OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite with Nord Buds 2 earphones, the review

Premium features with some compromises for the new 329 euro smartphone

OnePlus returns to the North line with the new CE 3 Lite, which at the price of 329 euros is one of the most interesting mid-range smartphones of this season. Design-wise, the back of the Nord CE 3 Lite features two large spaces for the three cameras on the back instead of three smaller ones. The back panel is made of glossy plastic. At the bottom, the Nord CE 3 Lite even has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a godsend for those who still prefer wired headphones. Unfortunately, the physical slider is missing to put it on silent, a once essential feature of the OnePlus but now intended only for the higher-end ones. The phone is approximately 8.3mm thick and weighs 195g. The speakers are stereo, and the fingerprint scanner is on the side power button. The CE 3 Lite has a slightly larger display than the previous model, at 6.7 inches, but still uses an LCD panel instead of Amoled, at FHD+ resolution and with 120Hz maximum refresh. Too bad for the peak brightness, which makes it not too easy to observe the screen in direct sunlight. In optimal conditions, however, the display is clearly visible and fluidity is an added value that does not affect battery life too much.

As for the camera, the main sensor is a 108 MP Samsung HM6, while the macro and depth sensors remain the same as the previous model, at 2 MP each. Daytime imaging is consistently good for a phone in this price range, with great focus and shutter speeds. The 3x zoom allows you to obtain excellent results thanks to the computational modification of the images. Despite the lack of an ultra-wide-angle sensor, it’s great to have a macro sensor that works more than well on a phone in the $300 price range. The selfie camera is a 16 megapixel, which does its job well while remaining absolutely average for this range.

The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G chipset, like the Nord CE 2 Lite last year. Thanks also to the optimization of the OxygenOS operating system based on Android 13, however, the smartphone appears snappy and able to withstand the opening of various apps in the background, thanks also to the temporary virtual RAM, which brings the total count of memory gigs available at 8. In Italy the 128GB fixed memory model is sold, but the phone is expandable with an SD card up to a maximum of 1TB, another element which together with the headphone jack makes it a modern but nostalgic smartphone. Finally, the inclusion of the SuperVooc fast charging system is very appreciable even for a medium category device. The 5,000mAh battery can be recharged with the supplied transformer at 67W of power, from zero to one hundred in 45 minutes.

The OnePlus Nord Buds 2 true wireless earphones also arrive with Nord CE Lite, which already from the first test reveal their strong field: the bass. With BassWave Enhancement technology, the earphones retain the original sound quality of the content while providing users with a wide range of bass. The presence of the 12.4 mm driver also increases the quality of the bass for a more intense and balanced sound when listening to music and on calls. An additional layer of titanium within the diaphragm provides instant response for richer, crystal clear audio. Nord Buds 2 reduce background noise thanks to the Active Noise Cancellation function, with 25 dB depth and dual-core processor. The earphones are also equipped with an AI algorithm, thanks to the presence of a dual microphone system that amplifies the human voice. Lastly, OnePlus Nord Buds 2 feature Dolby Atmos technology, which amplifies mobile phone speakers, and Dirac Audio Tuner, which ensures smoother performance and greater sound fidelity. Priced at $69, these are one of the best value earphones on the market.