Gets more than just the price right

It hasn’t been too long since OnePlus entered the mid-range segment of the market with its Nord series of phones. Since its entry, we have seen strong growth for the company in this segment, with the more expensive Nord and the slightly affordable Nord CE Lite range of phones selling like hotcakes across the country. 

Today, we have a new device from the CE Lite series to review. Yes, we are talking about the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G, which despite being similar to the last generation CE 2 Lite in some areas, is a decent upgrade on the device. 

Read our review to find out if it’s worth your money. 

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G: Design and display

Let’s talk about the design first. 

Much like other OnePlus phones before it, this one too keeps things simple. It has a clean boxy design, with plastic at the back that doesn’t make the phone look cheap. In fact, the build quality of the phone is such that it actually ends up looking quite premium. 

From the in-hand feel of the phone to how the back panel looks and the feedback of the physical buttons on the side of the device, there’s nothing to not like about the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G’s design. Except, of course, for the massive, lens enclosures at the back. While I’ve had some of my friends tell me the camera module design is interesting, for me, it just doesn’t work in terms of looks. 

But like I’ve said above, apart from this, everything else is just a-okay with the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G’s design. 

What about the display you ask? 

Well, there’s little to complain about the display also. While it’s not the brightest, the most colour accurate or the most vibrant of panels you’d find on a phone in the segment, the Nord CE 3 LIte 5G’s display still does the trick. 

It’s good for watching movies and shows and offers decent colour accuracy, contrast ratios, and a typical peak brightness of 535 nits to help the panel reproduce accurate visuals not only inside a dark room but also when you’re on the move and using the phone’s panel that’s exposed to harsh sunlight. 

This is a 6.72-inch FHD+ panel that can handle fast refresh rates up to 120Hz across 6 different stops — between 30 to 120Hz — so it’s good both in terms of size and also specs for games, watching movies, playing TV shows and also scrolling the web. 

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite: Performance and battery

At the heart of the device is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695 SoC. This is a 5G chip that supports pretty much all the 5G bands that you’d need for connecting to high-speed mobile internet connections. 

Interestingly, it’s also the same chip that we had on the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. So performance here is pretty much the same that we saw on last year’s affordable Nord phone. 

This 6nm chip features an octa-core CPU with a maximum clock speed of 2.2 GHz. There’s also an Adreno 619 GPU for graphics. All these combine to ensure that day-to-day tasks such as calling, texting, social media, and multitasking work smoothly on the phone. In our time with the device, we generally faced minimal lags and stutters in our regular usage. 

Benchmarks also threw up decent results with the CPU Throttling test showing the phone only throttling to 83 per cent of its peak performance after 15 minutes, which is not bad for a sub-20K phone. Other benchmarks like AnTuTu and Geekbench also performed decently well on the phone, with scores just about on par with competing devices. 

Gaming was also surprisingly smooth on the device, with Asphalt 9 Legends and Call of Duty Mobile both running at high graphics and high frame rate settings on the device. This was without noticeable frame skipping or stutters. Overall, gaming was good on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G. 

But one important thing to note here is that the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G runs Android 13 out of the box with OxygenOS 13.1 on top. The company is offering 2 major updates of OxygenOS and 3 years of security updates on the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G. In the case of the other devices in the Nord lineup, devices receive 3 major updates of OxygenOS and 4 years of security updates. In terms of user experience, this UI offers all that you want from a mid-range phone and keeps things simple and clean while doing so. 

Battery performance is good on the device, with the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G housing a 5,000 mAh battery with support for an upgraded 67W fast charging. Thanks to the energy-efficient chipset and software, the device is quite efficient with battery management in day-to-day use. We easily got a day’s use for moderate use. Benchmark numbers were also decent, with the video loop test for the device clocking in at 670 minutes. 

And even when the battery ran out of charge, we could charge it back to the brim in about 40 minutes. This again is good if you’re looking for a phone that doesn’t keep you hooked to the wall socket for extended periods during the day. 

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G: Cameras

Cameras are arguably one of the strong points of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G. And this is majorly down to the fact that the phone features a triple rear camera setup consisting of a 108-megapixel primary lens. This lens has been paired with a 2 MP macro lens, and a 2 MP depth camera. While the second and the third lens on the phone aren’t anything to write home about, it’s the primary lens that ensures the phone gets an overall good rating in the camera department. 

It clicks well-detailed shots with a good amount of detail and colour accuracy thanks to the supporting computational algorithm for the camera module. In the daytime, it pulls plenty of detail and lets shots shine with good dynamic range. 

And even in low light, the results are good as the primary lens on the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G manages to pull in plenty of light and also detail. There is little noise and the shutter speed is also decent in low light. 

There’s also a 16MP selfie shooter that’s been given some extra tricks up its sleeve courtesy of the camera software on the phone. As such, you get features like an upgraded Portrait mode for selfies which clicks good shots with accurate skin tones. 

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G: Verdict

This is a well-rounded device, which may not stand out from the crowd, but it does hold its own against the competition when it comes to performance in key areas. Cameras and battery are the standout features here and deserve a call out from us, but even the general performance and design of the device are pretty good and are good enough to warrant a buying recommendation from us. 

The only matter of concern is if the device’s chipset, the Snapdragon 695 SoC will be able to hold its own in years to come and leave the device looking a bit too underpowered in front of phones that may launch not only a year from now but even the ones that we see entering the market in a few months.

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