The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is a low-cost version of the line indicated by the Chinese manufacturer. The device has some cuts compared to more advanced models, promising a great experience with great value for money.
But in the datasheet it is already possible to see a negative point that is stressing many people: an IPS LCD screen, not an OLED. Other points may seem bigger, like a Snap platform, a battery.
Do these points really lead to a differentiated user experience? I tested the device and provided a breakdown of the top answers for anyone considering importing it.
Design and Construction
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is similar to the OnePlus Nord CE 2, but there are many details that set them apart. Both have a camera module in the upper left corner of the rear with two giant lenses and plastic finish. And there is also a hole in the upper left corner of the screen to the front.
Also, on the left is the volume button and on the right is the power button. In the case of the Lite model, the fingerprint reader is integrated in the latter, and not under the screen.
And there are differences. The back cover is two-tone, the top is textured with vertical lines and the rest is matte lacquer. The camera module is ignored but not part of the single piece, although it remains the same color as the back. It can be black or blue.
No protection against water or dust. The phone comes with a matte clear TPU case inside the box.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite screen is completely different from other versions. In addition to being larger in inches, it has another type of panel that is less technologically advanced. To compensate, the refresh rate is slightly higher.
It’s almost 6.6 inches, with full HD resolution, enough to guarantee a density of more than 400 pixels per inch. As a result, the device offers good image clarity.
However, IPS LCD panels have more disadvantages than AMOLED. These include lower brightness and lower contrast because blacks are shades of dark gray. This is because pixels always emit some light, even in the darkest areas of the image.
Even so, I admit that I only noticed that the screen was not AMOLED when I checked the device settings. So some of the problems I’ve been observing start to make sense, and among them is precisely the low brightness. But I found the blacks to be quite satisfying and the overall display was pretty good.
Finally, the refresh rate is slightly higher than the OnePlus Nord CE 2’s 90 Hz. The Lite has 120 Hz, but that’s something we barely noticed. Of course, you will find the picture smoother, especially in games where the adaptation frequency increases. But I don’t think it’s an unavoidable advantage.
Configuration and Performance
For some, having a Snapdragon processor instead of Dimensity might be an advantage over the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite. But this is not the case.
The Snapdragon in question, the 695, supports 5G, as does the Dimensity 900. However, it has a little less power, as the benchmark data shows. In the Geekbench 5 multi-core test, the MediaTek chipset scored 2169 and the Qualcomm model scored 1967.
That’s a small difference and there really isn’t a noticeable change in day-to-day performance between the OnePlus Nord CE 2 and its Lite variant. Both handle the most common social networking apps and even light games like Candy Crush or Subway Surfers well.
You might notice some differences with heavier games like COD Mobile, Fortnite or PUBG Mobile. In such cases, the Lite model needs to reduce the graphics to avoid stuttering when there is a lot of action on the screen. The phone performed well on Asphalt 9.
The OnePlus interface may have lost some of its key strengths in recent years, but it’s still remarkably smooth. This makes a big difference, especially on smartphones with more modest hardware, as is the case here.
Another advantage is the compatibility with 5G networks, which the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite already offers.
As I mentioned briefly, OxygenOS is one of the smoothest Android interfaces of the past. To be honest, it’s still the most optimized in the robotics world, despite losing some fluidity.
But one area where OnePlus has recently started to fall short is refresh speed. It still hasn’t gotten to the point where some manufacturers even release security updates, but it’s not that timely, and sometimes the release of a new version gets overtaken by Samsung.
On a positive note, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite already has Android 12 installed, and the company is expected to release the next two versions. The device also promises a three-year security package, so it will protect until 2025.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite camera is practically the same as the other models in the series. In fact, there’s just one absence: there’s no ultrawide sensor in this review’s version.
Overall, they both take very similar photos. With good lighting, you can usually get great photos. It’s not as good in low light anymore, but it’s still affordable. Especially considering it’s an intermediate model in your hands.
HDR works fine, but it doesn’t always turn on when you need it. This results in the difference between photos with high dynamic range and photos with exaggerated contrast, leaving little room for editing without losing detail.
But I also don’t recommend forcing the feature every time as it can make photos look weird when HDR isn’t needed. The solution is to always try to take two or more pictures to get at least one good result.
The OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite macro camera is no longer similar in quality to other models. Using the sensor can produce some decent photos, but it’s also very common to get highly artificial results that look like a painting rather than a photo.
In low light, you have trouble focusing, even if you aim where you should be. Night mode helps to reduce blur and excessive noise and slightly lightens the image. However, the results were not the best.
Selfies and video recording
When it comes to the front camera, the dynamic range issue is even more pronounced. Photos with strong contrast are common, leaving little room for further editing. At least the textures are of a reasonable level.
In portrait mode, objects in focus don’t change much: contrast is too high and textures lose some detail. The editing is very satisfactory, with few errors. It can be a great option to disguise a scene that is not well arranged in a photo, or even highlight your face.
Nord CE 2 Lite has a mono sound system, just like the other models in the range. The phone has good power with less distortion at higher volumes. If you put it in the medium, it is of good quality, with a good distinction between bass and treble, although they are not strong points.
You can watch videos with acceptable quality, listen to audio from social networks and much more. It’s not great for listening to music, but it’s good enough.
At least the device has a similar quality headphone jack with built-in audio. It also provides connectivity to external devices via Bluetooth.
Battery and Charging
In terms of battery, there are pros and cons to choosing the Lite model from the OnePlus Nord CE 2 range. Charging capacity is higher, reaching 5000mAh, but charging power is slightly lower, with a maximum of 33W.
However, greater capacity does not mean longer duration. Estimated at 21.4 hours on Lite and 27.3 hours on OnePlus Nord CE 2, at least according to video playback tests. Remember, on Netflix it’s 3 hours of non-stop video at 50% screen brightness.
In real-world use, testing was a little more encouraging, with 75% remaining after just 7 hours of unplugging. Average hourly consumption is around 3.44 percent, slightly higher than the 3.3 percent consumption. Other models in the hourly line.
However, in the final result, it is clear that the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite lasted less than the Nord CE 2. Both should have some charge left at the end of the day, but they are already below 20%. So, the ideal is to take them the next day.