OnePlus introduces a new smartphone to Nord’s mid-range lineup today, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite. It has a terrible name but some interesting specs considering its relatively affordable €329 (£299) price tag. It will be available for sale in Europe on April 20th and will also be sold in select markets across Asia but not in the US.
There’s also a new pair of Nord-branded true wireless earphones going on sale today called the OnePlus Nord Buds 2. They will be available in the US as well as the European and Asian markets.
Topping the list with the eye-catching inclusions of the Nord CE 3 Lite is the 108MP sensor in its main camera. This is the same resolution (though not the same hardware) as what Samsung included in its top-of-the-line flagship Galaxy S20 Ultra in 2020, though the company has since gone on to include a 200MP sensor in this year’s flagship. It is clear that megapixels are far from ideal and final camera quality, but high-resolution sensors are more than just a marketing gimmick.
The second spec worth noting is the Nord CE 3 Lite’s fast charging speeds, which come in at 67W. That’s enough to charge its 5,000mAh battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes, which isn’t too shabby at this price point. It’s just over twice the 33W fast charging offered by last year’s Nord CE 2 Lite, and up from the 65W offered by last year’s step-up model, the OnePlus Nord CE 2.
If you thought naming OnePlus’ Nord lineup got a little confusing, I don’t blame you. In Europe at least, the range now consists of three trim levels, the standard numbered Nord (such as the original Nord, Nord 2 and Nord 2T), the Nord “Core Edition” or CE, and then the more affordable “CE Lite” devices. Meanwhile, US Nord devices are getting a different naming scheme which results in devices like the Nord N300 and Nord N20. “OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite” as the name is just a mess, especially since most people don’t have that background.
Anyway, back to the Nord CE 3 Lite (technically named Nord CE 3 Lite 5G, But come on on). It’s powered by a mid-range Snapdragon 695 processor with 8GB of RAM, and in Europe, it comes with 128GB of storage. There is also microSD support for up to 1TB. Although it technically has a triple camera setup, the secondary cameras are less impressive 2MP macro and 2MP depth. OnePlus says the main sensor’s resolution means it can offer “3x lossless zoom” without the need for a separate telephoto lens. It’s available in gray or lime green, and will get two years of Android software updates plus an additional year of security updates.
The Nord CE 3 Lite comes with a headphone jack, but there are also stereo speakers with technology that allows them to be “amplified by up to 200 percent,” according to OnePlus. It looks as ridiculous as the infamous Spinal Tap game Amps up to 11. Apparently, this claim refers to improvements made by OnePlus to double the perceived loudness of the Nord CE 3 Lite’s speaker hardware. On the visual side, the Nord CE 3 Lite’s LCD screen measures 6.72 inches, with a resolution of 1080p and a refresh rate of 120Hz.
Alongside the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, OnePlus also announced a follow-up to last year’s OnePlus Nord Buds called the OnePlus Nord Buds 2. The big new feature here is support for active noise cancellation. The Nord 2 earphones are available today in both the US and Europe at $59 / €69 / £69, which is a slight uptick from the $39 / €49 / £49 price last time around.
Outside of ANC, the Nord Buds 2 offer a similar set of features to the original Nord Buds. You get five hours of battery life from the headphones themselves with ANC on, rising to 27 including the case. Turn off the ANC, and you’ll get seven hours from the buds (like last time) or 36 including the case (up to 30 hours). There is an IP55 dust and water resistance rating, and the buds are available in gray or white.
While OnePlus’ recent flagship phones have been hit or miss, its Nord lineup has been solid, with more forgivable flaws at its mid-price points. I’ll be interested to see if the Nord CE 3 Lite continues this trend.
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