OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G: Unboxing & First Impressions

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G: Unboxing & First Impressions

First Impressions Verdict: The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G may not seem like a big leap compared to its predecessor, but there have been improvements where it matters most. Touting a new design and higher-resolution cameras while maintaining what made this entry-level device so appealing in the first place, it’s safe to say that its charm is still ever present. 


  • New design makes it distinguishable from its predecessor
  • Camera gets spec bump to 108 megapixels


  • Its new design is similar to what other brands are doing
  • No processor upgrade for this year

As everyone knows, OnePlus used to be a brand of flagship killer devices that would fearlessly take on the industry’s cutting-edge at a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, the rise of average smartphone prices to stratospheric heights also meant that even OnePlus smartphones were not spared from this trend. To retain the value-centric portion of its fanbase, the brand split its lineup into segments. This OnePlus Nord CE Lite 5G is the latest and cheapest way to get into the OnePlus ecosystem.

Has the merger with OPPO affected how the company produces smartphones? Here are our initial thoughts and impressions.

Unboxing and Packaging Contents

Open up the creative OnePlus NORD packaging and inside you’ll find the laundry list of inclusions for this segment. That includes the smartphone itself, a jelly case, guides, the signature orange-red USB Type-C cable, and a charging brick. We’ll always be happy to see smartphones come with these accessories as it seems to have been omitted from the high-end space entirely.

Other than that, everything else is pretty standard-fare here. Although we must admit, we like the clean design of the box here. It’s pretty clear that you’re getting a OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G and not anything else. Also – that’s a mouthful.


Unlike its matte predecessor, this OnePlus has a mirror-like finish on its rear panel. It was breathtaking to look at when we were unboxing it – especially in this Chromatic Gray color scheme. That minimalistic OnePlus logo sheltered right at the center is nothing short of classy.

Unfortunately, looking at this device and using it are two different things. This back panel material does tend to catch quite a bit of dust and fingerprints, no matter what you do. We found ourselves immediately putting on the case in order to protect the smartphone from these aesthetic gremlins.

It is also worth noting that the rear-camera design is a big step away from the previous generation model. The sizeable camera module provides assurance that the optical system residing inside is capable. We’ll get to that later. But do the concentric circles seem familiar? That’s because either exactly the same design used in the OPPO Reno8 T and other realme midrangers.

Whether or not having smartphone lookalikes is a dealbreaker will be entirely up to you.


The screen on the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is a 6.72-inch IPS LCD panel with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and 391ppi pixel density. We never really experienced any issues with this display during our short use period. Viewing angles are stellar, they used a punch hole instead of the outdated notch, and the bezels aren’t offensive.

Sure, the colors here aren’t as vibrant as what you would find on a quality AMOLED display. But it’s also clear that the brand has selected quality components for this smartphone. Instead of washed-out colors, some may even argue that this achieves a more accurate representation of hues than the oversaturated options on the market.

Overall, we’d be more than happy to use this to view content, watch videos, scroll on social media, play games, and do whatever there is to do on this device here. Add the fact that it’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and we’re sold.


Found onboard the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is an all-new Samsung sensor with a resolution of 108 megapixels. Before everyone jumps for joy at this shocking increase, we have to keep in mind that numbers aren’t everything, especially when it comes to camera performance. Meanwhile, the two-megapixel macro and depth sensors are just there to fill up the spec sheet.

How are the photos?

In broad daylight, colors are definitely well-represented here. The details aren’t overprocessed in any way, shape, or form. These shots are perfectly usable for whatever purpose you may need them for. We were looking around for the usual oversharpening issues that often pervade optical performance within this midrange segment, but found none. Some may say that this device only has one capable (or even usable) sensor, but since it has performed to this impressive standard, then it may be all you need.

When it comes to indoor subject shots, this entry-level OnePlus doesn’t struggle either. You won’t find any wandering focus issues here, as all the grains on the leather duffel bag are all within sight. If there’s a subject you want to focus on, specifically the Estrella Galicia cup of sangria, you can clearly see the condensation on the cup’s exterior while everything else is cleanly blurred into the background.

Turn down the lights and the image quality does suffer a bit as expected. We end up saying hello to our old friend “grain,” although there’s not as much as with other devices in the segment. These are images you can still save in post or by changing up the filters to bring up the brightness level.

The front-facing camera is of the 16-megapixel variety. The resulting images are perfectly fine in situations wherein adequate lighting is available. As seen above, selfies taken with this smartphone can be detailed as long as your hands aren’t too shaky.


Inside the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G is the same Snapdragon 695 5G processor found in the previous model. This is supported by 8GB of RAM for multitasking and 256GB of onboard storage.

Partially thanks to how smooth OxygenOS is, this device feels fast and light on its feet. Yes, some may say that some ColorOS features have pulled this OnePlus device away from stock Android than ever before, but we didn’t experience any hiccups or lags in use. This tried-and-tested processor can definitely take whatever tasks you throw at it, especially if you aren’t a power user.

While we would have appreciated a step up to the Snapdragon 778G, this chipset proves it can definitely still compete in 2023.

Wrap-Up and First Impressions

Based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s a lot to like about the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite 5G. It has a nice display, well-performing camera, eye-catching design, and decent internals. We’ll have to use the phone a bit more to find out whether or not the phone’s mirror-like backside is a bane in everyday use, and if the processor can really keep up with what we need to do.

For now, we’re happy with what we see.


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