OnePlus Nord (Review), which came first, raised expectations in the sub-Rs 30,000 segment. Fans kept waiting for the Nord phone to hit the sub-Rs 20,000 segment, and now finally, in 2022, the Nord has launched in the Rs 20,000 segment. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is the most affordable OnePlus phone starting at Rs.19,999. As the name suggests, it is a lite version of the Nord CE 2 5G (Review), but it offers better specs in some cases. Is the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G everything we’ve come to expect from a OnePlus under Rs 20,000, or is there one among its rivals that’s a better fit for you?
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Price in India
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G price in India starts from Rs.19,999 for the base variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Its 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model is priced at Rs 21,999. Both come in Blue Tide or Black Dusk color. I had their high-end variant in blue color for review.
Design OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G
The blue tide color gives the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G the identity of a Nord phone. OnePlus has used the same shades of blue for the Nord models. Even the OnePlus Buds are also available in the Nord Blue hue. The Black Dusk variant has a sandstone finish.
At first glance, you can also think of the phone as a Realme or Vivo device. In fact, Realme Q5 and Vivo T1 (Review) also look almost similar. OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has a 6.59-inch Full HD+ resolution screen, which has a camera hole in the upper left corner. However, it’s an LCD panel and not AMOLED, which we’ve been seeing on OnePlus phones. The good thing is that you get a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, which is higher than the 90Hz of the more expensive Nord CE 2 5G. I liked the slim bezels on the sides of the screen, but the chin is chunky. This is common for phones in this segment, except for the Motorola G52.
The frame and back panel of OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G are made of plastic. The power button on the right has a fingerprint scanner. The slight slope of the frame makes it easy to locate and reach. The volume buttons are on the other side along with the SIM tray. OnePlus has given a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom. Here you will also find a single speaker and a USB Type-C port.
Like the rest of the Nord CE series models, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is missing the iconic alert slider. The phone weighs 195g which is heavier than the Nord CE 2 5G. The weight of the phone is clearly felt in the hand. If you put the case together with it, then it seems even heavier.
The back panel has a textured finish near the camera module. Here, when the phone is viewed from different angles when placed under the light, the color changes from sky blue to yellow. The rest of the back panel is a static blue hue and houses the OnePlus logo.
Specifications and software of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has simple specifications but is adequate for the competition in this segment. I found it a bit disappointing as OnePlus is known for setting trends, but this time the company didn’t. For processing, it is powered by the Snapdragon 695 SoC that we have already seen in similarly priced phones like the Vivo T1, Moto G71, and Redmi Note 11 Pro+ 5G. There is also a software RAM booster feature that can use up to 5 GB of internal storage as virtual RAM (in the high-end variant).
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has support for Bluetooth 5.2, dual-band AC Wi-Fi, 4G VoLTE, five 5G bands, and six satellite navigation systems. It also has a hybrid SIM slot that can use up to a 1TB microSD card instead of the second SIM. The phone packs a 5000 mAh battery and supports 33W SuperVOOC fast charging.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G runs on OxygenOS 12 based on Android 12. My unit had the April 2022 Android security patch. The company guarantees two Android OS version updates and three years of security updates for the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. It’s pretty good compared to the rest.
The OxygenOS 12 coming to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G brings some new features that we first saw on the OnePlus 10 Pro (Review). OnePlus Scout lets you search for contacts, apps, and things on the web, similar to Spotlight on Apple devices. Work-Life Balance 2.0 now allows you to create profiles that allow you to maintain separate applications for work. You can also filter notifications to stay focused while you work. These profiles can be automatically activated based on time, location, or Wi-Fi access point.
The OnePlus Shelf can be accessed via a drop-down gesture from the top edge of the screen. With the help of Private Safe, you can protect your media files and apps with a passcode. OnePlus has kept pre-installed apps to a minimum, which is a good thing.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G performance and battery life
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is a capable budget phone, which ran smoothly during the review period. Daily tasks ran smoothly, but heavy apps and games took a while to load. Scrolling in the interface was smooth due to the high refresh rate. Multitasking was smooth and I was able to seamlessly switch between multiple running apps. With the help of the fingerprint scanner and face unlock, the phone was able to be unlocked quickly. The speaker is loud, but it would have been better if there was a two-speaker setup.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G scored 4,00,763 points in the AnTuTu benchmark. In Geekbench 5’s single-core and multi-core test, the phone scored 687 points and 1951 points respectively. It got 17fps and 60fps in CarChase and GFXBench’s T-Rex. These scores are similar when compared to other competing phones with the same processor.
As far as gaming is concerned, Call of Duty: Mobile ran smoothly on the ‘High’ preset for graphics and frame rate. After playing the game for about 15 minutes, I saw a five percent drop in battery level, which isn’t bad.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G’s battery life was also good. It lasted me over a day and a half with normal use. The phone lasted 23 hours and 35 minutes in our HD video loop test, which is a very good time. The 33W SuperVOOC charger that comes with the phone charged it from 0 to 50 percent in 30 minutes and up to 93 percent in an hour.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G Cameras
The phone has three cameras on the back, with a 64-megapixel main lens, a 2-megapixel depth lens, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. For selfies it features a 16-megapixel front-facing camera like the OnePlus 9 Pro. One thing it misses out on is an ultra-wide camera, found on the Nord CE 2 5G.
The camera app is very easy to use and has several shooting modes to choose from. Through the viewfinder, you can toggle HDR, AI Scene Enhancer, and capture images at the full 64MP resolution of the main camera. There is also a ‘Pro’ mode that allows you to manually adjust individual exposure parameters.
Photos captured in daylight with the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G had good dynamic range and colors. The phone held the exposure well. Even small things seen in the distance were recognizable in landscape shots. AI Scene Enhancer did boost the colors a bit, but the result didn’t look artificial. Dynamic range was good on the photo taken with the 64-megapixel camera, but there was a little lack of detail.
Close-ups were sharp, with a slight blur in the subject’s background. The camera app also suggested how to position the phone when the subject got closer. Images captured in portrait mode had good edge detection, and the intensity of background blur was also adjustable. The 2-megapixel macro camera clicks decent pictures, but I have to say I would have been happy without these two lenses in exchange for an ultra-wide camera.
Low-light camera performance was average. Things weren’t up to par with photo sharpness and the phone struggled to capture images with enough detail in the darker parts of the scene. After turning on Night mode, it took 3-4 seconds to take a photo, but the photo came out bright. With this mode on, the phone was able to capture good details even in shadowy areas.
The selfie captured in daylight and low light of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G was good. Portrait shots also turned out well. In low-light conditions, it automatically used the screen’s flash to capture brilliant photos.
Speaking of video recording, the phone can record videos up to 1080p. Stabilization was good in daytime footage, just that the footage shook slightly while moving.
Glad that we finally have a OnePlus smartphone that costs less than Rs 20k. But at the same time, I’m also disappointed that the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G hasn’t gotten significantly ahead of the competition. The features offered by this phone are good but not good enough to make it stand out in the market. Software updates and fast charging are some of its selling points, aside from this, the phone appears to be a mix of phones from BBK-owned brands like Realme and Vivo. It is similar to them in appearance and performance.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G faces stiff competition from the Vivo T1, which is also Rs 3,000 cheaper than its base variant and has similar specifications. Moto G71 5G (Review) is also Rs 2 lakhs cheaper than this, but it doesn’t have a high refresh rate display. The phone has an AMOLED screen and an ultra-wide camera.
If you’ve decided that you must get a OnePlus smartphone and getting software updates is long on your top list, then you might want to check out the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. Otherwise, I think the Vivo T1 and iQoo Z6 offer the same performance for a lower price. The Moto G71 5G is another option, if you can opt for the 60Hz display.