The OnePlus Nord series in the mid-range also shows what a “Never Settle” mobile is like. The OnePlus Nord CE 5G doesn’t bring the stars down from the sky, but it gives you a little more than you expected. True to its name, ACE, or “Core Edition,” focuses on the basics, specifically performance, display, and uptime.
Table of Contents
Introduction & Accessories
OnePlus built a severe fan base around itself in a short time, which was no accident. Their phones have brought the quality of high-end, big-name manufacturers. And in terms of performance, thanks to a software interface that has been perfected to the extreme, they have provided more than that, at a significantly better price. But to be among the best, there was always something missing. However, the OnePlus eight series, or the 9 Pro, is already growing in competition in all areas, unfortunately also in pricing.
In 2020, OnePlus entered the hitherto neglected middle class with five members’ currently well-priced Nord family. So far, OnePlus’ philosophy, Never Settle, that is, never be satisfied, has fit the portfolio perfectly. Our current test subject, the Nord CE 5G, introduced in the summer of 2021, claims the manufacturer offers precisely the features that users need. Let’s look at it.
There is no shortage of accessories in the nice big black phone box. In addition to the excess paper and sticker pile, we also get a 30-watt Warp Charge charging head, a Type-C cable, a SIM needle, and a silicone case, as well as a pre-loaded screen protector.
After the first hand, I caught the feeling – small, light, and damn good to feel – I need it. Sure, all polycarbonates are here to cut costs, but does anyone care? The telcos jump into the case, the front panel and foil are protected. Premium material use is forgetful, but we have quality assembly and good structural rigidity.
With dimensions of 159.2 x 73.5 x 7.9 millimeters, a weight of 170 grams, and a user interface design, our featherweight racer can be used particularly well with one hand, which is a rarity these days. The budget is understandable, but it’s still annoying that the brand’s trademark “Alert Slider,” which allows you to switch between general quickly, vibration, and silent profiles, didn’t get the phone.
There is space for two nano sims in the SIM tray above the volume controls on the left. SD card expandability is not an option.
There is nothing on the right other than the power button. The situation at the top edge is not too complicated either, as only the secondary microphone used for noise reduction lives there. At the bottom, our 3.5mm Jack friend, microphone port, USB Type-C port, and speaker delight us. Stereo speakers in this price range are already the default for competitors, but OnePlus officials don’t seem to know that. It’s a waste.
The most exciting thing about the conservative back cover is the minimal protrusion of the camera module, which makes the phone rock a bit while lying on the table. Still, using the included case, the problems can be overcome entirely.
The 6.43-inch Fluid AMOLED panel with a resolution of 2400 × 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 20: 9, and a pixel density of 410 PPI cannot be connected. The colors, viewing angles, contrast, and visibility in solid sunlight are also excellent. In addition to these, full sRGB and DCI-P3 coverage are also provided at a 90Hz image refresh rate. There’s also no Widevine Level 1 rating so that we can watch streaming content in Full HD from Netflix and Amazon Prime.
The fingerprint sensor with a 10/10 hit ratio built under the display has to be used, and like the nine series, it is now lower than it should be. Face-based unlocking is perfect, it recognizes even in glasses, and the device unlocks quickly. The “disfigured” display with the hole-punch camera cutout did not receive a notification LED, but this is perfectly compensated by the scheduling and well-configurable Always Active Display (AOD).
OnePlus Nord CE 5G is housed in a cost-effective gamer chipset. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G is manufactured on an 8-nanometer stripe width. The eight-core processor features two power-sharpened Cortex-A77 units at 2.2 GHz and six Cortex-A55 cores scalable up to 1.8 GHz, ensuring adequate energy efficiency.
The role of IGP is played by Adreno 619, which supports all essential APIs, and even Snapdragon Elite Gaming player enhancements are provided. Eight gigabytes of LPDDR4X RAM system memory and 128 gigabytes of UFS 2.1 internal storage can also be a source of satisfaction.
Nord CE performs well in synthetic benchmarks and actual use in everyday life. With medium graphics settings, resource-intensive games run nicely and smoothly. Warming doesn’t characterize this SoC at all, and multitasking is also excellent – you don’t even need more than that.
OnePlus owes much of its huge fan base to its excellent software. The Nord CE 5G is not disappointing in this area either, as the Android 11-based OxygenOS is also a parade. There are no ads, unnecessary apps, or just an opaque interface, and it’s no coincidence that many consider OxygenOS the best Android interface.
The manufacturer promises two Android version updates (Android 12-13) and a three-year security update for Nord phones. After 2022, Oppo’s ColorOS and OxygenOS, which belong to the same parent company, will intertwine. According to OnePlus, “so we can combine the fast and seamless, load-free experience of OxygenOS with the stability and rich features of ColorOS” – that doesn’t sound bad.
You will find a triple camera layout on the back of the Nord CE 5G. The primary camera has a 64 MP resolution, f / 1.79 aperture, 0.8μm pixel size, and electronic image stabilization (EIS). It combines four adjacent pixels to take 16 MP photos by default. Videos can be recorded in up to 4K at 30 frames per second.
The 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera has an aperture of f / 2.25 and a viewing angle of 119 °. Even a monochrome sensor doesn’t bother much with its 2 megapixels. On the front is a 16-megapixel Sony IMX471 camera for selfies.
The following test images were taken with the factory camera application automatically.
In daylight, pictures taken with the primary camera are lovely. Although there is no specific reference to it by the manufacturer, it was possible to speculate about the impact of the Hasselblad collaboration (optimization) that began with the 9 Series. As for color dynamics, the OnePlus is now moving in the natural direction. There’s no excessive contrast, the colors aren’t as flashy as its competitors, so they’re a little more realistic.
When shooting in poorer artificial light or very cloudy weather, detail and dynamic range are rapidly reduced, and color management also leaves something to be desired. You may want to turn on Night mode, although it will take slower pictures. Overall, this image quality is okay in this price range.
64-megapixel image capture has no benefit except for perhaps finer detail. Contrast, sharpness, and dynamics are also reduced slightly, while file sizes are doubled.
Without a dedicated zoom camera, we get minor detail than if the images were taken with actual 2x optics. However, the quality is not bad, and the colors and dynamic range are also good.
Images taken with an ultra-wide-angle camera are acceptable, but they cannot keep up with the primary camera’s image quality. The colors are a little stronger, but the detail is much lower. The photos are also blurry and noisy at the edges.
Portrait mode works with software with good edge detection, nicely separating the person you want to photograph – in our case, the teddy bear – from the background.
The images are shown in full size here.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G speaker delivers the sound of classic smartphones, meaning the bass is lagging, and the midrange and treble are overemphasized. The presence of a 3.5mm jack output is a huge positive.
Data Communication, Operating time, and Conclusion
In terms of data communication, the overall picture is perfect. Nord CE 5G supports all domestic LTE and 5G bands. Thanks to the dual noise-canceling microphone, the sound quality of the conversation is excellent. Both parties can understand it well, even in noisy environments.
Dual-channel Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, and NFC are also available for wireless connectivity. We will not be disappointed with the use of GPS either, and Google Maps has excellent navigation on the 100-kilometer test road. In the sensory field, only the infrared and the barometer are missing.
It’s almost unbelievable that the 7.9mm-thick housing fits a 4,500 mAh Lithium-Polymer battery. The runtime is a parade thanks to the display technology, the Snapdragon 750G and OxygenOS. During the test period, immersion to 19% required nearly two days and an active display time of more than 7 hours. In the standard YouTube video viewer test, the load was reduced by 9% in 2 hours. In the Work 3.0 battery life test, the mobile produced a result of 15 hours 26 minutes. With the 30 Watt charging head, it is possible to charge the mobile from 19 to 100% in 46 minutes. Wireless charging is not an option.
The OnePlus Nord Core Edition 5G point gives what its name suggests, the most important essential things an excellent mid-range phone needs in 2021. Due to the size of this NFC and 5G capable phone, it fits perfectly in our hands. The 90Hz AMOLED panel has significant content consumption. In terms of performance, but even more so in the Android user experience, we get a little more than expected. There can be no complaint about the operating time either. The 64-megapixel primary camera also brings plenty to the level expected in this category.
The overall picture is nuanced by the mono speaker, the lack of SD card storage expansion, and the omission of the brand’s trademark mute switch. That’s not too much of a mistake, but there’s a lot of competition in this $ 3-400 price range. Xiaomi and its sub-brands like Poco and Redmi, in-house Realme, also offer a pretty good alternative.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is currently costing $309 in action. The final price, increased by the insurance and the duty-free and VAT-free EU Priority Line delivery fee, will be $321.