The mobile midrange is ever-expanding, as through the years, we’ve actually gotten an upper-midrange section that treads precariously into flagship territory. While this does yield a few more benefits for all, one can’t deny that the bump in price might be a tad too steep for some.
OnePlus kicked down the midrange door as it established itself as its era’s “flagship killer,” ushering in a smartphone that yielded all the premium bits and bobs while leaving one’s pocket a bit fuller than one would assume.
As such, OnePlus has made a recent comeback and are quickly gaining steam–expanding its boundaries by introducing even more budget-friendly devices, namely their Nord line. After spending some time with their newest midrange baby, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G, it’s about time we gave a beefier writeup that covers more of its bases.
Yes, give me that Chromatic Gray colorway all day, every day. While Pastel Lime might be a more compelling option, the former exudes a “subdued show-off” kind of vibe with its reflective luster. It stands out more than the usual black and gray, but won’t stick out like a sore thumb. Speaking of thumbs, it’s one heck of a fingerprint magnet. But hey, it looks darn good.
The cameras are gloriously large, with the capability of staring into your soul. They, of course, house the triple cameras which feature the 108MP shooter. More on that later. As we move side to side, we get the power button that couples as a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, the volume rockers on the opposite side, dual speakers above and below, and a nice, often neglected 3.5mm headphone jack. We are thankful.
As we gaze upon its 6.7-inch IPS LCD display, we wish it was AMOLED. Then we snap out of it as we still find a rather decent display. Looks-wise, the OnePlus CE 3 Lite 5G is one gaudy phone. But how does it perform?
As mentioned earlier, the lack of AMOLED isn’t a deal-breaker by any means. The 680-nit peak brightness remains comfy when cranked up, and the 120Hz refresh rate is smooth enough. It doesn’t lag or jitter. This is important as we move on to viewing experiences.
After taking a gander at Vinland Saga (which everyone should watch) I had a good idea of how things would play out with anything else. Animations were smooth and colors are neither saturated nor diluted. I can’t speak for color accuracy, though. The pictures did seem a bit richer–but not to a bothersome degree. The display has prime real estate with less of a chin bezel. You can definitely watch Vinland Saga season 1 in its entirety and get caught up on what’s happening right now. Of course, if you so desire.
We previously went on game test easy mode by playing some Mobile Legends. The Nord CE 3 Lite passed with flying colors. Now, we bring out the big guns with good ol’ Genshin Impact. You can say things went rather well.
The Snapdragon 695 5G and 8GB expandable RAM were able to run Genshin at a decent Medium Settings on 30 FPS with motion blur switched off. There were no frame drops or jitters unless I’d step into a scenario chock-full of enemies. Still, the phone didn’t freeze.
At the end of the day in the midrange, merely surviving an hour of consistent Genshin Impact gameplay is good enough. This means everything else will run without issue.
Geek Photoshoot Capabilities
Now, things got a bit interesting here. Previously in our impressions, all the shots were done indoors, but with proper lighting. For the review, we step into the great outdoors despite my hermitude.
The 108MP main shooter is great. It isn’t jaw-dropping, but it’s great. It’s no flagship or upper-midrange levels of vibrance and detail, but you still get some really good photos.
Thanks to its sensor, you get 3X lossless zoom that produces some decent shots. However, once you crank it all the way to 6X, you get a teensy bit of graininess. This doesn’t sport a telephoto lens, so I can’t complain.
As for portrait mode, the 2MP shooter does well in providing focus on the subject while not having an unreasonably aggressive bokeh effect. There’s a bit of a halo effect on the edges of shinier subjects, but it’s nothing egregious.
One thing I appreciate is how the camera can actively shift its focus depending on the subject. Pull up closer, it automatically blurs the background just a bit. Take a wider shot, and everything has the same amount of detail. As for dim lightings, night mode works well in this department, too.
Selfies come out great, whether as a normal snapshot or in portrait mode. Again, the bokeh effect doesn’t try to consume my head–which is nice. The 16MP front camera works well.
While the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G performs well in the photography department, don’t expect much with videos. You get 1080p/30fps on both the front and rear cameras, which is admittedly a bit disappointing. However, the video quality is still decent despite shooting at only 30fps. Wouldn’t exactly rely on it for vlogging and such, but for photos? You’re covered.
There isn’t much to nitpick in the area. Given how smooth the app navigation is, and how the chipset syncs well with the expandable RAM, daily tasks are a breeze–whether it be work or otherwise. You also get 256GB of storage, so you won’t be worrying about the ton of files you have.
As for the battery, I tried leaving it on standby while only doing some minor browsing every now and then. I got up to three days with about 15% left. It’s a different story when it comes to heavy use, but not bad either. With gaming, watching, and even more browsing, I was down to the same 15% by the end of the day, prompting me to charge a bit before heading to bed.
As for charging, the 67 watts gets you back in action in less than an hour. It’s safe to say that if you choose this phone for anything BUT content creation and gaming, you need not think twice.
Final Geek Lifestyle Verdict
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is a surprising addition to the midrange market which keeps growing with each passing day. Not only does it possess a pretty good spec list for a mid-ranger, but it also edges out the competition by just a bit with its 108MP shooter. It’s an interesting matchup against its usual 50 or 64MP-clad competitors.
The cameras may be this phone’s main draw, but you can’t dismiss how well it performs in gaming. It’s been a while since I had a multi-hour Genshin Impact game test in this price range, so it’s definitely an option for those who also indulge in quite a bit of gaming among other things.
Speaking of price, The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is priced at PHP 14,990 and is available for pre-order at all OPPO and OnePlus-authorized stores nationwide until May 4, 2022. Stay tuned, as the phone is expected to be available online via Lazada and Shopee in the coming days.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G specs:
- Snapdragon 695 5G (6 nm)
- Adreno 619 GPU
- 8GB RAM
- 6.72 inch IPS LCD, 120Hz
- 256GB Storage
- 108 MP, f/1.8, 2 MP, f/2.4, (macro), 2 MP, f/2.4, (depth) triple camera
- 16 MP, f/2.4 front camera
- LTE, Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, fingerprint scanner (side-mounted), USB Type-C
- 5000mAh battery with 67W charging
- Android 13, OxygenOS 13.1