OnePlus released the elder sibling of the Nord CE 3 Lite (review), the OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G, with improved hardware and cool color options. The smartphone features a Fluid AMOLED display, a shiny design, and a fast processor to refresh the mid-range segment. The smartphone is priced at Rs. 26,999 for the base variant. Let's look at the OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G in this review if you're considering it for your next purchase.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Review
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G offers many things already seen in this price range. However, OnePlus did make some improvements to make its product stand out from the crowd. Do these changes deserve your attention? That’s what we will check out in this OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G review.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Unboxing
Before diving into the review, let's have a look at the box contents of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G:
- OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G Smartphone
- Good quality silicon case
- 80 Watt charger
- Type-C cable
- SIM tray ejector
- Quick start guide
OnePlus Nord CE 3: Design
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G smartphone has a similar design to the Nord CE 3 Lite. We see the same large camera modules and a glossy finish on the rear panel. However, it lacks the ambient sensor provided at the back of the Nord CE 3 Lite. Another differentiator is the bold new color, which is called Aqua Surge.
Lately, OnePlus has been refreshing the design with bold new colors on its mid-range smartphones. Last time, on the lite model, it was the pastel lime color; this time, it is the Aqua Surge. The best part is that the case provided is of good quality and themed to match the smartphone's color. The rest of the smartphone is pretty standard in terms of the design.
The edges are so flat that you can make the phone stand still, which I am not a big fan of. The rear panel has a curve toward the edges, making the smartphone comfortable to hold. Even though the rear panel is polycarbonate, the glossy finish makes it appear like glass from a distance.
This time, the camera modules have a shiny ring around them, which looks great if you use the phone without a case. You get most of the connectivity and ports on the smartphone, including an IR blaster. The volume rocker and power button are on the right side. The Type-C port, loudspeaker, microphone, and SIM tray are on the bottom edge.
The secondary microphone, loudspeaker, and IR blaster are on the top edge. There is nothing on the left edge. The display has a center punch hole for the selfie camera, and the bezels on the display are very uniform. All this makes the smartphone look beautiful and premium from all sides.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Build Quality
OnePlus never disappoints with the build quality, but unfortunately, I cannot say that for its mid-range smartphones. While all the competitors are providing glass back at this price, OnePlus settled for polycarbonate. It’s not bad, but it feels like a cheap plastic sheet and does not add the premium hand feel.
The frame is also polycarbonate, which is not surprising at this price range. If you like flat edges on a smartphone, you will love the Nord CE 3 5G from all angles. The smartphone is a bit bottom-heavy because of a big 5000 mAh battery. But the overall weight of the smartphone is 184 grams, which is pretty good.
The one-hand usage is also pretty great but would have been better with curved edges. One complaint is that the user interface is not very one-hand-friendly. Also, the fingerprint sensor is slightly lower than usual and may be uncomfortable for people with large hands.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Display
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G packs a top-of-the-line display with a high refresh rate for a premium multimedia experience. It has a 6.7-inch Fluid AMOLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate. With HDR 10+ certification and 10-bit color depth, you can enjoy your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime series.
The brightness of this display is high to be perfectly visible in all conditions, indoors or outdoors. Our brightness meter shows a score of 504 LUX, matching with flagship smartphones. There is also an option to increase the smartphone's brightness for HDR playback.
This super thin chin is excellent and is better than modern-day flagships, adding to the overall uniform bezel design. It comes with a thin plastic screen protector pre-applied, which is of decent quality and will stand minor scratches. But since the display has no protection, you need to keep the phone protected with a good screen protector if this one wears off.
The only thing that I didn’t like is that third-party apps like Chrome cannot take full advantage of the 120Hz refresh rate. Like Google Chrome, more third-party apps are locked to 90 Hz instead of 120 Hz.
Overall, the display is great for all kinds of usage. The games can take advantage of the high refresh rate and touch response. The high color depth with HDR 10+ certification provides great visuals in media streaming apps. The brightness is also excellent for the outdoor viewing experience.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Camera
The Nord CE 3 5G packs the best camera sensors at this price range. It has a triple rear camera setup, though it looks like a dual-sensor setup. There is a large 50 MP IMX890 sensor acting as a primary sensor. Then, there is an 8MP ultra-wide sensor and a 2MP macro sensor.
This 50 MP camera can record up to 4K at 30 fps, and it has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) for stability. It also packs EIS for enhanced stability in all videos. An ultra-steady mode is provided that uses a cropping technique paired with OIS to stabilize the videos at a maximum 1080p resolution.
The selfie camera is a 16MP sensor for decent selfies and videos. It supports a maximum video resolution of 1080p at 30 fps. This sensor also supports the EIS for stable photos and videos. The camera app features tons of modes and features to capture the perfect shot in all situations.
The rear camera captures good-quality pictures with a decent amount of detail. The colors are mostly true to life, and the dynamic range is handled well. These pictures may not appeal to anyone looking for punchy colors to share them directly on social media. You can edit the pictures with the built-in or third-party photo editor to make them look good for social media.
I usually keep myself from intensively testing the night photography of a mid-range smartphone. But since OnePlus emphasized the Night photography of the Nord CE 3 5G, I thought, why not give it a chance? Even though it comes with OIS, I had difficulty focusing on the subject in low light.
I noticed that the advertised ICE 2.0 feature works great and takes a sharp picture of moving objects in the shot. I tried it on the metro and was surprised by the results. If you can’t figure it out, the train was in motion when I tapped the shutter button. And you can see that the picture came out sharp and perfect, as if the train was standing still.
Overall, I am impressed by the results of this camera setup. But a few things can be improved, like the colors could be a little more punchy, which can be done through a software update. Otherwise, the camera quality is impressive but not up to the mark.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Performance
The Nord CE 3 5G sports the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 782G chipset, an overclocked Snapdragon 778G. Paired with this processor, we get up to 12GB DDR4X RAM and up to 256GB UFS 3.1 storage. And with the RAM expansion feature, RAM can be expanded further with 12GB virtual RAM. This means you can sacrifice a tiny portion of the store to get 24GB RAM on your smartphone!
It packs a large vapor chamber for cooling the chip when gaming or CPU-intensive tasks. There is a dedicated gaming mode to get the best performance and optimization. It is a 5G processor, and the smartphone supports 8 SA bands, perfect for 5G connectivity. The smartphone also comes with Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6 for seamless connectivity.
Let’s crunch some performance numbers. We ran the AnTuTu benchmark on it, and the score was 6,45,398, which is pretty good for a mid-range smartphone at this price. I also ran Geekbench 6 and again got an excellent score. Lastly, I tested the CPU for throttling and found that the processor does not throttle.
The actual word performance of this smartphone is flawless. I never noticed this smartphone stuttering in any situation. Whether gaming, media consumption, or just scrolling through social media, this smartphone handles everything easily. I played Genshin Impact for a couple of hours, and the smartphone never showed any sign of performance throttle or frame skipping.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Software
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G runs on Oxygen OS 13 based on Android 13. The UI is clean and free from bloatware except for Netflix (if you count it as bloatware.) It’s fast and snappy, with no glitches or bugs found anywhere. Two things that I miss from the original Oxygen OS is that the stock apps used to come with One UI-like one-hand design.
Another thing is that the user interface is far from stock now; the notification drawer and the quick settings do not give a premium experience anymore. There are a few touches of stock Android, like icon theming and a few options under settings. I hope OnePlus reverts to its roots and provides a premium software experience like in its golden days.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Battery
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G comes with a large 5000 mAh battery, which easily lasts an entire day, no matter how intensive its usage. Of course, the mileage differs for different usage patterns, but still, it can give you a full day of usage with optimum usage. OnePlus also added some battery health features that increase the battery's longevity.
The charger in the box is an 80-watt wall adapter with a Type C cable. Since this is not a PD charger, it's large and bulky but does its job. The charger tops up the battery to 60 percent in under 20 minutes. The rest of the battery can be charged in under an hour. The dual-cell structure of the battery doubles the charge cycles.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G Pros and Cons
After spending my time with the OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G, here are the pros and cons to summarize my review:
- A decent build and design
- Great display
- Amazing performance
- Good battery and fast charging
- Camera needs improvement
OnePlus Nord CE 3 5G: Final Verdict
OnePlus crafted a solid option in the mid-range segment to tackle the competition. If OnePlus could improve the camera of this smartphone with updates, then Nord CE 3 5G will be a touch contender to beat. The Nord CE 3 5G is worth considering if you are searching for a mid-range option with excellent and stable performance, great display, solid battery life, and good cameras.
Check out our other reviews:
- OnePlus E24 Monitor Review: Premium Experience at Budget Price
- OnePlus Pad Review: A Worthy Competitor Emerges
- OnePlus Nord 3 Review: Midranger Done Right!
- OnePlus Nord Buds 2r Review: Refined or Rushed?
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