The “CE” in OnePlus’ cheapest Nord lineup refers to the Core Edition. The new OnePlus Nord CE 2 really emphasizes the basics of a modern budget phone, offering a decent screen and performance, along with amazing 65W charging speeds. But in doing so, the CE 2 loses some of the features that users in India have come to expect from phones of this class. When brands like Xiaomi and Realme of OnePlus’ sister brand can provide premium, all-in-one packages, doing the bare minimum is not enough even when you control expectations on terms like the Core Edition.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 has a lot to offer, but you can easily find it all – and a lot More – over many other phones in this price range.
- storage: 128 GB UFS2.2, dedicated microSD card slot
- CPU: MediaTek Dimensions 900
- memory: 6/8 GB LPDDR4X
- The operating system: Android 11 with OxygenOS 11
- battery: 4500 mAh, 65W charging
- Ports: USB Type C, 3.5mm audio jack
- Screen (size, resolution): 6.43 inches OLED, 2400 x 1080 pixels, 409 ppi, 20: 9, 90Hz, HDR10 +, Gorilla Glass 5
- Camera (front): 16 MP, f/2.4
- Cameras (rear): 64 MP, f/1.79, EIS, 4K30 fps (Main); 8 MP, 119°, f/2.2 (UW); 2 megapixels (macro)
- price: Starting at 23,999 rupees (about $310)
- Delivery: 5G (8 bands), Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC
- Aharon: In-screen fingerprint reader
- Dimensions: 160 x 73.2 x 7.8 mm
- Colors: gray and blue
- Weight: 173g
- The screen looks good
- Excellent battery life and fast charging
- It has a headphone jack and a dedicated microSD card slot
- The performance is good enough
- The camera is not up to par
- No alert slider
- Still running Android 11
- The screen could have been brighter
- The mono speaker is easily muted
Design, hardware and what’s in the box
Theit’s a: OnePlus Nord 2And the sight: Realme 9 Pro +.
While the flagships of OnePlus still retain their distinct visual identity, budget phones like the Nord CE 2 are a clear sign of how closely OnePlus has bonded with its BBK siblings. The Nord CE 2 is a live modified version of the recently announced Oppo Reno 7 and shares many design elements with the Realme 9 Pro+ (pictured above). Because of this shared inheritance, you lose the iconic alert slider.
I’m not a fan of how the camera is melted into the back of the phone in Nord CE 2. It’s meant to feel luxurious, like what we’ve seen on the more premium Oppo Find X3 Pro, but up close, it appears to be poorly melted on the inside and feels spongy to the touch. Besides, the port holes and speaker grills on the bottom have sharp edges that rub your fingers a lot and force you to use a case — something I complained about in the Nord 2 as well.
Among the shortcomings, the tactile engine has an unsatisfactory weak buzz, and the single-firing tweeter from the bottom is not so great. The speaker is very loud and clear, but gets a little noisy at higher volumes and can be easily muted while gaming or watching videos. The lack of a stereo pair is a real problem for the Nord CE 2 because we’ve seen much cheaper phones offer this feature.
On the bright side, the CE 2 gives you a good quality 1080p OLED display with HDR and refreshes at 90Hz. The strong colors and deep blacks are just as good as any other display on a OnePlus phone, although I would have liked to see a higher peak brightness for better visibility in direct sunlight. The brightness sensor can also use some fine tuning, as it always seems to fine-tune the level when the ambient light changes, which can be quite annoying.
Nord CE 2 retail box contains a basic case, a 65W SuperVOOC charger, a USB-A to USB-C cable, and some branded documents and stickers.
Software, performance and battery life
We’re in 2022, and OnePlus is still struggling to stick with Android 12. Nord CE 2 comes with Android 11 and OxygenOS 11 from Oppo-fied. And the promise of a two-year Android update doesn’t inspire much confidence either.
Despite this sore point, OxygenOS is still the cleanest skin among its major competitors like Realme UI and MIUI, with little to no bloatware to speak of. Version 11 on Nord looks very similar to what we saw on the more premium 9RT—down to the bugs. The program drops frames here and there, transitions are choppy sometimes. These are occasional seizures, and you are not likely to encounter them very often during your daily use.
The new Nord runs on the previous generation Dimensity 900, while the competition has already moved to the newer Dimensity 920, with improved CPU and GPU cores. You probably won’t notice much difference in everyday things like email and messaging apps or while streaming videos. While gaming as well, the phone shows no obvious sign of difficulty – no frame drops, even at high frame rates and graphics quality. But during such intense tasks, the CPU and GPU run at near full speed — they’re on the edge of acceptable performance, which can be a problem if you decide to keep the phone for a few years. For some casual gaming and CPU intensive tasks, Nord CE 2 should be fine, but don’t expect too much from it.
Despite all that, I have to give these 6nm chips the credit for being incredibly energy efficient. The Nord CE 2 does get a fairly modest 4,500mAh battery, but there hasn’t been a day when the phone has given me any battery concern. My regular use doesn’t include play at all; It’s all work apps and some social media, however, and I routinely end up with nearly 40% of charge left at the end of the day – after recording a decent 6 hours of screen time on time. Like most OnePlus phones, a 65W charger (now called SuperVOOC) is included in the box, and the phone takes about half an hour to fill up.
The camera arrangement here hasn’t changed since the first CE, so you can still get a 64MP OmniVision primary sensor. Like most midrangers, the CE 2 can produce some good images in broad daylight; It looks natural and has a decent amount of detail, as HDR also does a decent job of retaining detail in both light and dark areas. However, the color science is inconsistent across the images – you’ll find that the colors don’t show up, especially at night. The camera also starts to lose fine details indoors, which results in photos that look very soft. This is also true for 64MP shots.
There’s an AI scene optimizer that automatically switches to night mode and adjusts the white balance based on lighting, but that’s pretty much it. There aren’t a ton of camera features to play with, like you get on the Realme 9 Pro+.
The front camera is OnePlus’ favorite IMX471, but it somehow performs a little worse here. The white balance here is something you can’t count on, and the same is true of its HDR capabilities. Your selfies will look acceptable with a natural skin tone, but as you zoom in, you’ll notice that none of the finer details are preserved.
Should you buy it?
Mostly not. The Nord CE 2 isn’t the most powerful phone to come from OnePlus as of late, nor is it the best in its price range. And given how crowded this price bracket is, OnePlus should have seen this coming. Without premium features like an alert slider, and considering how well OnePlus now integrates with other BBK brands, the CE 2 doesn’t really do anything special. There is no longer an incentive to get a OnePlus phone over Realme or Oppo.
For the same price, you can get a Realme 9 Pro+, which is as good or better than Nord CE 2 in most respects, and you’ll also get Android 12. If a OnePlus phone is what you want, I suggest spending more on Nord 2, which is an overall more capable device. . It contains an alert slider. You also can’t go wrong with the Galaxy A52s or Xiaomi 11i 5G, both of which have better features for just a little bit of money.
Buy it if…
- Battery life is the priority.
- You’re okay with a mediocre camera.
Don’t buy it if…
- Don’t mind spending more on a better phone.
- You care about extra features like stereo speakers.
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