with a custom OxygenOS 12.1 skin on top. The OxygenOS 12 shares the base code with the ColorOS, hence, it looks a tad different from the previous iteration of OxygenOS. However, it still offers a bloatware-free Android experience with no third-party apps.
While the OxygenOS 12.1 isn't the cleanest iteration of the Android 12, it does have a lot of value-added features, and the whole UI has been optimized to operate at 120Hz and delivers a smooth user experience. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is also confirmed to receive two major Android OS upgrades in the coming year.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite supports Bluetooth 5.2 and up to 5GHz Wi-Fi. When it comes to 5G capabilities, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G supports up to 7 5G SA/NSA bands. I have been testing the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G with an Airtel SIM, and I had no issues when it comes to call quality or networking. I also made several Whatsapp calls and had no problem with them too.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Battery Life
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has a 5,000 mAh battery with support for 33W fast charging via the USB Type-C port. The device takes around 30 minutes to charge 50 percent of the battery, while the device takes slightly over an hour to charge the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G from zero to 100 percent.
In my usage, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G rendered over six to seven hours of screen-on-time with ease. For regular users, the smartphone should easily last for an entire day with ease, and they can always refill the battery quickly using 33W fast charging.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Verdict
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, despite being the most affordable 5G smartphone from the company does not compromise on the basics. It has a good design, a big battery, and an average display. On top of that, the device runs on the latest Android 12 OS.
If you have been looking for a 5G smartphone for around Rs. 20,000, then the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is a great pick, given you are okay with an IPS LCD screen. Overall, just like the OnePlus Nord CE 2, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is another affordable OnePlus smartphone.