- OnePlus announced the Nord CE3 in India alongside the Nord 3 with some significant upgrades over the Nord CE2 from last year.
- Although OnePlus has tried to play it safe in many regards with the Nord CE3, it still brings a host of welcome changes to the device, such as a faster Snapdragon 782 5G chipset, a more capable Sony IMX890 primary sensor, and a clean software experience (with very few pre-installed apps).
- Priced at Rs 26,999, the OnePlus Nord CE3 finds itself in a little awkward spot when you consider its pricing and the competition in the overcrowded sub-Rs 30,000 price bracket. Let’s find out if it can justify its price and if you should buy it.
OnePlus has launched a new smartphone in its Nord lineup, the Nord CE3 5G. Announced alongside the Nord 3 in India, the Nord CE3 features some significant upgrades over the Nord CE2 from last year. For example, it comes with a new and improved display, a faster chipset, an improved camera, an improved battery, and faster charging.
Priced at Rs 26,999 for the base variant, the Nord CE3 stays put between the more expensive Nord 3 and the affordable Nord CE3 Lite. Its positioning in the market becomes a little confusing when you consider its pricing and the competition in the sub-Rs 30,000 price bracket, which begs the question: Should you consider buying the Nord CE3 5G over its competitors?
Stick around to find out in our OnePlus Nord CE3 Review.
Table of Contents
OnePlus Nord CE3 Review: Design and Build
Design-wise, the Nord CE3 looks identical to the Nord 3, except for a few subtle differences. The phone comes with a clean design on the back that looks like any other smartphone in this price bracket—it isn’t the fanciest one on the block that shimmers or changes color at different angles.
OnePlus offers the Nord CE3 in two colors: Aqua Surge and Gray Shimmer. My unit comes in the former. While I don’t mind the design being boring, I’d pick the Gray Shimmer colorway over the Aqua Surge any day since it’s subtle, goes well with the material, and looks better, in my opinion.
Speaking of materials, this is where the Nord CE3 begins to differ from the standard Nord 3. It’s made entirely from plastic, unlike the Nord 3, which has a glass back. The glossy finish on the back makes the phone a little slippery in hand, but you can put on the bundled case for a better grip. It’s a high-quality case that’s also color-matched, well crafted and has lips around the front to protect the phone’s screen. Kudos to OnePlus for this move.
Another move from OnePlus that deserves to be appreciated is the inclusion of a hybrid SIM card tray. Placed at the bottom, the SIM card tray on the Nord CE3 can house two SIM cards at once or one SIM card and a microSD card, which offers flexibility to those who need to use an SD card.
Last but not least, the Nord CE3 comes with an IP54 rating. Although IP54 only ensures protection against basic water and dust resistance, it’s still a good move when compared to its predecessor, which entirely skimped on this front.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Review: Display
Flip the Nord CE 3 over, and you’ll have a 6.7-inch AMOLED display on the front. OnePlus has done a good job of keeping the bezels on the Nord CE3 to a minimum; although the chin is slightly bigger, it’s barely noticeable.
The Nord CE3 display gives you an FHD+ (2412 x 1080 pixels) screen resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and 240Hz touch sampling rate. It’s a 10-bit display, and it supports the P3 color gamut. What’s also good is the PWM dimming feature, which helps reduce screen flicker in low light to reduce eye strain.
I like the Nord CE3’s display for the pricing. It’s sharp, has good colors, and provides good outdoor legibility. Out of the box, it’s set to use the Vivid color profile, but if you prefer subtle colors, you can change the screen color mode and temperature to your preference. Sadly, you don’t get the Pro mode option, which can be seen on other OnePlus devices.
What’s more, the display comes with support for HDR10+. It works nicely with YouTube without overdoing the brightness. OnePlus also offers HDR boost to let you turn SDR videos into HDR, but I found it unrefined.
For authentication, you get an under-display fingerprint scanner on the Nord CE3, which is fast and reliable.
OnePlus Nord CE3 Review: Performance
Under the hood, the Nord CE3 runs a Snapdragon 782 5G chipset. It’s essentially a replacement for the Snapdragon 778G+ chipset with slightly bumped-up clock speeds. Besides, the device also packs up to 12GB of LPDDR4X RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. As mentioned earlier, the phone supports storage expansion, so you can add a microSD card for more storage.
In day-to-day life, these specifications translate to good performance. The phone handles almost all everyday tasks with ease, provides a good multitasking experience, and runs cool. I played a few games, like Asphalt and Call of Duty: Mobile, on the device, and it performed really well and didn’t get much warm. The only instance when I found the back panel getting warm was while capturing photos and videos.
OnePlus includes an X-axis linear motor on the Nord CE3. This helps it offer good haptics, which elevates the experience further. Plus, you also get the option to tweak the intensity as per your preference.
Talking about audio, the dual stereo speakers sound good, given the phone’s price. The sound feels balanced, gets sufficiently loud, and doesn’t crack at high volume levels.
On the connectivity front, the Nord CE3 comes with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and 5G (with support for all major 5G bands in India, including n77 and n78).
OnePlus Nord CE3 Review: Battery
OnePlus includes a 5000mAh battery inside the Nord CE3. It’s an upgrade from the 4500mAh battery found on the Nord CE2.
During my time with the device, the battery easily lasted over five hours with moderate use on a single charge. When it comes to charging, the 80W SuperVOOC fast charger bundled with the phone comes in handy and tops up the battery to 100% in under 40 minutes.
OnePlus Nord CE3 Review: Software
One of the best things about the Nord CE3 is its software. It runs on OxygenOS 13, based on Android 13, which comes with just a few pre-installed apps, most of which are Google apps like Gmail, Google Assistant, Maps, Photos, and Meet.
OxygenOS 13 on the Nord CE3 feels fast and smooth. It’s also highly customizable, so you can tweak various aspects of the software to suit your preference. Besides, the software packs several interesting features as well, along with a handful of useful apps, like IR Remote, for instance, to help you make the most of your device.
OnePlus promises two years of major Android updates and three years of security updates on the Nord CE3.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Review: Camera
The Nord CE3 sports a triple camera setup on the rear. This includes an 8MP (f/1.8) Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS, an 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide sensor, and a 2MP macro sensor.
Nord CE3’s primary sensor, the Sony IMX890, is the same sensor used by the OnePlus 11 and the Nothing Phone (2). In daylight and good lighting, the Sony IMX890 on the Nord CE3 performs really well and captures accurate colors (most of the time) and a good amount of detail with enough contrast.
The saturation levels are also maintained well, and so is the sharpness. 2x zoom is fine and exhibits no change in the overall image compared to a 1x image.
Low-light and night-time shots also come out well. There’s a decent amount of detail in the image, and the colors are also reproduced quite accurately. However, the images sometimes appear soft and lack sufficient contrast in them.
Switching on the night mode does fix this to a great degree, though it also makes the images a little warmer.
Switching to the ultrawide sensor, it’s average. The images come out a little softer than the primary sensor, and the shadows are a bit underexposed. Details are generally retained, and similarly, the color reproduction is also close to that of the primary sensor.
However, at night, the ultrawide fails to reproduce images with the same accuracy. It returns very soft images, there’s a lot of noise, and the exposure and brightness levels also go for a toss. Lastly, there’s the macro sensor, which is substandard, as is the case with many 2MP macro sensors.
Talking about the selfie camera, it’s a 16MP (f/2.4) sensor, which produces fine shots in daylight and outdoor settings. Skin tones are maintained most of the time, and the colors are depicted quite accurately. However, the contrast levels could be better. When it comes to indoor and low-lighting environments, the images appear a little too smooth and make the skin tones look pale.
OnePlus Nord CE3 Review: Verdict
OnePlus offers the Nord CE3 in two configurations: 8GB + 128GB and 12GB + 256GB, which are priced at Rs 26,999 and Rs 28,999, respectively.
Considering the base variant, spending Rs 26,999 gets you a decent-looking phone with a good display (combined with good speakers) for content consumption, a capable processor that tackles everyday tasks with ease, a good primary camera, good battery life, and an uncluttered software experience. All things combined, the Nord CE3 becomes a good offering for its price, and you can’t go wrong with it.
However, if you want more performance from your device—and you’re open to devices from other brands—the POCO F5 is a good option to consider. Not only does it have a powerful processor, but it also packs a 12-bit display. You can get the POCO F5 for Rs 27,999.
Similarly, if you want a good-looking phone, the Motorola Edge 40, with its leatherette back, is perhaps the best option in the lot. It even offers a 144Hz refresh rate display, is IP68 rated, and provides a near-stock Android experience, all for just Rs 29,999. Another alternative to the Nord CE3 is the iQOO Neo 7, which starts at Rs 27,999 and brings a faster MediaTek Dimensity 8299 chipset that can handle games (among other things) better than the Nord CE3.
- Good display
- Capable chipset for everyday use
- Good battery life
- Good primary camera
- Hybrid SIM card tray
- Good quality bundled case
- Not the most refreshing design
- Plastic build
- Ultrawide camera could be better
- No alert slider
At Rs 26,999, the OnePlus Nord CE3 finds tough competition in the overcrowded sub-Rs 30,000 price bracket. Will OnePlus' play-it-safe approach resonate well with consumers? Let's find out.