OnePlus Nord-series has carved a niche for itself in the highly-competitive budget space, making an impression through its style and performance. The latest addition to the series, the Nord CE3 5G, closely follows the launch of Nord 3, but as an even better budget-friendly alternative for the masses.
OnePlus Nord CE3 5G is priced at Rs 26,999 for the 8GB RAM variant and Rs 28,999 for the 12GB RAM variant in India. It positions itself firmly in the brand's lineup under Rs 30,000. There is a striking resemblance between the Nord CE3 and Nord 3 and some notable aspects include a 50MP triple camera setup, a 5,000mAh battery, 80W fast charging support, and a 120Hz refresh rate display. Sounds great on paper, right? Well, let's find out if the phone lives up to hype.
Despite its budget-friendly price, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G maintains a sleek appearance reminiscent of its pricier counterpart, the OnePlus Nord 3 5G, making it tough for buyers to pick one considering one can save Rs 8,000-Rs 9,000. OnePlus sent us the 12GB+256GB model in its signature Aqua Surge, which is darker shade of blue than what we've seen in the Nord 3. The Grey Shimmer looks cool though. The smartphone runs Android 13-based OxygenOS 13.1 out of the box.
Let's take a quick look at the specifications of the Nord CE3:
- Display: 6.7-inch Full HD+ Fluid AMOLED display, HDR10+, 120Hz
- Camera: 50MP IMX890 OIS sensor with 8MP 112-degree wide-angle and 2MP macro sensors
- Selfie camera: 16MP
- CPU: Snapdragon 782G
- RAM: 8GB/ 16GB LPDDR5X
- Storage: 128GB/ 256GB UFS 3.1
- OS: OxygenOS 13.1
- Battery: 5,000mAh with 80W SuperVOOC
- Weight: 184 grams
Here's what we think of the OnePlus Nord CE 3:
Starting with the design, the OnePlus Nord CE3 5G offers a sleek build with flat edges and a compact form factor, making it ideal for daily use. The device's rear features dual camera rings and an LED flash, which looks modern and premium. The bottom edge houses a USB Type-C port, speaker grille, and SIM tray — the usual setup. On the top edge, you'll find an IR Blaster, and on the right side, there's a volume rocker and power button. What's interesting is that the phone weighs just 184 grams, making it lighter than its predecessor, the Nord 3, which weighed 193 grams. You'll instantly feel the difference between this Nord and other phones. But there seems to be some corners cut to accommodate the lower budget.The phone lacks an alert slider for seamless notification management and features a plastic frame and polycarbonate glass on the back, rather than actual glass.
Moving on to the display, the OnePlus Nord CE3 5G boasts a 6.7-inch Fluid AMOLED panel with FHD+ resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, 2,160Hz PWM dimming, and HDR10+. The bezels outline the display prominently, but it is the lack of dynamic refresh rate, which makes a dent. The display still delivers a vibrant and bright viewing experience, even in direct sunlight. The touch response is smooth, though the Nord 3 has a slight edge in this department. The display is well suited for both multimedia consumption and gaming. We did both, but the latter requires a bit more depth if you're an advanced gamer.
For content consumption, the Nord CE3 supports FHD streaming on platforms like Netflix and features a stereo speaker setup with Dolby Atmos and Hi-Res audio support. The in-display fingerprint scanner works smoothly, we didn't get any errors.
In terms of cameras, the OnePlus Nord CE3 5G's performance closely matches that of the Nord 3 5G. It features a triple rear camera setup, which is led by a 50MP OIS Sony IMX890 primary sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide secondary sensor, and a 2MP macro sensor, which is rarely useful. In daylight, the primary sensor captures good 12.5MP images with sharp details and vibrant colors, but there's limited dynamic range, if you look closely.
The portraits are something you'll enjoy clicking with this phone, as it offers a nice bokeh and accurate outlining of the subject in well-lit and ambient scenes. With the ultra-wide sensor isn't as good as the primary sensor. You'll notice distortion around the edges and there could even be some color inaccuracies in ambient light. Low-light ultra-wide samples are decent. The 2MP macro sensor produces merely fills the spec-sheet, but can be useful in certain cases. In low light, the Nord CE3 5G performs decently. The night mode and portrait mode are reliable, with good but not outstanding results.
For selfies and video calls, there's 16MP front-facing camera in the punch-hole setup, delivering accurate skin tones but lacks facial detailing. The results are good for keeping your social media profiles updated, but not quite of professional quality. The portraits on the front camera are not accurately differentiating the subject from the foreground.
Check out a few unedited photos shot on Nord CE3:
Performance-wise, the OnePlus Nord CE3 5G is powered by Qualcomm's mid-range Snapdragon 782G SoC. It performs well in benchmarking tests, offering smooth real-world usage, including gaming, and effectively manages heat during gaming sessions. While there may be slight delays when launching apps, it's well within expectations for its price range. Snappier animations and the 120Hz refresh rate contribute to an overall impression of speed. RAM management is good, and the device comes in two RAM and storage configurations: 8GB+128GB and 12GB+256GB, with expandable RAM and microSD card support for storage expansion.
Some tasks may be laggard, but gets the tasks done. Launching apps can witness slight delay, but any other phone in this range couldn't have done it faster. On the software front, the Nord CE3 5G runs OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13, delivering a bloat-free experience and promising two years of major Android updates and three years of security updates. The software is OnePlus' stronger suits and it remains so with the Nord-series, which is good to see.
The device's 5,000mAh battery ensures all-day usage with around 6 hours of screen-on time during typical activities. It supports 80W SuperVooc fast charging, allowing for a full recharge in just 30-40 minutes. This is the strongest USP for the phone, which charges the device in just 30 minutes. This saves a lot of time, so much so that it will take away any battery anxiety as long as you have the phone's charger with you.
In conclusion, the OnePlus Nord CE3 5G faces stiff competition in its segment, lacking standout features but remaining a reliable choice under Rs 30,000. Its strengths include a capable mid-range chipset, a vibrant AMOLED display, long battery life with blazing-fast charging speed, bloat-free software, and decent daylight camera performance. For OnePlus enthusiasts looking for a budget option, it's a good option.
- Impressive design
- Smooth multitasking
- Excellent battery setup
- Decent daylight camera performance
- Slightly underwhelming low-light camera performance
- Plastic build
- Alert slider is missing