OnePlus quickly gained popularity as soon as it started its business, thanks to its aggressive prices, powerful smartphones that completely destroyed the market. Over time, the brand has slowly moved from the production of smartphones “flagship killers” to the simple production of premium flagships. To keep its loyal fan base happy, OnePlus launched the Nord series a couple of years ago with the aim of once again disrupting the mid-range smartphone segment, and it more than succeeded.
From the first OnePlus Nord (Review) raised the bar for sub-Rs. Segment 30,000, many fans waiting for sub-Rs. 20,000 OnePlus phones, and in 2022 we finally have it. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is the most affordable OnePlus phone of all Rs. 19 999. As the name implies, this is a lighter version Nord CE 2 5G (Review) for the most part, but in some areas it manages to offer slightly better performance. Is Nord CE 2 Lite 5G all we hoped for in the sub-Rs. 20,000 OnePlus phones or would you be better off with one of its competitors?
Price OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G in India
The basic version of c OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of memory for Rs. 19,999 in India, while the option with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of memory costs Rs. 21,999. Both are available in Blue Tide or Black Dusk. I have a top blue version for this review.
Designed by OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G
The Blue Tide color makes the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G instantly recognizable as a Nord smartphone. OnePlus used similar shades of blue for all of its Nord models. In fact even the original OnePlus headphones were available in a shade called “Nord Blue”. It is said that the Black Dusk Nord CE 2 Lite 5G variant has a sandstone finish; return to OnePlus One.
Although the color is distinctive, the same cannot be said of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G design. At first glance, this phone would be very easy to impersonate Realme or Vivo devices, and in fact both Realme Q5 and Vivo T1 (Review) look very similar.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has a large 6.59-inch Full HD + display with a camera hole in the upper left corner. However, this is the LCD panel, not the AMOLED we’re used to seeing on OnePlus phones. The good news is that you get a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz, which is higher than the 90 Hz more expensive Nord CE 2 5G. I like the thin bezels on the sides of the display, but the chin is thicker. This is not uncommon for phones in this segment, perhaps with the exception Motorola G52 (Review).
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has a plastic frame and back panel. The fingerprint scanner is built into the power button on the right. Its easy to find and retrieve, it is slightly sunk into the frame. The volume buttons are on the opposite side along with the SIM tray. OnePlus has retained the 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom. Here you will also find one speaker and a USB Type-C port.
Like other models in Nord CE (Review), The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G does not have the iconic OnePlus alert slider. This phone weighs 195g, which is heavier than the Nord CE 2 5G, and this extra weight is definitely noticeable in the hand. It feels even heavier when you use a complete case.
The back panel has a textured coating near the camera module, and the color in that area changes from sky blue to yellow when viewed at different angles under light. The rest of the back has a static blue hue and has a OnePlus logo.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G specifications and software
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has modest characteristics, but is consistent with what the competition offers in this segment. I was a little disappointed, as OnePlus often set trends rather than followed them. The phone runs from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC, which we’ve seen in phones with similar prices, such as the Vivo T1, Moto G71 (Review), and Redmi Note 11 Pro + 5G (Review). OnePlus also offers a software program to increase RAM, which can allocate up to 5 GB of internal memory as virtual RAM (in the top version).
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G supports Bluetooth 5.2, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, 4G VoLTE, a total of five 5G bands in India and six satellite navigation systems. It also has a hybrid SIM card slot that can hold microSD cards up to 1 TB instead of a second SIM card. The phone has a 5000 mAh battery and supports fast charging SuperVOOC 33 watts.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is based on OxygenOS 12 Android 12. I had an Android 2022 security patch on my device. OnePlus guarantees two Android OS updates and three years of security updates for Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. It’s a longer commitment than what most competitors offer, which is nice.
OxygenOS 12 on OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has some new features that we first saw on OnePlus 10 Pro (Review). OnePlus Scout lets you search for things in contacts, apps, and the web, much like Spotlight on Apple devices. Work-Life Balance 2.0 now allows you to create profiles that separate work programs from those used for leisure. You can also filter notifications to help you focus while working. These profiles can be automated depending on the time, location or Wi-Fi access point you are connecting to.
The OnePlus Shelf can now be accessed by gesturing down from the right side of the top edge of the display. Private Safe allows you to protect media files as well as programs with a password. OnePlus has kept the number of pre-installed apps to a minimum, which is good.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G performance and battery life
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G proved to be a capable budget smartphone, and it worked great during the review. It handled everyday use easily, but downloading heavy apps and games took a little longer than usual. The high refresh rate display made the scrolling interface sensitive. Multitasking was not an issue and I was able to seamlessly switch between multiple running programs. Unlocking the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G using a fingerprint scanner as well as face recognition was fast. The speaker was also quite loud, but a setup with two speakers would have been better.
In the benchmark AnTuTu OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G scored 4 00 763 points. In the single-core and multi-core Geekbench 5 tests, the phone managed to score 687 and 1951 points, respectively. It also received 17 frames per second and 60 frames per second in the CarChase and T-Rex test kits from GFXBench. These figures corresponded to what we were shown by competing smartphones with the same SoC.
When it comes to gaming, Call of Duty: Mobile has proven itself well when setting up “High” for graphics as well as frame rates and non-stop. After playing the game for about 15 minutes, I noticed that the battery level dropped by five percent, which is not bad.
Battery life was also good. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G easily lasted over a day and a half in my typical use. In our HD video cycle test the phone worked 23 hours 35 minutes which was very good. The 33-watt SuperVOOC charger was able to charge the phone from empty to 50 percent in 30 minutes and up to 93 percent in an hour.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G cameras
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has three rear-facing cameras consisting of a 64-megapixel main, a 2-megapixel depth and a 2-megapixel macro. For selfies, it has a front 16-megapixel camera, identical to the one that is OnePlus 9 Pro (Review). One thing that is sorely lacking is the ultra-wide camera that Nord CE 2 5G has.
The camera app is fairly easy to use and has a choice of multiple shooting modes. The viewfinder has switches for HDR, AI scene and the ability to capture images with full 64-megapixel main camera resolution. It also has a “Pro” mode that allows you to manually adjust various exposure settings.
The daylight photos taken with the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G had a decent dynamic range and good colors. This phone received good exposure, and even smaller objects in the distance in landscape pictures were usually recognizable. The AI scene amp amplified the colors a bit, but I didn’t find the results unnatural. Photos taken in the native 64-megapixel resolution had better dynamic range, but had no detail compared to pixel.
Close-up photos were clear with a nice soft blurring of the object’s background. The camera program prompted me with suggestions on how to place the phone in case I was too close to the subject. Images taken in portrait mode had good edge detection, and the intensity of the blurred background was adjustable. The 2-megapixel macro camera got decent photos, but I would have happily swapped both of these secondary cameras for an ultra-wide-angle camera.
The performance of the camera in low light was average. The subjects in the photos often lacked sharpness, and the phone had difficulty capturing adequate detail in dark areas of the scene. With night mode on, shooting took three to four seconds, but eventually the photo turned out brighter. These phones also managed to better capture details in the shadows using this mode.
Selfies taken by OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G in daylight as well as in low light were good. It also turned out decent portraits. In low light, it automatically used the screen flash to make the image brighter.
Video recording on OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G reaches 1080p. The shots in daylight were decently stabilized and I could only see some tremors creeping in while walking. In low light, the videos looked soft and had a noticeable jitter at the exit.
I am happy that we finally have a OnePlus smartphone for less than Rs. 20,000, but at the same time I’m a little disappointed that the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G doesn’t raise the bar significantly. The features it offers are good, but not good enough to really stand out from the competition. Promised software updates and relatively fast charging are distinctive features, but other than that, Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is more like a mix of parts from other BBK-owned brands such as Realme and Vivo, making it look and function very similar to their cousins.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G faces stiff competition from the likes of the Vivo T1, which is less expensive than the base Nord version by almost Rs. 3000 and has almost the same characteristics. The Moto G71 5G (Review) undermines Nord by about a rupee. 2000, and although it lacks a high refresh rate screen, it has an AMOLED panel and an ultra-wide camera.
If you want to own a OnePlus smartphone or long-term software updates rank high on the list of things to have, you can consider Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. For everyone else, I think the Vivo T1 and iQoo Z6 offer the same performance for less money. Moto G71 5G – another phone to think about if you do not mind living with a 60 Hz display.