OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G Review – Smartprix

OnePlus has expanded its Nord Core Edition line-up recently. It launched the OnePlus Nord CE 2 with 5G connectivity in the country. It has been launched to create further strengthen the company’s grip in the sub 25K segment which has been tremendous growth in recent times. The Nord CE 2 is an upgrade from its predecessor in terms of features and specs. Although its price starts at Rs. 24k, but does it have enough to be your daily use smartphone? Let’s find out.

Specs

  • Display- 6.43-inch FHD+ AMOLED
  • Refresh rate- 90Hz
  • Processor- MediaTek Dimensity 900
  • RAM- up to 8GB
  • Storage- 128GB
  • OS- Android 11 with OxygenOS 11
  • Rear Camera- 50MP+8MP+2MP
  • Front Camera- 16MP
  • Battery- 4500mAh
  • Fast Charging- 65W
  • Dimensions- 160.6×73.2×7.8mm
  • Weight- 173 grams

Price & Availability

OnePlus Nord CE 2 comes in 2 storage variants-

  • 6GB RAM+128GB storage- Rs. 23,999
  • 8GB RAM+128GB storage- Rs. 24,999

2 color variants are available- Bahama Blue and Gray Mirror.

Design

OnePlus Nord CE 2 comes with similar build quality as that of its predecessor but there are changes to its overall look. The camera layout is new and has 2 main cameras bulging outside while a tiny macro camera and flash feel flat. The cameras are placed inside a vertical rectangular camera module at the top left side of the smartphone’s back. The backside also has the Oneplus branding logo in the middle. The back panel is made of a backplate which is plastic but looks and feels very much like glass. This gives it a unique look. The smartphone has come in 2 colors- Bahama Blue and Gray Mirror.

I received the Bahama Blue variant and what I noticed at the first look was that the blue is different in shade from what is normally seen on smartphones these days. The device looks elegant, stylish, and modern with a decent feel in hand. It is quite sleek with the thickness being just about 7.8mm and is lightweight too (at 173 grams). This makes it ideal for carrying around in one hand for long durations easily. The edges are curved and smooth and the overall look of the device is very premium.

The device does not have an alert slider but holds on to its headphone jack and micro SD card slot, which is enough. The only problem with its glossy back panel is that it catches lots of smudges, that too very easily. Otherwise, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 is bound to draw a lot of attention due to its design and build. Quite a few people whom I met, thought that it has a very premium look which was a compliment for a budget smartphone.

Display

The Nord CE 2 has a 6.43-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate. The refresh rate is not adaptive which has become a common practice with smartphones these days. This means it doesn’t adjust itself according to the requirement of the app. It runs on either  60 or 90Hz depending on the app. For example, YouTube still supports only a 60Hz refresh rate so it comes down when using YouTube. An adaptive refresh rate would have been a better choice.

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Although the company claims Nord CE 2 supports HDR10+ but I could not use it on Netflix, which was a downer. Apart from these two shortcomings, I am quite satisfied with the display quality. It gives vivid and crisp pictures with bright colors. The visuals are immersive. There is an in-screen fingerprint reader which is fast and efficient. It has Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection for the front, which makes it capable of handling rough usage. The 90Hz refresh rate makes sure the scrolling experience is above average while using any social media or surfing the web.

Nord CE 2 has Widevine L1 license support which meant I could stream OTT content at FHD. Eye Comfort mode adapts the best level of brightness for your eyes at all times and I mostly kept it on. It reduced eye strain while I was working for long hours and thus provided much-needed comfort.

Performance

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 900 SoC which is an 8-core dependable chipset. It is coupled with up to 8GB RAM and up to 128GB UFS 2.2 storage which meant enough storage space for all my important files and documents. The chipset and RAM combo gives a good running speed to the smartphone. Apps loaded quickly and opened up even more swiftly. I could use 4-6 apps simultaneously without any lags or stutters. Gaming is ok when played at medium graphics, though it does get a little warm after some time. Listening to music, while reading news and browsing through an e-commerce app was smooth as the device never broke a sweat.

Running some benchmark tests on OnePlus Nord CE 2 gave the following results-

  • Geekbench 5 single core- 723
  • Geekbench 5 multi-core 2133
  • AnTuTu- 430,290

The device still runs Android 11 with Oxygen OS 11.3 which is a letdown but the good part is that it is eligible to get 2 major OS updates and 3 years of security patches. The existing software has very little bloatware and no spamming notifications which is a relief. The OS experience can be described as fluid because it allows various customizations and personalization too. There were no annoying ads popping up and this makes the UI near about clean and minimal. The only pre-installed third-party apps are Netflix and Spotify.

In the connectivity department, there is a triple card slot which includes a dual SIM and microSD slot. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C port for charging, 5G connectivity, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and Wi-Fi 6.

The smartphone has a single bottom-firing speaker and I did miss having stereo speakers which are common on most devices these days. The sound quality of the speaker is average but does have a little distortion at a high volume. The earpiece of Nord CE 2 is good and I could hear the person at the other end even when I was in a crowded place.

Camera

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G has a triple camera setup on the rear which includes a 64MP main sensor, an 8MP ultrawide sensor, and a 2MP macro camera. It is a replica of the camera setup on its Nord CE.

The main camera gives a very good performance in natural light. The colors are mostly true to original and the details of the photos are crisp and clear. Dynamic range could have been improved, but that can be ignored as well. This problem does not arise in ultrawide sensor which has better range and natural color grading. The macro camera does not serve much of a purpose and is more of a show-off. There is no autofocus and it lacks a good resolution.

Low light photography is the trickiest part and I was happy to experience that both main and ultrawide lenses were above average in their performance even in low light. It has image stabilization and can record 4k30fps videos in the real world.

The selfie camera is 16MP which takes decent selfies with natural color tones in good light but fails miserably in low light.

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Battery

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 comes with a 4500mAh battery that looked small to me when I heard about it for the first time. But in practice, I was pleasantly surprised as this 4500mAh battery lasted throughout the day when I had moderate usage. On days I had long binge-watching sessions (around 4+ hours at a stretch), I had to charge the device once in between, which was acceptable. This was because the device comes with a 65W fast charging capability, which took around 50 minutes to recharge my device from 0 to 100%.

Verdict

The OnePlus Nord CE 2 is a ‘lite’ version of the Nord 2 where CE stands for Core Edition. OnePlus Nord CE 2 has been made to cater to India’s masses. This is a smartphone that gives premium specs at affordable prices. Thus OnePlus Nord CE 2 is priced at under 25k and gives you an attractive design, powerful battery, good performance, and clean UI with quick charging. 5G connectivity is available too. The only issues that arise are Android 11, a lower refresh rate and the camera is strictly average. So, if you can ignore these small hiccups then OnePlus Nord CE 2 can be the one for you.

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