OnePlus Nord CE 5G review: stripped down, stripped back

OnePlus is back with the OnePlus Nord CE 5G, a year after OnePlus made a big jump into the mid-range and entry-level mobile phone market with the OnePlus Nord. The “CE” at the end of the name means “Core Edition”. OnePlus claims that the new phone removes some of the less-needed features of its predecessors in order to focus on offering “core” features similar to those offered by Samsung with “FE” (fan edition) devices at a lower price. Best of all, the Nord CE is available at a price lower than last year’s phone’s starting price of £379/€399, compared to its starting price of £299/€329. It retains the 1080p 90Hz OLED display and also adds a headphone jack, but is a less premium design with one camera on the front and back and a plastic back panel instead of glass. There is also a £369/€399 model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, along with a £299 model offering 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. I am using the 12GB version. Like the original Nord, the OnePlus Nord CE will only be available in Europe and India, while US buyers will see the Nord N200 coming later this month. The question for all of them is, has OnePlus removed too many of one feature or did it find the right balance of price and performance? Verge Score 7.5 out of 10 Good stuff 90Hz OLED display Decent battery life Headphone jack Bad stuff No official water resistance Useless black and white camera Occasionally degraded If you look at the Nord CE next to last year’s phone, it’s clear it was cut from the same design fabric. . Both have an edge-to-edge OLED display with minimal bezels on the front, a selfie camera with a perforated top left of the screen, and a rear camera bump that aligns the sensors. Like the original Nord, there are no official IP ratings for dust and water resistance, and no wireless charging. However, a closer look reveals the difference. First of all, cell phones only have one selfie camera. The original Nord’s secondary ultra-wide camera is gone, and the main selfie camera’s resolution has dropped from 32 megapixels to 16. On the back, the resolution of the main camera has been increased from 48 to 16. It’s 64 megapixels and still has an 8 megapixel ultra wide, but the 5 megapixel depth and 2 megapixel macro sensor are gone and replaced by a single 2 megapixel monochrome sensor. The Nord CE is a slender device. OnePlus claims this is the thinnest phone they’ve made since the OnePlus 6T, which is relatively light considering the 6.43-inch screen at 170g (6oz). I’d like to argue that a heavier device somehow feels higher quality, but I have something to say about a device that’s thin and light enough to forget when sitting in your pocket. Despite its thinness, the Nord CE includes a headphone jack that last year’s phones didn’t have. OnePlus claims this is the thinnest phone since the 2018 6T. It may have one less camera, but otherwise the design of the Nord CE is very similar to the original Nord. The Nord CE’s battery is technically larger than last year’s Nord 4,300mAh. However, in my tests, battery life got a little worse in everyday use. Originally Nord got over 8 hours of screen time, but Nord CE was closer to 6 and a half hours in my experience. This left enough battery for me to use Twitter, Slack, and Whats App all day long, and after light use over the weekend, I was able to continue using the phone until mid-Sunday. For charging, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G uses the Warp Charge 30T Plus fast charging standard, so you won’t see the super fast charging speeds seen with the 65W compatible OnePlus 8T and 9. The Warp Charge 30T Plus is fast enough to charge your Nord CE from 0% to 99% in an hour. In my tests, it scored 32% after 15 minutes, 64% after 30 minutes, and 88% after 45 minutes. It’s fast enough for all but the most demanding users. Similar to the ostensibly slightly worse battery life despite having better hardware, the Nord CE’s overall performance was a bit slower than last year’s phone. The CE is powered by the Snapdragon 750G processor. As the name suggests, the new processor is technically below the Qualcomm range than last year’s phone’s 765G. But being a more modern chip, OnePlus claims to be actually faster, with a 20% increase in CPU performance and a 10% increase in GPU performance. Biometric security is handled by an in-display fingerprint sensor. Camera bump from Nord CE. This switch originally addressed one of my concerns with Nord, which is that the display freezes a bit when quickly scrolling through apps like Twitter, which affects the smooth smoothness of high refresh rate displays. However, Nord CE’s performance overall wasn’t that fast. Hopping between apps can cause the interface to freeze or stutter slightly when the system keyboard loads. This isn’t an unusual trade-off at this price (we observed similar performance to last year’s Pixel 4A, for example). OnePlus claims about performance. For the most part, I think OnePlus has made some sensible decisions about how to approach the camera on the Nord CE, but unfortunately OnePlus and Hasselblad’s recent OnePlus 9 partnership didn’t bring any benefits here. The three rear cameras are a more reasonable amount of cameras compared to the original Nord’s 4+ overuse. The OnePlus still allowed one useless rear camera for the Nord CE, a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor, but it’s easy to ignore. Personally, I would have loved to see the ultra-wide selfie camera return from the original Nord. It wasn’t the most useful feature on a daily basis, but it’s always nice to have it around when you need it. Grid View otherwise I liked the pictures I got from Nord CE in general. Daytime shots are bright and vivid, even though phones tend to lose detail in shadows. The colors are handled accurately, especially when it comes to landscapes, and my only complaint is the slightly over-processed look when photographing the trees. But Nord CE’s camera is in a staggering edge case. When I tried to take a close-up of the flower, my phone struggled to make it look sharp and sharp, and my face became unnaturally soft. You can also struggle with detail in low light, like the apartment block photo above, where many individual railings cannot be identified. Yes, there is a headphone jack. Available colors are blue (pictured), black and silver. On paper, there shouldn’t be any competition between the OnePlus Nord CE 5G and the original OnePlus Nord. It’s still a cheap phone that offers a high refresh rate OLED display, 5G and offers improvements like a headphone jack, high-resolution main camera, larger battery and faster processor. But in reality, the Nord CE doesn’t feel as stylish as the original Nord. The battery could be bigger, but I don’t use it anymore, and the processor is technically faster, but still hangs up when I use it a lot. It might be a reasonable compromise given the price difference, but at the time of this writing the original OnePlus Nord is available at a discounted price of £299 (about $418) on Amazon UK. At that price, the original Nord feels like a better option.


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