The Nord CE 2 Lite 5G suffers from Classic OnePlus problems, but is a good buy in the price segment. Unless you want to go for a lightweight phone
OnePlus had the perfect strategy to enter a segmented smartphone market. When the company started, it created a novelty item with an invitation-only purchase and low prices beating the flagship segment. Slowly, it began including more people in the fray and by the seventh iteration of its flagship, the company was well set to upend the big players. It had created a niche for itself, with the like of Marques Brownlee swearing by the brand. Over time, chinks have started to appear in its approach. The mid-segment categories haven’t worked as well and the higher ones are nowhere near the competition. There seems to be a gradual weaning off.
The new Nord CE 2 is a bridge between the two worlds: the old and the new.
One thing that OnePlus hasn’t tinkered with over the years is the standard design of the phones and that is more characteristic of the Nord series. It is much akin to iPhone’s SE series. The bezels are visible but limited. The phone is heavier than you would expect, it’s got a simple bar design, with a camera bump at the back. The bump is not as pronounced, so on flat surfaces the phone is stable. The plastic has a matte quality, but the camera adjacent area is textured and flashy. Personally, not a favourite. The gradation looks nice, but texturing is a problem. There is a power button the right, which also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. The placement is perfect, even for someone with small hands. On the left, there are volume buttons, again well within reach. OnePlus has done well to provide a both headphone jack and a USB Type C point. The fingerprint scanner on the side is fast and very responsive and better than most on screen scanners.
The front camera is prominent on the screen, with a cut out on the side and a halo around it. Noticeable at first, it eventually fades into the user experience. Nord has done an excellent job with its phone screens, and this is no exception. The refresh rate goes till 120hz (variable, of course) and the brightness is good.
The colours are pronounced. There was some spots that created a problem, but overall the screen worked well for viewing videos. Auto adjustment of brightness takes some time, but that can be fixed with a software patch. At night, the screen light was a bit bright for my preference, but otherwise compared to the competition Nord performs better.
With time camera setups have got more complicated. There are three rear cameras, a main with 64 MP 1.7 aperture; a depth assist 2 MP with 2.4 aperture and a macro lens with same specifications as the depth camera. The actual quality is good in broad daylight with OnePlus specific issues. Colours are too pronounced and there is too much smoothening. The depth cameras do end up doing the intended job, but do not come up to the mark. The zoom leads to a lot of pixelation. The front camera has a similar problem of colour correction and smoothening.
This is where the thickness of the phone and the 5000mAh battery life comes to the rescue. In medium operations, one and a half day is an easy battery life for the phone, can even stretch further to near about two days. Heavy use and gaming will reduce it down to a day to night charge. The GPS obliterated 11 per cent battery in an hour. There were no heating issues though, which was welcome.
User experience and performance
Oxygen OS is one of the best OS’ in the business and OnePlus has done justice with the install. The OS is fairly clean with very little bloatware, not the one you would go around removing from the phone. The transitions are smooth. The Shelf was an irritating feature, but you can switch that off. Performance wise, the phone had little throttling. The Snapdragon 695 works well for multiple tasks, but there were issues when you put too much burden on the phone. For a mid-range device, the processor works well, I would suggest the 8GB version and not the 6GB one.
At Rs 24,999, OnePlus Nord CE 23 lite is priced in a sweet spot of mid-range phones. A few discounts and the phone is a good buy for those in the market, unless you are looking for a lightweight device.