Most Non-OnePlus Phones Ever – Technology News, Firstpost

– Good build quality and finish
– Android 12 with periodic updates
– Sharp LCD display with 120 Hz refresh rate
– Good battery backup
– 3.5mm headphone jack, MicroSD card slot, 5G ready

– OxygenOS 12
– Impressive camera performance; no ultra-wide camera or 4K video recording
– Fingerprint scanner is not very responsive
– Doesn’t bring anything new to the segment

Overview: If OnePlus is serious about operating in this segment, they have to do much better than Lite on performance and features. The competition has much better options for dealing with it from day 1.

Price: Rs 19,999 onwards

Rating: 3.3/5

Mumbai Indians and OnePlus have had an unremarkable 2022 to say the least, and the troubles for both can be traced back to their respective drawing boards. Both have deviated from their core strength to play someone else’s game, and it’s safe to say it’s worked out well for neither of them. OnePlus is now targeting the lower mid-range through its Nord CE series of phones, and with the addition of each new suffix, things seem to be heading south.

Image Credit: Ameya Dalvi, Tech2

While the Nord CE and CE 2 worked in the price range below 25K, the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G seems to break the 20,000 rupee mark and enter an even more crowded space. Are the brand name and its popular OxygenOS enough to convince consumers in this highly competitive segment? Time to find out.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G: design (3.5/5)
The Nord CE 2 Lite looks pretty good for a lower mid-range phone. You won’t get a glass back here but it’s made of a good quality plastic with an equally good matte finish with a bit of shine. That makes it largely free of fingerprints and smudges. The area around the rear camera tile has a glossy finish and a different texture that blends in well with the rest of the back. There are also no rough edges.

As with most budget phones, the bottom bezel is quite prominent and the punch hole for the front camera is slightly larger than usual. A volume rocker and a SIM + MicroSD card tray are located along the left edge of the phone, while the power button is found on the right. The surface of the power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner. The scanner is not the most responsive and sometimes it took me several tries to unlock the phone. All this despite a fairly extensive fingerprint registration process.

Image Credit: Ameya Dalvi, Tech2

The placement of the volume rocker and power button is well thought out and you don’t have to stretch your fingers too much to reach them. The bottom of the phone has a speaker, a USB-C charging port and a 3.5mm headphone jack which is present on all CE series phones to date. The phone is 8.5mm thick and weighs 195g which is slightly on the heavier side for a phone with a polycarbonate frame and back.

Image Credit: Ameya Dalvi, Tech2

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G: display (3.5/5)
The display of the Nord CE 2 Lite is the largest of all the Nord phones released before that, but not the best of them all. If my memory serves me well, this will probably be the first OnePlus phone without an AMOLED display. To keep costs low, the company has opted for a 6.59-inch IPS LCD screen. But it does have a refresh rate of 120 Hz; other Nord phones are stuck at 90 Hz. That said, one can notice the odd stutter in certain apps, something you shouldn’t do on a 120Hz screen. Probably a software issue that the company should fix in a future update.

While it doesn’t have the same black levels as an AMOLED screen, the display quality isn’t bad at all and perfectly acceptable for a budget phone. While the screen calibration options aren’t as extensive as on more expensive OnePlus phones, in addition to manual color temperature adjustment, you also get vibrant and natural color profiles to choose from.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G: hardware and performance (3/5)
OnePlus has gotten quite lite on the processing power, even by CE standards. The Nord CE 2 Lite is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G chip which is quite popular in the 15K to 20K segment mainly due to its 5G compliance. You get two variants of the phone with 6 GB and 8 GB of RAM, both with 128 GB of UFS 2.2 storage. If desired, you can expand the storage with a MicroSD card. The phone’s performance is acceptable for general use, but not flattering.

Let’s look at some benchmark numbers with reference to the non-Lite variant. In Geekbench 5, the CE 2 Lite scored 687 and 1981 points in the single-core and multi-core benchmarks, respectively. In comparison, the Nord CE 2 achieved scores of 726 and 2160 in those tests. In the PCMark Work 3.0 benchmark, it returned a score of 7777, which was just slightly lower than the Nord CE 2’s 7886 score. So far as good as the performance drop is not huge.

Image Credit: Ameya Dalvi, Tech2

In 3DMark, the gap between the two Nord CE 2 phones widens significantly. In the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan benchmark, the Nord CE 2 Lite goes as much as 2733 points, while the CE 2 reaches 3666 points. Likewise, the Nord CE 2 comfortably leads the way in the 3DMark Wild Life benchmark with 2032 points as opposed to 1213 on the CE 2 Lite. Obviously not a phone for gamers, but there aren’t many under 20K.

When used in real world, things run smoothly in day to day tasks be it using social media apps or watching videos or switching between multiple apps. You can also play some games, but on medium to low settings on most occasions. The phone doesn’t get too hot, which is good. The single speaker on this phone is fairly loud for casual listening, but with a stereo effect. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth 5.2 to connect wired or wireless headphones. Call quality and reception were fine and gave us little reason to complain.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G: OS and UI (3/5)
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite runs on the latest Android 12 with OxygenOS 12.1. This is where things get tricky. At some point we would have been happy with a phone running OxygenOS for less than Rs 20,000, but not now. At least not until version 13 is out and that too if it does what it promises. Let me explain. If you’re a fan of the older OxygenOS UI, you won’t enjoy version 12 as it resembles ColorOS on Oppo phones rather than its predecessor. Version 13 is where things are expected to return to normal. We’ll wait and watch.

On the other hand, if you haven’t experienced older versions of OxygenOS, or if the phone’s user interface isn’t that important to you, OxygenOS 12 is perfectly usable. It offers a handful of tweaks to further customize it, and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. Unlike phones from Xiaomi and Vivo, you don’t get ads and too many unwanted notifications on this phone, which is still great. In fact, the company has committed to two years of major Android updates and three years of security updates for this phone.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G: camera performance (3/5)
None of the Nord CE series phones are great at photography, and the CE 2 Lite doesn’t change that. To make matters worse, the company has dropped the 8MP ultrawide camera that was present in its predecessors in favor of a redundant 2MP depth sensor. You do get three cameras on the back with a combination of a 64MP primary camera, 2MP macro camera, and 2MP depth sensor; the last two simply add decorative value.

Image Credit: Ameya Dalvi, Tech2

The 64MP camera has to do most of the heavy lifting and that too isn’t the best out there. The possibilities are further limited by not so powerful processing hardware. For example, none of the cameras here can record 4K videos. The maximum video resolution is limited to 1080p. In still photography, when shooting outdoors in well-lit conditions, the photos are captured well with vibrant colors and good dynamic range.

The colors feel a bit oversaturated (especially the reds) and don’t exactly match those of the original subject. That’s an old trick to make the photos look more vibrant, and some people like it that way. When shooting indoors or in sub-optimal lighting, the captured images appear remarkably soft and lacking in detail. As the light goes down, the output gets progressively worse. Night mode breathes some life into low-light photos, but it takes a good 5-6 seconds to capture and process the photos.

The macro camera’s output is just like any other low-end 2MP macro camera, pretty much usable. The portrait shots with human subjects come into their own quite well, but I don’t think the depth sensor really makes them better. While there is no telephoto camera on this phone, you get 2X and 4X zoom options in the camera app, but that’s digital zoom. Again, 2x zoom shots in good lighting are decent for social media, but 4x zoom shots look dull and lacking in detail. The 16MP front camera does a good job with selfies and video calls.

click here for uncompressed camera samples.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G: Battery Backup (3.5/5)
The battery backup on this phone is standard. The phone has a 5000 mAh battery that can easily last a day and a half with moderate use. Unlike Nord CE 2, it doesn’t support 65W fast charging but only goes up to 33W. A companion 33W fast charger is present in the bundle which takes it from 0 to 100% in about 75 minutes, which is manageable , but these days we are used to having phones in half the time, and even in this segment. OnePlus should have kept the charging time at least an hour.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G: price, verdict and competition
The 6 GB RAM variant of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G can be bought for Rs 19,999 with the 8 GB RAM option priced at Rs 2,000 higher. Yes, that makes it the cheapest OnePlus phone out there, but is that a good reason to buy it? I don’t think so, especially with the competition offering better options. Unfortunately for OnePlus, OxygenOS isn’t big enough in its current avatar either. Combine that with a non-AMOLED display and subpar camera performance, and you don’t exactly have a recipe for success here.

As for the competition, Xiaomi has two solid handsets that can easily overshadow the Nord CE 2 Lite. The Redmi Note 11 Pro Plus 5G and Poco X4 Pro show off AMOLED displays with a 120Hz refresh rate, in addition to ultra-wide cameras and faster chargers. The Redmi phone also has a 108MP primary camera which should attract more attention. If you crave more processing power, you’ve got the Realme 9 5G SE in this budget with a Snapdragon 778G SoC. And Realme’s user interface is very similar to the current version of OxygenOS.

And finally, there’s the iQOO Z3 with a Snapdragon 768G chip, an ultra-wide camera and a 55W fast charger, again under 20K. As you can see, the competition is better equipped in this segment, and we have no compelling reason to recommend the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite 5G as it is a bit too Lite in terms of performance, features and value. If OnePlus wants to seriously compete in this segment in the future, they better not bring a knife to a gunfight next time. What happened to Never Settle?

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