After months of teasing, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite's road to release has finally ended, with the company's newest affordable phone launching during the brand's 'Larger than Life' announcement stream, on April 4. In an exclusive talk with TechRadar on March 29, OnePlus president and COO Kinder Liu confirmed some of the remaining outstanding specs of the Nord CE 3 Lite, not yet ousted by leaks or rumor. This reveal apparently served as the last milestone before OnePlus launched its latest Lite; covering the display's size and refresh rate, the software the phone would run and the chipset at play.
Now that we have all the pieces, here's everything the company's biggest and fast-charging Nord device brings to the table; including when you can buy it and for how much.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? OnePlus' most affordable phone of 2023
- When is it out? Announced on April 4, on sale April 20
- How much will it cost? Starts at £299 (around $350 / AU$520)
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite: release date and price
The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is the next affordable entry in the OnePlus' lineup, announced as part of its 'Larger than Life' stream on April 4. It was made available for pre-order on the same day but OnePlus cited an actual on-sale date of April 20.
As for pricing, the Nord CE 3 Lite starts at £299 in the UK, for the 8GB RAM / 128GB model; which equates to around $350 / AU$520. Regional pricing for the US and Australia remains speculative, as Nord CE devices haven't released Stateside to date, while OnePlus' mobile portfolio in Australia is pretty eclectic, meaning a formal release for the CE 3 Lite is still unknown, even though the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite is available in the region.
In the UK, the CE 2 Lite launched for £20 less, at £279. The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is available from OnePlus.com directly, as well as retailers like Amazon UK.
|Header Cell - Column 1|
|Dimensions:||165.5 x 76 x 8.3mm|
|Main display:||6.72-inch 20:9 Full HD+ (1080 x 2400) 120Hz LCD|
|Chipset:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 695|
|RAM:||8GB (LPDDR4X). Expandable via virtual RAM up to a further 8GB|
|Storage:||128GB (UFS2.2). Expandable via microSD up to 1TB|
|OS:||OxygenOS 13.1 (atop Android 13)|
|Primary camera:||108MP, f/1.7 (Samsung S5KHM6SX03)|
|Macro camera:||2MP, f/2.4 (4cm minimum distance)|
|Depth camera:||2MP, f/2.4|
|Front camera:||16MP, f/2.4 punch-hole|
|Colors:||Pastel Lime, Chromatic Gray|
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite: design and display
Most press image depictions of the Nord CE 3 Lite show the phone off in its Pastel Lime finish, which doesn't sear your retinas like a highlighter yellow would, but is still unmissable amidst the standard assortment of black rectangles most manufacturers offer up. It's also available in a more muted Chromatic Gray.
That injection-moulded plastic features a rounded border, with a 2.8-degree curve that runs into a flat-edged 8.3mm-thick metal frame via a slight lip; delivering both grip and comfort in the hand, simultaneously; essential on a phone of this size and shape.
Despite its size and the large battery inside, however, the Nord CE 3 Lite feels impressively light, at 195 grams. The frame also plays host to a nowadays seldom-seen 3.5mm headphone jack along its bottom edge and stereo speakers, with support for a 200% 'Ultra Volume Mode' which OnePlus promises "can be very loud without sounding tinny."
As for the screen, as touched on already, the CE 3 Lite sports the largest panel of any Nord device to date; with a 6.72-inch LCD that boasts an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, able to automatically switch between 30Hz, 48Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz, 90Hz and 120Hz; depending on the app or feature in use. You can also lock the screen to a peak 60Hz to conserve power. A 240Hz touch response rate matches the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S23 series and should feel snappy enough for general mobile gaming and the like.
The LCD promises a maximum normal brightness of 550nits and a peak brightness of 680nits against bright sunlight, while global DC dimming also features to reduce eye strain, even in low light. The user experience includes lots of controls to tailor the screen's color temparture and color space further; with the Vivid profile enabled by default.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite: camera and battery
The dual circular camera elements rising like ripples on a water's surface out of the CE 3 Lite's back actually play host to three discreet sensors, accompanied by one of the single largest LED flash elements we've ever seen on a phone.
Along with the display and battery, the lead camera makes up for another of the headline numbers associated with Nord CE 3 Lite: 108. This newest Nord's Samsung-made main camera sensor sports a resolution of 108MP, offering nona-binned (combining the data of nine 0.64μm pixels on the sensor into one 1.92μm pseudo pixel, to achieve reduced noise, better light capture and richer color capture) shots and full-resolution 'Extra HD' 108MP shooting, as well as what OnePlus calls 3x 'lossless' (digital) zoom.
That big main sensor is accompanied by a secondary 2MP macro sensor – designed to allow for shots as close as 4cm away, along with a 2MP depth sensor that helps separate your subject from the background in portrait mode capture. In portrait mode, you can vary the aperture from f/1.4 to f/16, virtually.
On the front sits a 16MP selfie camera, supported by AI-enhanced filters that should allow for higher-quality looking shots; with richer bokeh, thanks to some post-processing wizardry.
As the biggest Nord yet, you can also expect a big 5,000mAh battery (just like its predecessor), however, the Nord CE 3 Lite ups the ante in this department by including rapid 67W wired charging (up from 33W on the CE 2 Lite), which the company promises delivers a full day's charge (80%) in just 30 minutes and a full charge in 41.
The technology at play, which OnePlus calls 'SuperVOOC Endurance Edition' charging, works in tandem with the software's Battery Health Engine to reportedly increase the battery’s lifespan and prevent over-charging. The Nord CE 3 Lite relies on 12 temperature sensors and a dedicated charging chip to optimize the charging experience it boasts.
OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite: performance and software
One of the main oddities of the Nord CE 3 Lite is that it relies on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC as its predecessor, but OnePlus seems confident that the silicon has enough headroom to deliver at the price tag the phone comes in at.
Part of that confidence likely has to do with the Nord CE 3 Lite's ability to leverage up to 8GB of internal storage as additional virtual RAM; using OnePlus' RAM expansion tool.
There's also 128GB of storage as standard, but the phone does also boast microSD expandability up to a further 1TB. And yes, this is a 5G-capable phone.
One of the other details around the Nord CE 3 Lite exclusively released to TechRadar before the phone's launch was that it would be the first OnePlus phone to run on the company's OxygenOS 13.1 (atop Android 13), with the company promising two years of further OS updates and three years of security updates.