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OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G Review: Taking the budget legacy forward

Why the new OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G with some cost-cuttings is still India’s favourite?

OnePlus did make its entry into the budget smartphone market with the Nord lineup a few years back and since then they have successfully pitched the brand as an aspiration to the youth and people who needed a reliable budget to mid-range option.

While they hovered in the mid-range with the original Nord lineup, slowly it has expanded to the budget segment with the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, which by the way did exceptionally well.

While I didn’t like it that much because it had some cutdowns compared to the Nord CE 2, this time OnePlus has taken the bottom-down approach, launching the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G first. However, while the Pete Lau-governed company has made some impressive improvements with an India-specific launch and keeping the same price tag, let’s see if it’s worth any good or not:

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OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G Review: Taking the budget legacy forward

In the Box

  • OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G
  • 80W SUPERVOOC Power Adapter
  • Type-C Cable (supports USB 2.0)
  • Phone Case
  • Screen Protector (pre-applied)
  • SIM Tray Ejector
  • Welcome Letter
  • Brand Sticker
  • Quick Guide
  • Red Cable Club Membership Card
  • Safety Guide

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G Specifications

  • Camera: 108 MP Main Camera with EIS; 2MP Depth-Assist Lens and 2MP Macro Lens; Front (Selfie) Camera: 16MP
  • Rear Camera Mode: Hi-res 108MP mode, 3x Lossless Zoom, Photo, Video, Nightscape, Expert, Panoramic, Portrait, Macro, Time-lapse, Slow-motion, Long exposure, Dual-view video, Text Scanner, 1080p/720p@30fps, Video zoom: 1080P@30fps, 720P@30fps, Slow motion: 720P@120fps, Time-Lapse: 1080P@30fps, Steady Video EIS support
  • Display: 6.72 Inches; 120 Hz Adaptive refresh rate; FHD+(1080×2400), Colors: 16.7 Million colors, 391 ppi, Aspect Ratio: 20:9, Brightness: 550 nits (typical), 680 nits (HBM)
  • Operating System: Oxygen OS based on Android 13.1
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G
  • Battery & Charging: 5000 mAh with 67W SUPERVOOC Endurance Edition

Design & Build Quality

I will appreciate the totally bold new design language of OnePlus with popping colors like Pastel Lime and Chromatic Gray, you have this plastic build but with a premium feel which certainly gives a more cool approach when compared to the processor. Using this phone for a few days I would definitely love carrying it and most people won’t judge it to be “just another budget phone” which is a good sign by the way.

Though it’s not the most solid budget option out there, the build quality is decent, nothing extraordinary, but personally, I liked it.

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OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G

Display

While OnePlus didn’t actually upgrade to an AMOLED display but I think this has a good reason though, because these budget phone owners want good battery life and using an LCD display does help extend that undoubtedly. But most people will love the massive 17.07cm (6.72) LCD display and a speedy 120 Hz adaptive refresh rate, with a good improvement in the quality of the panel from last year.

The bezels are thin this year with the punch-hole shifting to the middle this time but honestly, I had no problems and I enjoyed using the display for daily usage. For those who love media consumption, this Nord CE 3 Lite 5G won’t let you down absolutely because from watching YouTube to endless Netflix streams, you will not have any problems if you are not used to watching AMOLED displays.

Personally, having used the flagship OnePlus AMOLED displays daily, I really didn’t mind switching to this high-quality LCD panel anyways. So, for anyone who needs a budget phone which is both reliable for everyday usage and media consumption, this OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is a good option.

Performance

Here, you will actually be dissatisfied a bit because OnePlus has again retained the reliable Snapdragon 695 chipset but the good thing is they have increased the RAM to 8GB by default which can be extended to 16GB with virtual RAM. So, this is a trade-off you have to accept but if you ask me what’s the difference in terms of daily performance it’s very nominal and I didn’t have any problem using this Nord CE 3 Lite 5G for everyday work.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G Review: Taking the budget legacy forward

Though it gets hot with heavy usage and I would avoid doing so or pushing the phone with very intensive games at high graphics but for basic stuff the performance is good. So, anyone buying this phone has to limit themselves to basic usage and occasional gaming needs, most actually in this price range will be looking for a reliable everyday phone which this Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is.

Camera

Here I will say, though you have the much-hyped 108MP rear camera which by the way does a good job, I have serious complaints regarding no Ultra-Wide lens here, there’s no point in giving 2MP depth and macro lens without even giving one proper ultra-wide camera. This I think is the biggest cost-cutting I noticed and personally having no ultra-wide lens is a major blow.

Here are some of the camera samples we took:

As evident from the samples, the 108MP camera of the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G performs exceptionally well in daylight conditions. The camera captures stunning details, sharpness, and vibrant colors, resulting in outstanding shots. However, in low-light situations, the camera sometimes struggles to deliver the same level of performance.

On the other hand, the 2MP macro and depth assist lenses seem to be a waste of space as they do not add any significant value to the overall camera performance. Additionally, when shooting outdoors, the absence of an ultra-wide camera becomes noticeable, and users may feel the need for one.

When it comes to human subjects, the camera works fine as long as there is enough light. The selfies captured by the front camera also produce decent-quality pictures, making them suitable for most people’s camera needs.

Overall, the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G’s camera is a reliable performer in most situations, and the 108MP sensor ensures that users can capture stunning shots in optimal lighting conditions. However, the absence of an ultra-wide camera and the subpar performance in low-light situations may disappoint some users. Nonetheless, for most people, the camera should be good enough to satisfy their photography needs.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G Review: Taking the budget legacy forward

OS & Software

Here you have the Oxygen OS 13.1 based on Android 13.1 and to be fair the clean Android experience though with some OPPO elements is still better than having bloatware installed. The best part is there are no cost-cuttings in terms of software experience that play a vital role in daily usage and OnePlus has also promised 2 years of Android updates along with 3 years of security updates.

Buttons/Ports & Connectivity

Being a budget phone OnePlus has taken proper care of the connectivity here with volume rockers on the left, and the power button on the right where the fingerprint scanner is baked in. There you have USB Type-C for charging at the bottom alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack on this Nord CE 3 Lite 5G.

In terms of connectivity, you have dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, support aptX & aptX HD & LDAC & AAC & SBC and of course 5G. Coming to 5G bands, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G supports a lot of them: n1/3/5/8/40/41/77/78/28A(703~733MHz), covering the major ones supported by Jio or Airtel.

I had no issues in using my Jio 5G and did get good speeds overall and other connectivity options also worked pretty well. Also, you have an expandable storage option of up to 1TB using a microSD card, which again is a good-to-have feature.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G Review: Taking the budget legacy forward

Audio, Earpiece & Microphone

Much like the Nord CE 2 Lite, this new OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is also very reliable, which is the major reason why people are loving it. You do have dual stereo speakers with what they are calling as 200% Ultra Volume Mode, which by surprise works quite well to boost the volume. Well, the sound output is quite good already and it is a welcome improvement from last-gen.

In terms of earpiece or microphone, never did I have any problem with any OnePlus device and so is the case with this Nord CE 3 Lite 5G as well. Calling via the microphone and earpiece is really easy and works as expected in most scenarios.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G

Battery life & Charging

In terms of battery life, the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is still the champion like its predecessor thanks to the LCD display that draws less power and gives you longer juice. The phone doesn’t feel heavy on your hands even with a big 5000mAh battery capacity with both 67W/80W SUPERVOOC ultra-fast charging.

The phone also charges fast and if you buy the 256GB variant for ₹21,999, you get faster charging and more storage, this is a better value proposition we feel.

Nord Buds 2 review: Small yet worthy TWS earbuds for everyday usage

Verdict

Coming to the crucial part of whether you should buy this OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G or not. Well, it’s already the best-selling smartphone on Amazon India whose primary reason is its reliability and the basics done right, though there will be cons like no AMOLED display or no ultra-wide camera if you are fine with that this is a great option.

So, continuing the budget legacy, the new Nord CE 3 Lite 5G has all the modern amenities you expect along with reliable features for your daily life experience. With a new design, long battery life and still a good display for everyday media consumption, again this is a good phone for OnePlus enthusiasts on a budget with minor compromises.

Buy from Amazon India: https://amzn.to/3UC6AOd or OnePlus Store: https://fas.st/3yw5JD

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Design & Build Quality
Display
Performance
Camera
OS & Software
Buttons/Ports & Connectivity
Audio, Earpiece & Microphone
Battery life & Charging

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Raunak Saha
Raunak Saha
A cs engineer by profession but foodie from heart. I am tech lover guy who has a passion for singing. Football is my love and making websites is my hobby.
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Why the new OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G with some cost-cuttings is still India's favourite? OnePlus did make its entry into the budget smartphone market with the Nord lineup a few years back and since then they have successfully pitched the brand as an...OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G Review: Taking the budget legacy forward