OnePlus has put out a series of quality smartphones this year, a trend it seeks to continue with its midrange ‘Nord’ series. Previously, we reviewed the OnePlus Nord 3 and OnePlus Nord CE3 Lite. Now, let’s move on to the brand’s offering in the Rs 25,000 – Rs 30,000 spectrum, the OnePlus Nord CE3. This snappy device gets the signature Nord design and packs the Snapdragon 782G SoC under the hood. While testing the device for a week, we wanted to find out if it edges out its competition in this price range. So, without further ado, let’s jump into our OnePlus Nord CE3 review.
Table of Contents
OnePlus Nord CE3 5G review: Design and Display
One of the better things about buying a OnePlus device is the unboxing experience. The Nord CE3 does not disappoint in this regard. Inside the retail package, you get the smartphone, an 80W SUPERVOOC power adapter, a Type-A to Type-C USB cable, a rubber cover, the OnePlus Red Cable Club membership card, some reading material, and a strip of stickers. We like that OnePlus puts extra effort into packing a body-coloured rubber cover for the smartphone. It is a big improvement over the clear plastic cases offered by other brands.
OnePlus Nord CE3 is available in two colours – Grey Shimmer and Aqua Surge. We used the latter variant for this review. Personally, we’d take a take a pastel shade over a bright, tacky back any day. Our only complaint is that the glossy back attracts a lot of smudges and fingerprints. Nothing that a quick wipe can’t fix, though.
Moving on, the OnePlus Nord CE3 shares its design with its two Nord siblings. There are two camera cutouts on the back panel – one for the 50MP primary sensor and the other for ultrawide and macro lenses. The LED flash is placed right alongside the two cutouts. As the back panel merges into the plastic frame, it curves a little.
Talking about the plastic frame, the first thing you’ll notice is the lack of the tri-alert slider. If you’re a OnePlus loyalist who loves the slider, you’ll need to splurge some more and get the Nord 3. The right edge of the frame houses the volume rocker and the side key. At the bottom, you get the hybrid SIM slot, primary microphone, USB port, and the primary speaker grille. Up top, you get the secondary speaker, an IR blaster, and a secondary microphone.
The 6.7-inch Fluid AMOLED display on this device can reach a peak refresh rate of 120Hz. It is surrounded on all sides by slim, uniform bezels. The selfie camera is housed in a punch-hole cutout. The touch response offered by this display is phenomenal. It registers even the most subtle swipes, and you feel like you’re on top of things at all times. During our tests, we found that the Nord CE3 only reaches the 120Hz refresh rate in the app drawer. The refresh rate has been capped at 90Hz even for the native OnePlus apps. If you’re watching content on YouTube or Netflix, you’ll have to make do with 90Hz.
Speaking of the content viewing experience, the OnePlus Nord CE3 is one of the better smartphones in its price bracket. We streamed HD content across OTT platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, and Prime. The images were balanced and packed with detail. The Nord CE3 matches its elder sibling, Nord 3, in this regard. The dual speakers produce a rich, loud output that won’t have you reaching for your headphones every time you want to watch a video.
OnePlus Nord CE3 review: Performance and Cameras
Powering the OnePlus Nord CE3 is the Snapdragon 782G SoC. The smartphone is available in two RAM & storage variants – 8GB + 128GB and 12GB + 256GB. The higher variant is priced at Rs 28,999. In comparison, the lower storage variant of the OnePlus Nord 3 costs Rs 33,999.
The fluidity of the display carries on to the regular performance of the device. Routine tasks like web browsing, messaging, and media playback are handled with expertise. Even while running multiple apps in the background, the OnePlus Nord CE3 does not break a sweat. For casual users, this device is pitch-perfect.
However, if you are more inclined towards gaming, there may be better options for you. This is where the performance of the Snapdragon SoC 782G hits a ceiling. We tried our hand at Call of Duty Mobile, and the drop in performance is very noticeable when you compare this device to its elder Nord sibling and the flagship killer OnePlus 11R. The touch response while gaming left a little more to be desired. We did not experience a lot of stutters, but the general controls felt a bit rough.
On Geekbench 6, OnePlus Nord CE3 returned a single-core score of 916 points and a multi-core score of 2720 points. In comparison, the OnePlus Nord 3 scored 1004 and 3266 points.
We really like the bloatware-free experience offered by the Oxygen OS 13.1. At this price point, there aren’t many Android skins that provide a clean, ad-less experience. There are a few special features that Oxygen OS provides which we feel are ahead of the curve. The System Cloner tucked away in privacy options lets you create another profile for your smartphone. You essentially get a new home screen, apps, and user accounts for your phone. This clone of your device can only be accessed when you enter its password on the lock screen. You can even clone all the apps from the main system for this clone. Other privacy features like a secure folder and app lock can also be found in the privacy settings.
The 5,000mAh battery inside the OnePlus Nord CE3 carries enough juice to last you through the day. After a day of moderate to heavy usage, we were left with a 15-20% charge. Our tasks included gaming, watching videos, browsing the web, and taking calls on WhatsApp. The 80W SUPERVOOC charger can fully replenish the battery in 40-50 minutes.
OnePlus Nord CE3’s camera performance matches that of its elder Nord sibling. Both phones feature the same Sony IMX890 50MP primary sensor and the 8MP ultrawide lens. In daylight conditions, the Nord CE3 takes lucid, colour-rich images that pack a good level of detail. The colours are punchy without looking overprocessed. While the two phones have similar camera specs, we felt that the images taken using the Nord 3 were better tuned. But the Nord CE3 certainly hold its own in a very competitive price segment.
The images taken with the 8MP ultrawide camera are slightly soft but still very colour-accurate. Unlike other smartphones, you won’t ignore the ultrawide lens on the Nord CE3. In optimum lighting, this lens takes good images with a wide view.
In low light conditions, the Night Mode does an incredible job of lighting up the subject and taking images that are mostly noise-free. The images are processed really well. The colours are slightly boosted, but the essence of the image is retained.
The Portrait Mode does a fine job of separating the subject from the background. The blur effect is used very intelligently here. The end result is very satisfying. All the portrait shots captured a lot of detail and flaunted rich colour.
The 16MP selfie camera displays good accuracy while capturing the subject’s skin tone and texture. We were pleased with the level of detail in the selfies as well. The only downside is that it can only record videos in 1080p resolution. The rear camera can record 4K videos at 30fps and 720/1080p videos at 60/30fps.
For casual users, the OnePlus Nord CE3 5G is an amazing option at Rs 26,999. The AMOLED display offers a brilliant touch response and the Snapdragon 782G SoC handles everyday tasks with ease. The gaming performance is a bit sluggish, but not a dealbreaker by any means. For us, the smartphone’s bloatware-free OS and charming camera performance were its biggest highlights.
OnePlus Nord CE3 5G: Pros
- Good display
- Snappy design
- Excellent camera performance
OnePlus Nord CE3 5G: Cons
- Not ideal for gaming
- Missing the alert slider
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