OnePlus Philippines started the year strong with the launch of its new flagship model – the OnePlus 11 5G. If you want to know more about this phone, we’ve done a full review of it, which you can read here.
As nice as the OnePlus 11 5G is, it’s not exactly what you would call budget friendly. This time around, the company released a new model that isn’t as expensive as its flagship model – the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G. It’s the successor to the Nord CE 2 Lite, and it underwent some changes both inside and out.
But just how big are the changes, and is it a smartphone you should consider this 2023? Well, let’s find out in this review.
Table of Contents
Design & Construction
The Nord CE 3 Lite 5G looks great in terms of design, especially with this dark gray color and a reflective back panel. The back panel isn’t glass even though it looks like it. It’s actually made of hard plastic. Given how reflective it is, we weren’t surprised then that it is a fingerprint magnet. Aside from the nice back panel, you’ll also find the triple-rear camera system with a relatively large flash and the subtle OnePlus logo at the center of the phone.
Like the back panel, the frame of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is also made of plastic. As a result, it doesn’t feel as premium as compared to other phones, but the texture does feel nice to the touch.
The volume buttons are found on the left side along with the dual-sim slot and microSD card slot, while on the right side, you’ll find the power button.
At the bottom, there’s the USB-C, loudspeaker, and a 3.5mm audio jack if you’re not using the Nords Buds 2 earphones. Meanwhile, the top is another speaker – yes, this phone has stereo loudspeakers.
All-in-all, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite does feel nice to the touch and is relatively easy to use even with one hand. If you’re a bit OC about the fingerprints, you can always install the rubber case. It’s not the slimmest smartphone, but it’s not too thick either. The phone also has a good weight to it.
Display & Multimedia
Moving to the display, we have a large 6.72-inch IPS panel with 1080x2400px and a 120Hz refresh rate. The screen is quite bright, making it easy to use even under direct sunlight. The colors are nice and vivid too, but a bit too saturated for my liking. More importantly, they’re quite accurate. Although there is a natural color mode if you want softer colors like me.
With the 120Hz refresh rate, it’s quite nice to use too; it’s very smooth going through the menu and even when browsing the net. The same can be said when watching videos, whether it be YouTube, Netflix, or other apps.
Gamers will definitely enjoy the 120Hz display paired with the stereo loudspeakers, which are average at best, but they are quite loud if you need them to be. We’ll talk more about gaming performance later on.
Going back to the display, the bezels aren’t too thick apart from the bottom portion of the screen. At the top of the screen, you get a pinhole punch-out for the front camera.
Speaking of cameras, the triple rear camera with a 108MP main sensor, 2MP macro, and 2MP depth sensors. As for video, it records at a maximum of [email protected] Meanwhile, the front camera runs a 16MP sensor.
The camera is easy to use and some of the settings are easily accessible from the top portion. However, I noticed that it has a hard time focusing when shooting in 3X mode. There also appears to be no optical or in-body stabilization. This makes it a bit hard to shoot low-light photos if you don’t have a steady hand.
As for the photos, they’re great out of the box, and they’re quite sharp too. The only exception would be shooting in 3X mode since the photos end up looking very soft. With the full 108MP mode, you can capture great landscape photos. The details are retained too, although if you zoom in the edges end up looking soft.
In low light conditions, the photos aren’t that great. While there is night mode, the photos end up looking very filtered for my liking. If you’re not too picky though, it’s decent.
The same can be said for the front camera which takes great selfie photos. Overall, it’s not bad.
As for videos, it’s the same situation with the photos – great in the daytime and well-lit environments average in low light conditions. However, the camera isn’t that steady since there’s no stabilization, so better have a steady hand when capturing video.
You can check out our sample photos and videos in the album above.
Performance & Benchmarks
Under the hood of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is a Snapdragon 695 5G chipset. This particular unit we have comes with 8GB RAM and has an additional 8GB extended RAM along with 256GB internal storage. If that’s not enough space, there is a microSD slot that can further expand storage space.
The Snapdragon 695 is a bit dated, but it still performs well with the Nord CE 3 Lite. You can still run most modern games like Genshin Impact and Blue Archive without any issues whatsoever. However, you do have to adjust the settings in order to make it run a bit more smoothly and not encounter frame rate drops.
There’s no lag whatsoever even if you keep the app running in the background and you decide to watch videos too. And as you would expect, it’s great for everyday use whether it be calls, text, or just browsing social media.
For those interested, you can check the benchmark scores here.
OS, Apps & UI
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite runs on Oxygen OS13.1 which is based on Android 13. As a result, Android users will have no problems switching to this phone. Not to mention the skin and UI looks great too. It’s not too over the top, but not too simple either.
There are also some customization options available, so just pick which one suits your style the best.
Connectivity & Battery Life
The battery on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is rated at 5000mAh and comes with a 67W fast charger. From personal experience, the Nord CE 3 Lite does last the entire day even when you play some games in between and watch videos. And if you do need to charge, the 67W fast charging is good enough to quickly juice up the phone.
In our standardized video loop test, the device lasted 21 hours and 15 minutes on a single full charge at 50% brightness, zero volume and in airplane mode.
In terms of connectivity, OnePlus didn’t leave the Nord CE 3 Lite out. It comes with 5G, WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS, and the like.
So the OnePlus Nord Ce 3 Lite is a great phone, especially for everyday use. It works great in all aspects and that’s what you would want in an everyday phone. You do have to set expectations though; this isn’t the brand’s flagship model.
Now for the big question – the price. The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G retails for only PHP 14,990, making it quite affordable for everything it has to offer. The chipset is a bit dated, but overall it still performs well, especially as a budget everyday phone.
I personally enjoyed using it as a secondary phone for gaming and watching videos. It’s got a good battery life too, which lasted me the entire day. At the price, you can’t go wrong even with the older Snapdragon 695 chipset.
But what do you think? Would you consider the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
What we liked:
- Great display with 120Hz display
- Nice camera w/ 108MP main
- Smooth OS and UI
- Nice aesthetic
What we did not like:
- Snapdragon 695 is rather dated
- Fingerprint magnet
- Camera is not great at low light
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G specs:
6.72-inch LCD display @ 2400×1080 pixels
120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 chipset
Adreno 619 GPU
8GB LPDDR4X RAM
128GB, 256GB UFS2.2
108MP EIS f/1.7
2MP depth-assist f/2.4
2MP macro f/2.4
[email protected], [email protected]
16MP front-facing camera f/2.4
5G, dual SIM/microSD
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2.4G/5G
GPS (BDS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS)
OxygenOS based on Android 13
5000mAh Li-Ion battery, 67W SUPERVOOC
Chromatic Gray, Pastel Lime
165.5mm x 76.0mm x 8.3mm (dimensions)
195 grams (weight)