OnePlus Nord CE (2nd Gen) review: Reliable mid-range phone – Deccan Herald

The first-ever Nord series phone, which was launched in 2020 is considered to be the successor of the OnePlus X (2015). The latter failed to find traction among consumers in India, but the Nord was an instant hit and since then, all the new variants have managed to find success in the Indian market.
With a starting price of Rs 23,999, the Nord Core Edition (CE) 2nd Gen comes with decent hardware, but does it deliver? Let’s check it out.
Design, build quality and display
The phone comes with hybrid glastic shell made of polycarbonate material with a glass-like finish on the back. It has a visually pleasing glossy look and the surface is smooth to touch. But, it is a dust-and-fingerprint-smudge magnet and needs constant cleaning.
On the bright side, the company offers a soft translucent cover with the retail box. Our review unit retains the bahama blue colour, but loses its shiny outlook and turns to a textured matte finish with a cover case. It still looks good and most importantly, saves the device from cracking during an accidental fall. Also, on the front, the device’s display panel, which comes with Gorilla Glass 5 shield,  is protected by another secondary layer of the plastic-based screen cover. This further enhances the durability of the device in terms of scratches and in a way, helps serve the owner longer.
By the way, OnePlus also offers a grey mirror colour model of the Nord CE 2. It too looks good.
On the front, the OnePlus CE 2 sports a 6.43-inch full HD+ (1080 x 2400p) fluid AMOLED display with a pixel density of 409 ppi (pixels per inch).  Also, It supports a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ content. 
Overall, the display quality is decent. I had a good time watching documentaries on the phone and also, the brightness was fine enough to watch and read contents outdoors under the shade.
As far as the in-screen fingerprint sensor is concerned, it works without any fuss and the false rejection rate is low. 
Two other noteworthy aspects of the device are–it comes with triple-slots– for two nano SIMs and one for microSD card and also it features, a 3.5mm audio jack, which has become rare for a premium mid-range phone.
Performance 
It is powered by 6nm class MediaTek Dimensity 900 (2.4 GHz Cortex-A78 x 2 + 2.0 GHz Cortex-A55 x 6) octa-core chipset with ARM Mali-G68 GPU, 6GB/8GB RAM, 128GB storage (expandable up to 1TB), and a 4,500mAh battery with a 65W SuperVooc charger.
Like the OnePlus 9RT, the Nord CE 2 also comes with outdated Android 11-based OxygenOS 11 OS. Its been close to nine months since the Android 12 was officially rolled and yet, it is very unfortunate, that the company revealed that it will be able to release optimised software for the device only in the second half of 2022.
Some reports have indicated that the source code of Android 12 has several bugs and caused not just OnePlus, but also others to take time to refine the software.  They simply don’t want to ruin the user experience on the phone, which may affect the brand value. 
In this case, I will give benefit of the doubt to OnePlus and hope the latter offers new software without any glitches.
But, have to say, the user interface is clean and clutter-free. And, FYI, OnePlus has confirmed to offer two major OS (Android 12 and 13) updates and three years of security software support (up to 2025).
Our review unit has 8GB RAM + 128GB storage configuration. It comes with a handful of OnePlus apps, a few third-party apps including Netflix and tools along with an array of Google apps. 
Combining the pre-loaded apps (6.98GB), others (unspecified items: 5.72GB) and systerm software (12.7GB), the user available storage is 102.6GB storage. This is enough for the users to store thousands of photos and install several apps.
The device performs smoothly without any issues be it day-to-day chores such as web browsing, doom scrolling on social platforms and even heavy-duty tasks like playing Asphalt9: Legends. The OnePlus phone did not show any lag-ness as such.
The Nord CE 2 comes with dual-cell 4,500 capacity (2,250mAh x 2) battery. It was able to deliver a full-day battery life under normal usage, but it is subjective to the individual way of using the phone. Like all phones, the battery will drain faster if we stream content via mobile cellular. It is advisable to use office Wi-Fi or even download the content on OTT apps the previous day, and stream them offline to save battery life.
But, if you have space in your bag to carry around the OnePlus 65W SuperVooc adaptor (which comes with the retail box), then users will not have to face any anxiety of battery dying out before reaching the home.
It can power up the phone from zero to 100 per cent capacity in around 40 minutes. And, 60 per cent capacity in around 15 minutes.
Photography
OnePlus CE (2nd Gen) houses a triple-camera module– main 64MP (0.7mm pixel size, f/1.7) backed by an 8MP (f/2.2) 119-degree ultra-wide-angle camera and a 2MP macro (f/2.4) with electronic image stabilisation (EIS) and LED flash. 
It takes decent pictures in the sunlight. As you can see from the photo samples, the device manages to capture finer details and colours too.
In the close up macro photos too, the picture quality is decent and on par with rival brands in the sub-Rs 25,000 price band. 
In the night mode, the photos manage to absorb the right amount of light and also retain near-accurate colours. The coconut tree leaves look natural, and the light coming from the street light doesn’t blow out. But, the sky in the background, comes off with bluish grey.
Also, the device supports gyro-EIS (Electronic Image Stabilisation) and can record high resolution 4K videos at 30fps (frames per second), and 1080p at 30/60/120fps. The video quality is decent and stable too. 
On the front, it features a 16MP (with Sony IMX471, f/2.4, EIS) snapper. It takes fine selfies and also smoothens the skin, and does a good job covering acne scars. Thumbs up the OnePlus engineers.
Final thoughts
OnePlus Nord CE 2 covers all bases to deliver all-round performance, which we expect from a mid-range phone. I really like the clean user interface and the camera, also does a decent job to capture good pictures.
It is available in two variants— 6GB RAM + 128GB storage and 8GB RAM + 128GB storage— for Rs 23,999 and 24,999, on Amazon, OnePlus stores and authorised retail chains.
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