If you’re wondering what the CE in OnePlus’ newest smartphone stands for, you’re not alone. CE is Core Edition; this is now OnePlus’ most affordable phone. The CE 5G arrives around a year after we checked out the OnePlus Nord and lands in a mighty competitive sub Rs 25,000 price band (for the entry-level variant); OnePlus believes that the Nord CE ticks most boxes. A device that should please any of us who want more for less. It’s also an attempt to bring new users over to the OnePlus camp with a strong cost: value equation. Should you be interested?
The CE is one of the lightest smartphones I’ve checked out in a while. It feels premium and light (just 170 gm) in your hand. We checked out the Blue Void colour variant that is a stunner. It’s more aquamarine than blue and doesn’t attract fingerprints despite a glossy vibe. It’s one of the best-looking devices in this price band.
OnePlus knocks off the alert slider on the right spine, a trademark design feature on all its phones (similar to the iPhone alert slider on the left spine). This is not a feature first-time OnePlus users (who are a key target group for this device) are likely to miss. There’s no wireless charging or water resistance, not surprising given the price tag. OnePlus manages to squeeze a 3.5mm headphone jack, time to bring out those old, wired headphones that you were missing.
The 6.43-inch Fluid AMOLED display (2400 x 1080 pixels / 410 PPI) is one of our favourite features of this device. Just like the 2020 Nord this one features a 90Hz refresh rate. It keeps gaming and videos quite smooth. Colours are quite vibrant and punchy too. While the display is quite similar to the Nord, the CE’s spec sheet is a mix of enhancements and step-down features vis-à-vis the Nord. The CE is priced more aggressively than the Nord, it’s not surprising that OnePlus had to cut some corners including the choice of processor.
The Nord CE is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor. I didn’t notice any significant performance difference compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor under the hood of the OnePlus Nord. The Geekbench score in our benchmark test (1805 – multi-core) vindicates this. We checked out the top-end 12GB/256GB variant, the OnePlus Nord CE is also available in two other hardware options. The 4500 mAh battery is a step-up over the 4115 mAh battery at the heart of Nord, it impacts battery life. You won’t reach out for your charger even on a frenetic WFH day interspersed with some camera usage, gaming and playing catch up on Netflix. There’s a 30W charger bundled in the box, that should power up your device in about an hour.
OnePlus prunes down the lenses in the rear cam – the Nord CE comes with a triple rear cam that is driven by a 64MP primary lens. Just like the Nord, this rear cam shoots good images in optimal light but doesn’t quite keep up in lowlight especially with the ultra-wide lens. OnePlus’ Nightscape mode that stiches together multiple images (and takes about 5-8 seconds each time) improves things slightly. It’s the same story with the 16MP selfie cam that snaps sharp selfies in good lighting conditions.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G delivers bang for the buck. It delivers the same clean user interface and smooth performance that we’ve enjoyed on OnePlus smartphones over the years. The battery is robust while the form factor and the display are key wins for a device that might lure a new generation of consumers to make the switch to OnePlus.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G costs Rs 22,999 (6GB/128GB) / Rs 24,999 (8GB/128GB) / Rs 27,999 (12GB/256GB) and comes in three colours – Blue Void, Charcoal Ink and Silver Ray.