When the headlines read 108MP camera, everything else automatically fades into the background. But the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite manages to cut through the spec sheet and grab your attention with its design, especially in the pastel lime shade that we have as our review sample. The flat-edged design fits perfectly in the hand and though you don’t get the iconic OnePlus alert slider, at this price point, an actual 3.5mm headphone jack and expandable storage could mean more to the consumers.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite review
Sticking to the core values, the budget sub-brand aims to offer more for less
8GB+128GB | ₹21,999 for 8GB+256GB
Powered by the mid-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 695G SoC running on 8GB of memory, OnePlus engineers have tricks up their sleeves to devote up to 8GB more RAM if needed, borrowed from solid-state storage. They call it Virtual RAM expansion and it all happens in the background, without any user engagement. Coming in from higher-end OP models, this and the SuperVooc Endurance Edition battery are both features that remind you less of the Nord CE 3 Lite’s cut-price ask. Though a bit throttled back, the 67W fast charging system still gives you 80% juice in 30 minutes and with temperature sensors that constantly work in tandem with the battery health engine and adaptive charging technology.
The 6.7in display is typically 120Hz smooth and with 680 nits on tap, it never really keeps you wanting for more brightness, even outdoors. As with higher-end OnePlus phones, the OxygenOS 13.1 offers some nice gaming HUD controls that optimise performance and reduce distractions. Along with dual speakers, it makes for a formidable gaming device. The 200% Ultra Volume mode is more of a force-fit and gives you a bit of extra headroom, but at the cost of reduced body to the music.
What’s a new smartphone without talking about the cameras though, and the 108MP primary camera is a big boast by OnePlus here. In outdoor conditions, it does capture large amounts of detail that allow you to crop a certain part of the image, but indoors, it is riddled with high amounts of noise. The 3X lossless zoom is handy and does give mixed results, great on inanimate objects and not so on humans. The 2MP Macro lens makes a comeback here and it looks a bit improved over earlier iterations, churning out decent levels of detail. But it is a manual switching process as the lenses don’t shift automatically.
Overall, the camera performance is average for stills and video and the 108MP mode should be seen as a number and not a tool to make better-looking pictures. Eventually, your creativity will outshine the number and more impressive and useful is the Night Mode, which brightens up the image evenly without overcooking things.
Gaming and everyday performance remain typical OnePlus smooth, without any lag or latency, even with the display settings at their highest. It may not be as zippy around tasks and editing as the flagship 8 series of Snapdragon processors, but it gets the job done without any fuss.
The second outing for the budget buds from OnePlus Nord claim to be an “out of this world” design, but after you’re done taking that statement with a grain of salt, it’s great news all the way. A new 12.4mm driver goes louder and digs deeper along with the BassWave Enhancement tech that does a surprisingly good job of adding weight and heft to the low-frequencies without muddying up the mid-bass.
The stalk-mounted controls work for basic functionality and even the ANC is worthy of making a mention as it quietens up the chatter in the office space really well. It won’t keep up with a Boeing 777’s engine roar, but it helps focus better for indoor use. The sound is said to be Dirac Audio tuned and is Dolby Atmos compatible, but these are marketing terms aimed at filling up the online brochure. What really sets it apart is the actual tonality, which is hugely impressive, especially given its price point. Whether it’s R&B or rock, the Nord Buds 2 presents the music with verve and clarity that makes you want to push the volume up. They are entertaining for sure, and that is exactly what the consumers are looking for in this segment.
Battery life is an acceptable 5 hours with more than 25 hours available with the case. There’s even an IP55 rating if you find yourself on construction sites more than you like.
The Nord CE 3 Lite follows on the trail left behind by previous OP devices and offers a great UI/UX experience along with quick charging and a superb hand feel. Also, like many OnePlus devices, it struggles to find the right balance with its cameras. The results can be great, but also can be wildly inconsistent depending on the nature of the subject and lighting conditions.
But if your use case involves tasks other than just photography, the OnePlus Nord CE3 Lite is a solid recommendation for its refinement.
|Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 695 5G