As we can see from the list of specifications here, it is not top hardware that we get. However, it should not be surprising in this price segment either. I would also argue that the vast majority of smartphone users do not have a usage pattern that requires high end hardware, even if many are inclined to buy it.
A tour around the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G
The color options for the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite are the fresh Pastel Lime and the somewhat more muted Chromatic Gray. This is the last version we have received for testing.
The design of the phone is sharper than the rounded shapes that we have seen on the more high-end phones from OnePlus. So it's flat sides and a flat screen without big roundings on the sides of the scare part itself, which I'm personally really happy about.
I think the phone fits better in the hand that way, and I definitely prefer a flat display that doesn't spill over the sides. However, it can be a matter of personal taste.
The screen that OnePlus has gone with is a Full HD, 6.72" LCD screen with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. It is a screen that, despite not being able to boast of being OLED or other top of the line, does it super well.
The resolution and brightness are very good and I had no problems using the screen even outdoors. In direct strong sunlight, however, you may find that the screen falls a little short.
The variable refresh rate of 30-120 Hz also means that the screen feels nice, fast and responsive to use.
At the top of the screen we find the front camera, which is mounted in the screen with the hole punch method that we now see on the majority of phones. However, this is not something that gives rise to problems, as most apps are now adapted so that a hole punch camera does not cut or block content.
What is not part of the screen, however, is the fingerprint reader. It is something that is also becoming standard on many phones. Instead, on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, it is part of the power button, on the right side of the phone.
It's a lightning fast and efficient reader that even with a short touch caught my finger and unlocked the phone. This kind of placement of the fingerprint reader has always been something I have preferred, as it is a very natural placement when you pick up the phone. As long as you are right-handed, of course. Left-handed people will probably have a different experience.
If you prefer, you can also unlock the phone with facial recognition or pin code. Facial recognition is also fast and responsive, and didn't give me any problems during my testing either.
If we look on the left side of the phone, we find the volume buttons and the combined SIM and SD card tray. There is 128 GB UFS2.2 storage in the phone, but if you need it you can quickly expand it with the SD card here up to 1 TB. It's a nice bonus that is absent from a surprising number of high end phones.
If we jump to the bottom of the phone, we get a USB C connector and the charging. Here, up to 67W SUPERVOOC charging is supported via the charger included in the package. This means that you can charge the 5000 mAh battery from 0% to 100% in about 45 minutes.
There is no option for wireless charging, but I would hardly expect that either in this price segment.
As a rarity by now, we also get a 3.5mm jack for headsets at the bottom. So a good bonus for those who have not yet jumped on the True Wireless wave.
It is also at the bottom that we can see one of the two speakers, which together with the speaker at the top form a stereo setup.
The sound is a bit thin-boned and, perhaps not surprisingly, lacks a little depth in the sound image. Overall, it does the job sensibly for Facebook videos etc. However, OnePlus has given us the option of 200% volume, which is very high. It's measured against the average volume on smartphones, but it's a level I wouldn't recommend.
The back of the OnePlus CE 3 Lite is in glossy plastic and, like most other glossy surfaces, is a magnet for fingerprints and dirt, despite OnePlus saying the surface is "anti-fingerprint".
The choice of plastic over glass is not something that catches the eye, and it was actually not something I noticed straight away. The quality of plastic is now so good that it can be difficult to immediately spot the difference. Another advantage is that the durability in relation to impacts and drops is better than glass.
The camera setup on the back is gathered in two rings located in the left corner. Both protrude slightly from the back, which also means that the phone does not lie flat on a table. It might annoy someone.
The operating system on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is of course Android. It ships with Android 13 alongside OnePlus' own OxygenOS in version 13.1. It is, as before, a delicious experience out of the box. OxygenOS is delightfully free of bloatware. There are of course extra elements added, but after all it feels like a fairly pure Android experience.
Via the settings, it is possible to customize the experience and the user interface quite a bit. On the surface, the option to choose whether you prefer navigation via gestures or the more classic app drawer is nice to have, even if it is not exactly new.
In terms of appearance, there are also good options for customizing the style of the phone. It is possible to choose and customize everything from the color of UI elements and message notifications to the style and sizes of app icons and much more.
For many, the camera experience is a big part of a smartphone. It's the camera that you always have with you and that you end up taking the majority of your photos on.
One of the areas where we can feel that we are dealing with a cheaper phone is precisely on the camera. The setup on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite consists of a 108 megapixel main camera, supplemented by a two megapixel macro lens and another two megapixel lens, which is however only used as depth assistance.
Which camera setup you prefer will have a lot to do with the type of photos you take. The more expensive phones usually offer more options, with a wider camera setup. Here we are limited to a primary camera and a macro lens. So there is no dedicated zoom lens or ultra wide.
Personally, I would probably have preferred an Ultra Wide option more than Macro, but that kind of thing can vary a lot from person to person. However, it is worth paying attention to when choosing a smartphone.
However, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite has, via pixel binning on the 108 megapixel large primary camera, what OnePlus calls Lossless Zoom up to 3x.
In general, the images from the primary camera are really reasonable. Especially when there is plenty of light, really good results come out of it.
However, you should be aware that by default you do not get the full 108 MP out of the camera. The standard setting is cropped somewhat, which among other things helps to make the Lossless Zoom function possible.
If you choose to use the High Res 108 MP setting, you lose the zoom option and are left with general. digital zoom.
The front camera is a 16 megapixel camera, which handles the task as a selfie cam reasonably well. A bokeh effect can be created via the Portrait setting, which is reasonably good. However, it sometimes has a little difficulty finding the right border when you have a little too messy morning hair.
The camera app on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite has a wealth of different options with HDR, AI enhancements and 13 different filters. I don't have many fingers to put on the app itself, which generally runs fine and fast. One could wish that the autofocus was a little faster, but luckily there is virtually no shutter delay.
Unfortunately, I am quite disappointed with the video quality. There is an option for 1080p video at 30 fps or 720p video at 30 fps. At the same time, there is the option of slow motion in 720p at 120 fps.
However, the overall quality of the video is nothing to shout about, with a rather grainy expression even filmed outside in daylight.
See test photos and video by following the link here.
I've been using the OnePlus CE 3 5G for a few weeks now and it's been a good experience overall. For all the common everyday things, such as social media, web browsing and YouTube, there is not a finger to put on a smartphone like this.
While not high end hardware, the phone never felt slow or cumbersome for the various tasks I threw at it.
The battery life managed about four to six hours of screen time during the day, so there was no problem getting through a full day of regular phone use.
If you also include the super fast charging in the picture, the battery has not at any time been a challenge for me during the test.
Where a phone like the OnePlus Nord CE 3 falls short for me is on the camera side. The choice of hardware does not quite meet my needs, which is not necessarily a fault of the phone, but more about my personal preferences.
Having said that, I also think that the general quality of the pictures falls a bit short if you, like me, go all in and take a lot of pictures with your phone.
However, I can't let it weigh too heavily on the assessment here, since after all I'm comparing with phones that cost more than twice as much as the OnePlus Nord CE 3. However, it's worth considering if you go up in camera and pictures on his smartphone.
The quality is more than fine for the daily Facebook and TikTok updates and, all else being equal, this is not a phone that is marketed as a camera wonder either.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G lands with a price of 2499 DKK. So around 3000 kroner less than a OnePlus Flagship like the OnePlus 11.
It is easy to be tempted to buy a more expensive phone than you need. When you look at the impressive specs on the flagship phones, and all the promises about how much you can manage with the expensive phone in your pocket, it's easy to get carried away.
If you actually use your phone mostly for social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and the like, you can still get a lot of phone for the money with a phone like the OnePlus Nord CE 3.
There will be areas where you have to compromise in order to get down to this price. For me, it is most evident on the camera part of the experience. However, I am also a smartphone user who needs a phone that can narrowly be used to take good pictures for work use.
So on that front you also have to assess the product in the segment it is launched.
We end up with a final grade of 8, for a phone that at a good price gives you an experience that is difficult to distinguish from a much more expensive phone in everyday life.