I recently got an email from a 30-something user who described how buying a phone has singed his wallet and thrown his expenses haywire. “I am working longer to pay EMIs for the phone I bought last year,” he said. “Honestly, I now feel trapped.” As I was researching for a story, I realised this is really a thing that does not get the attention it deserves. I feel brands need to take a middle route where a phone does not feel like a financial liability. While reviewing the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G last week, it gave me some hope that it is possible to offer a phone that is practical in every sense but also does not disrupt your financial planning for the year. Here’s what I feel about the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G review: Design and aesthetics
From in-hand feeling to general design, the Nord CE 2 Lite is a typical OnePlus phone. It has an elegant design, with a seamless finish. There’s no getting around the fact it’s a big phone, and its 6.59-inch screen makes it just bearable to use one-handed. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that it feels a little heavy, and as such, it’s not easily pocketable. The back is made of polycarbonate but has a smooth matte finish. It’s not really something you will notice if you are a new OnePlus user.
As on the CE 2 Lite, the iconic alert slider is missing. This is a distinctive feature that has been the trademark on a OnePlus phone. But what you get is a 3.5mm headphone jack, a fingerprint scanner that is built inside a power button, and the SIM tray has room to accommodate two SIMs and a microSD card for storage expansion. At the bottom, you have a mono speaker and a USB-C port for charging. My review sample was blue, which reminded me of my time spent in the summers in London. There’s also a black dusk version available.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G review: Display and audio quality
Let’s talk about the display on the Nord CE 2 Lite. It’s fine…not spectacular but also not bad. The phone sports a 6.59-inch LCD panel with a refresh rate that goes all the way to 120Hz. The panel is a step down from Samsung Galaxy phones that features an AMOLED display, delivering rich contrast, and it’s bright enough to be viewable outside in the direct sun without too much effort. I suspect most people will even notice it. To be clear, the screen is good enough for watching movies, browsing the web or reading news on indianexpress.com. I sense it does not overtake the iPhone 13 screen though.
I am not wowed by the speaker’s quality. I don’t listen to music through the phone’s speakers but the lack of stereo speakers will annoy some. Although the audio gets loud, it is not of great quality. Keep this in mind when considering buying this phone.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G review: Performance and battery
The Nord CE 2 Lite is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695 processor with either 6GB or 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. Apps open quickly, and I didn’t notice any significant delays or hiccups going about my daily tasks and using apps like Linkedin. The only time I saw a slight stutter was when playing Genshin Impact. The OS is Android 12, with OxygenOS 12 on top. The user interface is clean with very little bloatware.
The battery lasts at least a day. I don’t like carrying battery packs as I fear losing them. The 5000mAh battery cell is a big relief. Heavy users should comfortably get a day out of the battery as I experienced in my testing. There’s a 33W charger included in the box, and it can charge up the phone ridiculously fast.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G review: Camera and video recording
The Nord CE 2 Lite’s camera hardware may not look especially exciting on paper, but it adds up to much more than the price of the phone. But there is one big omission, I’d like to highlight and it’s the missing ultrawide camera. So the phone features three rear cameras, including a 64-megapixel primary lens, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth camera. I don’t find a macro lens useful, anyway.
Speaking of the main camera, I got the best results when taking photos with enough natural light, though colours can get a bit oversaturated. In low-light, the night mode does improve photos but the end result still looks fuzzy and blurry. The Nord CE 2 Lite’s camera can take the photos noticeably better than the old phone, good enough for any casual Facebooking and Instagram stuff and any causal. I think it more or less matches most phones out there in a similar price bracket.
Is the Nord CE 2 Lite worth it?
Okay, let’s just get the obvious questions out of the way here — Is the Nord CE 2 Lite as good as the flagship OnePlus 10 Pro? No. Is the Nord CE 2 Lite OnePlus’ fanciest model? No. Does the Nord CE 2 have the best camera? Definitely not. Whether or not the Nord CE 2 Lite is worth it, really depends on what you want to use your phone for. This is not a phone to show off or to be used to create a professional-level Vlog. The Nord CE 2 Lite is all about value and I see a lot of thought went into creating this phone. It’s a super value for the price. A vast majority of customers don’t want a phone as a liability and that’s where the Nord CE 2 Lite’s Rs 19,999 price gets interesting. I think this phone reaches the widest users possible and is where OnePlus succeeds.