Fast Charge: The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite doesn’t feel like a budget phone



OPINION: With new flagship phones like the Xiaomi 13 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra now announced and readily available, it’s time for more affordable phones to take the spotlight. 

That includes the recently-announced OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, a budget-focused phone coming in at just £299 while offering pretty decent specs including a 120Hz 6.72-inch display, main 108MP camera and speedy 67W fast charging capabilities. 

However, what I wasn’t expecting when I went hands-on is just how good the device feels, despite the fact it’s made entirely from plastic. 

For a bit of context, I look at a lot of budget and mid-range phones as a part of my job as Mobile Editor, and while the cheaper phones are starting to compete with flagships in terms of specs, it’s usually the build quality that lets them down, and the use of plastic in particular. 

Plastic does have its benefits – it doesn’t shatter like glass and it’s cheaper to use than glass, with the latter also helping keep the price point of the phone down – but no matter what manufacturers do, phones generally tend to feel a bit cheap, hollow and sometimes even flimsy.

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Not the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite though. Lifting the phone out of the box for the first time I was surprised at just how solid the phone felt in my hand. It felt like there was substance to it – not enough that it was weighty, measuring in at 195g, but enough to feel reassuring in the hand. The rear case in particular feels dense and solid, even when tapping it with a finger. 

“But how?” I hear you cry. Well, it all comes down to the manufacturing process, with OnePlus doing something a little bit different to practically every other budget manufacturer out there. More specifically, OnePlus has used a coloured injection moulding process to produce the Nord CE 3 Lite, delivering that finish that’s almost ceramic in look and feel. 

It’s not just the feel of the phone that gives it a premium feel though; the overall design looks just as attractive, with a subtle 2.5-degree curvature at the rear edges to help the large smartphone sit nicely in the hand, and the way that the dual camera housing seems to raise from within the body with a nice curved gradient at its edges is another nice touch. 

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I’m also a huge fan of the Pastel Lime finish in particular, offering a bright, bold colour without being too green. It certainly ties in nicely with the Spring launch of the phone if nothing else.

So, it’s safe to say that I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the build quality of the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite – the question is whether the rest of the experience is just as impressive. Testing is set to begin imminently, so I won’t have too long to find out. 

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is available to pre-order now starting at £299, with release scheduled for 20 April 2023. 



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