The Nord CE 2 5G is a new entrant in the OnePlus ‘core-edition’ smartphones portfolio. Successor to the Nord CE (review), the second edition brings upgrades with regard to design, performance, and charging. For a smartphone with emphasis on core competency, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 has many things going for it. But how does it fare in comparison with feature-rich peers in the midrange segment? Let’s find out:
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G has a sleek new design, which looks refreshing but not novel. The design changes are apparent on the back cover, which is made of plastic with glass-like finish. The back cover boasts a unibody design with a bump on the top left corner to accommodate the rear camera module. The bump does not look bad, but the unnecessarily big casings of the primary and ultra-wide-angle camera do. Like the back, the phone’s frame is made of plastic. It is sturdy, so durability is no concern. But just like the predecessor, the Nord CE 2 5G lacks the alert slider. The alert slider is one thing that has always been part of OnePlus smartphones. The omission for the sake of sticking to the core features will have a negative impact on user experience, especially if you are an existing OnePlus user.
Display and audio
The Nord CE 2 5G has the same display, which was part of the original Nord launched in 2020. It is not bad but is on its way to soon become obsolete. Anyways, it is a 6.43-inch fluid AMOLED fullHD+ screen of a 90Hz refresh rate. The screen lacks fancy features such as adaptive refresh rate, ultra-fast touch response rate, ambient sensor for colour calibration, etc. Yet it works fine in everyday use. The 90Hz refresh rate may seem underwhelming to some, but there is no perceptible difference in screen of 120Hz and 90Hz and the latter works just as fine in everyday use.
As for the audio, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G has a bottom-side firing mono speaker. The smartphone could have used a stereo speaker to compensate for the modest display, but the lack of one here diminishes the overall user experience.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G brings minor but meaningful imaging-related upgrades. OnePlus has not replaced the camera sensors with new one here. Instead it tweaked the lenses and optimised the software for improved performance, and the result is phenomenal – compared to the predecessor, not the peers.
Starting with daylight performance, the primary sensor takes detailed shots with sharp colours, modest dynamic range, and decent highlights and shadow details. In low light, it works well in scenarios where the subject is static. Frames with moving subjects in low-light are tricky to capture but the sensor is better capable this time to deliver results on-par with most other smartphones in the segment.
The ultra-wide-angle camera sensor captures a good amount of details but there is a marginal distortion on the edges, and like most other midrange phones, there is no colour symmetry in the frames clicked through the primary sensor and ultra-wide-angle sensor. Unlike the primary sensor, the ultra-wide-angle sensor struggles in low-light conditions. Its low-light performance, however, lifts marginally through the phone’s built-in night mode.
The macro camera is there for novelty. It is not bad, but tricky to use and limited to stills. As for the front camera, it works well for both regular shots and portraits. OnePlus has integrated OPPO’s camera-centric features here. Though these features do not add any significant value to the overall imaging performance, but they do influence the experience in a positive direction.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 900 system-on-chip, paired with up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. The dualSIM phone comes with a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion – up to 1TB. The phone ships with Android 11 operating system-based OxygenOS 11.
Details aside, the phone’s performance is top-notch and on-par with some of its expensive peers. It handles day-to-day operations with ease and the graphic-intensive tasks are no issue either. Complementing the performance is the OxygenOS 11 user interface. Though not the latest, and misses out on every new feature Google announced for Android 12, it is still good simply because it is clean, simple, and easy to use.
Powered by a 4,500 mAh battery, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G keeps going for more than a day on normal use. The battery drains quicker when the phone is used for gaming, multimedia streaming and imaging. However, you can still get a day of on-battery time if these processor- and graphic-intensive activities are carried out in a disciplined manner. The charging of the phone is quick, thanks to its 65W fast wired charging. It takes about 50 minutes for the phone’s battery to charge from zero to 100 per cent.
Priced Rs 23,999 for the base model, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 is a balanced smartphone. It is a no-frill smartphone with no fancy bells and whistles to compete against feature-rich peers. Yet, it makes a solid proposition in the midrange segment simply because it is easy to use and ticks all the right boxes. Though focused on core competency, there is more to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 than meets the eye.