OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G, the phone, like its unnecessarily wordy name, carries baggage. The baggage of being the mid-tier phone from a brand with a somewhat questionable reputation since their deviation from the flagship killer persona.
Thankfully, OnePlus is slowly getting back on track by regaining users' trust, and the newest edition to their mid-budget Nord series phones is one of the reasons for it.
The new Nord CE 3 Lite, as the CE stands for in its name, is the Core Edition of everything one might need in a phone at its price point.
Despite having a plastic build, the flattened-box dimension and the glossy back gives it an illusion of a premium flagship phone.
However, unlike most phones within its price bracket, Nord CE 3 Lite features an LCD IPS panel display and not a more premium AMOLED display. Even though it would be a demerit point for any other phone, for OnePlus, it's more of a relief since their AMOLED displays are prone to showing green vertical lines on the screen due to some sort of hardware issues.
And since the huge 6.72-inch screen is not an AMOLED display, OnePlus had to move the fingerprint sensor from under the display to the home button on the side. But despite the placement, the fingerprint sensor is fast enough to ensure biometric authentication and is not an inconvenience for the user.
The screen itself is a responsive one with a max 120 Hz refresh rate that can hold on to the responsiveness through and through. However, since it is an LCD display and not a bright AMOLED screen, visibility under direct sunlight could be a little problematic for some.
Other than that, the screen is good enough for basically everything that an avid user might use it for, including media consumption, social browsing and, specifically, gaming.
Nord phones are somewhat known for their gaming-focused approach, and this one is no exception. It houses a 6nm Snapdragon 695 with 5G capabilities, and this chipset ensures steady performance during heavy game processing and multitasking. To further enhance the gaming experience, OnePlus features 8 GB virtual RAM expansion on top of the built-in 6/8 GB LPDDR4X RAM.
The powerful chip with the virtual RAM expansion and OnePlus's own gaming mode make Nord CE 3 Lite a solid phone for gaming. The bloatware-free clean OxygenOS 13.1 skin on top of Android 13 also makes the phone feel close to a stock Android experience.
Despite powering the gaming-focused setup, the Snapdragon 695 5G chip is surprisingly battery efficient. With its 5000 mAh battery and the efficiency of the chipset, it can easily pass for a day-long phone for light to average use.
Even if the phone goes through a heavy power-consuming session, the battery can be topped up very quickly with the in-box 67 Watt SUPERVOOC charging adapter.
As for the cameras, the two huge lens-like circular arrays on the rear house a main 108 MP, one 2 MP depth, and surprisingly, instead of an ultrawide, a rather useless 2 MP Macro camera.
The main Sony sensor takes slightly saturated, yet decent, photos in well-lit environments and outdoors. However, in low light, it fails to capture as much detail and sharpness, which is complemented by the Nightscape mode. With Nightscape, the phone can take good-looking photos even in low light conditions and gains some details back on the image.
In portrait mode, the camera is really good with edge detection, thanks to the 2 MP depth camera in the rear. However, sometimes the camera pushes towards a more aggressive blur which flattens the colour profile for the produced portraits.
For selfies and video calls, the front features a standard 16 MP front camera, and both front and back feature EIS for stable video recording capped at 1080p HD at 30 fps.
Audio output is above average with dual stereo speakers, and the media or gaming experience is enhanced by its Ultra Volume mode that bumps the volume to 200%.
Overall, despite its few qualms, OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is a solid mid-tier phone that got the fundamental rights – a powerful chip, efficient performance, solid battery backup, and a decent camera array.