Our review

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is a good buy for someone who wants a relatively light and thin 5G phone, but there are compelling alternatives out there for the bargain hunter crowd.


  • Good OLED screen
  • Relatively petite and light
  • Classy appearance
  • Good general performance


  • Plastic back and sides
  • More expensive than several key rivals
  • Not as powerful as the first Nord

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G “sell” is it offers the core OnePlus experience for less money than you’d pay for a OnePlus 9. That means you get 5G, a bold OLED screen, fast charging and good day-to-day performance. CE stands for Core Edition. The name fits the mission statement.


Mission complete. However, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G isn’t as powerful as the OnePlus Nord and isn’t quite as well-made either. And at the time of writing that phone does not cost much more.

You can get similar results in terms of real-world display, camera and gaming performance from some cheaper phones too, particularly those of Xiaomi, Realme and Oppo. The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is a good Android phone but does not set the standard for value in the way some OnePlus phones of the past have.

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OnePlus Nord CE 5G review: summary

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is a good buy for someone who wants a relatively light and thin 5G phone, but there are compelling alternatives out there for the bargain hunter crowd.

Price: From £299

Key features:

  • 6.43-inch 2400 x 1080 90HZ OLED screen
  • 128/256GB storage
  • 8/12GB RAM
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G CPU
  • Android 11
  • OxygenOS interface
  • 64/8/2MP rear cameras
  • 16MP front camera


  • Good OLED screen
  • Relatively petite and light
  • Classy appearance
  • Good general performance


  • Plastic back and sides
  • More expensive than several key rivals
  • Not as powerful as the first Nord

You can buy the OnePlus Nord CE from Amazon for £299. The step-up 256GB version is also available from Amazon for £369.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G back

What is the OnePlus Nord CE 5G?

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is a somewhat affordable 5G phone, a lower-cost alternative to the OnePlus 9 and the original Nord.

What does a OnePlus Nord CE 5G do?

  • The OnePlus Nord CE 5G can shoot video at up to 4K resolution
  • You can plug in a pair of wired headphones
  • There’s lots of room for apps and photos as the base model has 128GB storage
  • The OLED screen is perfect for dark room movie/video viewing
  • Fast charging lets you recharge from flat in just over an hour
  • You can choose from a normal or ultra-wide view when taking photos

How much is the OnePlus Nord CE 5G?

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G starts at £299. This is for the base model, which has 128GB storage and 8GB RAM. There’s a step-up phone too, for £369, which has a massive 256GB storage and 12GB RAM. Both are available in blue or black, while the more expensive Nord CE 5G also comes in silver.

Is a OnePlus Nord CE 5G good value for money?

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is reasonable value for money but doesn’t have the usual OnePlus charm. For years the appeal of its phones was you got top-end specs and good design for hundreds less than you’d pay from Samsung or another rival. This is a more affordable 5G phone with entry-level components, or ones just a level or two above that. You can get phones that fit the description for up to £100 less, most obviously in the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite.

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G has a nice OLED screen and lots of storage and is still arguably significantly better value than the cheaper Samsung Galaxy A32 5G. But it is not a highlight of OnePlus history in the value stakes, and the original OnePlus Nord is better at £329 — its price at the time of review direct from OnePlus.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G homescreen

OnePlus Nord CE 5G features

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s prime feature is right there in the name — 5G mobile internet. This is not OnePlus’s cheapest 5G phone; that’s the £220 OnePlus Nord N10. But its job is to get you the essentials of the classic OnePlus experience for less cash. That’s why the “CE” tells us. It’s short for “core edition”.

Screen tech is another of these “core” elements. The OnePlus Nord CE 5G has a 6.43-inch OLED screen of 1080p resolution. That means it’s sharp, bold, and its colour is comparable to that of a OnePlus 9.

The cheaper OnePlus phones have LCD screens, ones not quite as high-end. OLED screens have light-up pixels, which makes screen blacks look much deeper if you watch Netflix under the covers. In other, more normal, situations an LCD can look just about as good, though. And when we took the OnePlus Nord CE 5G outdoors on a sunny day with the Oppo A54 5G, the Oppo’s screen was actually marginally brighter.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G screen

We only get a single speaker here, not a stereo array. But it’s a pretty loud little unit, great for listening to podcasts while you’re in the shower or boiling the kettle. It’s loud enough to compete.

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G also has a headphone jack, which you won’t find in the more expensive OnePlus phones.

However, there’s no microSD slot here, used to expand the storage. We don’t really mind because even the cheaper version of this phone has 128GB of storage. The step-up model, costing £70 more, has 256GB. We think most people will be happy with either.

Both versions use a processor called the Snapdragon 750G, a mid-range chipset. It makes the OnePlus Nord CE 5G feel quick and responsive, particularly as it has a 90Hz refresh rate screen. This boosts the maximum frame rate to smooth out scrolling web pages and menus.

However, gaming performance is not in the same league as the first OnePlus Nord. It’s much closer to the other phones in the £200-250 range, and some of the most demanding Android games like Fortnite will restrict the graphics settings you can use.

If you play Android games a lot, we’d recommend the OnePlus Nord or the 4G Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro instead.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G battery

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s battery is a lot like that of the other OnePlus phones, including the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus Nord. That comes with pros and cons.

On the positive side, charging is pretty fast. The OnePlus Nord CE 5G has a 30W charger that gets you from flat to full in a few minutes over an hour. That is twice as quick as some of the slightly cheaper 5G alternatives.

However, we did find phones like the Motorola Moto G50 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro last longer. We love it when we test a phone and, on some days at least, we end up with coming up for 50% charge left by night-time.

That never happened with the OnePlus Nord CE 5G. And while we only had to give it an evening top-up once, it is the sort of phone you might want to plug in for a while before a big night out.

The good news is that thanks to the Warp Charge charger, you won’t actually have to plug it in for all that long.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G camera

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G has three cameras on the back, one camera upfront. If you go by numbers alone, it might even sound like an upgrade from the OnePlus Nord. This primary camera has a 64-megapixel sensor, not the 48-megapixel one used in several other OnePlus phones.

It is not really an upgrade, though. While the OnePlus Nord CE 5G can take lovely pictures during the day, it bears some of the hallmarks of an upper entry-level camera. Details and textures in the darker parts of an image might look fuzzy or be flattened to nothing through noise reduction.


OnePlus does make the most of the limited hardware, though, as the OnePlus Nord CE 5G has NightScape. This is a mode for night-time photography, one that merges a bunch of shots to get you reasonable results when shooting handheld in the dark.

It does fairly well. Not at the level of the OnePlus 9, of course, but it does mean you won’t avoid shooting photos at night because they all end up looking like trash.

The ultra-wide camera is a further step down in quality but performs perfectly well in a class where virtually every secondary camera is no masterpiece. It’s always nice to have another field of view option when you are out taking photos.

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s third camera is mostly here to make up the numbers because these days, almost all affordable phones have three or four rear cameras.

It’s a 2-megapixel monochrome camera apparently only used in one of the several black and white filters you’ll find if you dig deep into the camera app. We wouldn’t be surprised if many OnePlus Nord CE 5G buyers never actually end up using it.

You can shoot video at up to 4K resolution, 30 frames per second, and the OnePlus Nord CE 5G uses software to smooth out motion when you shoot something handheld. And for the price, this is exactly what we are looking for. Boxes ticked.

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s 16MP selfie camera is a solid performer too. It handles lower light pretty well and backlit scenes. It uses HDR processing to make sure your face doesn’t look too dim and that the background isn’t totally blown out.

This phone is no photography star, but it does enough to keep us happy. The one part we’d like to see change is that when you go to look at a photo you just took, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G will actually kick you out of the preview because the image is still processing. It feels kinda clunky.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G design and set-up

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is dressed up to look a lot like the original Nord, particularly if you get the signature blue version. However, it’s actually quite a big downgrade in a substantive way.

Where the OnePlus Nord has a glass back, a glass front and plastic sides, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G has a plastic back and plastic sides just like the 5G phones that cost £50-100 less.

To be fair to OnePlus, it still looks great. The back has a matt finish, we love the blue colour, and the OnePlus Nord CE 5G is free from the attention-grabbing gaudy look common among Xiaomi and Realme phones.

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is also smaller, thinner and lighter than many. A lot of your 5G options under £300 hover around the 200g mark. This phone weighs 170g.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G design

It’s good news if you are after a smaller phone, although we tend to find we get used to size changes — aside from the truly huge phones — in a few days. And several times during testing, when we took OnePlus Nord CE 5G out of a pocket, we couldn’t help but note the plastic construction does make it feel an awful lot like some of the cheaper alternatives.

OnePlus delivers the phone with a factory-applied screen protector, and you get a basic but rather good silicone case in the box. We used the OnePlus Nord CE 5G without the case to feel the full benefit of the lower bulk, slim design, but have already managed to put a little dent in the plastic surround. Using a case is always a good idea.

There are no real difficulties when you set up. OnePlus offers a couple of different ways to bring your apps and data from other Android phones, and we didn’t feel the need to customise OnePlus’s OxygenOS interface at all. It is one of the better third-party Android software skins and is rather fetching.

Our verdict: should you buy a OnePlus Nord CE 5G?

If you’re looking to spend around £300 and the original OnePlus Nord is still available for £329, we recommend that over the OnePlus Nord CE 5G. It has a lovely glass back and a processor that handles challenging games better.

Xiaomi’s 5G and 4G phones from the Redmi, Mi and Poco ranges are also arguably better value, and most are significantly cheaper at the time of review. However, if you don’t want to spend any more and find those Xiaomi models too large, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G could be the perfect fit.

While none of the stuff inside it truly stands out at its price, it is a thoroughly pleasant phone and less bulky than many.


Features: 4/5

Battery: 3.5/5

Camera: 3.5/5

Design and set-up: 3.5/5

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Where to buy the OnePlus Nord CE 5G

Both the 128GB and 256GB versions are available to pre-order at Amazon.


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