Smartphones, Tablets & Wearables

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G in review: The new mid-range king?

The smartphone experts from OnePlus have not only had a flagship in their product portfolio for quite some time. With the so-called North series, the Chinese company has also been offering appealing devices for the mid-range for quite some time now. The inexpensive smartphones regularly score with a great value for money. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G is scheduled for launch on March 10. But what can the mid-range smartphone with an MSRP of 349 Euros do? We take a closer look at it in our test.

The naming

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, we first want to clear up a few question marks surrounding the naming of the latest OnePlus. The abbreviation CE stands for the Core Edition, which was already launched with the first OnePlus North some time after the release of the standard version.

We will find out in detail what innovations this brings to the classic Nord 2. A bit more self-explanatory than the abbreviation is the name 5G. It refers to the cellular standard of the same name, which is still rarely found in the mid-range.

Technical data

Processor MediaTek Dimensity 900
  • Size: 6.43 inches
  • Resolution: 2400 x 1080 pixels 409 ppi
  • Aspect ratio: 20:9
  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz
  • Type: Fluid AMOLED
  • Supports sRGB, Display P3
  • Features: Ambient Display, Dark Mode, AI Color Enhancement
  • HDR 10+ Certified
  • Material: Corning® Gorilla®Glass 5
GPU ARM Mali-G68 MC4
Memory 8 GB RAM and 128 GB internal flash memory (expandable to 1 terabyte)
Battery 4500 mAh, 65W SUPERVOOC
Camera 64 MP main camera
8 MP ultra wide angle
2 MP Monochrome camera
LED Flash, 0.6-20x Zoom, Multiple Autofocus (PDAF+CAF)Features: AI Scene Enhancement, AI Hightlight Video, DUAL-VIEW VIDEO, HDR, NIGHT, PORTRAIT, PANO, Retouch, Filter16 MP Front CameraFeatures: AI highlight video, face unlock, screen flash, HDR, night vision, portrait, face retouch, filter
Dimensions Height: 160.6 mm, Width: 73.2 mm, Thickness: 7.8 mm
Weight: 173 g
Colors Gray Mirror, Bahama Blue
Operating System Android 11, Oxygen OS
Sensors In-display fingerprint sensor, accelerometer, electronic compass, gyroscope, ambient light sensor.
Proximity sensor, sensor core, NFC enabled
Connectors 3.5mm headphone jack, USB 2.0, Type C, Triple Slot (2x Nano SIM/1x MicroSD)
Price (MSRP) 349.00 Euro

Scope of delivery

As befits OnePlus, the scope of delivery again turns out to be lush. In addition to the smartphone itself, there is also a power adapter, charging cable, a total of three cases and paperwork in the scope of delivery.

Design and workmanship

Let’s start with the obvious: The looks. Once you’ve taken the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G out of its high-quality packaging, the design definitely stands out in a positive way. Our review sample comes in the color “Bahama Blue”. Alternatively, you can also choose a darker “Gray Mirror”. Regardless of the color, both variants have a real Achilles’ heel – the back. This is made of high-quality plastic and was manufactured in a “one-shot injection process”.

Accordingly, it also makes a solid impression and feels good in the hand. However, those who hate greasy fingers on the surface of their smartphone will quickly get angry here. This is supposed to be even worse on the version in dark gray and the eponymous mirror effect than on our light blue variant. You will hardly get around a case in permanent use. I find that a real shame, since the color itself is nice to look at. Sticking to the matte design of the predecessor would probably have been smarter here.

On the other hand, I find the design of the triple camera on the back of the OnePlus to be consistently positive. This is slightly raised, but not so far out that the device threatens to tilt heavily on a flat surface. Similar to the iPhone 12 and 13, OnePlus relies on a transparent plastic here, which is a kind of transition between the casing’s back and the camera module. The back is rounded off with the iconic OnePlus logo, which is placed in the center.

The left side of the device houses the volume rocker as well as the SIM card slot. The right side of the device houses the power button. If you take a look at the bottom of the OnePlus, you will find the charging port (USB-C) as well as the 3.5 mm jack. OnePlus also installs the mono speaker of the mid-range smartphone here.

The main focus is of course on the front of the device. It scores with thin display edges and convinces with a wonderfully smooth transition from display to case. However, I found it a bit annoying that the edge below the display is slightly larger than above. Fans of symmetrical configurations will not like this. All in all, OnePlus delivers a good performance in terms of build quality. Only the susceptibility to fingerprints should bother many potential users in practice.

The display

The heart of every smartphone is the display. This has also become a real eye-catcher in the Nord CE 2. This is already ensured by the sheer size of 6.43 inches, which is, as so often, a matter of taste. You really can’t call it handy anymore. However, the panel technology is more important than the size. OnePlus relies on a nice OLED panel that promises high contrasts and vivid colors, and it delivers. Thanks to a resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels, the whole thing is also razor-sharp.

One point of criticism with the predecessor was the sometimes very reflective display. You could hardly see anything on days with strong sunshine. OnePlus has obviously improved this considerably. Even though the winter months cannot really be compared with high summer, the winter sun did not bother me at any time. Even on days with bright sunshine, I could always see everything very well.

OnePlus has added resistant Gorilla Glass 5 as protection to its 20:9 format display. Thus, drops from low heights should hardly be a problem. A real highlight is the display’s speed. OnePlus gives its Nord CE 2 5G a refresh rate of 90 Hz. Some mid-range devices like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro might be a bit faster in this respect, but it is by no means standard.

If you talk about the display of the OnePlus, you naturally have to mention the selfie camera. The Chinese manufacturer relies on a proven punchhole notch. Not only can you take pretty portraits with the help of the front-facing camera, but you can also unlock the device with facial recognition. Those who prefer to unlock their smartphone in a conventional way can use the fingerprint sensor underneath the display. It responded wonderfully fast in the test.

Triple camera

OnePlus has given its Nord CE 2 5G a camera module with a total of three lenses. This is made up of the main camera (64 megapixels), ultra-wide-angle lens (8 megapixels) and macro lens (2 megapixels). The fourth circle in the bunch is not another lens, but an LED that functions as a flash and provides light.

Once again, the manufacturer emphasizes the good camera handling in low-light conditions. In the camera software, you can use up to 20x digital zoom. However, the final results at maximum zoom are only satisfactory. Especially with “Nightscape” enabled, night shots should not be a problem. This is taken care of by the camera software, which quickly combines eight photos and presents an overall result with the best possible lighting.

What sounds good in theory could unfortunately only be seen in rudimentary form in practice. But it should also be said here that we are in the mid-range. At an MSRP of 349 Euros, you cannot expect OnePlus to deliver similarly good results as it is the case with the flagship OnePlus 9 Pro, for example. However, the results are really good when you use the camera of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G on a bright day. Some of the colors are astonishingly vivid. This is absolutely sufficient for conventional use.

Not only photos, but of course also moving images are possible with the OnePlus. Here you have to choose between high resolution and high frame rate, as is often the case. The maximum resolution is 4K at just 30 fps. If you are satisfied with Full HD, you can also record videos at 120 fps. It gets smoother, but less sharp, with a resolution of 720p. Up to 240 fps are possible here.

You should not expect miracles with the selfie camera either, but rather average results. The lens in the punchhole has a resolution of 16 megapixels and takes solid pictures. However, not much more than that.

The Performance

But how does the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G perform in practice? We put the smartphone through a performance test. But before we tell you about our impressions, we have to say a bit about the features. OnePlus has equipped its mid-range device with the MediaTek Dimensity 900, which is capable of 5G and gets support from the graphics unit in the form of the ARM Mali-G68 MC4 for graphics-intensive apps. In addition, there is a total of 8 GB of working memory. A look at the benchmark results quickly reveals that OnePlus’ Nord CE 2 5G is a real mid-range smartphone. But not much more. The benchmark results are ahead of the OnePlus Nord CE, but they are still much weaker than those of the conventional OnePlus Nord 2.

In the Geekbench 5 multicore, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G delivers an expectable picture. With 2,141 points, it placed itself ahead of the OnePlus Nord CE, which delivered 1,828 points. The OnePlus North 2 won this category with 2,649 points. In gaming, the OnePlus North 2 was able to set itself even further apart. While the OnePlus North CE only scored 1,109 points in the common 3D Mark Wildlife, the OnePlus North 2 scored 4,218 points. The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G that we tested achieved 2,009 points in the gaming benchmark. Although it has to admit defeat to the Nord 2, it is sufficient for occasional gaming.

Up to 1 TB of storage possible

Similar to Xiaomi, OnePlus ironically benefits from Huawei’s place on the US embargo list. This not only ensures that Huawei is not allowed to launch smartphones with 5G in the West. On top of that, the Chinese company has to do without Google Services. This means that Android, the most popular smartphone operating system worldwide, cannot be used.

OnePlus has not (yet) met this fate, which makes for a gigantic competitive advantage. Therefore, the Chinese company logically relies on Android 11 on the Nord CE 2 5G, but it is not used “naked”. OnePlus gives the Google OS its own touch with Oxygen OS 11. Everything flickers wonderfully smoothly on the screen. There were no performance problems during the entire test phase. Otherwise, there are no big surprises in terms of features. The Chinese have installed a total of 8 GB of RAM and a flash memory with a total of 128 GB in their smartphone.

If the latter is not enough for your own music, photo or video library, you don’t have to despair. Commendably, the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G allows for expansion via microSD card. This allows expanding the storage up to 1 TB. Unfortunately, this is rarely found nowadays! Less rare, but anything but standard in the mid-range is also the dual-SIM slot.

Other equipment highlights include Bluetooth 5.2 and NFC. Furthermore, stable connections to wireless networks are also ensured with WiFi a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4 and 5 GHz). However, it is a real downer that OnePlus does not grant its Nord CE 2 any protection against the harmful ingress of liquids, dust or other dirt. At least an IP53 certification would have been acceptable.

Very good battery life

Especially for people who do not gamble much with their smartphone, but rather see it as a practical gadget that has to work, battery life plays a major role. OnePlus installs a battery with a total of 4,500 mAh in the mid-range device. It easily lasted for one and a half days with average use in the practical test. However, the charging technology is much more exciting than the battery itself.

Since OnePlus is more or less considered the inventor of fast charging in smartphones, one naturally expects a lot here. And the manufacturer delivers. SuperVOOC offers fast charging with 65 watts. The battery is then also full again correspondingly quickly. It just takes a quarter of an hour to bring the battery from 0 to 65 percent.

Here, OnePlus does not deliver mid-range, but quite clearly upper-range technology, where some flagships of the competition cannot even keep up. It is also commendable in view of the low price that OnePlus includes the matching power adapter. Again, we find it a shame that wireless charging is not possible. That would have been the icing on the cake in terms of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G’s battery technology.


Before we pass judgment on the latest mid-range device from OnePlus, let’s take a look at how much the whole thing actually costs. For 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of flash storage, you will pay an MSRP of 349 Euros when it is launched on March 10. Another version with more storage is not available (yet). Considering the price, you get a really good smartphone here that is, in a way, an uncompromising further development of its predecessor.

However, this does not affect all disciplines. While the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G has obviously improved in the areas of battery technology, display and processor performance, very little has changed in terms of the camera. In our opinion, the Chinese have even taken a step backwards in terms of design. After all, the susceptibility to fingerprints is quite annoying. A real price-performance hit, but it should beware of Xiaomi’s Redmi Note series in particular.

OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G

Value for money


The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G may not be crowned the new king of the mid-range, but it still scores with a great value for money that is anything but self-evident in the mid-range. Good work OnePlus!

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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The smartphone experts from OnePlus have not only had a flagship in their product portfolio for quite some time. With the so-called North series, the Chinese company has also been offering appealing devices for the mid-range for quite some time now. The inexpensive smartphones regularly score with a great value for money. The OnePlus Nord … (Weiterlesen...)

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