To put it gently, the OnePlus roster isn’t as clean and concise as it once was. Consider the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G. This phone is part of a sub-brand (the CE line) of a sub-brand (the Nord line), and it is a less expensive version of a phone that has yet to be announced (the OnePlus Nord CE 3). This is a more affordable variant of the similarly unannounced OnePlus Nord 3, but we’re getting into the weeds now.
Purchasing a OnePlus phone has certainly become more difficult. All you really need to know is that the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is the most affordable phone in OnePlus’ 2023 lineup, and that it’s a direct successor to last year’s somewhat unimpressive OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G.
Price and Availability
From April 20, OnePlus will sell the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G directly from its store for INR 30,499. It is not officially available in the United States. There is only one model available, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, and it comes in two colours. It’s also available for the same price on Amazon.
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 695|
|No of cores||8 (octa core)|
|Resolution||1080 x 2400 pixels|
|Display Type||IPS LCD, AGC Dragontrail|
|Colour Reproduction||16M Colours|
|TouchScreen||Yes, Capacitive, Multi-Touch|
|Rear camera setup||Triple|
|Rear Camera||108MP(Primary), 2MP(Secondary), 2MP(Tertiary)|
|Front camera||16 MP Resolution|
|Flash||LED Rear flash|
|Video Resolution||1920×1080 @ 30 fps|
|Camera Features||Auto FlashAuto FocusFace detectionTouch to focus|
|Battery Type and capacity||Li-polymer, 5000 mAh|
|Fast Charging||Yes, Super VOOC, 67W|
|Internal memory type||128 GB, UFS 2.2|
|Operating System||Android v13|
|Custom UI||Oxygen OS|
|SIM Configuration||Dual SIM|
|GPS||Yes with A-GPS|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, Side|
|Other Sensor||Light SensorProximity SensorAccelerometerCompassGyroscope|
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is the brand’s latest large phone. It’s slightly taller and wider than the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, but a little thinner, at 165.5 x 76 x 8.3mm. It weighs the same 195g, which is far from light for an all-plastic phone. OnePlus has improved the design language from the bland OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G, with flat edges reflecting the current post-iPhone 12 style. The previous model’s left corner positioning has been replaced by a central hole punch notch.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is slightly larger than its predecessor due to its larger display. It has a 6.72in IPS LCD, which is larger than the 6.59in model found in the CE 2 Lite 5G. It has a resolution of 1080 x 2400, or Full HD+, and a refresh rate of 120Hz. Unlike most other low-cost Android phones, it also defaults to that maximum refresh rate, which is nice to see.
The most significant issue that I see here is the type of panel that OnePlus has chosen to use. With Xiaomi offering full AMOLED displays in the cheaper Poco X5 and the only slightly more expensive Redmi Note 12 Pro, the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G display appears somewhat anaemic.
The addition of stereo speakers is a far greater improvement over the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. They do not provide the most detailed or deep sound, but having a proper left and right channel in landscape video content creates all the difference.
Specs and Performance
When it comes to performance, there has been precious little progress. The Snapdragon 695 chip is the same as it was in last year’s model, as well as in the slightly cheaper Poco X5. This is backed up by a more capacious 8GB of RAM as standard, up from 6GB in last year’s model, but this is largely incidental. That processor is the bottleneck here.
In fact, the Geekbench 5 and GFXBench benchmark scores (which cover CPU and GPU performance, respectively) are similar to last year’s model. Meanwhile, they all fall well short of the Redmi Note 12 Pro, which is likely the closest contemporary to which the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G can be compared at the time of writing.
The camera on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G has been upgraded. The previous model’s 64 MP main sensor has been replaced by a 108Mp unit – the first in a OnePlus phone, no less. Of course, pixels aren’t everything in photography, but this one has a reasonably large 1/1.67in sensor size as well as a large f/1.75 aperture. However, there is no OIS (optical image stabilisation), which is a significant disadvantage in low-light shooting scenarios.
I also found the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G to be a little slow when shooting moving targets, with blur visible even in bright daylight and low-light shots aren’t great either. Selfies are satisfactory, if a little washed out, from the 16Mp front camera. Portrait selfies often have that telltale halo of fuzziness that comes with cheaper phones. Here, you can only shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second. That’s a pretty poor provision for a 30k phone, with several competitors offering at least 4K at 30fps.
The Nord CE 3 Lite 5G has the same 5000mAh battery as its predecessor, which is sufficient. Anecdotally, I had around 45% left in the tank when I checked the phone in the morning after a full 24 hours between charges as well as light to moderate usage (around 3 hours of screen-on time). This handset, like its predecessor, will last two full days of light usage and easily a full day of heavier usage.
The biggest battery-related improvement this time around is in charging, where OnePlus has increased power from 33W to 67W. OnePlus phones used to be known for their software, but that is no longer the case. Following its acquisition by Oppo, the brand’s OxygenOS is now essentially a reskin of the parent company’s ColorOS. It lacks the crisp, stylish appeal of the previous OnePlus UI. That is not to say that OxygenOS 13.1 has a poor user interface. However, it does not come with as much bloatware as Xiaomi’s MIUI, which is a rare victory for the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G over the Redmi Note 12 Pro.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is yet another competent lower-mid-range phone from OnePlus, but is it competent enough? The new 108Mp camera is an improvement over previous models, but it is far from the best in its class, especially when the light is low. Meanwhile, the continued use of an LCD panel instead of an AMOLED feels like an oversight that is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook.
The Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is INR 2000 more expensive than last year’s model, raising concerns about value for money. This may be justified given its faster charging and larger display, but rival handsets paint it in a less favourable light.