OnePlus Nord CE3 hands-on review
The Nord CE3 looks unsurprisingly similar to the the Nord 3 and the Nord CE3 Lite. The dimensions are also very similar, more so to the Nord 3, with Nord 3 being heavier due to its premium glass back.
The front of the phone has flat glass with moderately thick bezels that are thinner than those on the Nord CE3 Lite but not as slim as on the Nord 3. The plastic frame has a matte finish and a smooth texture with curved edges.
On the right side of the phone is the power button and, uniquely for a OnePlus phone, the volume buttons. The volume buttons are awkwardly placed way too high as if they were moved there at the last moment with no concern for usability.
Notably missing here is the alert slider. OnePlus brought special attention to its presence on the Nord 3, going as far as mocking reviewers who complained about its absence on its previous phones in the Nord 3's reviewer's guide. And here we are again, a few months later, and yet another OnePlus phone is being launched without the slider. We don't mind the occasional jibe but if you are going to joke about it, at least commit to the bit and make sure your future phones ship with the slider.
Moving on, the Nord CE3 has a speaker on the bottom along with a USB-C port, microphone, and a hybrid card slot. On the top is a port for the second speaker, second microphone, and the IR blaster.
The back of the phone has a fairly clean aesthetic, dominated by the dual camera rings at the top and a single cutout for the flash. The rings have stainless steel rings, which do look quite nice. The two colors have different back finishes; the Aqua Surge featured here has an iridescent color that gently shifts as you move the phone around in the light. The Gray Shimmer color has a metallic appearance.
The Nord CE3 feels reasonably well-built in hand. The frame is sturdy and does not bend or creak easily. There is also an IP54 rating for water and dust resistance. The phone is, however, overwhelmingly plastic thanks to its plastic frame and back, and does not feel quite as nice in hand as the more expensive Nord 3.
The Nord CE3 has a 6.7-inch, 2412 x 1080 resolution AMOLED display that can refresh up to 120Hz. The display supports full coverage of the sRGB and Display P3 color spaces, 10-bit color depth, and HDR10+ certification.
The display allows choosing between the default Vivid profile that seemingly targets Display P3 and the Natural profile, which seems to be clamped to sRGB. You can also manually adjust the color temperature.
The display had great color saturation and vibrant colors in the Vivid mode and seemed reasonably color-accurate in the Natural mode. However, the white point was set too cool by default on both presets and required the use of the color temperature slider to get the most accurate results.
The AMOLED panel also had good viewing angles, ample brightness, and fast response times. Touch screen responsiveness was also good and the built-in fingerprint sensor also worked well.
The display supports refresh rates up to 120Hz but can also drop down to 90Hz and 60Hz. On the refresh rate front, the Nord CE3 was a mixed bag compared to other recent OnePlus launches. On the downside, a lot of the apps are still locked to just 90Hz, so you rarely actually get to experience the full 120Hz refresh rate. Games are also mostly locked to 60Hz.
On the upside, the Nord CE3 is also less willing to drop down to 60Hz compared to some other OnePlus phones, including flagship ones. Apps like YouTube, which are strangely locked to 60Hz on other OnePlus devices, scroll at 90Hz on the Nord CE3. Instagram, which famously is a complete stuttering mess on several OnePlus phones, including the flagship OnePlus 11, scrolls smoothly at a locked 90Hz on the Nord CE3.
So while we aren't pleased by the rather conservative use of the 120Hz refresh rate, the overall panel quality and the imperfect but consistent refresh rate experience puts the overall display experience of the Nord CE3 higher than some of the other OnePlus devices we have used.
The Nord CE3 has a dual-cell 5000mAh battery with support for 80W SUPERVOOC fast charging standard. A compatible 80W charger is also provided in the box with the necessary cable.
The charging speeds on the Nord CE3 are fast, as we have come to expect with OnePlus phones. It takes only 31 minutes to fully charge the phone from 1% and a mere 15-minute charge will give you over half your battery capacity. Those are some seriously impressive numbers.
- in 15 min
- in 30 min
- Time to full charge (from 0%)
The Nord CE3 includes a pair of stereo speakers on either end of the device. The speakers have decent audio quality but benefit quite a bit by being cupped in your hands. The stereo separation is good and both sides sound nearly identical.
The Nord CE3 also supports Dolby Atmos, making it only the second Nord phone to do so after the Nord 3. The effect is permanently enabled for loudspeakers but can be disabled for wired or wireless audio. Unfortunately, unlike the Nord CE3 Lite, the Nord CE3 does not feature a headphone jack and you are expected to either shell out for an adapter or wireless audio.
- Diegos Omam
- 05 Dec 2023
I like your comment
- 13 Oct 2023
The biggest engineering blunder is keeping SIMTRAY at the bottom and putting holes on either side The quick guide sent with the phone describes only one hole . This has made the microphone getting damaged. The two wholes should have been at two ex...
- Dr Ajay
- 08 Oct 2023
What about battery endurance ratings and glass protection