Better than the Nord CE, but could have been even better – Technology News, Firstpost



Price: Rs 24,999

Rating: 3.8/5

We ended our OnePlus Nord CE review asking if there would be a successor to the same or if the Core Edition was just a one-time experiment. Guess? The OnePlus Nord CE 2 is here and faster than we expected. The first Nord CE didn’t impress us much, as we think the company cut a corner too much and looked like a generic phone with OnePlus branding and OxygenOS. The company has made a few changes to its successor without pushing the price up.

Are those improvements enough to justify their existence? We will answer that and more in our OnePlus Nord CE 2 review. We’ll take a quick look at what’s good or not, and how it differs from its predecessor in half a dozen key areas. Let’s get the ball rolling.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Design

The rear profile of the Nord CE 2 is completely different from its predecessor, and in some ways quite unique and cool. The plastic back of the Nord CE has been replaced by scratch-resistant glass; the first of many improvements. A single glass block covers the entire back and also includes the camera module which sticks out a bit. The camera layout is much more like the Nord 2 than the CE. The company has stuck to a single front camera that is housed in a punch hole.

The back does attract some smudges, but they are not so noticeable with the Bahama Blue variant. However, the frame is still plastic and has a glossy finish. Despite the glass back, the Nord CE 2 is only 3 grams heavier than the CE and weighs a comfortable 173 grams. It is also slightly slimmer with a thickness of 7.8mm. A popular OnePlus feature, the alert slider also remains absent on the second Nord CE phone.

However, the 3.5 mm headphone jack has been retained. You also get a USB-C port and a single speaker next to it along the bottom. OnePlus has also added a MicroSD card slot in addition to dual SIM trays; a pleasant surprise. The placement of the volume rocker along the left edge and the power button on the right is just right, and you don’t have to stretch your fingers out much to access them. One design element that could be further improved is the chin or bottom bezel, which is quite prominent on the Nord CE 2.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Display

Like any other Nord phone, the Nord CE 2 has a 6.43-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080 and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. But unlike the Nord CE, the screen here is HDR10+ compatible. It is protected from scratches by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The color reproduction and sharpness are quite good for the segment and you get two color profiles – Vivid and Soft. While the former is more vibrant, the latter is a lot more pleasant on the eyes and closer to natural if you raise the color temperature a bit.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Hardware and Performance

This is one area where the Nord CE felt a little underpowered. OnePlus has opted for a Mediatek Dimensity 900 5G SoC on the Nord CE 2. While it doesn’t really set our benchmarks on fire, it’s certainly a step above the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G on the Nord CE, but understandably not in the same league. as the Dimensity 1200 that powers the Nord 2. The Nord CE 2 feels smoother in everyday use compared to its predecessor. We got the 8 GB RAM variant for review.

The Nord CE 2 continues with benchmarks and performance in numbers, in between the Nord CE and Nord 2, but closer to the former. It scored 726 and 2160 respectively in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core benchmarks. In comparison, the Nord CE achieved scores of 641 and 1835, while the Nord 2 scored 815 and 2762 in the same tests. It returned a score of 7886 in the PCMark Work 3.0 benchmark, which was surprisingly lower than the 8366 scored by the Nord CE.

In the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan benchmark, the Nord CE 2 achieved an overall score of 3666 – more than a thousand points higher than the 2590 that its predecessor could achieve. Even in the 3DMark Wild Life benchmark, the Nord CE 2 comfortably stays ahead with 2032 points as opposed to 1113 on the CE. The Nord 2 is another cookie that scores more than double (4218 points) in the same benchmark. The difference in average frame rates is also significant (12.2 vs 6.7 vs 25.3 — CE 2 vs CE vs Nord 2).

Both Core Edition phones aren’t great at serious gaming, but can handle less graphics-intensive games quite well on medium settings. That said, the Mali-G68 MC4 GPU on the OnePlus Nord CE 2 performs noticeably better in this department than the Adreno 619 on the CE. The single speaker on the phone doesn’t make it particularly enjoyable though, and it’s best to use earphones or headphones. The Nord CE 2 is Bluetooth 5.2 compatible and also has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Camera Performance

The Nord CE’s camera department wasn’t very impressive and they’ve done much the same thing on the CE 2 with minor improvements. You get the same 64MP main camera and it still lacks optical image stabilization (OIS). The 8MP ultra-wide camera is also the same for both. The only difference is that the 2MP depth sensor has been replaced by a 2MP macro camera, which isn’t as great as most 2MP macro cameras.

The output is quite good in good lighting, but starts to lose detail in fading light. Dynamic range is good and photos have better detail compared to the Nord CE, but they still seem a bit on the softer side. There are some AI improvements, but they ruin the colors so it’s best to avoid them. There’s no telephoto camera here and the shots are digitally zoomed in and usable up to 2X peaks. Lack of OIS doesn’t help either and you need a steady hand to get usable clicks. The 8MP ultra-wide camera is average at best, but does well in well-lit conditions.

Low-light photography on the Nord CE 2 can be a hit. Some images show a good amount of detail, while others look flat. The noise is kept in check, but the noise reduction algorithm seems a bit aggressive. There’s a night mode that significantly improves things when the light is too low, but it takes longer to capture and process the images. The objects look brighter than they are, but have noticeably less detail. It’s best to stick with the main camera in low light in normal mode. Ultra-wide mode or low-light zoom produces subpar results.

Click here to view raw camera samples

The 16MP front camera does well with selfies. They come out sharp and with natural colors. The front camera also has a portrait mode which works well if there is enough foreground and background separation. The rear cameras can record 4K videos at 30 fps and 1080p videos at up to 120 fps. However, EIS only works when shooting 1080p videos at 30 fps; best to stick to it for best results. The output is acceptable for the segment. The front camera can record videos in Full HD resolution at 30 or 60 fps.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Battery Backup

OnePlus has kept the 4500 mAh battery on the Nord CE 2, but fast charging has been ramped up to 65W from 30W. The battery lasts for a day and a half with moderate use, which is pretty good. The included 65W ‘SuperVOOC’ charger (yes, OnePlus now openly uses the Oppo nomenclature) manages to charge it from 1 to 100% in about 40 minutes. It’s maybe 4 to 5 minutes slower than the Nord 2, but a solid 25 minutes faster than the Nord CE, which is hugely impressive.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: OS and UI

The Nord CE 2 runs Android 11 with OxygenOS 11.3. OnePlus promises two major Android updates and three years of security updates for this phone, which is good, but there is one minor drawback. Android 12 has been out for a few months now and a phone that debuts in 2022 should ideally launch with that version of the OS. Despite the company’s commitment to two Android updates, it may not go as far as Android 13, which feels like a rough deal but not a deal breaker.

Because of the code unification, the ColorOS influence can be seen in places like the camera app (which comes straight out of Oppo’s playbook), but it still largely feels like OxygenOS here, which is great. There is also hardly any bloatware and the overall experience is smooth and pleasant. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 should get the OxygenOS 12 update in a few months, and I’m not sure how things will play out then. Judging by my experience with the same on Nord 2, it feels a lot less like OxygenOS.

OnePlus Nord CE 2: Price and Competition

The Nord CE starts at Rs 23,999 for the 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage variant and just a thousand more for the 8 GB RAM variant with the same internal storage. OnePlus hasn’t bothered with a 12GB RAM variant here, and it’s a wise decision. There’s also no 256GB variant, but you can always use a MicroSD card to increase the storage if 128GB seems insufficient. All in all you get a much improved version of the Nord CE for the same price (except cameras). However, the competition in the sub-Rs 25,000 segment is fierce.

Some of the best options in the segment are Samsung M52 5G and iQOO Z5 5G. Both phones have a faster Snapdragon 778 chip, higher capacity batteries and 120Hz refresh rates. While the Samsung has a Super AMOLED display, the iQOO has a regular IPS display. A few more options I would like to mention are Xiaomi 11i 5G and Realme 9 Pro Plus. Both are powered by Mediatek Dimensity 920 chip (more powerful than 900) and have impressive cameras. While the former sports a 108MP main camera, the latter has one with OIS.

The more powerful and impressive OnePlus Nord 2 is also not available if one is willing to stretch the budget a bit. So while the OnePlus Nord CE 2 brings a handful of improvements over its predecessor, the company will need to do a little more to stand out from the crowd in this highly competitive segment of smartphones. Let’s see if OnePlus gets lucky for the third time with the Nord CE 3.

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