OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Just What the Masses Wanted

The new OnePlus device brings a perfect combo of performance and value under Rs 20,000. But is OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G worth the money?

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is the perfect example of how OnePlus is desperate to get into the mass market after so many years. However, those following the tech space may already know that the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G isn’t the first sub-Rs 20,000 smartphone from OnePlus.

The OnePlus X, launched in 2015 at a starting price of Rs 16,999 with a glass body, was the first sub-Rs 20,000 smartphone, and it targeted a young audience. However, we never saw any successor to the OnePlus X, which kind of hints that the product didn’t do as well as other OnePlus phones did at that time. So, what exactly has changed after 7 years at OnePlus? A lot, actually. 

OnePlus made its merger official with Oppo last year, and ever since, we have seen a lot of new products coming out in India. This OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is the fourth new product coming out this year alone, and we have not even reached the halfway mark of 2022. 

With OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, the company is betting a lot in the sub-Rs 20,000 price category, a segment it hasn’t touched in the last 7 years. The good news is that the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G packs a decent sheet of specs and features to keep the consumers happy in this segment. But, it goes without saying that Nord CE 2 Lite 5G will have to compete with the plethora of rivals from Xiaomi, Poco, Iqoo, and Samsung.

So, is the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G worth the money? We will try to find out in the review.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Familiar looks

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G comes with a design that’s not unseen or packs something that will blow you away. And that’s completely fine. After all, this is not from the company’s numbered flagship series and targets an audience looking for a better balance than the best of everything.

The polycarbonate back feels solid in hand but misses out on the premium-ness quotient, something the first Nord offered. Like the other Nord phones, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G misses out on the alert slider, which is becoming normal for the Nord series. Instead, you get the 3.5mm audio jack which should be welcoming for the consumers in this price segment. The overall hand feel of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is decent and nothing you don’t expect in this price segment.

The phone has been launched in two colours – Blue Tide, which will remind you of the first Nord phone and Black Dusk, which the company claims is a homage to the rear cover of the OnePlus One. We got the Black Dusk for the review, and the matte black finish has a shiny appeal. While the company claims that the Black Dusk doesn’t offer fingerprint smudges, but we found some smudges when using the phone with sweating hands.

At 8.5mm thickness and 195 grams, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is a well-balanced product, and you will enjoy using the device with just one hand. In addition, the weight distribution is decent.

The front is dominated by the 6.59-inch display, which we will get into in a bit, while the back tries a unique pattern design to distinguish itself from the rest of the crowd. The rear camera placement is familiar, and we have seen that on a number of Nord phones. The subtle OnePlus logo at the back blends well with the overall matte finish and looks good.

The company stresses that the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G design is optimised for horizontal use by flattening the edges. The power button doubles up as the fingerprint scanner on the right panel and is an excellent placement for everyday use. The bottom panel houses the charging USB Type-C and speaker grille. While the left panel houses the SIM card slot along with volume rockers. A very functional design that should be easy for everyone to get used to.

The department where we are slightly disappointed is with the display. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is the first phone from OnePlus in many years to sport an LCD panel and not an AMOLED. While the price it comes at tries to justify the usage but even the Nord CE last year came with an AMOLED, and it cost just Rs 2,000 more than the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite.

The 6.59-inch LCD display comes with 1080×2412 pixels and 401 PPI pixel density. The phone offers a 20:9 aspect ratio and a 120Hz refresh rate. OnePlus has tried to balance it out with support for a 120Hz refresh rate display. But that doesn’t take the focus away from the display being dull from some of the rivals in the segment. Coming back to the display performance, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G offers smooth animations, all thanks to the higher refresh rate. Mind you that the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G packs a higher refresh rate than what we get on the OnePlus Nord CE 2, which is a bit costly.

We had a good time using the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G display as it supported HD content on popular OTT apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The panel is bright and offers swift colours. Though, we have to admit that it missed the punchiness of an AMOLED panel. 

Overall, it strikes a balance of an inferior panel and a fast refresh rate which should work well for most users in this price segment.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Decent performance

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 octa-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz coupled with Adreno 619 GPU. It is a capable processor for the price segment and easily handles everyday tasks. 

During the review, the phone handled multitasking smoothly, while the gaming experience was also decent up to a point. 

Games like BGMI launched with default HD graphics settings, while COD Mobile has high graphic settings. The gaming experience is okayish, but we could notice a few lags here and there while playing both the games after a continuous 40-45 minutes of the session. This may be because of multiple apps open in the background. 

The phone runs on OxygenOS 12.1 based on Android 12 and offers a more refined UI than what rival phones from Xiaomi, Poco, and Iqoo provide in this price segment. Yes, it is not pure Android as what Moto phones offer in this price segment. But, anyways, OxygenOS is the next best thing you can get after pure Android.

There are plenty of features that make the overall UI experience smooth. Apart from 120Hz refresh rate support, there are features like Game Focus Mode to ensure an uninterrupted gaming experience by disabling alerts for calls and messages. In addition, the phone offers a 240Hz touch response rate which isn’t a great figure on paper but doesn’t disappoint in real life.

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G comes out with decent scores in our benchmark tests. On AnTuTu, the phone scored 393628, while on GFX Bench, it scored 92fps on the 1080p T-Rex Offscreen test. On Geekbench, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G got a single-core score of 679, while the multi-core tests returned 1924. Lastly, on the 3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme test, it scored 2846. 

Following the company’s commitment, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is promised to get two major Android updates and three years of security updates.

From software to other departments. The fingerprint scanner on the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is a big advantage over traditional in-display fingerprint sensors. It is quick and reliable in almost any situation. There’s also a face unlock feature, but it’s primarily useable in situations where there’s enough light around. 

The phone packs a linear speaker that’s loud enough for single person use. Also, do not have too many expectations with the quality of speakers because it’s okayish.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Cameras are achilles’ heels!

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G comes with a triple camera setup featuring a 64-megapixel primary sensor with f/1.7 aperture and a 2-megapixel depth-assist camera. The third sensor is a 2-megapixel macro lens. One of the big misses by OnePlus in the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has to be ditching the ultra-wide camera, in our opinion. Instead of a dedicated macro lens, if the phone could have packed the ultra-wide sensor, it might have helped against some of the rival phones in this price segment. The phone supports multi-autofocus and supports 1080p videos at 30fps. 

There’s a 16-megapixel Sony IMX471 camera for selfies at the front, and OnePlus says this is the same selfie camera found on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. 

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G comes with tons of camera features, including AI Scene Enhancement, Slow-Motion Video, Dual-View Video, HDR, Nightscape mode, Portrait Mode, Panorama, Retouching, and some in-built filters.

Coming to the real-world performance of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, the phone’s primary camera does well during daylight situations. We tried it on a day when we headed out and saw a good amount of details, colour accuracy, and even texture of the subject intact in our camera samples. The autofocusing is quick, though the speed takes a hit in low-light situations.

The cameras during the day did reasonably well, from a brick wall with two different types of bricks to trying out the macro lens. However, we noticed that the details are missing when there’s a shadow in the image, indicating that this is a sub-Rs 20,000 phone. 

Portraits come out good with decent edge detection and blur effect. In addition, the primary lens works in tandem with the macro lens to enhance the bokeh effect.

Indoor shots are also good up to a point where it starts getting very dark or with limited light sources around. Pictures captured in well-lit indoor situations had missing details and even the colour on the colder side. However, close-ups in indoor shots were still decent. 

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G performs average in low-light situations where images came out with missing details and softness in edges. The Nightscape improves the quality to some extent but doesn’t enhance or add more details. Instead, it lightens up the dark images when using the Nightscape mode on the phone. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro offers better results than the Nord CE 2 Lite in low-light situations.

Coming to the selfies, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G does pretty well with selfies, be it daytime or in low-light situations. We must commend the company for fitting a flagship-grade selfie camera from the OnePlus 9 Pro on the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. Daylight selfies come out with great detail, and the skin tone is well maintained. Compared to Oppo or Vivo phones, the AI enhancement doesn’t add too many unnatural colours to the selfies, and that’s good. Even the low-light selfies are decent for your social media uploads.

Overall, the cameras on the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G are the biggest weak link in the entire package, and we expect the company to push a few updates to improve things a bit.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Solid battery backup

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G packs a massive 5000mAh battery with 33W SUPERVOOC fast charging support. The phone lasted for over a day with heavy usage during the review. The phone offered an incredible battery life of over 36 hours with medium to light usage.

The 33W SUPERVOOC adapter in the box can charge the phone from 0 to 50% in 30 minutes, while a full charge takes about 70 minutes which isn’t bad. In our video loop test, where we run a test video on the device on a loop until the device turns off, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G lasted for almost 15 hours which is incredible. The battery is one of the highlights of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Review: Verdict

At a starting price of Rs 19,999, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is a winner for the brand for multiple reasons. First, OnePlus has pushed the limits of the Nord phone to offer as novelty and surprises as other phones in the price segment. Notably, this is the first sub-Rs 20,000 phone with 5G support from OnePlus, and this means consumers who always wanted to own a OnePlus device now have a choice.

It brings a solid package that offers decent performance, smooth UI, solid battery life and support for a 120Hz refresh rate. But, yes, there are a few things that let the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G down, like the cameras and even a boring design.

But, if you’re someone who wants a device that will offer a good value and balanced package, then you can go with the new Nord phone.

Those who are looking for alternatives can look at the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro or Samsung Galaxy M33 5G.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G

19,999
7.4

Design and Build

7.0/10

Performance

7.5/10

Display Quality

7.5/10

Camera Quality

7.0/10

Software

7.5/10

Battery Performance

8.0/10

Audio Performance

7.0/10

Day-to-Day Usage

7.5/10

Value-for-Money

8.0/10

What Is Good?

  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Decent battery life
  • Value proposition

What Is Bad?

  • Boring design
  • Cameras could have been better

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