OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G review

Introduction

You know a company has a little too many budget phones when its latest device is called the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. The name is as close to a tongue twister as it gets in the smartphone world and you simply cannot expect a regular person to remember this name.

Even explaining the whole concept takes a few paragraphs, but let me try: so OnePlus launched the original Nord a few years ago with the aim of revolutionizing budget phones, but at around $400 the Nord still wasn’t very cheap. . So shortly after the original Nord we got the Nord CE which stands for “Core Edition” and is kind of a stripped down version of the Nord which to sell for less loses the signature alert slider and some features interesting. the path. This year, OnePlus launched the second generation of this Nord CE aka Core Edition device, and it had 5G, so Nord CE 2 5G. But then the company obviously realized that it had to sell an even cheaper phone, so it further modified it into the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G.

Scared of heights? I know I am, but this is the phone we have to review and, in other words, it’s the cheapest new OnePlus phone in 2022.

So… what’s the price, you might be wondering? The Nord CE 2 Lite 5G (gosh…) costs £280 in the UK, while the non-Lite version costs…£300. That’s it! 20 pounds! Was it even worth making this phone? We’ll keep asking questions, but if you want to know all about this story, keep reading.

Design and display quality

Plastic construction, LCD display

The Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is definitely bigger with a 6.6-inch screen and not the thinnest body, but since it’s plastic it’s not too heavy and looks quite nice with a symmetrical camera system and a nice striped pattern on the back.

It feels solidly built, which many phones in this price range don’t, nothing wobbles, and the flat frame on the sides provides a good grip. No IP68 certification or special water and dust protection, but we weren’t expecting much.

The power button is on the right and doubles as a fingerprint reader. He is in a comfortable position and is very fast and accurate, so no problem. You can also register your face as an alternative and less secure but very convenient unlock method.

You also have two separate volume keys on the left, and above them is a hybrid card slot, which can accommodate two SIM cards or a SIM card with a microSD card (hooray for expandable storage). At the bottom of the phone is a USB-C port, a speaker and yes, a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is always nice to have.

If we had to single out the biggest compromise OnePlus made with this phone, it would be the display. The 6.6-inch 1080p screen is LCD rather than OLED, and that has all sorts of consequences: peak brightness is quite low and the screen is hard to see outdoors, viewing angles are poor, you get ghosting when swiping around, and colors just aren’t as vibrant as your typical OLED screen.

You can see our measurements above which once again confirm the insufficient maximum brightness, as well as a colder than desired color temperature for the screen.

The good news is that this screen supports a fast 120Hz refresh rate, which allows for smoother scrolling than your budget phone.

Performance and software

Mid-range chip with solid performance

Under the hood, the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G runs on the Snapdragon 695 processor. It’s a mid-range chip with performance on par with the more expensive Galaxy A53 5G, but it’s still clearly down ‘a midrange chip that lacks the firepower of a flagship.

The version of the phone in most markets has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of inbuilt storage, but some countries will also have an 8/128GB model. microSD card for expandable storage, so you don’t have to worry about running out of storage.

Performance criteria:

Although the CPU performance is comparable to the Galaxy A33/A53, we can see that the Nord is nowhere near as good when it comes to GPU and graphics. In the 3D Mark stress test, we measured half the performance of the admittedly more expensive Galaxy phones. Ultimately, the Nord could handle most games, but it’ll stick to lower quality and it’s definitely not a great phone for serious gamers.

The OnePlus software quickly evolved to look a lot like an Oppo phone, which means it lost some of its unique appeal. At least our Nord here comes with the latest version of OxygenOS 12.1 on an up-to-date Android 12 platform.

One area where OnePlus definitely falls short, however, is software updates: the company only promises 2 years of major software updates and 3 years of security updates, a far cry from the 4 years of updates. software updates promised by Samsung.

Camera quality

It’s bad

Look at the back of the Nord CE 2 Lite and the large camera lenses create the illusion that this is going to be a powerful camera phone. Unfortunately, this is only an illusion.

First off, the two big camera rings suggest you have a main and ultra-wide camera, but that’s not the case. You only get a main (wide) camera, but there’s no ultra-wide shooter, or telephoto. The other two lenses are in our opinion completely useless: a 2MP macro shooter and a 2MP depth lens which should help achieve more accurate portraits.

  • 64MP main, 26mm, f/1.7, 1080p video
  • 2MP macro + 2MP depth
  • 16MP front

And here’s what kind of photos you can expect from these cameras:

Pictures of the day

OnePlus seems to have just set the saturation to maximum, but if you can live with those extreme colors the images are generally good, although it’s clearly not the best camera on a budget phone.

Night shots

However, it all falls apart in low light conditions, where photos are often blurry and completely unusable. Highlights are out of proportion, details are blurry, and often these photos look like they were taken with a phone from ten years ago.

The main camera maxes out at 1080p which is a little disappointing, but at least the video stabilization is there and during the day you can capture decent footage with it. Forget using it in low light though, it loses focus, lacks detail and just doesn’t look good.

Audio and haptic quality

Bad haptics are particularly annoying

The Nord CE 2 Lite 5G comes with a single bottom speaker and offers decent sound for the price. Having a single speaker means you can easily cover it with your palm when holding the phone, but the biggest problem is that the speaker distorts a lot at higher volume levels. It gets quite loud, but we recommend using 2-3 clicks below its maximum so it doesn’t warp as much.

And yes, you do have a headphone jack on board, ideal if you have a pair of good old wired headphones that you can just plug in and use without worrying about charging.

One thing that really betrays a budget phone is poor haptics, and unfortunately that’s exactly what we have on this phone. The vibration motor buzzes like a box of bees and it’s definitely not a pleasant feeling.

Battery life and charging

The big advantage of this phone is its long battery life

Having a massive 5,000mAh battery inside the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is probably the biggest advantage of this phone. With such a big battery, you only expect it to last, and it lives up to expectations.

In our daily routine, we used about a day and a half of this battery with typical usage, and if you don’t use your phone much, you can probably extend that to 2 days. It’s a great result!

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:

While it doesn’t have the insane 30-minute full recharge speeds of the Nord 2T, you still get a solid 33W SuperVOOC charger in the box, which can top up that big battery fairly quickly.

No wireless charging support unfortunately, but that’s to be expected on such an affordable device.

Competitors

So what is the competition?

It’s pretty fierce actually. Last year’s Galaxy A52S can be found around the same price now (or even cheaper), and it seems to beat the OnePlus in every way: it has a much better screen, a faster chip, performance much better camera performance and an equally solid battery life.

Then you have a bunch of Xiaomi phones that offer great value for money with excellent screen quality and superior camera performance.

Summary and final verdict

Ultimately, the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G isn’t just hard to remember as a name, it’s hard to understand its purpose in an already crowded market! The phone is just £20 cheaper than the non-Lite version, should we really have as much segmentation in budget phones, OnePlus?

But worst of all is the overall package that doesn’t match: the CE 2 Lite 5G compromises with screen quality, camera quality, haptics… It would have been a compromise to accept if it was a good deal, but unfortunately the phone is still quite expensive.

We can see those who appreciate the long battery life, 5G connectivity and clean OnePlus approach to the interface considering this phone, but with so many shortcomings it would be a tough sell even for them.

About Ferdinand Caldwell

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