In Summary

The Nord CE 5G is the second device from OnePlus’ Nord range to be launched in India. The Nord CE 5G has been compared with the original Nord, especially in the wake of OnePlus’ line of “a little more than you’d expect, at an even more affordable price.” However, a close look at the two device spec sheets reveals that the Nord and the Nord CE seem to be rather different devices, targeted at different segments.

Even in the launch presentation, there were references to the original Nord, especially when it came to the “more megapixels” main sensor and the “larger” battery. The stress right through (very subtly, though)was on what you were getting in the new Nord, as compared to the old one. It sounds like a bit of a succession story, right? 

Nord in name, but not in spec game (kinda sorta)

Well, keep those comparisons aside for a while, and the truth will hit you – the OnePlus Nod CE 5G is actually NOT the successor of the OnePlus Nord, except in terms of time (it comes after the Nord, ergo, it is the successor).In fact, the Nord CE is a rather different creature from the original Nord. If we go back to the launch of the original Nord, it represented a move by the brand to what it termed “the premium mid-segment.” And while it was not an out-and-out premium device, it came with a number of premium touches – arguably the most powerful Qualcomm processor outside the Snapdragon 800 series (the Snapdragon 765G) at that time, a 90 Hz refresh rate display (again not very common at that stage), a camera with a sensor similar to the flagship OnePlus 8, dual cameras in front (still a rarity) and with OIS (rare at that price point) and a glass back as well as fast-ish charging. The Nord CE, now, is a more out-and-out mid-segmenter. Yes, it does come with a very stylish and slim design, a fluid AMOLED display with a 90 Hz refresh rate, a 64-megapixel main sensor, a 4500 mAh battery, AND (all caps merited) a 3.5 mm audio jack, but these are staple fare now in its price segment. And there are subtle steps back from the premium-ness of the original Nord. The glass back has now given way to a carbonate one, although it remains very stylish from what we could see on the presentation. The front camera is a single one, and while the main sensor on the back gains megapixels, it loses out on OIS. Most mid-segment of all is the choice of chip – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G is no pushover (as we saw in the Mi 10i). Still, as per many, it is a small step below the Snapdragon 765G and is definitely not laying claim to being one of the most powerful in the mid-segment.

Looking at slightly different segments

This difference is also reflected in their pricing – the OnePlus Nord CE starts at Rs 22,999 for a 6 GB/ 128 GB model, which is below the Rs 24,999 of the (seldom-found, as per many) 6 GB/ 64 GB base model of the Nord. The Nord CE’s 8 GB / 128 GB variant is at Rs 24,999, while the similar variant of the Nord is at Rs 27,999. That may not sound like much – about ten percent, but it is a significant difference in the segment. The original Nord was almost fighting in the Rs 25,000 – Rs 30,000 zone. The Nord CE is likely to be in the Rs 20,000 – Rs 25,000 one. Those are two very different segments.

All of which makes the OnePlus Nord CE 5G a very different creature from the original Nord. It lays fewer claims to being premium and instead reflects core, mid-segment values: a good display, a big battery, a camera with many megapixels, and so on. Yes, it does have a stylish finish, but it is closer to being mid-segment than to being premium, whereas the original Nord did bring in many more premium feels.

Dodging the “Lite” bullet like a boss?

They may share Nordic nomenclature, some features, and might have the same old Oxygen OS wine (wine gets better with age, plizz to remember) running in their veins; the OnePlus Nord CE and the OnePlus Nord are two rather different phones and seem to follow different philosophies. Let’s make it simple – the Nord felt a little like the OnePlus 8 Lite. The Nord CE, in turn, feels like the Nord Lite. We suspect the “CE” terminology was used to avoid the term “Lite,” which other brands tend to do. If this was the case, it is a masterstroke in tech nomenclature by OnePlus, as it avoids the term “Lite,” which indicates an inferior device.