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OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G Review: A Quality Phone That Loses Itself Among The Crowd

News18 logo News18 28-03-2022 S Aadeetya

OnePlus and Oppo finally have joined hands to give us phones that have technology sharing done in the public. But another thing borrowed by the brands is their design. The new OnePlus Nord CE 2 has come out from the blueprint used for the Oppo Reno 7 earlier this year.

Compared to the Oppo device, the Nord CE 2 sits comfortably in the sub Rs 30,000 bracket, and even goes down to Rs 24,000 if you pick the base variant. The Nord CE successor has come out way earlier than most of us expected, so does that work in favour of the device? We used the phone for over a week and here’s our review.

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OnePlus Nord CE 2 Design

The Nord CE 2 is an upgrade on its predecessor with the design. The plastic body has been replaced with a glass finish, while the plastic has been retained on the sides and still no sign of the alert slider because of that.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 gets a design refresh. © Provided by News18 OnePlus Nord CE 2 gets a design refresh.

The punch hole cutout sits in the top-left of the screen, and the triple rear cameras are neatly placed inside the module. The sensors look enormous but their quality pales in front of their sizes (more on that later).

The headphone jack, and the mono speaker have the USB Type C port in the middle. The volume buttons are on the left, right below the SIM card slot.

Nord CE 2 comes with a mono speaker. © Provided by News18 Nord CE 2 comes with a mono speaker.

The hand feel of the device is good, it’s light as well, which allows most users the comfort of using one hand. The chin at the bottom of the display is thicker than we would have liked. But all in all, Nord CE 2 feels like how an upgraded device should be, and a lot closer to what we get from the Nord 2.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Display

OnePlus has never compromised on the display front, and the Nord CE 2 follows its strongest suite. The phone sports an AMOLED display but with support for 90Hz which is these days expected from a phone for under Rs 20,000.

AMOLED display on the Nord CE 2 supports 90Hz refresh rate. © Provided by News18 AMOLED display on the Nord CE 2 supports 90Hz refresh rate.

Having said that, the screen quality is quite good, and durable in some ways thanks to Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection. It’s hard to deny that a 6.43-inch form factor makes the lives of the user much easier, making every other phone feel bigger in the hand.

The AMOLED panel delivers deep blacks, watching videos and even gaming on the phone was a pleasant experience for the eyes. The screen brightness in outdoor light wasn’t the best we’ve seen in this price range.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Performance

OnePlus Nord CE 2 comes powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 900 chipset that we also got on the Oppo Reno 7. The use of an older hardware feels like a price-centric decision, and there are both ways of looking at this call.

Nord CE 2 comes with MediaTek Dimensity 900 processor. © Provided by News18 Nord CE 2 comes with MediaTek Dimensity 900 processor.

The chipset with 8GB RAM delivers most of your tasks without any stutter, it even handles games like Call of Duty Mobile with ease, but the chipset has a limit which becomes evident in some cases, which we feel in a few years will become obvious to the user.

We are hoping the software optimisation keeps the device in good health for many years. The other concern for us with Nord CE 2 is that it feels a bit outdated for its overall package, when compared with others at this price nowadays.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Software

OnePlus Nord CE 2 gets the ever-reliable OxygenOS version, which is still on Android 11 operating system for some reason. We are in the year 2022, when Google is going to announce Android 13 for devices. To not even offer Android 12 out of the box for this device is not fair, especially for a brand like OnePlus. And the company’s promise of a two year update feels short changed because of that, and hopefully it goes beyond Android 13 for your sake.

Nord CE 2 still runs on Android 11-based OxygenOS. © Provided by News18 Nord CE 2 still runs on Android 11-based OxygenOS.

The software is smooth, and we didn’t notice any major issues with its usability. The near stock Android experience of OxygenOS has big support in the community, and except for Netflix there aren’t any bloatware, keeping the overall interface clean and slick.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Camera

For some reason, OnePlus decided the Nord CE 2 did not need any change in the cameras. So, you end up with the same triple rear camera setup of 64-megapixel sensor, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor and the 2-megapixel macro sensor. Even on the front, the 16-megapixel shooter is the same as the Nord CE.

Nord CE 2 has a triple rear camera setup. © Provided by News18 Nord CE 2 has a triple rear camera setup.

The lack of change means you get the same image quality. The primary camera at the back shoots decent photos in bright conditions, with ample amount of detail visible to the naked eye. The low-light prowess is still underwhelming, and using the Night mode gives the photos some respectability. Again, these are the traits of a phone that now deserves its place in the sub-20,000 bracket.

The front camera gives you detailed selfies with soft touch impact visible on the skin, devoid of any natural texture because of the processing behind the scenes.

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OnePlus Nord CE 2 Battery

OnePlus Nord CE 2 gets a 4500mAh battery and sees an upgrade on the charging side with 65W fast charging support for this model, like the regular Nord 2 and the OnePlus 9 series. The perfect synergy between the hardware and software means the smaller battery doesn’t feel like a compromise.

Nord CE 2 battery supports 65W fast charging out of the box. © Provided by News18 Nord CE 2 battery supports 65W fast charging out of the box.

You can easily make the phone last through the day, which involves heavy social media activities, checking mails, browsing the web and odd gaming sessions sandwiched between music streaming and video calls for work. We got an average screen-on time of over 6 hours with all these tasks through the day, which is fairly good. And when you combine the 65W fast charging support, the battery is back up to speed in just half an hour.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Verdict

OnePlus Nord CE 2 is an ideal mid-range phone that ticks most of the boxes, if it was launched in 2021. This year the competition has become fiercer in the sub Rs 25,000 bracket, with brands promising more for the same money.

And this is where OnePlus Nord CE 2 feels wanting because of the older chipset that delivers in most cases but feels old now. The cameras have been untouched which is a negative sign for us, but the battery life keeps you ticking.

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The Nord CE 2 is a good phone that loses out to the competition in this space.

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