OnePlus Nord CE 5G review
This slimmed down version of OnePlus’ best mid-ranger is cheap and very cheerful.
The OnePlus Nord was a revelation when it was first revealed back in 2020. It was a phone that really brought OnePlus back its roots - as a brand that offers great hardware at a price that doesn’t sting. At £379 it was the bargain of the year and, according to OnePlus, one the best-selling phones on Amazon.
A massive success, then, and one OnePlus wants to recapture with the OnePlus Nord CE 5G - a cheaper phone that has many of the features that made the Nord so compelling.
We’ve been using it for a few weeks now - here are 5 things to know about the OnePlus Nord CE 5G.
1 The name is key to what this handset is
The CE in OnePlus Nord CE 5G stands for Core Edition. Much like Samsung is doing with its FE (Fan Edition) range of phones, it takes the core of what makes the Nord a great phone and slices and dices a few of the features to get the price down.
2 Its looks certainly aren’t cheap
We can’t stop staring into the Blue Void of our review device. The colour of the handset really stands out and looks great wrapping round the rounded chassis. There are hints of it when you look at the 6.43-inch AMOLED, 90Hz and Full HD screen straight on, too, which we like.
The back is plastic and this is one of the concessions that has been made here, compared to the original Nord. And while the glass is toughened, it is not Gorilla Glass on show. Given this is one of the cheapest 5G phones you can buy, you wouldn’t know this by looks alone.
On the rear is a triple camera array and there is a 3.5mm jack situated on the bottom of the device next to the USB-C charging port. This is also OnePlus’ slimmest phone since the OnePlus 6T, at just 7.9mm thick.
3 There are plenty of specs on show here
We weren’t expecting an in-screen fingerprint scanner at this price, so it’s good to see it included on the OnePlus Nord CE 5G. There isn’t quite as much grunt on board here, compared to the original Nord, with a Snapdragon 750G chipset used. The original’s 765G chip did mean that things like gaming are a little bit more buttery smooth but, on the whole, we didn’t notice a drastic difference when comparing the two phones.
The screen will be familiar to OnePlus users. It’s decent and great that it's OLED with crisp colours and it worked really well in the recent sunshine we have actually been getting in the UK - this is thanks to the 1000-nit brightness.
When it comes to power, there are two versions available: 8GB and128GB storage, 12GB and 256GB storage. If you opt for the bigger size, then it is £70 more (bringing it up to the price of the original Nord) and you have an extra colour option to choose from - Silver Ray. The other colours are Blue Void (reviewed) and Charcoal Ink.
4 Camera is cut down but works well
As mentioned, there is a triple camera display on the OnePlus Nord CE. You get a 64MP camera, 119-degree wide-angle camera and a monochrome lens. We’re not quite convinced that you need a monochrome lens anymore, given how good filters are now, but if you want to take B&W with decent clarity, then it certainly does that.
The other two cameras work well, though, with the colours and detail captured surprisingly good. We say surprising as we weren’t convinced when OnePlus revealed that it wasn’t using a Sony sensor for its cameras this time around.
The ultra-wide was also solid in our tests, but it didn’t feel like it had quite the ‘oomph’ in the picture department as the original Nord, though.
Its 4K shooting is great, though, with this handset working well when it comes to capturing video. And the dedicated night mode was definitely welcomed, enhancing our night shots with pleasing clarity.
5 Battery will last a day but gets up to speed quick
We were expecting the OnePlus Nord CE 5G to have a 5000mAh battery but what’s here is a 4,500mAh one. It did last the day in our test, though, and we definitely put the handset through its paces, shifting between gaming, Netflix, doom scrolling and the like.
With Warp Charge 30T (30W) on board, though, you can get over 60% charge back in just 30 minutes, so we found ourselves using that when clocking off work around 5pm. That way we didn’t need to charge it through the night.
OnePlus Nord CE 5G: Final verdict
Yes, sacrifices have been made. There’s no glass back, the processor and camera has been changed but what you have is one of the best-looking phones at its price point and one that has many of the great features that OnePlus fans know and love. If you are looking to upgrade from an older OnePlus and want a phone under the £300 mark then this is for you. If you can still find the original Nord, then we would snap that one up, too, as we have a feeling that you won’t be seeing that phone on sale much longer, now the CE 5G is on its way.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is available to pre-order from OnePlus now.
- OnePlus Nord review: a mid-range master