[i2pc pros_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-up” cons_icon=”icon icon-thumbs-down” show_title=”false” title=”Pros & Cons” show_button=”false” pros_title=”Pros” cons_title=”Cons” ][i2pros]Solid main camera
Memory expansion, NFC, headphone jack
Overall, a good package.
A fast and well-optimized system
[/i2pros][i2cons]Plastic Bomber “only”
Too expensive for the hardware For a price comparison,
With the OnePlus Nord 2, OnePlus put together one of the best packages in the upper mid-range last year. Under the “Nord” branding, the former price-performance champion has found its way back to its roots and delivered an all-around successful “flagship killer”. But that’s not all. The Nord Branding ventures into even cheaper areas and has presented the OnePlus Nord CE 2 for the middle class. A “Core Edition” with a few extras.
A smartphone is reduced to the essentials. OnePlus has now placed a smartphone underneath it. OnePlus provides a Lite version alongside the Core Edition. So to a certain extent, a “Lite Lite” OnePlus. And it is exactly this Core Edition Lite that we are testing today. You can now find out what’s left of the OnePlus Spirit after two Lites in the test of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite measures 164 x 75.6 x 8.5 millimeters and weighs 195 grams. In terms of design, you can see which series the device belongs to, but it differs quite clearly from its more expensive siblings.
The elegantly rounded camera hill remains as large as in the Nord 2 CE but ends in a sharp edge. You can definitely feel that, a slight curve would probably have looked better and felt better. In general, my first impression of the matte black OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite that we tested was: “Oh, that looks cheap.”
The slightly matte black can be recognized as plastic at first glance, and a light tap on the back also sounds cheap. I actually really like the hue itself, and at first glance, the large camera hill with the two camera sensors circled in bold letters may look like a more expensive device, but the OnePlus Nord 2 CE feels a bit cheaper than the competition in the hand.
The workmanship is still largely good. The plastic back merges into the black plastic frame in a pleasantly rounded way, and the transition from the frame to the display is a bit sharp-edged but perfectly accurate. There are two buttons for volume control on the left side of the frame. Below is a single mono speaker and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
There is a microphone on top and a power button on the right. It sits in a comfortable finger recess and also acts as a fingerprint sensor. Its recognition rate is good, and the unlocking process is fast. Alternatively, Face-Unlock is also available via the front camera and does its job quickly and satisfactorily.
In addition to the cell phone itself, the scope of delivery includes the typical charging cable in OnePlus red, a suitable USB-A power supply, and some paperwork. It comes with a clear silicone case. The factory applies a protective layer on the display. However, it is clearly an inferior brand, as evidenced by the high scratch sensitivity and sharp edges.
When it comes to the display, OnePlus probably has the feeling that it can make compromises again. The Nord 2 has an AMOLED panel with 90Hz, which is also retained for the OnePlus Nord CE 2. At least with a refresh rate of 120Hz, there are only IPS panels in the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite.
The content on the 6.59-inch Full HD display (2412 x 1080 pixels, 401 pixels per inch) appears extremely fluid, but I can’t compensate for the bright colors and real black values of an OLED panel. Along with OLED, the always-on display is also gone, and a notification LED is also not used in the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite.
The brightness is modest at 515 lux. Thanks to Widevine L1, there is no problem streaming in HD on all paid streaming apps. The display’s color rendering is set to vivid by default, with natural available as an alternative. However, the colors are really very pale in nature. Even in Lively, the colors are not too strong. Alternatively, the screen color temperature can also be set manually.
The edges around the display measure 3 millimeters at the top and sides, and 5 millimeters under the display. OnePlus puts the front camera in the upper left corner of the display. Its diameter is a massive 5 millimeters.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695, which is manufactured by TSMC using the 6nm process. The octa-core has two powerful Kyro 660 Gold cores with a maximum clock frequency of 2.2 GHz and six energy-saving Kyro 660 Silver cores with a maximum clock frequency of 1.7 GHz.
An Adreno 619 GPU is on board for graphically demanding tasks. The chip is also used in the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G and Poco X4 Pro. So far, the chip has been able to please us with satisfactory performance. It is exactly the right choice for driving a smartphone for “core” tasks. The OnePlus Nord 2 CE Lite performs as follows in benchmarks:
The Snapdragon 695 does a decent job overall. In the system, you are always on the go without delays, and the 120Hz display contributes to a smooth operating experience. If the tasks become more demanding, you will push the mid-range processor to the edge of its performance capacity with modern 3D titles at the latest. With low settings, you can still achieve playable frame rates, but you can’t do more. The processor doesn’t have any problems with heat and can easily cope with several benchmark runs.
The memory is based on 6GB of LPDDR4X memory and a 128GB UFS2.2 hard drive. You can expand the storage space with a microSD card, but you sacrifice one of the two nano SIM card slots for this. Storage speeds aren’t exactly amazing at 460MB/s read and 112MB/s write.
On the system side, we tested OxygenOS 12.1 based on Android 12 on the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite. The exact designation is CPH2409_11_A.08. After the merger with Oppo, the once popular Android software from OnePlus is not exactly on the up. ColorOS and OxygenOS continue to blur, and with it comes a growing distance between OxygenOS and stock Android.
I have little experience with OxygenOS and was able to approach the system with an open mind. And honestly, it really isn’t that bad. Anyone who knows Android, in general, will continue to get along well with OxygenOS. The whole system runs absolutely smoothly, and you don’t have to worry about bloatware. OnePlus promises three years of security updates and two major Android updates.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 is also equipped with an ultra-wide-angle camera. OnePlus no longer considers it necessary to step down to the Lite version of the Core Edition. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is only equipped with one main camera. There is also a depth sensor and a macro sensor on paper. The macro sensor is completely unnecessary, but the bokeh sensor does its job very reliably. But before we get to the pictures, here are the specs of the cameras again:
This means that the OnePlus Nord 2 CE Lite’s built-in sensors are equivalent to the normal Core Edition, but it does without the ultra-wide-angle camera. Erik already said it in his review of the OnePlus Nord CE 2, and I can confirm it here: The main camera takes really good pictures when the weather is nice, but the conditions become more difficult, and it becomes clear why the OnePlus Nord 2 prefers the 50MP Sony IMX766 sensor.
If the conditions are right, the recordings with the OnePlus Nord 2 CE Lite will be really impressive. The images shown above are all taken without HDR and AI. It is somewhat impractical that the camera switches back to Auto HDR mode every time it is restarted. He tends to over-contrast images, but more on that in a moment.
If you consciously omit the mode, the color reproduction is more on the realistic side. This looks really good, especially in the sunshine. If the conditions become more difficult, this impression will fade. With a high dynamic range, the device does everything it can to readjust via software, but this causes noise in places. The sharpness of the images is still convincing on the PC screen. Overall, the 64MP sensor performs well.
The main camera in the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is responsible for recording with zoom. The mobile phone digitally zooms into their pictures, as is usual with mobile phones without an extra telephoto sensor.
Unfortunately, it is noticeable that the coloring is inconsistent. That shouldn’t really be a problem since the zoom shots are shot by the same camera as the regular shots. In practice, however, the zoom shots are significantly warmer and show a clear yellow cast. That really shouldn’t happen. Hopefully, OnePlus will improve this with software.
Anyone who generally likes stronger colors and is not too particular about a realistic image is often well advised to use the HDR mode on their smartphone. Almost every manufacturer now offers such a mode, which can often be combined with an AI mode for automatic motif recognition. This also applies to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite. The HDR mode often delivers a significantly better result, especially in difficult exposure situations, the dynamic range is processed significantly better.
Every now and then, the HDR mode just doesn’t do anything. With already very high-contrast recordings, especially in bright sunshine, the HDR mode is simply not recognizable. Indoors, the HDR mode tends to exaggerate its role. The automatic HDR mode only recognizes with limited reliability when the HDR mode makes sense and when it does not.
At night, the pictures taken by the main camera, which are good during the day, quickly turn into distorted images of reality that are of little use. If the light decreases, the first thing that is lost is sharpness, and then the depiction of light follows. Colors remain reasonably accurate until night mode comes into play.
Although this brings with it significantly more brightness, it visibly distorts the colors, especially in difficult exposure situations (picture pair 3). It’s also aggressively re-sharpened, which can look good on a smartphone but also look unnatural on the larger PC screen. If you put the photos in the price context, I would classify the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite as slightly below its competitors.
When it gets darker, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite automatically increases the brightness of the display for selfies in order to generate an additional light source. That definitely helps. Faces are definitely better illuminated that way. Nevertheless, the images as a whole clearly lack sharpness. However, the colors still look realistic at night.
The portrait mode of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite works excellently. The dedicated bokeh sensor does a flawless job and so the device manages to separate even complex foregrounds perfectly from the background in many cases. In the worst case, even the smallest details are not recognized. The coloring is consistent with the regular images from the main camera. Overall, I enjoyed the portrait mode the most in the OnePlus Nord 2 CE Lite and achieved the best results of all camera categories.
Selfies with the OnePlus Nord 2 CE Lite are okay to good. Sony’s IMX 471 provides sufficient sharpness and sufficient brightness. In this way, even selfies that are not very simple become attractive without the camera overlay. The Portraitmouds also do an excellent job on the front and reliably separate the foreground and background.
To be honest, the videos are rather poor. Even the maximum resolution of 1080p is not really the best, considering that the Redmi Note 10 Pro was already able to do 4K last year. Especially in connection with only 30FPS and moderate electronic image stabilization, videos from the OnePlus Nord 2 CE Lite are not really convincing.
Overall, the OnePlus Nord 2 CE Lite offers a good main camera. The biggest point of criticism is the lack of an ultra-wide-angle camera. Added to this is inconsistent coloring in zoom shots and difficulties with night shots. For a smartphone for under 31,990 Tk, the main camera and the selfie camera do a good job as long as you don’t want to record videos with them. Overall, the result is still below average.
With the Snapdragon 695 in the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite comes 5G. So you are able to use the latest radio standard, even if that still only brings you moderately in Germany. As usual, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is a dual-SIM smartphone that works with two nano-SIM cards.
If you prioritize storage space, you can use a microSD card and a nano SIM card instead of two SIM cards. The following network frequencies are available for mobile Internet and reception:
In practice, the reception is mediocre. Frequently, I had no or very limited access to the 4G network in the subway. Both VoLTE and VoWiFi can theoretically be activated, but this requires a lot of effort. A single speaker is available at the bottom of the device for loud media playback. It is sufficiently loud, but the sound quality is nothing special. Many smartphones already offer stereo sound in this price range.
The WiFi is a downgrade compared to the Nord CE 2 because instead of WiFi 6 you only use the fifth version. On board is Bluetooth version 5.2. NFC is also available and localization is via GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, and QZSS. Within about 10 seconds, your location will be determined with an accuracy of 3 meters.
In practice, there were some inaccuracies with the orientation, but the positioning was quick and reliable. In terms of sensors, OnePlus supplies acceleration, ambient light, proximity, gyroscope, and an e-compass. If you want, you can use the 3.5mm jack to connect wired headphones.
The battery of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite packs a 5000mAh capacity. This delivers just as much as most of the comparable mid-range devices. In practice, the battery life of the device convinced me. I can get through two days with little effort. If you use your cell phone a lot, the device will be empty in one day, but 6-7 hours of DOT (time with the display switched on) are possible. In the battery benchmark, I got through exactly eleven hours and five minutes at 200 lux.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is charged with up to 33 watts. But only on the OnePlus charger. Unfortunately, with power delivery, it is only up to 18 watts. In practice, you need 69 minutes until the device is full again. The Xiaomi and Realme competition in this price range now mostly charges at 67 watts and is correspondingly much faster. Wireless charging is not on board.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is one of those smartphones that just doesn’t stand out from the crowd. No major blunders anywhere, but no real strengths either. Instead, it is noticeable that the smartphone somehow always lags behind. There is no AMOLED on the display, it is only charged with 33 watts, there is no UWW, and it has a plastic housing that doesn’t exactly look high-quality.
Well, now the whole thing is also the lite version of a lite version, and thus these points are all manageable, one might say. Some might even argue that this smartphone is just right as a “Core Edition Lite.” All components do their job reliably.
The processor is more than powerful enough. For all everyday tasks, the camera is super suitable for one or the other nice-weather snapshot, and the display shows all content pin-sharp and pleasantly quickly. That’s exactly what a basic smartphone should be able to do, right?
Yes, that’s true, but then the price has to be right too. OnePlus would like 31,990 Tk for the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite, and that is simply too much. The OnePlus internal price scheme already shows that. At the time of this review, the OnePlus Nord 2 can be purchased directly from OnePlus for just 39,990 Tk. Not investing this 7,000 Tk surcharge is simply not justifiable from a price-performance point of view.