OnePlus is known for its brand image and a premium choice if you are looking for an Android smartphone, their OxygenOS has been the pioneer of its success and building a successful community of OnePlus fans across the globe. Nord is the concept that Carl Pei introduced before he left OnePlus but under its Nord branding, OnePlus is making some of the best budget smartphones in the market.
Off late the Oppofication of OnePlus and the series of events after Carl Pei left has kind of affected the company in many ways, however, here they are launching the next variant of OnePlus Nord CE in India. Well, OnePlus has gone far from being the disruptive smartphone maker to a premium Android experience that users are willing to pay for.
However, killing those signatures OnePlus features like OxygenOS, alert slider is what makes fans including me furious. Still, the new OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G is a good smartphone, a bit expensive but is it worth buying? Let’s check out in our complete review:
- 65W SUPERVOOC – Accelerated charge velocity shall rocket the 4500mAh battery to a day’s power in 15 minutes. Certified by TÜV Rheinland, one shall “Charge & Play” with absolute peace of mind.
- Mediatek Dimensity 900 – Powered by a 5G enabled, octa-core monster of a chipset that’s tad more powerful than previous CE, consider this the “Best in class” daily driver for entertainment with its “dragon-slaying” power efficiency, thermal control and support for Wi-Fi 6
- 6.43 inch, 90Hz FHD+ AMOLED Display – Shielded by Corning Gorilla Glass 5, scroll, swipe, and enjoy all your entertainment effortlessly on this HDR10+ certified, OnePlus-worthy display.
- AI-infused Triple Camera – This amazing camera setup comprises of a 64MP main sensor, 119° wide-angle and a 16MP selfie shooter. Powered by inhouse algorithm, imaging in badly or unevenly lit environments shall become so much easier.
- All Flexible – The OnePlus Nord CE 2 is equipped with triple card slots, meaning you have the flexibility to go dual SIM, with an additional micro SD that allows for up to 1TB extendable storage. Also, this phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
- Designed by OnePlus – Coming in at 7.8mm thick, weighing 173g, this is THE slimmest OnePlus phone yet, since the 6T.
- OnePlus Quality – Powered by the most stable version of OxygenOS 11, based on Android 11, this device is easily futureproof, boasting 2 Years of Android version updates and 3 years of worth of security patches via OTA.
- In-display fingerprint sensor
- Alexa Hands-Free capable – Download the Alexa app to use Alexa hands-free. Play music, make calls, hear news, open apps, navigate, and more, all using just your voice, while on-the-go.
In the Box
OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, 65W SUPERVOOC power adapter, Cable (supports USB 2.0), Phone case, Screen protector (pre-applied), SIM tray ejector, Welcome letter, Brand sticker, Red Cable Club membership card, Quick start guide, Safety information and warranty card
Design & Build Quality
The new OnePlus Nord CE 2 resembles the build quality of its successors but with new changes and a completely new look. The new camera layout is similar to the OnePlus 9 series and that means you have two main cameras bulging outside while there’s a tiny macro alongside flash, overall this is a nice design refresh.
Though made up of CG5, it doesn’t feel cheap on the hands and is far better looking than its predecessor and both Bahama Blue and Gray Mirror acts as a fresh appeal. While this gray variant is a new one, to be honest, the Bahama Blue looks very elegant and modern with a superb in-hand feel.
Another thing to note about its design is its incredible 7.8mm thickness that makes it soo sleek and the weight of only 173 grams makes it ideal for carrying around it without feeling as if you are carrying a brick. Ideally, smartphones should be this sleek and yes, the weight balance has been done very well on this device.
The curved cameras, smooth edges at the sides gives a premium touch even though it’s a CG5 build but in everyday use, I felt like I was holding a premium device. Anyone with whom I showed the smartphone also agreed that it doesn’t feel like a budget one and has a premium appeal to it.
Now, coming to the display of this OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, you don’t necessarily have a big upgrade here as you still have a 6.43 inch AMOLED display with 2400 x 1080 pixels resolution and 409ppi pixel density. No doubt it is a great panel but this year too it is limited to 90Hz, however, now you have HDR10+ certification and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection.
The display is very smooth and fluid, not like 120Hz but having used most 90Hz displays, it is very usable in daily usage. The color depth and accuracy is very good as anything you watch on it pops up be it your everyday YouTube sessions or a casual Netflix binge, so, if you are someone who likes to use the display seriously every day might be assured that it is has a good quality AMOLED panel.
Also, importantly, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G does have Widevine L1 license support, so you can watch Prime Video or Netflix at FHD and streamed movies look really awesome. However, though the smartphone supports HDR10+ none of the streaming apps actually showed HDR streaming available which is quite strange.
Talking about the brightness and contrast, the Nord CE 2 5G can go really bright, and really dim, using the eye comfort mode for everyday use does make sense and I used it at nights and even during normal work comfortably to reduce eye strains. Overall, in terms of display, I would have liked a 120Hz AMOLED with more contrast maybe but for an everyday user, this is more than enough.
Coming to the performance, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G won’t let you down at all as it features a 6nm based MediaTek Dimensity 900 chipset which is used by its Oppo Reno 6/7 brothers. Having used a Reno 6 5G for quite some time now, the performance of this Nord CE 2 5G felt exactly the same, having the snappy experience for daily usage.
Sad to see up to 8GB LPDDR4X memory, not the latest LPDDR5 and you have 128GB UFS2.2 storage, so, here wished OnePlus could have used the latest RAM/storage. However, in daily usage, you won’t see any issues at all and with OxygenOS on top of it, things look fluid as always.
If you see in the benchmarks, in Geekbench, this Nord CE 2 5G posts a score of 723 points in single-core and 2133 points in multi-core along with 2564 OpenCL score. Also, in the AnTuTu benchmark, the smartphone posted a score of 430,290 points which makes it an ideal mid-range smartphone in terms of performance.
Notice, the efficiency of these MediaTek chips, during the AnTuTu test, you see a minor rise of 2.7 degrees celsius and a power draw of only 3%. Like Oppo, OnePlus has also started opting for Dimensity SoCs instead of Snapdragon chips which is a good sign as you get better performance without sacrificing efficiency.
OnePlus has always have had a good name in terms of camera performance and it continues that with the Nord CE 2 5G, featuring a 64MP primary shooter with f/1.79 aperture which is the same as last year along with the same 8MP ultra-wide camera with 119° Field of View and a gimmicky 2MP macro shooter.
So, essentially cameras haven’t been upgraded since the predecessor, even the 16MP Sony IMX471 front camera hasn’t changed at all. However, the overall performance of both the cameras are good, especially the rear camera shines mostly while the Ultra Wide is okay-ish while the macro is good for nothing.
Here are some rear camera shots during daylight:
As you see the color reproduction of the main sensor is great and the focussing is also accurate, also, while taking pictures, the UI is very snappy with no lag as such.
Now, here are some shots with plant subjects:
The camera samples are really great with precise edge detection and accurate color reproduction, I thoroughly enjoyed shooting some green plants and overall I would say the sensor captures a lot of light, so it naturally shines during daylight.
Now, let’s look at some indoor/outdoor shots:
As you see, the images look superb, though lacks a bit of sharpness but using 64MP mode you can capture detailed photos, overall, if you have a bright environment, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G’s camera won’t disappoint you.
One thing I did notice was that food pictures came out pretty well with good colours and sharpness, thanks to the AI mode, so if you are someone who likes to click food photos do have a look at this OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G:
Even the camera was able to capture some of the devices and review units pretty well:
The images lack a bit of depth but look good, the ultra-wide camera needs improvement but overall serves its purpose well. Here’s a difference between normal and 64MP mode:
Here are some shots with human subjects:
I would say the overall rear camera performance is well-balanced and during daylight, it shines well, but at night struggles a bit with human subjects. On the other hand, the macro and ultra-wide need upgrade as they both struggles to keep the quality of the image when used.
Now, last but not least, here are some shots with the 16MP front shooter:
The selfie camera too does its job pretty well and is way better as well as reliable be it any lighting condition, using portrait mode, the edge detection is great and the AI does a good job in poping the colors, making the selfies look bright and vibrant.
In terms of general camera performance, as a mid-range smartphone, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G does its job pretty well but will need some upgrades in future definitely.
If you are an amid gamer you would appreciate the performance of this Nord CE 2 5G which has a strong GPU thanks to the Dimensity 900. I am not a hardcore mobile gamer once I used to be, however, quick BGMI or Call of Duty sessions was very snappy on this smartphone.
With the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, you can play BGMI at HDR settings with max Ultra frame rates and while at highest settings it might be a bit choppy, so better use High settings. At HDR, the game looks great on this AMOLED display while coming to Call of Duty Mobile, you can play at High graphic quality with up to Very High frame rates.
Also, the thermals of this device are well-balanced as when you game for almost an hour, you do not notice a huge temperature rise or as such, it stays cool mostly until you push it extreme. Overall, the gaming performance of the Nord CE 2 5G is also very good for casual gamers like you and me.
OS & Software
This is a very debatable topic these days as a lot of users are complaining over the Oppofication of OnePlus’s signature OxygenOS, but I’m glad that Pete Lau has confirmed not killing OxygenOS as a whole. Though both ColorOS and OxygenOS will share the same codebase signature OxygenOS remains on this Nord CE 2 5G as well.
However, since this Oppo/OnePlus merger started to happen, the fastest Android updates to OxygenOS is being neglected which is a shame as a significant part of the OnePlus community and fans have supported new Android variants with that few OxygenOS customizations over the top. This OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G also comes with OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11 when Android 12 is already here for almost a year now.
As you will only get 2 years of Android updates, this is a bit disappointing to me as this device will get updates up till Android 13 which is already knocking on the doors. The clone of this OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, the Oppo Reno 7 5G also comes with ColorOS 12 based on Android 12 out-of-the-box, however, this one not having Android 12 is really disheartening.
If you are a OnePlus and OxygenOS fan, you will like the good things of the OxygenOS, those little tricks and tips are still there, loads of personalization options. Also, the good thing is unlike the ColorOS, this OxygenOS is very clean with only Netflix and Spotify pre-installed.
Buttons/Ports & Connectivity
As you see the OnePlus Nord CE 2 features volume keys on the left-hand side and the power button on the right-hand side. OnePlus is still not giving its iconic Alert slider on the budget Nord CE 2 5G but now you have Triple Slot i.e. Dual SIM & microSD which is a great deal for users who like to use a microSD card to store more data. Then, you have the sweet 3.5mm headphone jack and of course USB Type-C port for charging.
Now, coming to the connectivity of the Nord CE 2 5G, here you again see good improvements over its predecessor, as you now have no gimmicky 5G but featuring up to eight 5G bands. You also have the latest Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity which is good for daily usage because I am a person who connects a lot of smartwatches, headphones, earbuds and other Bluetooth devices.
I faced no issues in connecting multiple Bluetooth devices and the range was also quite good, once paired, any of your devices quickly connects to the phone without any hiccups. If you like to use premium headphones you will be glad to know that OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G supports aptX & aptX HD & LDAC. I’m glad that the OnePlus Nord CE 2 also supports Wi-Fi 6 for fast connectivity speeds and has support for NFC as well.
Audio, Earpiece & Microphone
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G sports a single speaker that faces downwards and lacks stereo speakers which have become a common feature on every smartphone these days. However, this single speaker has great depth and quality, goes really loud without distortion, so, if you like to hear a lot of music using your phone it won’t disappoint you at all.
Talking about the earpiece, I do take a lot of calls and that too is mostly data calls, so the quality of the earpiece is an essential thing for me. But, the Nord E 2 5G has good quality earpiece along with a microphone that got me no complaints at all during both normal and video calls.
Battery life & Charging
Much like the Reno 7, this Nord CE 2 5G also sports a 4500mAh battery which lasts long for a whole day of usage, thanks to the efficient MediaTek Dimensity 900, I got 6+ hours of screen on time. When I used the smartphone without inserting a SIM, which is practically not viable, I got an overwhelming screen on time of over 7 hours.
So, you will not be complaining at all about the battery life and thanks to the 65W SUPERVOOC power adapter, the charging speed is insane. Much like charging an Oppo phone is no issue, this OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G can also be charged in half an hour, saving a lot of time in your busy everyday schedule.
Overall, as you see the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G is a very-balanced mid-ranged smartphone which for its specs could have been a bit cheaper, however, if you opt for it you won’t be making a mistake. Though doesn’t have a glass back or a metal frame but has a gloss plastic design built out of CG5, with a clever design element that makes it attractive for everyday usage.
It’s good that OnePlus has removed the 64GB base option and now you have 128GB as default, however, the 256GB variant should have been there while the base 6GB+128GB variant could have been a bit cheaper, currently costs ₹23,999, you can get ₹1500 discount with SBI credit card and an exchange bonus of ₹4,000.
Essentially if you can get the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G at around Rs.20k then this is a very good mid-range device that checks the basics of a smartphone. Keeping aside all those Oppofying elements, OxygenOS is still there but the lack of Android 12 stinks a bit while the rest is very well-balanced.
So, if you are someone who is looking to buy a new “OnePlus device” at budget then the Nord CE 2 5G is a nice option that has some good upgrades over its predecessor. A very usable, reliable and practical smartphone this is with good performance, decent cameras and a great battery/charging experience.
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