With the introduction of the first OnePlus Nord, in July 2020, OnePlus has embarked on an important transformation path of the company, expanding the range towards the mid and low end of the market. A maturation that brought some shocks, such as the farewell of the co-founder Carl Pei at the end of 2020, but definitely rewarded by the results. “During the first quarter of 2021 we recorded sales growth in Europe of 388% and revenues of 286%. Our market share there also grew by 85%”, explained the CEO of OnePlus. Pete Lau, in a recent interview with Italian Tech. “The real success, however, is that we have managed to keep the OnePlus experience unchanged while democratizing the offer, bringing our user experience philosophy even to devices that cost less”.
The new OnePlus Nord CE 5G smartphone goes in the direction enunciated by Lau, as already the previous models of the Nord series. With a starting price of less than 300 euros, OnePlus challenges competitors such as Xiaomi and Poco in an increasingly crowded range of 5G smartphones that combine fast connectivity and highly respectable technical features. The purpose, the company says, is to bring the key features of the OnePlus Nord to a smartphone even less expensive than the original 2020 version (hence the name CE, which stands for Core Edition). We tested it in preview, discovering an honest device, which does what it should and does it well, at a price appropriate to the technical characteristics. We tell you about it in detail in this tech test.
OnePlus Nord CE 5G does not shine for originality in design and does not differ from the simple lines typical of the Chinese brand. On the back, the three cameras are arranged in a “traffic light” module on the left side. The front camera is instead inserted in a hole on the side of the display, in a configuration that can now be considered standard for devices of this range.
Light and thin
What you immediately notice when you take this smartphone in your hand is the lightness: it weighs only 170 g. It is also very thin (7.9 mm), but consequently the rear camera protrudes noticeably. Since the photo module is positioned to the side, it makes the phone tilt when you place it on the desk. Given that most users will probably use the transparent cover included in the box, the problem is very relative.
The screen is one of the strengths of this OnePlus Nord CE, especially by virtue of the price (299 euros for the basic version). It is a 6.43 “Fluid Amoled with 90Hz refresh rate. An important feature, which helps to make interactions with the interface smoother. Also noteworthy is the fingerprint sensor under the screen for secure unlocking of the phone. and to authorize payments with Google Pay. In times of masks, it is a solution that continues to be more functional than unlocking with face recognition.
The photographic equipment is also promoted, especially when compared to the price. The main camera has a 64 Megapixel resolution, which is activated with a dedicated option in the Camera app. The standard photos are 16 MP, because the sensor provides 4-in-1 pixel-binning, with four pixels joined together to form a larger and brighter one. There is also the possibility of shooting in RAW format with the Pro mode, a feature not to be underestimated for a device of this range.
The secondary camera is an 8 MP super wide angle, while the third lens is not a real camera, but a monochrome sensor that serves to improve the detail in the photos taken by the other lenses.
Photo and video
The quality of the photos taken with the main sensor is very good: the details are sharp, the colors well balanced in the final computational processing of the shot. The difference in quality with the secondary sensor, however, is quite visible, especially in the definition at the edges and in the slight chromatic aberrations on the details that can be seen by enlarging the photo. The videos are also good, but we note the absence of an optical stabilization. The maximum resolution is that allowed by the technical equipment of the device, and therefore 4K but only up to 30p (and only with the main camera: the super wide angle reaches a maximum of 1080p).
There is the headphone jack
Although OnePlus has several true wireless headphones in its catalog for its smartphones, the Nord CE has a jack socket. However, one of the most useful functions usually linked to the presence of this feature is missing, namely the FM radio tuner. Sin.
Battery and fast charging
During our preview test, the 4500mAh battery performed excellently. Quietly lasts a day and a half with normal phone use. Excellent fast charging, which is not the ultra-fast one of the manufacturer’s high-end models, but the 30 Watt version. It’s still enough to get the phone from 0 to 70% charge in about half an hour.
Performance and software
In everyday use, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G performs very well. The Snapdragon 750G chipset is perfect for a mid-range phone. The interface is fluid and always responds well thanks to the 90Hz display. With models like this, OnepLus intends to expand the Fast & Smooth experience of its flagship models to even the lower segments of the market. The optimizations of the OxygenOS operating system, based on Android 11, are indeed appreciated in the cleaning of the interface and in the system apps. However, we do not recommend this device to those looking for a product suitable for video games with particularly demanding graphics.
What we like
Ergonomics: Despite a respectable battery, the phone is very light. You can feel the difference compared to certain high-end boulders, especially in your pocket
The screen: the 90Hz Fluid Amoled is a great display, bright and with excellent color rendering
Fast charging and autonomy: there is no wireless charging, it is true, but with the Warp Charge 30T and the 4500mAh of battery volume it is difficult to stay dry
What could be done better
The quality of the rear body leaves something to be desired: the color finish is good, but the feel is a bit “plasticky”. The body in addition creaks every now and then if you hold it vigorously. To be reviewed.
The triple camera has a somewhat unbalanced equipment. The main sensor is fine, but maybe you could save something on that and equip the smartphone with a slightly more resolute and performing secondary lens.
The positioning of the cameras on the back: if they had been symmetrical and in the center, the tilting when placing the phone on the desk would have been avoided
Price and availability
OnePlus Nord CE 5G starts at 299 euros for the model with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The basic version is only available in Charchoal Ink (a sort of dark gray). The intermediate model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB instead costs 329 euros, and can also be bought in the Blue Void color. For the 12GB + 256GB flagship version, the Silver Ray color is also available. In this case the price is 399 euros.
Pre-orders for all models are already open on the OnePlus website and on Amazon. The official date of commercial availability in stores, on OnePlus.com and on Amazon is June 21.
The technical specifications
Below, the main technical features of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G:
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
GPU: Adreno 619
Display: Fluid Amoled da 6,43″ e 90Hz di refresh
Cameras: 64MP wide angle + 8MP super wide angle + 2MP (monochrome sensor)
Video: up to 4K 30p resolution (main camera only)
RAM and storage space: 6GB + 128GB, 8GB + 128GB, 12GB + 256GB
Battery: 4500mAh with Warp Charge 30T fast charge
Security: fingerprint sensor under the screen, face unlock
Connectivity: 5G and 4G, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC