OnePlus Nord CE 3 First Impressions

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 is strategically important to the Nord line-up, but does it win hearts from the first look? Here are our impressions.

  • The OnePlus Nord CE 3 is priced at Rs 26,999.
  • It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 782G SoC.
  • It offers a mildly watered-down experience to the more expensive Nord 3.

We recently reviewed Nord 3, and we couldn’t help but notice the drastic bump in its price and specs, almost as if OnePlus turned a blind eye to the sub-Rs 30,000 segment altogether. They had other plans because that gaping void in the Nord line-up is now filled with the recently launched OnePlus Nord CE 3. It features an all-new processor and the same camera as the OnePlus 11, all at just Rs 26,999. So, is it Nord-torious enough to be considered against its rivals? Read on to know our first impressions.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 First Impressions: The unboxing experience

All Nord devices launched this year come in similar black-and-blue boxes and have a near-identical unboxing experience. The Nord CE 3 ships with some paperwork, stickers, a high-quality teal-coloured protective soft case, a SIM ejector tool, an 80W SUPERVOOC charger, a USB Type-A to Type-C cable and, of course, the phone itself in a translucent paper cover.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 First Impressions: The lowdown

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 follows the 2023 design DNA of Nord phones – flat railings and near-flat plastic rear panel with an ever-so-slight chamfer. It comes in two colours – the new Aqua Surge and Gray Shimmer. The former reminds us of the first two generations of teal-obsessed Nords, whereas the latter makes it look almost identical to the Nord 3. In fact, the only physical points of distinction that make the Nord CE 3 different from the Nord 3 are the lack of an alert slider and a single flash module at the rear. They even managed to get the phone IP54 certified for water and dust resistance, which is far better than the similarly priced iQOO Neo 7 and Poco F5.

Simply put, you’re getting a watered-down design and build of the more premium Nord 3 while retaining its core essence.

At the front, the Nord CE 3 features a 6.7-inch Fluid-AMOLED panel with FHD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. Unlike the Nord 3, which has a true variable refresh rate panel between 40 and 120Hz, the Nord CE 3’s display has its refresh rate distributed in three hard stops – 60, 90 and 120Hz. In our usage so far, the display has been just fine indoors, but we are yet to take it outdoors to check its daylight legibility. OnePlus has also included dual stereo speakers to seal the deal on the audio front.

Simply put, you’re getting a watered-down display of the more premium Nord 3 while retaining its core essence.

Internally, the Nord CE 3 has something interesting going on – the first sighting of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 782G SoC in India. It’s the replacement of the Snapdragon 778G and was launched late last year, but for whatever reason, phone makers have refrained from using it so far. It’s based on the same process node (and architecture) as its predecessor, except for four overclocked Cortex A78 cores. We are yet to test it out, so keep an eye out for our first impressions.

Mated to this are two configurations of LPDDR4X RAM and UFS 3.1 internal storage – 6GB/128GB and 12/256GB.

All this runs OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13, with two guaranteed Android updates and three years of security updates. There’s a bit of bloat here, but overall, the experience is similar to its more expensive sibling.

Simply put, you’re getting watered-down internals and software of the more premium Nord 3 while retaining its core essence.

The camera department finds things interesting, as the Nord CE 3 features the same sensor as the flagship OnePlus 11. So, leading the way is the 50-megapixel Sony IMX890, accompanied by an 8-megapixel Sony IMX355 ultrawide and a 2-megapixel macro camera. At the front is a 16-megapixel sensor for clicking selfies.

Simply put, you get the same camera system as the more premium Nord 3.

To keep it going, the Nord CE 3 has a 5,000mAh battery pack that can be charged completely within 32 minutes, according to OnePlus, with an 80W SUPERVOOC charger. Will the Nord CE 3 last longer or die quicker than the Nord 3? Only our review will tell, so make sure you bookmark our website.

Simply put, you’re getting the battery capacity and charging wattage as the more premium Nord 3.

OnePlus Nord CE 3: Initial thoughts

From our brief interaction, it almost seems as if the Nord CE 3 is the spiritual successor to the outgoing Nord 2T, as it has the same price and serves the same purpose of fending off the Pocos and iQOOs of the world.

Also, did we mention that the Nord CE 3 offers a watered-down experience of the more premium Nord 3 while retaining its core essence?

Whether the Nord CE 3 succeeds in what it aspires to do will be revealed in our full review, so make sure you keep an eye out for it.