OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G: First Impressions

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G: First Impressions
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G is the successor to the Nord CE introduced last year.Business Insider India
  • OnePlus today announced the Nord CE 2 5G.
  • An affordable alternative on the brand's portfolio, it is placed at the sub-25k price for the affordable segment.
  • The latest smartphone is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 900 5G chipset.
India’s sub 25K smartphone segment has always been the most enticing and can be called a true ocean of pearls. Today, OnePlus added another product to its portfolio in the same segment — the Nord 2 CE 5G. As the name suggests it’s the second iteration of the company’s most affordable series under the Nord moniker. It’s not been very long since OnePlus introduced its budget series called Nord, but it’s added new smartphones in quick succession — Nord 2 and Nord CE.

OnePlus started with a strategy of making one smartphone a year and it slowly forayed into multiple phones and even ventured into other categories like TVs, wearables and more. Similar to most OEMs, OnePlus has shifted focus from its flagship killer status to making phones for everyone.

The CE 2 5G is aimed towards the new generation of OnePlus users, who don’t want to shell out a hefty sum to experience their product. Essentially, a buyer on a tight budget who wants to get into the OnePlus ecosystem. After using the device for the last couple of days, I’ve made some observations and will be sharing my first impressions in this article.

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You can watch our unboxing and first impression in the video below-

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Design, build quality and software

The first thing I could feel the moment I grabbed the device was that the Nord CE 2 sports a slimmer profile compared to its elder siblings. For reference, it is the slimmest smartphone of the brand since the OnePlus 6T. That being said the build quality is definitely impressive and premium and the back is reminiscent of the Nord 2. The phone is a glass sandwich with both front and back protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The colour with me is ‘Bahama Blue’ which definitely looks attractive, but I think personally prefer the Gray Mirror colourway over this one.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G: First Impressions
The Nord CE 2 has the SIM tray and volume buttons on the left side.

This new Nord is no exception to camera bumps, but at least the one here is subtle. That’s commendable since it houses a triple camera unit, which I will be touching upon in the latter part of this article.

A sim card tray is a 3-in-1 unit, which means you can put in two micro SIM cards along with one micro SD card. It supports expandable storage up to 1TB.

From the design point of view, you can expect the usual OnePlus standard, except for 2 things — a good and a bad. The bad news is that it doesn’t come with an alert slider. As they say, you miss the most basic of things when they are not there, and I have been feeling that ever since I have gotten hold of this device. The ease of use and convenience of switching between profiles with a slider is unbeaten, it saves just a few seconds and may not be a deal-breaker for many but it's undeniably convenient. This is a bit of a turn-off for me.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G: First Impressions
The Nord CE 2 has a 3.5mm headphone jack as well.Business Insider

Now for the good part, you get the 3.5mm headphone jack. You can take it as a trade deal, and maybe that will make you feel better. For me? I would prefer to have the alert slider over a headphone jack since I’ve already invested in a good pair of truly wireless headphones.

The latest Nord runs on Android 11 but it will be receiving the Android 12 update soon, as per the company. The Android OS is combined with OxygenOS 11 on top.

Yes, I did have some preconceived ideas about how the device will feel since the Color OS and Oxygen OS merged lately, but I was pleasantly surprised. The software remains to feel smooth and responsive during my initial experience with the device. With minimal bloatware and smooth functionality out of the box, it would be unfair to say it’s lost the OnePlus flavour. I just hope the company has worked on the bugs seen with third-party apps like Instagram and Facebook on some of its previous phones.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Display

We can’t deny that no clean OS is attractive if it’s not being used on a good display, fortunately OnePlus has scored there. The 6.43-inch fluid AMOLED punch-hole display is gorgeous. It’s bright and the pictures look vibrant and well saturated. It is also HDR10+ certified which makes its presence felt when you watch content on third-party apps like Netflix or Amazon Prime. (I watched an episode of The Office on it, and yes, it was clear - RYAN STARTED THE FIRE).

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G: First Impressions
The Nord CE 2 has an impressive display for its price.Business Insider India

The CE2 comes with 90Hz as a default refresh rate that’s become a standard on phones of this range, and it improves scrolling or playing games.

The linear speaker set-up on the smartphone is loud but it's not as good as seen on more expensive flagships from the company.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Performance, battery and camera

This young OnePlus runs on MediaTek Dimensity 900 5G chipset, which so far has been holding up pretty well. The device boots up quickly, handles games like BGMI smoothly, if played on HD settings. There was hardly any lag, and I am satisfied as of writing my first impressions.

So far, I am also happy with the RAM management. With 8GB of memory, applications stay intact around the day and open up exactly where I left them.

The in-built storage is 128GB which is ample for a regular user, but if you are someone hardcore then you can always expand it with a micro SD card.

Another area where the processor makes its presence felt is battery life. Nord CE 2 5G runs feature a 4500 mAh dual-cell battery set-up (2 x 2250 mAh cells). In the last 2 days, I had to plug in the device once when the battery went all the way down to 0%. So that’s impressive.

What surprised me more was the charging time. With 65W charging, the device went to 80% in just about 20 minutes, and in about 30 minutes it was a complete 100%.

These are great numbers considering it is so far running for an entire day. I will have more to write about it when I test it thoroughly.

Before closing this piece let’s talk about the camera. But first, the camera app, which is a mix of what we see on Oppo and what we used to see on the older version on OxygenOS.

The primary sensor is a 64MP shooter, with electronic image stabilization and produces decent images. It retains skin tones and doesn't put a beauty filter to spoil a frame. Portrait mode works well and the amount of bokeh can also be adjusted as per your taste. Low light performance is just aren’t as impressive as daylight so far. The 2MP macro sensor is impressive and retains a great amount of detail. Yet, there is a problem with colours here as well. You can check out the camera samples in the video above.

The third camera fortunately is a useful one, it's an 8MP ultra-wide sensor. Creating a giant canvas for your frames, allows you to click decent images and does retain great details.

The selfie camera is a 16 MP shooter and so far the results have been pretty satisfying. Skin tones stay intact and colours are not overly bright or vibrant. Portrait selfies also look impressive in daylight.
The video mode has surprised me more than anything else, even with just EIS, the output looks great, with the audio complementing the video really well. There are some bonus features like the dual-video mode, which is implemented perfectly on the device.

Early verdict

So what are my parting thoughts? OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, has some serious potential to go head to head against, its competitors like the Xiaomi 11i, or Samsung M and A series smartphones. It looks good, works well, and doesn't compromise a lot when it comes to actual usage. So my initial thoughts can confirm that it’s a promising product that can only be dwarfed if the competition is tough, which will be the real test for the Nord CE 2 in this segment.

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