OnePlus Nord (Review), which came first, had raised expectations in the segment below 30 thousand rupees. Fans kept waiting for Nord phone to come in below Rs 20,000 segment, and now in 2022, Nord has finally been launched in Rs 20,000 segment. OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G is the most affordable OnePlus phone with prices starting at Rs.19,999. As the name suggests, it Nord CE 2 5G (Review) has a lite version, but in some cases it gives better specifications than that. Does the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G have everything we’ve come to expect from a OnePlus under Rs 20,000, or is there one among its competitors that suits you better?
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G price in India
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G The base variant of the smartphone comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage with prices starting at Rs 19,999 in India. Its 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model is priced at Rs 21,999. Both come in either Blue Tide or Black Dusk colour. I had its top end variant in blue color for review.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G design
The Blue Tide color mark makes the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G a Nord phone. OnePlus has used these same shades of blue for the Nord models. Even the OnePlus Buds are available in Nord Blue shade. The Black Dusk variant has a sandstone finish.
At first glance, you can also think of the phone as a Realme or Vivo device. Rather, Realme Q5 And Vivo T1 (Review) also looks almost the same. OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G sports a 6.59-inch full-HD+ resolution display with a camera hole in the top left corner. However, this is an LCD panel, not an AMOLED one, which we have 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 like the thin bezels on the sides of the display but the chin is thick. This is a normal thing for a phone in this segment, except for the Motorola G52.
The frame and back panel of OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G are plastic. The power button on the right houses a fingerprint scanner. Due to the slight slope in the frame, it is easy to find and reach. Volume buttons are on the other side of the SIM tray. OnePlus has given a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom. Here you will also find a single speaker and 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 visible in the hand. If you put the given case together, then it feels even more heavy.
The back panel has a textured finish near the camera module. Here the color changes from sky blue to yellow when the phone is viewed at different angles when kept under light. The rest of the back panel is a static blue shade and features the OnePlus logo.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G specifications and software
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has modest specifications but it is right in line with the competition in this segment. I found this a bit disappointing as OnePlus is often known to set trends, but this time the company did not. For processing, it is equipped with Snapdragon 695 SoC which we have already seen in similarly priced phones like Vivo T1, Moto G71 and Redmi Note 11 Pro + 5G. It also comes with a software RAM Boost feature that can use up to 5GB of internal storage as virtual RAM (in the top-end variant).
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has support for Bluetooth 5.2, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, 4G VoLTE, five 5G bands and six satellite navigation systems. It also has a hybrid SIM slot that can replace a second SIM with a microSD card of up to 1TB. The phone packs a 5,000mAh 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 Android security patch of April 2022. The company guarantees two Android OS version updates and three years of security updates for Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. It is much better than the rest.
The OxygenOS 12 coming to the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G has some new features that we first saw in the OnePlus 10 Pro (Review). OnePlus Scout lets you search for contacts, apps, and things on the web just like you can see in Spotlight on Apple devices. Work-Life Balance 2.0 now lets you create profiles so that you can keep the apps you use for work separately. You can also filter notifications to keep you focused while at work. These profiles can be activated automatically based on time, location or Wi-Fi access point.
The OnePlus Shelf can be accessed via a pull-down gesture from the top edge of the display. With Private Safe, you can protect your media files and apps with a passcode. OnePlus has kept the 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. Things of daily use ran smoothly but heavy apps and games took some time to load. The 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 fingerprint scanner and face unlock, the phone was able to be unlocked faster. The speaker is loud but it would have been better if there was a dual speaker setup.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G scored 4,00,763 points in the AnTuTu benchmark. The phone scored 687 points and 1951 points respectively in Geekbench 5’s single core and multicore tests. It scored 17fps and 60fps in GFXBench’s CarChase and T-Rex. Compared to other rival phones with the same processor, these scores are the same.
As far as gaming is concerned, Call of Duty: Mobile ran smooth on the ‘High’ preset for graphics and frame rate. After playing the game for about 15 minutes, I noticed a 5 percent drop in the battery level, which is not bad.
The battery life of OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G was also good. It lasted for more than one and a half days for me in normal usage. The phone lasted 23 hours and 35 minutes in our HD video loop test, which is a pretty decent amount of time. The 33W SuperVOOC charger included with the phone charged the phone 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 at the back, consisting of a 64-megapixel primary lens, a 2-megapixel depth lens, and a 2-megapixel macro camera. For selfies, it has a 16-megapixel front camera like the OnePlus 9 Pro. One thing it doesn’t miss is an ultra-wide camera, which is found in 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 for HDR, AI Scene Enhancer and image capturing at full 64MP resolution of the main camera. There’s also a ‘Pro’ mode that lets you manually adjust individual exposure parameters.
Photos taken in daylight with the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G came with good dynamic range and colours. The phone maintained the exposure well. In the landscape shots, even small things visible at a distance were becoming recognizable. The AI Scene Enhancer boosted the colors a bit but the result didn’t look gimmicky. Photos taken with the 64-megapixel camera had good dynamic range but lacked in details.
Close-up shots were crisp, with a slight background blur for the subject. The camera app also suggested how to position the phone as the subject got closer. Images captured in portrait mode had good edge detection and the intensity of background blur could be adjusted. The 2-megapixel macro camera clicks good pictures but I must say that I would have been happy if these two lenses were not there in exchange for an ultra-wide-angle camera.
Low-light camera performance was average. Things weren’t sharp in the photo and the phone struggled to capture enough detail in the dark parts of the scene. After turning on Night mode, it took 3 to 4 seconds to take a shot but the photo came out bright. With this mode, the phone was able to capture good detail even in shadowy areas.
Selfies taken in daylight and in low-light were good with the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. Portrait shots were also good. In low light, it automatically used the screen flash to capture bright photos.
Talking about video recording, the phone can record videos up to 1080p. Stabilization was good in day-light footage, only the footage was shaking a bit while walking.
I am glad that finally we have a OnePlus smartphone which comes under 20 thousand rupees. But at the same time, I’m disappointed that the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G didn’t raise the competition significantly. The features that this phone offers are good but not good enough to make it stand out from the market. Software updates and fast charging are some of its attractive points, apart from this, the phone seems to be a mashup of handsets from BBK owned brands such as Realme and Vivo. It is similar to them in appearance and performance.
OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G gets tough competition from Vivo T1 which is also Rs 3,000 cheaper than its base variant, and is similar in specifications. Moto G71 5G (Review) is also 2 thousand rupees cheaper than this, but a screen with a high refresh rate is not available in it. Amoled display and ultra wide camera have been given in the phone.
If you have made up your mind that you want to get a OnePlus smartphone and getting software updates for a long time is on your top list, then you can look at Nord CE 2 Lite 5G. For the rest, I feel the Vivo T1 and iQoo Z6 deliver the same performance at a lower price point. The Moto G71 5G is another option, if you can go with a 60Hz display.