OnePlus recently refreshed its entry-level smartphone line with the launch of the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G. Successor to the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, the smartphone brings upgrades with regard to design, display, camera, battery charging tech, and user interface. Despite all-round upgrades, OnePlus has priced it equal to the predecessor – at Rs 19,999 for the base model. Therefore, the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G makes a solid entry point to the OnePlus smartphone ecosystem. But is it a deserving smartphone in the midrange segment though? Let’s find out:
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is a mixed bag of refreshing colour theme (review unit: pastel lime) but big, heavy, and bulky form factor. Made of plastic, the phone’s flat frame neatly holds together the front and back glasses. The phone looks like any other Android smartphone from the front, but there is an identity push visible on the back profile – thanks to the twin-ring camera island and the big circular LED flash. There is a surprise element in the design that some may like for the energetic colour theme, and others may not for the phone being tall, heavy, and bulky.
Display and audio
Though a core edition smartphone with a Lite moniker, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G has a good display and fitting audio capability. Starting with the display, the phone sports a 6.72-inch fullHD+ LCD panel of 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. Its large canvas makes it appropriate for multimedia content, beside routine everyday use. It is bright, vivid, and responsive. The display has significant bezels on all sides, but it is a small trade off in the overall scheme of things.
Coming to the audio, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G boasts dual stereo speakers powered by Dirac Audio. The speakers are loud and clear, but not balanced. However, these are good for everyday use. Rounding off the audio capability is the 3.5mm audio out port, which is hard to get in current age smartphones.
For the evolved experience over the predecessor, OnePlus has upgraded the primary camera with a 108-megapixel sensor. This sensor is good, but shutterbugs would find it imperfect due to heavy post-processing and inconsistent results. Nevertheless, the sensor is quick in fixing focus and captures a good amount of details with decent dynamic range. The pixel-rich sensor creates shallow depth-of-field for natural bokeh effect. Besides, it allows for up to 3x zoom shots (digital) without losing much details. This sensor best performs in daylight conditions. In low-light, its performance takes a hit due to slowed down focus and shutter speed. For static subjects, however, it works fine.
The other two sensors in the rear triple-camera array have limited or no bearing on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G imaging. It is because the 2MP depth sensor has no independent utility and the other 2MP macro lens is tricky to use. Like the predecessor, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G lacks an ultra-wide-angle sensor. Instead of the two 2MP sensors, a single ultra-wide sensor on the Nord CE 3 Lite would have been a better companion to go with the primary camera.
As for the front camera, it is good but not the best. However, there are filters integrated in the camera interface besides beautification tools that add some zing to the shots. Moreover, there is depth-of-field setting in the portrait mode for custom control over the bokeh intensity.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G has the same processor that powered its predecessor. It is not a performance powerhouse, but gets the routine everyday jobs done without fuss. On performance, therefore, the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G trails behind other smartphones in its segment. OnePlus makes up for it by shipping the phone with the Android 13 operating system-based OxygenOS 13 interface. It has bloatware, including the ‘Hot FreeGames’ folder akin to Realme, Vivo, iQOO, OPPO-type bloatware. However, non-Google and third-party apps are limited and many of the pre-installed bloatware apps are removable.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is powered by a 5,000 mAh battery, which is good for one day use on modest usage. The phone ships with an 80W charger in the box, but supports 67W fast wired charging. Though still a good charging speed for a midrange smartphone, the Nord CE 3 Lite does not really charge at peak supported rate – takes about an hour to charge from 10 per cent to 100 per cent at room temperature.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is not perfect, but it offers more at the price equal to its predecessor. For a core edition smartphone, the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G covers the fundamentals right with the inclusion of screen of adaptive refresh rate, loud stereo speakers, 3.5mm audio jack, versatile primary camera sensor, and big-capacity battery. Overall, the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G makes a good entry-level smartphone to get into the OnePlus ecosystem.