The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is the latest addition to the OnePlus lineup, and will appeal to people on a budget since it is now the most affordable model. OnePlus promises to provide the core OnePlus experience with the Nord CE 5G, as it covers all the basics one would look for. However, the higher variants are priced similar to the original OnePlus Nord, which is meant to cater to a higher tier in the market. So is the new Nord CE 5G worth your money or was the original Nord a better device? I compare the Nord CE 5G to the original Nord to find out.
The new OnePlus Nord CE 5G starts at Rs. 22,999 for the base variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The higher variants with 8GB RAM/ 128GB storage and 12GB RAM/ 256GB storage are priced at Rs. 24,999 and Rs. 27,999 respectively.
The OnePlus Nord on the other hand was priced starting at Rs. 24,999 for the 6GB RAM 64GB storage variant, though this was not easily available. The 8GB RAM/ 128GB storage variant was priced at Rs. 27,999 while the 12GB RAM/ 256GB storage variant was priced at Rs. 29,999. This model has just been discontinued but it looks as though a refresh could be coming soon, based on leaks and rumours.
The Nord CE 5G is more affordable going by starting prices but things begin to overlap if you are looking for more RAM and storage.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G and the OnePlus Nord take slightly different approaches to design. Pick the two smartphones up and you'll notice that the OnePlus Nord feels more premium thanks to its Corning Gorilla Glass 5 rear glass panel. The Nord CE 5G has to settle for a plastic back. You might confuse one device for the other, but an easy way to distinguish them is by the design of their camera modules. While both smartphones have pill-shaped modules, the Nord has a quad-camera setup while the Nord CE 5G has only three cameras.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is slightly taller than the older Nord but both felt comfortable for one-handed use. The buttons on both devices are placed low enough on the sides to be within reach. The Nord has an alert slider like all other premium OnePlus phones, but the new Nord CE 5G misses out on it. On the other hand, the Nord CE 5G sports a 3.5mm headphone jack which is quite handy to have.
Both these smartphones have a single speaker and a USB Type-C port at the bottom. The Nord has its SIM tray at the bottom, while the Nord CE 5G has it on the left side of the frame. These two smartphones only have a secondary microphone at the top.
The display on the OnePlus Nord measures 6.44 inches and the one on the Nord CE 5G is roughly the same at 6.43 inches. Both phones' displays have 90Hz refresh rates. However, the OnePlus Nord gets Corning Gorilla Glass protection while the Nord CE 5G gets Asahi Dragontrail protection. Both smartphones feature embedded front cameras with the Nord having a dual-camera setup at the front, while the Nord CE 5G has a single one.
The Nord is noticeably heavier at 184g compared to the Nord CE 5G, which weighs 170g. This is surprising considering that the Nord CE 5G has a bigger 4,500mAh battery compared to the 4,115mAh battery in the original Nord.
OnePlus offers AMOLED displays on both these smartphones. These panels have full-HD+ resolutions and 90Hz refresh rates. Both also have in-display fingerprint scanners that are easy to reach and work well.
The spec sheet is where you will see major differences, the Nord CE 5G is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G processor, while the OnePlus Nord is powered by the Snapdragon 765G. The latter is based on a 7nm process and has a slightly higher clock speed as well.
Both these OnePlus smartphones come in 6GB, 8GB and 12GB RAM options. The new Nord CE 5G offers 128GB and 256GB storage options while the older Nord offers 64GB on the (now discontinued) base model.
You get support for dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, 4G VoLTE and 5G on both models. Both are dual-SIM devices and lack storage expansion. You get support for 30W fast charging on both these devices. The Nord comes with a Warp Charge 30T charger while the Nord CE 5G comes with a newer Warp Charge 30T Plus unit.
The OnePlus Nord shipped with OxygenOS 10 but was running OxygenOS 11 at the time of this comparison. The OnePlus Nord CE 5G ships with OxygenOS 11 out of the box. Both smartphones promise two years of software updates and three years of security updates, so the Nord CE 5G has the advantage here as it is newer.
Since both smartphones run OxygenOS,11, you are going to get pretty much the same software experience on them. The UI is clean and I did not find a lot of preinstalled apps on either device. OnePlus has added features such as Game Mode in OxygenOS which lets you play games without being interrupted by incoming calls and messages.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G and the OnePlus Nord both have powerful processors and you will not notice any lag or stutter during regular usage. Since both these smartphones have 90Hz refresh rates, the UI felt super smooth and responsive. The AMOLED panels on both these devices are good to look at and you do get the option to tweak the output on them.
I had the top-spec variants of the Nord and the Nord CE 5G which made it fair to put these devices through benchmarks. In AnTuTu, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G scored 391,813 points while the Nord was slightly behind at 383,134. In GeekBench 5's single core and multi-core tests respectively, the OnePlus Nord managed 592 and 1,822 points, while its younger sibling managed 639 and 1,830. In graphics benchmark 3DMark Slingshot, the Nord managed the lead again with 4,537 points while the Nord CE 5G wasn't far behind with 3,902 points.
I found the OnePlus Nord CE 5G to be slightly more power efficient than the OnePlus Nord. This was also evident in our HD video loop test – the Nord lasted only for 14 hours and 30 minutes while the Nord CE 5G went on for 19 hours and 59 minutes. Charging times were slightly lower for the Nord CE 5G as the phone was charged completely in an hour, the Nord only got to 93 percent in the same time. Overall, it's the OnePlus Nord CE 5G that fared better on most performance parameters.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G and the OnePlus Nord take different approaches when it comes to the cameras. The Nord has a quad-camera setup while the new Nord CE 5G has a triple camera setup. Let's take a look at the sensors before we proceed. The Nord has a 48-megapixel Sony IMX 586 sensor with OIS as its primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The OnePlus Nord CE 5G on the other hand has a primary camera with a 64-megapixel Omnivision sensor and EIS, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, and a 2-megapixel monochrome camera.
For selfies, the OnePlus Nord has a dual-camera setup consisting of a 32-megapixel primary and an 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera. The Nord CE only has a single 16-megapixel selfie shooter.
Daylight photos taken with both smartphones looked good, but the Nord CE 5G had a slightly brighter output. On zooming in to the images, it was the Nord that had the better details. It was the same with both phones' ultra-wide cameras; the Nord CE had a slightly brighter image but the details on the shot taken from the OnePlus Nord were better. Photos taken with both phones had distortion on the sides.
Close-up shots were nearly identical on the two smartphones, but the Nord CE 5G managed slightly better detail, and you can get good enough quality with the primary camera that you won't miss having a low-resolution macro shooter. For portraits, both smartphones managed good edge detection but both lacked the option to set blur levels before taking the shot. Portraits taken with the OnePlus Nord were sharper but the colour tone was slightly off. The shot taken with the Nord CE 5G was not as sharp but had more accurate colours.
In low light, it was the OnePlus Nord that got the better shot. Photos appeared brighter and objects in the shadows were more visible. With Nightscape enabled, both smartphones need 6-7 seconds to take a shot. It was the OnePlus Nord that managed better Nightscape shots as well.
Selfies and selfie portraits were better on the Nord CE 5G, as the phone managed to meter light correctly in most conditions. The OnePlus Nord was way off with skin tones, which helped the Nord CE get an easy win.
In terms of video quality, the Nord and the Nord CE 5G are neck-and-neck when it comes to 1080p footage. There was slight shimmer in both sets of footage, and neither phone pulled ahead convincingly. The Nord takes the lead with 4K footage though, as I found it to be better stabilised than what the Nord CE produced. Low-light video was also handled slightly better by the Nord, while the Nord CE's footage wasn't well stabilised.
After testing the OnePlus Nord (Review) and the OnePlus Nord CE 5G (Review) side by side, I was surprised to see that the differences between them aren't as huge as I was expecting them to be. You will barely notice any difference between these devices while using them. In terms of build quality, it is the OnePlus Nord that feels more premium, in keeping with its price. You get the alert slider on the Nord, but there is no 3.5mm headphone jack.
While the Nord CE 5G has a slightly bigger battery than the OnePlus Nord, battery life is considerably better. You should be able to stay off the charger longer with the Nord CE 5G, and it also charges quicker. Pick up either smartphone and you won't find a huge difference in daylight camera performance, but the Nord was better in low light.
Though I was hoping for better pricing for the Nord CE 5G, it seems to offer better value than the older OnePlus Nord. Sadly, OnePlus has now officially discontinued the Nord, so even if you were willing to spend extra for the alert slider and better fit and finish, it is no longer an option. However, I think this paves the way for the heavily rumoured successor of the Nord, which looks like it could be worth waiting for.