OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G review: Core-edition phone laden with useful features

One of the Nord CE 3 5G key strengths is the relatively clutter-free OnePlus OxygenOS 13.1 interface, which makes it a compelling choice in the competitive midrange smartphone segment

OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G

OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G

Khalid Anzar New Delhi
The Nord CE 3 5G is a new addition to OnePlus' midrange smartphone lineup in India. Based on the recently launched OnePlus Nord 3 5G, this core-edition model has been designed to meet various needs without compromising on OnePlus' essential features. Boasting a smooth and immersive 120Hz refresh rate display, a substantial battery capacity, and fast charging support, the Nord CE 3 5G caters to a wide range of user preferences. Starting at Rs 26,999, this smartphone appears to be a well-rounded smartphone. Is it? Let us find out:
The Nord CE 3 5G looks identical to the other two smartphones in its line – the Nord 3 5G and Nord CE 3 Lite 5G. It has a boxy construction with a flat plastic frame holding together the front glass and the plastic back cover. The frame has tapered edges, which makes it easy to hold and operate the phone. Lifting the handling experience is the curved plastic back cover, which makes the phone feel thinner than it actually is. Complementing the phone’s slim body is the lightweight construction.
As for the front profile, it is dominated by the display with minimal bezels across all sides. Unlike the flagship model in the series, this core-edition model has a plastic bracket around the display. It lifts the display a notch above the frame without hampering its usability. As for the rest of the smartphone design, it is similar to the other two models in the lineup. The frame has power button and volume rocker buttons on the right side, IR blaster and second microphone on the top side, and USB-C port together with removable SIM tray, primary microphone, and main speaker cavity on the bottom side.
Display and audio
The Nord CE 3 5G sports a HDR10+ certified 6.7-inch 10-bit fullHD+ AMOLED display. It is a display panel of 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, which dynamically switches between 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz based on on-screen content requirements. In theory, the adaptive refresh rate should deliver smooth experience without compromising on the power efficiency. In reality, however, the dynamic refresh rate does not work as intended.
In auto mode, the refresh rate sticks to 120Hz across interface. It auto switches to lower refresh rates, mostly 60Hz, even in apps where 120Hz would have made for smooth experience. Manually selecting high refresh rate from display settings solves the issue, but the refresh rate mostly hovers around 90Hz in most apps. Nevertheless, the refresh rate does not hamper the phone’s on-battery time.
As for the quality, the display is bright, vivid, and responsive. It is neither tall nor broad, but appropriately sized (20.1:9 aspect ratio) for comfortable everyday experience. Complementing the display is the OnePlus O-haptic, which uses X-axis linear motor for vibration that feels natural.

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Coming to the audio, there are dual speakers for stereo output. For wide soundstage, the speakers are powered by Dolby Atmos. Besides, there is support for Hi-Res audio over both wired and wireless. In summary, the audio is good. A 3.5mm audio jack in this core-edition smartphone for wired audio accessories would have been a good addition, but OnePlus skipped it together with the alert slider key. Thankfully, OnePlus retained the IR blaster in the core-edition smartphone and it works as intended with the OnePlus IR remote app.
The Nord CE 3 5G sports a flagship grade 50-megapixel main sensor together with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle sensor and a 2MP macro lens on the back. On the front, the phone has a 16MP camera sensor. Details aside, it is the main camera sensor that does all the heavy lifting for the phone’s imaging performance. It lacks optical image stabilisation, yet works fine in varied lighting conditions. The ultra-wide-angle camera is good for cityscape shots, but its 112-degree wide narrow field-of-view is not suitable for landscapes. The macro sensor is there for novelty. Coming to the front camera sensor, it is good but not the best.
Lifting the imaging experience, however, is the rich bouquet of value-added features. There are filters, including those taken from OPPO, available across board – photos, portraits, videos, and night modes. The camera has Google Lens built-in for convenience. Besides, there is a text scanner built right into the camera interface. Other features include dual-view videos, which lets you record video from both front and rear cameras simultaneously.

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Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 782G system-on-chip, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G is not a performance powerhouse but offers a balance of performance and power efficiency. The phone handles day-to-day operations with ease and shows no performance crunch in the face of heavy operations. It is not the chip to get the best gaming experience on smartphone, but capable to deliver consistent performance even in power-and-graphic intensive gaming titles; albeit at lower in-game graphics setting. That said, the Nord CE 3 5G ticks the right boxes from price-performance optics.
Complementing its performance is the solid on-battery time. Powered by a 5,000 mAh battery, the smartphone sails through more than a day on a full single charge. As for the charging, the in-box 80W wired charger facilitates swift charging, capable of replenishing the battery from zero to 100 percent in under 40 minutes.
The Nord CE 3 5G is a core-edition smartphone packed with essential OnePlus features. While it may not include everything OnePlus is known for, such as the alert slider, it certainly does not compromise on its core experiences. With a large and smooth refresh rate display, feature-rich imaging capabilities, reliable performance, and impressive battery life, the Nord CE 3 5G excels in all the essential aspects.
One of its key strengths is the relatively clutter-free OnePlus OxygenOS 13.1 interface, which is based on the latest Android 13. This provides a seamless and user-friendly experience. As a result, the Nord CE 3 5G emerges as a compelling choice in the competitive midrange smartphone segment.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Unboxing and hands-on

First Published: Aug 07 2023 | 1:54 PM IST

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