I have always considered the OnePlus brand to be for enthusiasts. The company offers smartphones that cater to those who pay close attention to hardware and performance. And its “Core Edition” devices (like this new OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G) specifically strip back extra features to focus on the ones its customers care about.
So, how does a device like the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite fit into my life? I’ve been using it on and off for the past couple of weeks to check it out. But I took it out the other day to use as my primary phone and see how it performs as a daily driver.
8:02 AM – 75% battery life
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite’s battery life is one of its main features. So, I wanted to see how it would hold up on the day I’m out. At home and on Wi-Fi, the phone can last for a long time. I had it going strong for up to three days when I used it mainly to listen to music, watch YouTube videos, and browse social media.
I started the day with the battery life at 75%, but I knew I could get it up to 100% easily. It supports OnePlus’ 67W SuperVOOC fast wired charging. That feature tops up the 5,000mAh battery in less than 15 minutes.
8:16 AM – 100%
Since I didn’t need to leave the house yet, I spent a couple of hours catching up on some work and grabbing a quick breakfast. I use my smartphone at this time as a portable entertainment device. So, I was using the Nord to listen to music or audiobooks or watch videos while I started my day.
This particular morning, I tuned into this audiobook I heard good things about over on TikTok. With OnePlus more tightly integrated into OPPO, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite gets a feature that comes in handy when I consume media. It inherits the Ultra Volume mode, which cranks up the volume through the speakers to 200%. I could place the phone on the counter while I prepared breakfast and continued listening to Stone Maidens without using my Bluetooth speaker or earbuds.
LiTT Tip: Ultra Volume Mode is so easy to enable. Just continue pressing the Volume Up button until you see the prompt “Ultra volume mode on” at the bottom of the screen.
11:25 AM – 86%
When it came time to leave the house, I continued to use the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite as a multimedia device during my commute. I listened to downloaded music or podcasts on Spotify while on the road. While the phone simultaneously served as a mobile hotspot for my personal phone.
12:31 PM – 76%
I typically get concerned about phones heating up when I use them as mobile hotspots. But the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite mostly kept its cool during my commute. Of course, if I left it inside my bag, it would heat up a bit more. But it wasn’t at an alarming temperature that would force me to turn off the feature to let the phone cool down.
Speaking of cool, this is a phone I love bringing out. (Yes, that transition is a stretch, but let’s go with it.) The Pastel Lime shade is like a breath of fresh air injected into OnePlus’ typically monochrome palette. I can see this appealing to younger users or anyone looking for that pop of color on their daily driver.
The Nord CE 3 Lite appeals to my love for flat-edged phones. But it isn’t as anti-fingerprint on the plastic back as OnePlus claims. I highly recommend using the included silicone case to ensure smudges don’t get on the ceramic glass-like back.
This phone isn’t that thin at 8.3mm thickness, but it feels pretty good in the hand. Its 6.72-inch screen is on the big side, too, but I can still fit the device snuggly into my jeans pocket. Speaking of that screen, I needed to crank up the brightness to see what was displayed. But the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite’s FHD screen supports a peak brightness of 680 nits and a max 550 nits typical brightness, which makes it visible outdoors on a sunny day.
1:24 PM – 69%
I wanted to take out the phone today because it would allow me to use its camera in different lighting conditions, too. I tried to take a quick snap while I waited for my ride to another part of the city first. And it reminded me how much I miss seeing an ultrawide sensor on this smartphone. It could be one of the cost-saving measures OnePlus has employed to keep the price of the Nord CE 3 Lite down, but I miss using it for capturing cityscapes.
The cameras you get on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite included:
- 108-megapixel Samsung HM6 main sensor with Electronic Image Stabilization support
- 2-megapixel depth-assist camera
- 4cm macro camera
- 16-megapixel selfie camera
That primary sensor is the star of the show, and it can help you get a lot of me great photos. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the look of portraits taken with this phone. It has that bokeh effect and can cleanly separate the subject from the background. I can sometimes see it struggle with the sunglasses on my head or bits of stray hair, but that’s a minor misstep. Subjects come out in focus, and that’s the crucial part. You have to be mindful of how close or far you are from the subject because the effect might not work.
The 108-megapixel sensor uses 9-in-1 pixel binning to ensure you get brighter, clearer, and more natural-looking pictures, even as it outputs a 12-megapixel photo by default. If you don’t mind the extra space the 108-megapixel photos can take up, you can use that full sensor resolution. It would come in handy if you’d want to capture more detail and retain said details while cropping into a photo. The 12-megapixel shots can turn out pretty great on their own, too.
Unsurprisingly, this camera shines when there’s plenty of light. But even if you try to shoot against the light, that main rear camera will use its AI features to try to balance out the highlights and shadows for more pleasing shots. I see it struggle a bit indoors. While the shutter will go off immediately, it’s the kind of phone that needs you to pause for a second if you’re shooting inside. It’s especially noticeable if you zoomed in while you took the photo. If you move too quickly, you’ll get a blurry picture.
If you need more control over your camera’s settings, there is also Pro mode in this phone. I’m more of a point-and-shoot kind of gal, so I rely mostly on OnePlus’s AI scene enhancement to help me get decent photos in more challenging lighting.
In good lighting, the selfies you take with this phone’s cameras turn out great. It might not have that depth-assist sensor for the selfie camera but it has those portrait features I appreciate on OPPO phones, specifically the Bokeh Flare Portrait (a new addition to this series). The rear Portrait mode is my go-to feature, but that selfie Portrait option comes in clutch when I need it. It needs good lighting to work, because trying to shoot against the light may get you grainy, low-quality images like one of the sample photos I included here.
Its 3x lossless photo capability is another feature the brand wanted us to check out during our test. But I prefer using the 108-megapixel mode and then cropping in. That retains more detail when you zoom in instead of using zoom with the default 12-megapixel mode. Speaking of zoom, you can get up to 6x with the main camera in both photo and video modes. There are no zooming capabilities with the selfie camera.
As for its video capabilities, you can shoot only up to 1080p, which for an online creator is a bit disappointing. I want the option of 4K video recording, but I also get that isn’t a core feature for many users. Video sharpness isn’t my favorite in its segment, so I’d recommend shooting in good lighting when you can to make the most of its video features. If you’re trying to be creative with your videos, you have access to features like Dual View Video and Slow Motion Video.
If you want a sample video, this OnePlus Nord Buds 2 unboxing was all shot with the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite:
We also have some Instagram Story samples over here.
LiTT Tip: To use the 108-megapixel mode, tap on the overflow menu on the top right (the three lines) and then enable Hi-res mode. The words Hi-res (108 MP) will show up on the screen when this feature is enabled.
4:02 PM – 48%
A smartphone that performs well is typically the baseline for a OnePlus device. So, I wasn’t expecting the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite to deviate from this. This new OnePlus phone is armed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G chipset paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of expandable storage. The 128GB option isn’t available in this part of the world, but that’s an option in others. I would prefer getting the higher capacity option anyway.
It’s been easy to record my notes for this hands-on while I’m on the move using this phone. App switching and multitasking aren’t issues either. I haven’t had any of the apps I use crash during testing.
If that base 8GB of RAM seems lacking, you can expand the virtual RAM up another 8GB. The 4GB RAM expansion was enabled by default. But you can choose between 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB. This feature will take some of your phone’s storage to use for your memory.
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite runs on OxygenOS 13.1, an Android 13-based operating system. It’s my favorite skin outside of Google’s Pixel line because there aren’t too many pre-installed apps while maintaining its customizability. OnePlus claims it offers a 40% reduction in power consumption, 14% faster app installation, 30% reduction in bad app optimization lag compared to OxygenOS 12.
This phone supports dual 5G connectivity and Wi-Fi 5. But you’ll need to decide if you want a second 5G SIM or microSD card expansion because there’s no dedicated microSD card slot. In this region, the Nord CE 3 Lite doesn’t support NFC either. It’s been a reliable hotspot phone for the day. The connection was stable and I didn’t have to worry about it disconnecting my device.
LiTT Tip: You can adjust how much extra RAM this phone gets by heading into Settings > About device > RAM. Enable RAM expansion if it isn’t on yet and then just choose which value you prefer.
6:23 PM – 29%
I’ve made it home after the day out with 29% left in the bank, which isn’t a bad result. I’ve spent most of the day using the phone as a hotspot, running camera tests, and checking on work and my socials. 5G connectivity eats away at a phone’s battery life easily, so I’m happy I didn’t have to reach for a power bank to top up while I was out.
I spent some more time that evening listening to that audiobook, browsing my socials, and catching up with some YouTube videos. I’m happy to see an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate on this midrange phone, allowing me to scroll smoothly through the interface. And since it’s adaptive, it automatically switches the refresh rate to help improve battery life when that high refresh rate isn’t needed. Its touch sample rate is at a standard 240Hz.
OnePlus pairs this pretty good display with a respectable audio setup. It comes with stereo speakers that boost that Ultra Volume Mode further and retains a 3.5mm headphone jack for those who rely on wired earphones for solo listening. I wish it got LDAC support for audio, though. My favorite pair of wireless earbuds supports this high-resolution audio coding tech and I can’t take advantage of that here.
If you game on your mobile phone, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite has access to OnePlus’ Game Tools like its GPA Frame Stabilizer, Quick Startup, and Game Focus mode.
8:57 PM – 17%
Since I didn’t have plans that night, I tried using the phone at home to check out what its camera quality will be like. Night mode is my go-to mode for low-light photography on this phone. You’ll see how it immediately reduces the graininess of a photo in this mode. And a tripod or a place to prop up your phone is better than shooting handheld. As for selfies, try to look for even a small light source or rely on the flash feature it offers to get decent selfies.
8:06 AM – 13%
I didn’t use the phone again last night, so the 4% battery drain is from the phone on standby with Wi-Fi on. I took advantage of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite’s stereo speakers and Ultra Volume mode again this morning as I worked out. And then switched to using it as my media player for the rest of the morning while I worked. (If you watch content on streaming services on your phone, the Nord CE 3 Lite supports Netflix HD and Amazon Prime HD.)
Technically, I could end this 24-hour experience with this phone here. But I was wondering when this phone would run out of juice. So, let’s talk a bit about that first before I wrap this up.
Bonus: 10:29 AM – 0%
I drained the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite’s battery a little before 10:30 in the morning. I wanted to see how quickly this phone could recharge given its claims. According to OnePlus, the 67W SuperVOOC charge can the phone from 0% to 80% in just 30 minutes. Of course, real-life use could differ. I charge via a power strip and it’s in the middle of a hot summer so I knew that’ll affect it already. I’m still happy to see this phone reach 64% in 30 minutes and fully charge in under an hour. You will need to use the included charger for this to work. There is also no wireless charging here, but that’s also not a surprise in this price bracket.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G: Price and availability
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is now available for pre-order for PHP 14,990 (around USD 268) in all OPPO and OnePlus authorized stores nationwide until April 30 and will be available in-store on May 5. It comes in two colors—Pastel Lime and Chromatic Gray.
You get a free OnePlus Bullets Wireless Earphone Z2 when you pre-order the Nord CE 3 Lite 5G until May 4. And it’s now available on Lazada and will come to Shopee starting April 26. (You can get the freebie online, too.) Home Credit is also offered for this smartphone with installment options for six to 18 months.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G: Final thoughts
It was quite easy to fit the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G into my daily workflow. And it’s a device I can imagine carrying around, especially for entertainment purposes. I am missing 4K video recording and better low-light performance for its camera, so it isn’t a slam dunk recommendation from me or for me. But for those who consume more than they create on their devices, it’s a solid midrange smartphone. And if you want a light and bright design for your smartphone, I’d recommend the refreshing Pastel Lime option.
What do you love or don’t on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G? Let us know!