OnePlus Nord CE at your fingertips: a phone for the masses

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The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is the cheapest version of the Nord series from OnePlus to date and, in view of its hardware features, a strong competitor to Samsung’s extremely popular Galaxy A52 5G. Take a look at my first impressions of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G in this hands-on.

OnePlus Nord CE: The highlight is the price

The OnePlus Nord CE was announced on June 11th and, contrary to popular belief, is not the successor to the OnePlus Nord, but an even cheaper addition to the series. The highlights include 5G network support, a triple camera configuration, a headphone connection and of course the extremely attractive price.

NextPit OnePlus Nord CE side

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is a standalone model in the Nord series. / © NextPit

Similar to other models in the manufacturer’s handset, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G is not available for purchase in select parts of the world, although it has been on pre-sale in markets like Europe and China since its announcement. Official sales of the device will begin on June 21, 2021.

However, the variant with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage costs 299 euros. The model with 8 GB RAM / 128 GB internal storage has a recommended retail price of 329 euros. There are selected regions that also receive the model with 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of internal storage.

Down-to-earth and very light design

Even as a cheap phone, the OnePlus Nord CE is a very nice device that feels good in the hand. The model I received came in a shade of Blue Void, and while the chassis looks very familiar to that of the OnePlus Nord, in addition to a triple camera module that protrudes to the rear, the down-to-earth design of the OnePlus Nord CE won over .

NextPit OnePlus Nord CE

The design of the OnePlus Nord CE is quite simple and meets the expectations of an affordable model. / © NextPit

The matte finish on the back ensures that it doesn’t end up as a fingerprint magnet, which makes a difference in everyday use. However, due to the protruding camera module, I’ll be using the Nord CE with a bag to protect the lenses.

What really caught my eye was this: Despite packing a 4,500mAh battery, the OnePlus Nord CE is really thin, especially when I compare it to models like the new Motorola Moto G30. The device is only 7.9 mm thin and weighs 170 grams. According to the manufacturer, it is the company’s thinnest smartphone since the OnePlus 6T. And yes, you will soon notice that when you hold it in your hands.

NextPit OnePlus Nord CE usb

OnePlus decided to bring the headphone jack back. / © NextPit

One of the features of the device that OnePlus was keen on is the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack. In all fairness, this isn’t a surprise considering that this is a mid-range smartphone.

One of the drawbacks would be the Nord CE’s lack of IP certification, which leaves the device behind other competitors like Samsung. That’s because the Galaxy A52 5G comes with IP67 certification right out of the box.

Overall, the OnePlus Nord is a very good-looking device, it feels good in the hand, but should be used with a protective cover (included with the handset) to avoid accidents with the camera module. The fact that it is thin and light makes it different from long-life battery models of the same category.

90 Hz Full HD AMOLED display

The display of the OnePlus Nord CE is a 6.43 inch AMOLED display with full HD resolution. OnePlus has chosen a refresh rate of 90 Hz, which is HDR 10 compatible. In other words, we had a very good experience in terms of media consumption, web browsing, and gaming.

NextPit OnePlus Nord CE display

The AMOLED screen is really a highlight of the OnePlus Nord CE. / © NextPit

In this respect, however, the OnePlus Nord CE again falls behind the Galaxy A52 5G, which has an AMOLED display with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. In addition, it cannot compete with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, which also has a 120 Hz AMOLED display. Note, however, that both models are also more expensive.

The OnePlus Nord CE’s screen is great for watching videos on YouTube or maybe enjoying a TV series and movies on your favorite streaming service. The 90Hz refresh rate is on by default, and given the retail price of this smartphone, I understand the company had to make adjustments to accommodate the cheaper price and sacrifice a higher refresh rate instead.

Mid-range SoC performance without a microSD memory card slot

Just like the Galaxy A52 5G and Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, the OnePlus Nord CE is powered by the Snapdragon 750G processor that supports 5G networks. Storage and storage options are pretty competitive in the mid-range market, and we have three flavors here: 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. However, OnePlus does not offer the option of expanding the internal storage via a microSD card.

In my hands-on session with the OnePlus Nord CE, it did very well in everyday life, which is expected from this mid-range SoC from Qualcomm, which was presented for the first time in 2020. The hardware limitation was noticeable when playing at higher resolution, but that’s something I’ll cover in more detail in my full review of the Nord CE.

The software that runs on the OnePlus Nord happens to be OxygenOS 11, which is based on Android 11. The company guarantees at least two major software updates and three years of security updates. In other words, the OnePlus Nord CE has a theoretically long shelf life for those who choose this smartphone in 2021.

Although OnePlus doesn’t offer an expandable storage option via microSD, OnePlus has chosen to offer competitive storage options. What is clear, however, is that the price increases with the amount of storage space. This can be a real minus when compared to the rest of the competition.

Triple camera with no surprises

We have a triple camera setup on the OnePlus Nord CE, starting with a 64 MP main camera with an aperture of f / 1.79, followed by an 8 MP ultra wide angle lens with a field of view of 119 °; and a third 2 MP depth camera. The 16 MP front camera uses the Sony IMX471 lens to take selfies.

NextPit OnePlus Nord CE camera

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G 64 MP main camera / © NextPit

My first experiences with the OnePlus Nord CE camera were good. Even without having used the device for a long time, I can say with certainty that the Nord CE delivers decent photos in good lighting conditions. The main camera offers rich colors and good contrast for a mid-range smartphone.

IMG 20210614 075417

The contrast here is pretty decent for a camera mounted on a smartphone that costs just € 299. / © NextPit

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The main camera delivers decent images in good lighting conditions. / © NextPit

The full camera test of the OnePlus Nord CE can be found in the detailed review. For now, it must be said that this is a camera that will not let you down with optimal lighting.

NextPit OnePlus Nord CE front camera

The 16 MP front camera is in the upper left corner. / © NextPit

The camera is not the highlight of the OnePlus Nord CE, but it does a good job with sufficient lighting. In poor lighting conditions, the photos work well, which makes them Insta-worthy.

Really fast quick charge

As already mentioned, the OnePlus Nord CE also has a 4,500 mAh battery to support its “Warp Charge 30T Plus” charging technology. Compared to the OnePlus Nord, which was launched last year, we have a 10% increase in battery capacity. During my first hands-on, the Nord CE charged from 0 to 26% in just 10 minutes with Warp Charge, which is really worth highlighting here.

A full charge was done in just 42 minutes. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the device was quite warm when I unplugged it. I’ll share more details on battery life in the full OnePlus Nord CE review.

Technical data of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

Hardware specifications for the latest mid-range handset from OnePlus

modelOnePlus Nord CE
processorSnapdragon 750G
memory6/8/12 GB
128/128/256 GB UFS 2.1

Expandable storage

None

Connectivity5G
screen
  • 6.43 inches, AMOLED, 20: 9
  • 2400 x 1080 pixels, 410 ppi
  • 90 Hz
size159.2 x 73.5 x 7.9 mm
Weight170 grams
backup camera
  • Main wide angle 64 MP: f / 1.8 aperture, 26 mm equivalent, 0.7 µm (pixel size), PDAF
  • Ultra wide angle 8 MP: f / 2.3 aperture, 119˚
  • 2 MP monochrome
Front camera
  • 16 MP:(Sony IMX471) f / 2.5 aperture, 1 / 3.0 “(sensor size), 1.0 µm (pixel size)

Video

  • 4K @ 30fps video
  • 1080p video @ 30/60 / 120fps
  • Gyro ICE
Battery capacity4,500 mAh
Charging technologies
  • Warp Charge 30T (wired) 30 watts
AudioMono speaker / 3.5 mm headphone jack
IP certified
operating systemOxygenOS 11 based on Android 11
price

From € 299 (around $ 360)

Preliminary verdict: a smartphone for the masses

In this hands-on of the OnePlus Nord CE, I got the impression that this is a great smartphone considering the price-performance ratio. Compared to the available models in the same mid-range, you might think that the Nord CE is lagging behind, but the device is more affordable than the Galaxy A52 5G and Redmi Note 10 Pro. And yes, that alone makes a big difference here.

The OnePlus Nord CE turned out to be an excellent companion in everyday life, especially since it offered a really fast charging time, a high-quality display and a decent set of cameras.

Unfortunately the device is not available in selected parts of the world. You should therefore check with your local importer when it will officially go on sale in selected markets from June 21st.

Our full review of the OnePlus Nord CE will be released in due course and I would like to take this opportunity to hear what your thoughts are on this new device launched by OnePlus.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

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