OnePlus has just announced its new affordable Nord series smartphone and TWS earbuds, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite and Nord Buds 2. Under the “Lite” naming we can expect it will be an entry-level smartphone but, could I be wrong? Let’s check out what the new OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite has to offer.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite Specifications
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G
- GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 619
- Memory: 8GB LPDDR4x
- Storage: 256GB UFS 2.2
- Display: 6.72 LCD (30Hz ~ 120Hz), 2,400 x 1,080, 680 nits Peak Brightness, 91.4% Screen-to-Body Ratio
- Rear Camera: 108MP Samsung HM6 f/1.75 1/167″, Depth & Macro
- Front Camera: 16MP f/2.0
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1 LE
- OS: OxygenOS 13.1,
- Battery: 5,000mAh @ 67W SUPERVOOC Flash Charge
- Color: Pastel Lime & Chromatic Gray
- Dimension: 165.5 x 76.0 x 8.33mm @ 195g
- Price: RM 1,099
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite nowhere looks cheap. It has a beautiful design with a huge screen-to-body ratio of 91.4%. The glossy glass-like finish back cover has a minimalist design with the OnePlus logo and two-camera bumps that house 3 cameras. It’s pretty sleek at 8.3mm thickness and weighs only 195 grams.
The power button on the right doubles as a fingerprint scanner, while the volume rocker and hybrid SIM tray are on the left. Given the option to have dual 5G networks or have the second SIM card slot as a microSD card slot for storage expansion.
You will find a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom alongside a microphone, USB C, and a down-firing speaker. Featuring a stereo dual-speaker and boost 200% Ultra Volume Mode. It can go really loud without much distortion – do check out my FastView video for the audio test.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is available in two colors; Pastel Lima and Chromatic Gray which I have for this review.
One of the highlights would definitely be the high screen-to-body ratio display. The 6.72-inch Full HD+ LCD has an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate that switches between 30Hz, 48Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz depending on the content on the screen. The display also supports RGB Display P3 and has a 680 nits peak brightness.
You don’t need to worry much about scratching the screen because it is protected with Corning Gorilla Glass and it also comes with a pre-installed film out-of-the-box.
The display is not as bright or as vivid as other flagship devices with AMOLED panels but for an entry-level smartphone, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite isn’t that bad, especially with the color reproduction and the supports of Widevine L1. The only thing that I would nitpick on the display would be the thick chin that is mostly found on entry-level smartphones.
Powering the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is not any entry-level chip, instead of a popular midrange chip the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 with 5G capability. Paired with 8GB of LPDDR4x memory can get an additional 8GB virtual RAM expansion that swaps out from its internal storage. This helps improve user experience with faster and smoother multitasking.
Performed stress tests, ran three rounds of AnTuTu Benchmark continuously, and didn’t see any significant heat generated that could throttle the performance.
To play high graphics demanding games smoothly like Genshin Impact or Asphalt 9: Legends, you may need to set the game’s graphics to medium or low.
Here are other benchmark test results;
Equipped with a triple rear camera setup, 108MP Samsung HM6 primary camera with a fast f/1.75 aperture lens. With the high-resolution camera, it can shoot 3x lossless zoom which is great if you would like to reframe the images or digitally 3x crop without losing many details.
There are 2 more cameras on the rear which are a depth sensor and a macro lens. For me, I would rather have an ultrawide over these two camera sensors. With advanced AI, most modern smartphones do not require a dedicated depth sensor for portrait shots.
As for the 2MP macro lens, don’t expect any high-quality photos captured from it.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is capable to record 1080p at 30fps and 720p slow motion at 120fps.
Here are some photos taken with the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite.
The full-resolution images can be previewed on Google Drive
Photos taken with the primary camera are decent with great details and vibrant colors. It does struggle a bit when taking low-light photos as it doesn’t have an OIS to compensate for the shutter speeds.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite will be running on the latest OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13. The OS brings a host of power-saving and performance benefits, including 15% faster app installation, 30% less app lag, and a 40% improvement in app power efficiency.
The OS is also optimized for gaming by reducing system lag and screen tearing with the upgraded GPA Frame Stabilizer, or use Quick Startup to jump right into the last saved game state. By using the Game Mode, it can block unwanted notifications and help prevent mistouches for a streamlined gameplay experience.
Overall the UX is smooth and does come with a few handy features like Smart Sidebar, Flexible Windows, Double Tap to Wake or Lock Screen, and many more.
Battery & Charging
The 5,000mAh battery can be topped from 0% to 80% in just 30 minutes. This is thanks to the OnePlus’s proprietary 67W SUPERVOOC fast charging and good to know that the power brick is included inside the box.
Coming to battery life, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is pretty impressive, clocked close to 19 hours on the PCMark Battery Life test.
Price & Availability
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite will be priced at RM 1,099 and those who pre-order from 11th to 18th April 2023 will receive FREE OnePlus Nord Buds (1st Gen), 1-year Extended Warranty, and 1-year Screen Protection.
It will be available for pre-order at OnePlus’s LazMall or OnePlus Official Retail Stores will receive RM 30 off.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite Review
The upgrade from its predecessor isn’t that significant without resolving its shortfall. It now gets a higher resolution 108MP primary camera and 67W faster charging speed. Not to say the Snapdragon 695 5G isn’t good, matter of fact, it is one great power-efficient midrange SoC hence its popularity among all brands. What disappointed me was the missing ultrawide angle camera that would be more practical rather than the two redundant depth and macro sensors.
If the camera isn’t your top priority in choosing your smartphone, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is one excellent pick that offers a smooth 120Hz display, balanced performance with great power efficiency, and an intuitive OS.