The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, compared to its predecessor, brings some notable upgrades. Not only does it features a superior 108MP primary camera, it also has larger internal storage with even faster 67W fast charging. The best part is, it’s also priced lower than its predecessor.
However, the Nord CE 3 Lite has tough competition in this segment, and although it’s reasonably affordable with a RM1,099 price tag, there are other offerings at this price point that have better value for money. This, paired with a less-than-stellar software experience, doesn’t make OnePlus’ latest mid-ranger particularly compelling.
That being said, it does have some winning qualities, including very, very long battery life and an eye-catching design with solid build quality. If that sounds enticing to you, keen on reading this review of the Nord CE 3 Lite.
What It Is
|Display||6.72-inch FHD+ IPS LCD (2400 x 1080), 120Hz|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G 2.2GHz octa-core|
|Camera (rear)||108MP f/1.7|
2MP f/2.4 (macro)
2MP f/2.4 (depth)
|Camera (front)||16MP f/2.4|
|Battery||5,000mAh with 67W SUPERVOOC charging|
|Dimensions||165.5 x 76 x 8.3 mm|
|OS||OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13|
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
For a mid-range phone, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite has decent hardware. The Snapdragon 695 chipset is commonly found in this segment, and so is the 120Hz Full HD+ IPS display, though its competition – the Redmi Note 12 5G, in particular – comes with a superior AMOLED panel.
But the Nord CE 3 Lite does have an edge when it comes to charging speed. Its 67W SUPERVOOC charging is noticeably faster than, again, the Redmi Note 12 5G, which only offers 33W charging. There’s also the triple camera system headlined by a 108MP sensor, though megapixel count isn’t everything – more on this later.
The Good Stuff
My favourite aspect of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite has to be its build quality. Though it has a plastic construction, it feels great in my hands. The plastic frame has a nice matte finish, and the flat sides make it easy to get a firm, secure grip on the phone.
I also really like the back panel of the CE 3 Lite. It may be plastic, but it feels good to the touch without any of that “cheap” feeling. I especially like this Pastel Lime colourway too; it’s a nice shade of yellow that looks almost green under different lighting.
Beyond that, the performance level of the Nord CE 3 Lite is reasonably good too, courtesy of the Snapdragon 695 chipset. It’s more than fast enough for my day-to-day use, and even though it struggles to run Genshin Impact at the lowest graphics settings, it’s still (largely) playable.
After all, it’s a demanding mobile game that even some flagship phones struggle to run well.
And then we have the most impressive feature of the Nord CE 3 Lite: battery life. Throughout the review period, the phone’s 5,000mAh battery never failed to deliver all-day worth of use. In fact, I even managed to get up to seven hours of screen on time effortlessly with the phone. When I need to recharge the phone, the 66W fast charging can quickly top it up too.
This fast charging rate is one of the most highlighted features of this mid-range phone, alongside its 108MP primary camera, which I’ll get to in the following section..
The Bad Stuff
While the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite’s 108MP camera sounds impressive on paper, its actual performance leaves much to be desired. Under ideal lighting, it can deliver good-looking shots – like any smartphone worth its salt should – but in low light conditions, the camera struggles to perform. Judge for yourself with these sample shots:
Not only is noise apparent in nighttime shots, the Nord CE 3 Lite’s 108MP camera doesn’t have great dynamic range or detail preservation either. The other two camera sensors (2MP macro + 2MP depth) don’t meaningfully improve the camera capability of the phone either, in my opinion.
And then there’s the 6.72-inch 1080p IPS display of the CE 3 Lite, which is…average. It’s serviceable, sure, with reasonably good brightness level, but its viewing angles are not particularly wide. Colours noticeably shift at the slightest angle, negatively impacting the user experience.
However, I do appreciate the panel’s fast 120Hz refresh rate, which gives animations nice and smooth transitions.
Last but not least is the software experience of OxygenOS 13.1. Yes, it feels lightweight, but it also doesn’t feel quite as responsive as it should be to my inputs. I also don’t like the fact that I can’t swipe down on multiple notifications from the same app to expand them; other versions of Android has this enabled.
These are by no means huge issues, but they do affect the overall polish of the software experience.
Is It Worth It?
It really depends on what you prioritise in a smartphone. If you want a long-lasting phone with a sleek, eye-catching design and solid build quality, then the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is certainly worth considering. But if you want a phone with a versatile camera system that offers more than just one focal length or a display with wide viewing angles, then you may want to look at other options.
Nonetheless, if you do want to get the Nord CE 3 Lite, you can pre-order it now until 17 April. Early birds get up to RM497 worth of freebies – which includes the first generation OnePlus Nord Buds, a one-year extended warranty, and a one-year screen protection – as well as a RM80 discount voucher, bringing down the price of the phone to RM1,019.
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