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OnePlus launches the affordable Nord CE 2 5G with fast charging and smarter cameras

Another contender in the budget 5G smartphone market makes its debut.
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Written by Charles McLellan, Reviews editor on
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The OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G, in Gray Mirror and Bahama Blue.

Image: OnePlus

OnePlus has launched the successor to last year's budget Nord CE 5G -- called, logically enough, the Nord CE 2 5G. 'CE' stands for 'Core Edition', signifying the Chinese company's desire to deliver the key elements of its smartphone experience at an affordable price point. 

Costing just £299 or €349 (the Nord CE series is not currently available in the US), the OnePlus Nord CE 2 boasts some high-end features, including a 6.43-inch 90Hz AMOLED display, 65W fast charging, a 6nm 8-core 5G chipset and a triple AI-assisted rear camera array. 

Here's how the OnePlus Nord CE 2 stacks up against its predecessor: 


OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G specifications

OnePlus Nord CE 2

OnePlus Nord CE

Dimensions

73.2 x 160.6 x 7.8mm

73.5 x 159.2 x 7.9mm

Weight

173g

170g

Display

6.43 inches, 2400 x 1080 (20:9, 409ppi), 90Hz Fluid AMOLED, Gorilla Glass 5, HDR 10+ 

6.43 inches, 1080 x 2400 (20:9, 409ppi), 90Hz Fluid AMOLED

Screen to body ratio

85.1%

85.4%

Dust/water resistance

n/s

no

Chipset

MediaTek Dimensity 900

Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G 5G

OS

Android 11, OxygenOS 11                

Android 11, OxygenOS 11

RAM

6GB, 8GB

6GB, 8GB, 12GB

Storage

128GB

128GB, 256GB

Storage expansion via MicroSD

yes

no

Front camera

16MP (f/2.4, EIS)

16MP (f/2.4, EIS)

Rear cameras

64MP wide-angle (f/1.79, EIS), 8MP ultra-wide angle (119°, f/2.2, EIS), 2MP macro (f/2.4)

64MP wide-angle (f/1.8), 8MP ultra-wide angle (119°, f/2.2), 2MP depth (f/2.4)

Networks

GSM, WCDMA, LTE, 5G

GSM, WCDMA, LTE, 5G

Wi-Fi

802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)

802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)

Bluetooth

5.2

5.1

Other connectivity

NFC, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, A-GPS, QZSS

NFC, GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, A-GPS                

Ports & slots

USB-C, 2x Nano SIM, MicroSD card

USB-C, 2x Nano SIM

Buttons

volume, power

volume, power

Sensors

in-display fingerprint reader, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, ambient light, proximity, sensor core

in-display fingerprint reader, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, ambient light, proximity, sensor core

Audio

super linear speaker, noise cancellation support

super linear speaker, noise cancellation support

3.5mm audio jack

yes

yes

Battery capacity

4500mAh

4500mAh

Fast charging

65W SuperVOOC

30W

Wireless charging

no

no

Price

£299 / €349

£299 (8GB/128GB), £369 (12GB, 256GB)

Availability

preorders 3 March, on sale 10 March (Europe)

now (Europe)


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Image: OnePlus

At 7.8mm the Nord CE 2, which comes in Gray Mirror and Bahama Blue, is a tad thinner than last year's model, although it weighs a few grams more (173g). The 6.43-inch 90Hz AMOLED display has a similar specification, with the addition of HDR10+ certification. 

There's a change in chipset, from Qualcomm's 8nm, 8-core Snapdragon 750G 5G in last year's model to the MediaTek Dimensity 900, a 6nm, 8-core processor. Both are capable mid-range chipsets, but OnePlus highlights the latter's power efficiency optimisation, which allows for "improved thermal control, system stability, and prolonged gaming sessions". The Nord CE 2 will be available with 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage – now expandable via MicroSD card.

Another advance in the Nord CE 2 is its support for fast charging – an increasingly important feature on all phones as usage inexorably rises. Battery capacity is unchanged at 4,500mAh, but the new model supports 65W SuperVOOC fast charging that, OnePlus says, can deliver a day's power in 15 minutes, or take the phone from 1-100% in 32 minutes. Unlike many phones these days, the Nord CE 2 comes with a (65W) charger and (red) USB-C cable in the box.

The triple rear camera array on the Nord CE 2 looks similar to its predecessor on paper, centring around 64MP wide-angle and 8MP ultra-wide angle (119°) cameras. There's a change in the third camera, though, a 2MP macro unit replacing the Nord CE's 2MP monochrome depth camera. The front camera remains a 16MP unit.  

The main improvements in the Nord CE 2 camera system are in the supporting AI software, which delivers a low-light Nightscape mode that intelligently combines up to nine photos to deliver an improved image. There's also an improved Portrait Mode, supported on both the 64MP rear and 16MP front cameras, with more accurate edge detection and more adjustable bokeh. 

The Nord CE 2 5G will initially come with Android 11 and OxygenOS 11, with an improved dark mode and new one-handed usage features. OnePlus says that OxygenOS 12 will be available in the second half of 2022, and that the Nord CE 2 will get 2 years of Android updates and three years of Android security patches. 

Stand by for a full review of the OnePlus Nord CE 2 5G from ZDNet in March. 

Also See

OnePlus Nord CE 5G review: A capable and affordable Core Edition

Best cheap 5G phone 2022: No need to pay flagship prices

5G arrives: Understanding what it means for you

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