The Chinese giant has been on the run to increase its offering in India by providing new smartphones under its Nord lineup but now they lack the revolution for which OnePlus was known once. However, still, they are here to make money and target the masses so, their new OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is an indicator of that.
Aimed toward the youth who love OnePlus as a brand and want to get one without having to break their banks, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is a good option. However, is it the most value-for-money product for its money? Will the Indian youth receive it properly as a customer?
OnePlus has previously launched Nord 2 last year and continued this year with Nord CE 2 which I feel is a better mid-range device in all aspects as we discussed in its review. However, if OnePlus charges aggressively in a country like India then it would get a lot of attraction, like what Motorola is doing these days.
Well, I have been using this device as my primary smartphone for over a week now, and here’s a completely honest review about it:
Specifications of OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G
- Display: 6.59 Inches; 120 Hz Refresh Rate; Support sRGB, Display P3; Resolution: 2412 x 1080 pixels 402PPI; Aspect Ratio: 20:9
- Display Features: Ambient display, Dark mode
- Camera: 64MP Main Camera with EIS; 2MP Depth Lens and 2MP Macro Lens; Front (Selfie) Camera: 16MP Sony IMX471
- Camera Features: AI scene enhancement, Dual-View Video, HDR, Night Portrait, Panorama Mode, Retouch Filters, 1080p video at 30 fps, SLO-MO: 720p video at 120 fps, TIME-LAPSE: 1080p video at 30 fps, Video editor, Face unlock, Screen flash, HDR, NIGHT, PORTRAIT, TIME-LAPSE, Retouch, Filters
- Operating System: Oxygen OS based on Android 12
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G
- RAM and Storage: 6 GB / 8 GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128 GB UFS 2.2 storage
- Battery & Charging: 5000 mAh with 33W SuperVOOC
- Alexa Hands-Free capable: Download the Alexa app to use Alexa hands-free. Play music, make calls, hear the news, open apps, navigate, and more, all using just your voice, while on the go
- Sensors: Side-mounted fingerprint sensor, Accelerometer, Electronic compass, Gyroscope, Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor and Sensor core
- Audio: Superlinear speaker, Noise cancellation support
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G, Bluetooth 5.2, supports aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, AAC, SBC, LHDC
IN THE BOX
— OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G
— 33W SUPERVOOC power adapter
— Type-C 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
In terms of build quality, OnePlus has used a plastic build so that the weight remains less and to be fair it’s not a bad one but lacks that signature OnePlus look we have been used to seeing. Design is a matter of each one’s perspective but the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is ok in terms of both design and build quality.
It’s nothing to brag about or anything to be ashamed of, it looks more of a budget device unlike the Nord CE 2 which looked and felt much premium compared to this one. The build quality is not bad as it’s a sturdy plastic but somewhere it lacks that premiumness which you expect from a OnePlus phone. For daily use, the design is just ok.
The one downside you won’t expect from a 2022 smartphone that costs you Rs.20k is the use of an LCD IPS display, though OnePlus says it’s done to save battery these days even the most affordable phones are under Rs.15k ship with an AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate. You get a 6.59 inch 120 Hz FHD+ resolution display which to be fair has the best LCD panels I would say with deeper blacks but you have no competition when compared with OLED panels.
The panel even has a 240 Hz touch response rate which to be fair works very well during everyday usage or even while gaming. Also, AI dynamic refresh rate management adjusts the refresh rate based on your usage habits to save battery life. Also, if you stream a lot of content, the good thing is that it comes with a Widevine L1 license to stream FHD videos for both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
In day-to-day usage, I had no issues using the smartphone in general but having used AMOLED displays mostly even a kid would naturally prefer a better quality display. This is a key drawback of a device which hurts you a lot when you care to spend as much as Rs.20k on a OnePlus device.
The direct competitor to OnePlus at Amazon India is the Redmi Note 11 series which already comes with AMOLED displays and an average user would always like to have an OLED panel. If only OnePlus could have made this device even cheaper it would have been much more appealing.
Unlike the Nord CE 2 5G which features a MediaTek Dimensity 900 chipset, this smartphone comes with a Snapdragon 695 chipset based on a power-efficient 6 nm process. Accompanying the chipset you get up to 8 GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128 GB of storage which is just good enough for a mid-range device.
The new 6nm based SoC does help to conserve battery life while still giving a great performance as it provides speeds up to 2.2 GHz. In day-to-day usage, you won’t face any problems at all and for a mid-range 5G SoC this is a good option but when you touch that Rs.20k price mark you expect even better performance.
If you see in the benchmarks, the Snapdragon 695 scores very close to the 400k mark i.e. 397,844 points in AnTuTu and the scores are really good but you will the Nord CE 2 Lite gets heated up pretty fast with a temperature increase of about 4 degrees celsius and a battery drain of 7% in a single benchmark.
Whereas in Geekbench, the chipset again scores 695 points in single-core and 1812 points in multi-core but is still behind the likes of OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G with Dimensity 900. One of the key weak points of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chip is its GPU, it is more of a budget chipset rather than a mid-range smartphone.
I won’t say the performance is too bad or such but I feel paying some more money to get the Nord CE 2 makes more sense. Still, for everyday usage and light workloads, the Snapdragon 695 5G chipset is a good one but lacks that X-factor.
Coming from the same OnePlus Nord lineup, this OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite features a 64 MP AI Triple Camera but the key difference between this one and the regular OnePlus Nord CE 2 is that this one lacks an ultra-wide camera. Yes, on an Rs.20k phone in 2022 you lack an ultra-wide camera which is hilarious because you get that shitty depth camera which is not essentially needed.
The primary camera is good for basic photography during daylight but the Nord CE 2 has better image processing undoubtedly because of the Dimensity 900. While let’s look at some of the rear camera samples I took in my brief usage:
While the color reproduction and quality were good for the sensor you have but the post-processing is certainly weak because it lacks sharpness, especially in portrait shots. It could be up to OnePlus to improve this via software update maybe.
At night the phone really struggles and that’s not new because the same was seen with the OnePlus Nord CE 2. Food photography is well done on this device as colors or edge detection is done well with AI mode on.
The strong area of this rear camera has to be its daylight photography especially if you capture a lot of monuments, figures or even nature. This rear camera overall is average, nothing to brag about, just gets your job done.
While for selfies, I think the phone did a much better job and was consistent for every environment to capture shots. In bright light, you get the best selfies but again struggle during the night or in low light.
In terms of videos, the rear camera is capped to 1080p both for front and rear which to be fair is a bit disappointing considering its brother Nord CE 2 supports 4K 30FPS. Also, the videos captured are okay-ish nothing to brag about I expected much better but being capped to 1080p really doesn’t make any sense.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is touted to be a good device for budget gamers for its Snapdragon 695 chipset and 120 Hz display, but does it live up to the expectations?
While I played some BGMI and Call of Duty Mobile sessions, the experience was not so bad but the temps were going high with prolonged gaming. In BGMI, you can play at HD with frame rates set to High while in Call of Duty Mobile you can go up to High graphics quality and up to Max frame rates.
OS & Software
The new OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G comes with OxygenOS 12.1 out-of-the-box and that’s a good thing because the Nord CE 2 didn’t have that. So, now with Android 12 and all its features, the role of the software here is much more important as OnePlus retains that clean OS experience.
Obviously, the OxygenOS is nowhere near to what it was previously before the OPPO merger but at least they are not killing it and have promised two major Android updates and three years of security updates. So, in this regard you are sorted, now coming to customizations, you have tons of features that OxygenOS brings to the table.
Buttons/Ports & Connectivity
The Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is an entry-level mid-range smartphone coming in with all the necessary ports you could including a headphone jack. You do have a USB Type-C port for charging while on the left-hand side you have volume rockers and the power button which is a side-mounted fingerprint scanner as well.
Coming to connectivity, you have both Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.2 that supports aptX, aptX
HD, LDAC. For a basic smartphone, the connectivity options here work well and connecting to multiple Bluetooth devices is no problem at all. However, we don’t exactly know if the Nord CE 2 Lite supports carrier aggregation or not but I feel the network reception is quite weak.
I faced a lot of issues when people tried to call me, as multiple times they tried to call me and they were unable to reach me or if someone got to reach me, there were anomalies in communication. This was not the case with the regular Nord CE 2 which had much better network reception than this one. Also, it supports lesser 5G bands than the Nord CE 2 but has the most important 5G bands supported.
Audio, Earpiece & Microphone
Much like its brother Nord CE 2, this Nord CE 2 Lite lacks stereo speakers which have become common on even budget smartphones as well. Though the single speaker is loud enough you do lack that bass you generally get from a dual speaker setup.
Coming to both earpiece and microphone, these two become very essential if you take a lot of calls or even attend video sessions frequently. As I checked out the earpiece quality is good and you can hear the other person clearly but sometimes there are issues with both the network reception as well as with the microphone.
Battery life & Charging
The major perk of this OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is its 5000mAh battery and though I don’t love the IPS display as it stands out, this helps to extend the battery life significantly. This massive battery will easily give you a day and a half of use time while average users will easily get around 2 days of use.
While the power drain is quite low when you do basic tasks but when you do heavy tasks like gaming, the battery rapidly loses charge. Unlike Samsung phones, the OnePlus ships you with a 33W SUPERVOOC charger inside the box and that is essential to top up the huge 5000mAh. It takes almost an hour to charge the Nord CE 2 Lite from 0 to 100%.
Now, comes the most crucial part of this review, whether you should buy this new OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G or not? Well, the answer is simple only buy if you are a OnePlus fan because the specs are nothing extra-ordinary and for it, I feel you are paying at least Rs.5k extra and the absence of an AMOLED display is very hard to swallow.
Also, if you spend a bit more for the OnePlus Nord CE 2 which I loved using and reviewing is a more complete mid-range device than this “Lite variant” which is a more of a cut-down version on very essential features. You can though buy this Nord CE 2 Lite only if you love OnePlus phones and need OxygenOS as your priority except that this is more of an ordinary budget device.
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