OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Review: A Step Backwards

Beebom Score

6
OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite is a surprisingly bad offering as per 2024 standards, thanks to mostly the decision to go with Snapdragon 695. Due to this chipset, the display doesn't offer HDR content, delivers average gaming performance, and also misses out on 4K video recording. The camera performance, despite a Sony LYT-600 sensor, is not worth it either. The battery department is where the device shines a bit, but that alone is not enough to recommend such an outdated device.
Pros
120Hz AMOLED display
Commendable battery and fast charging
3.5mm headphone jack
OxygenOS works just fine
Cons
Display doesn't support HDR
Laggy UI
Average performance
Awful cameras
Buy OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite (starts at Rs 19,999) Right Arrow

A couple of months ago, we got the OnePlus Nord CE 4 and now, the toned-down Nord CE 4 Lite has made it to India. The smartphone has been launched at an impressive price of Rs 19,999 for the base variant having 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. After spending a few days with the device, I’ve got quite a few things to share with you. So, if you’re in the market for a smartphone around Rs 20,000, is this it or a hard pass? Let’s find out in this OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite review.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Specs at a Glance

Before we get into the review, here’s a quick rundown of the Nord CE 4 Lite’s technical specifications:

SpecsOnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite
Dimensions162.9 x 75.6 x 8.1 mm
Weight191 grams
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 695 (6nm)
RAM/Storage8GB LPDDR4X/ 256GB UFS 2.2
Display6.67-inch FHD + 120Hz AMOLED, 1080×2400, 2100 nits peak brightness, Dragon Trail Star 2
Rear Camera50MP Main + 2MP Depth
Front Camera16MP
VideoUp to 1080p 30FPS
Dual SIMYes; Does not support eSIM
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC
PortUSB Type C
Battery5,500mAh
Charging80W fast charging
SoftwareAndroid 14, OxygenOS 14
2 years of OS updates
PriceRs 19,999 (8GB+128GB)
Take a look at the full specs list at Beebom Gadgets

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Box Contents

Nord CE 4 Lite Box Contents

As always, OnePlus provides everything right in the CE 4 Lite box. From the compatible 80W adapter and a USB Type-C cable to a cloudy-transparent silicon back cover and a SIM ejector, you get it all. Oh, also those papers that you’ll never go through. With that out of the way, it was time to take a closer look at the device itself.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Design and Build

Key Takeaways: 1. Mega Blue color is too flashy and the Black variant certainly looks better.
2. Back design is unpleasant, with a very reflective plastic panel and a strange camera module design.
3. Frame is plastic with matte finish, and offers a good grip.
4. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack as well.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Review: A Step Backwards

I have with me the Mega Blue color variant of the device and I was taken aback by how it was not as pretty as it seemed in the official reveal. Honestly, the black variant looks a lot better. The blue is a little too flashy and the plastic back is too glass-like reflective for no reason at all.

The camera module gradient design also successfully catfished me into believing that there was a bump. Honestly, had this strange design around the individual sensors not been present, the device would’ve looked a lot better. The individual sensors are placed nicely though, and they keep the phone from wobbling as much.

There’s also a minuscule gap in between the frame and the back panel which digs into your skin, and the in-hand feel takes a hit. The frame is plastic too, by the way, with some sort of a textured finish to make it grippy. During my time with it, I didn’t put on any case and the phone barely ever slipped away, so that’s good.

The volume rocker and power buttons and placed on the right side, which I’m never fond of. I don’t understand this design choice, since the Nord CE 2 Lite had the buttons placed on either side of the frame.

But, it’s good to see it retain some of its older sibling’s qualities, like a 3.5mm headphone jack and the side SIM tray placement which keeps me from poking into the microphone hole instead.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Display and Speakers

Key Takeaways:

1. The 120Hz AMOLED diplay is big and bright enough at 900 nits.
2. Sadly, there’s no HDR support.
3. The phone features a stereo speaker setup, that’s loud but flat for the most part.

Nord CE 4 Lite Display

While the flashy-for-no-special-reason design left a bad taste in my mouth, the display did make up for it a bit. It features a slightly bigger 6.67-inch FHD+ 120Hz AMOLED display backed by the company claim of 2100 nits peak brightness. However, during my testing, the device just hit 900 nits, roughly.

However, on the brighter side of things, the display is adequately bright both indoors and outdoors. But, it doesn’t support HDR, thanks to the outdated processor (more on that in the Performance section). So, I don’t understand how, without HDR, OnePlus claims that this display can hit over 2000 nits. On top, there’s Dragon Trail Star 2 protection.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Display from the side

As for the quality of the display, it’s good enough for streaming content. Being an AMOLED display, the blacks are decent, although not the best. The colors are decent enough, although I’d recommend using the Vivid color mode (accessible via display settings). The viewing angles are good enough, and the display isn’t too reflective, unlike the back panel.

The absence of HDR is a big bummer though, especially since competitor phones like the POCO X6 and iQOO Z9 come with not just HDR 10+ but Dolby Vision support as well. So, while you can view content on it, I don’t think you will enjoy it to the core. I certainly didn’t. Also, the in-display fingerprint sensor is pretty slow and unresponsive.

There’s a stereo-speaker setup, with a dedicated grille used for the second one as well. While that does offer a loud output, the audio is mostly flat with little treble and barely any bass.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Software Experience and Daily Usage

Key Takeaways: 1. OxygenOS is rather laggy on the device.
2. Multitasking is not pleasant with the phone stuttering when handling multiple apps.
3. Haptic feedback is basically nonexistent in the UI for the most part.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Daily Usage

I was actually surprised by how bad the OxygenOS experience is on budget phones. There’s bloatware and you see apps/games like Bubble Pop, Tile Match, World Connect, Agoda, and Facebook. There’s also Netflix if you want to consider it bloatware. But, yes, there’s quite some dirt in here that you would want to instantly uninstall as you set up the phone. That’s where the problem starts.

As I started using the phone, it only got worse. The haptic integration in the UI is almost zero, whether you are using the volume slider or swiping through recent apps. There are micro stutters and lags across the UI.

At one point, I had 15 or so odd apps running in the background, and the phone almost begged for life support. Multitasking is a pain on this device, and I’d rather not count on it. I’m someone who doesn’t clear his recent apps as often, and I had to for this one.

Even basic OxygenOS features like the smart sidebar didn’t work as seamlessly. Everything felt like a task for the Nord CE 4 Lite, and this was clearly not the OxygenOS I had grown fond of over the years.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Performance

Key Takeaways:

1. The Nord CE 4 Lite’s Snapdragon 695 SoC is a very average performer.
2. Benchmarks are very unimpressive, with the phone hitting slightly over 450K in AnTuTu.
2. The phone limits you to just 40FPS in BGMI.

Nord CE 4 Lite Performance

When I found out that the Nord CE 4 Lite was powered by the Snapdragon 695, I couldn’t help but let out a giggle. Additionally, there’s also 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and up to 256GB UFS 2.2 storage. Now, this three-year-old processor was not even appreciated back when it launched. From no 4K and HDR support to being limited to 40FPS in BGMI, there are some critical issues with this chipset. And, this reflects across all the benchmarks and game settings. Here’s a rundown:

Benchmarks

From AnTuTu to Geekbench, I ran every essential benchmark on the device. The results are, well, abysmal:

  • OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite AnTuTu
  • OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Geekbench
  • OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite CPU Throttling Test
  • OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Wild Life Extreme Stress Test
  • OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite AnTuTu Storage Test

Gaming

As for gaming, I tried BGMI, CoD Mobile, Genshin Impact, and Warzone. Here’s the kind of settings you get out of the 695 SoC:

GamesSettings
Genshin ImpactHighest Settings + 60FPS (got only 30-35FPS)
CoD MobileMax Graphics = Very High + Very High
Max Framerate = High + Max (60FPS)
BGMIMax Graphics = HD + High
Max Framerate = Smooth + Ultra (40FPS)
Warzone MobileHigher + Uncapped (Average 30FPS, Very stuttery and unplayable)

At least CoD Mobile gets 60FPS, so that’s okay. The good thing is that the device barely gets hot and you can comfortably game for a long time. However, it’s understandable given that the Snapdragon 695 barely requires that much power to stress the phone out.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Cameras

Key Takeaways: 1. Camera performance is abysmal with even day time shots lacking details.
2. Colors also appear very washed out, with very little dynamic range at play.
3. Selfies are decent, but can be inconsistent.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Camera Module Design

When devices don’t do as well in other aspects, the cameras turn out to be the saving grace. Sadly, that’s not the case with the Nord CE 4 Lite, and alongside the 50MP Sony LYT-600 primary sensor, there’s a useless 2MP depth sensor. The Sony LYT-600 sensor brings OIS along with it, and that should have been an upgrade from its predecessor.

However, in real life, I don’t see the OIS assisting me with either photos or videos. You have to keep your hands very stable so that photos do not appear blurry. Even in substantial lighting, photos lack details and appear very washed out, with poor dynamic range.

It doesn’t do any better with human subjects, and the edge detection is just okay. It goes overboard with the depth mapping, which causes portrait shots to not look as good.

At night, all the problems get magnified and you get noise-ridden shots with details as good as an oil painting. Selfies are better, thankfully. But, it’s inconsistent and you do get unusable results. At night, in low lighting, selfies are terrible with way too much noise. Also, if you don’t have steady hands, pictures can get easily blurry.

Videos are also shaky for some reason, despite the presence of OIS. The 1080p 30FPS cap makes things worse. The zoom transitions are also terrible and look like jump cuts. At the front as well, you’re limited to 1080p 30FPS. There’s some serious focus hunting issue as well.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite Battery and Charging

Key Takeaways: 1. The 5,500mAh battery on the Nord CE 4 Lite delivers around 7 hours of SoT.
2. It takes around an hour to fully charge from 1 to 100%.

Nord CE 4 Lite Charging Animation

The battery department of the Nord CE 4 Lite is impressive for a change. You get anywhere between 6.5 to 7 hours of SoT (Screen on Time). I binge-watched some HouseMD on JioCinema, watched some 1080p YouTube videos, captured photos, and actively used social media apps throughout.

So, it can easily last you from a day to a day and a half. The 80W SUPERVOOC charger in the box takes around 50 minutes to fully charge the 5,500mAh battery unit, which is good enough for the budget.

Does the Nord CE 4 Lite Make Sense in 2024?

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite with its competitor phones

While I do understand that the Nord CE 4 Lite is a rebrand of the OPPO K12x, I’m not okay with it using the same processor. For Rs 20,000, the Snapdragon 695 SoC just doesn’t make sense in 2024. Its predecessors, the Nord CE 3 Lite and even the CE 2 Lite were powered by the same chipset, so you get an idea about how outdated this chipset is.

Other phones in the budget like the POCO X6 powered by the Snapdragon 7s Gen 2, the iQOO Z9 powered by the MediaTek Dimensity 7200, and the Realme Narzo 70 Pro powered by the Dimensity 7050, just deliver a lot more performance. I’d also pick HyperOS on the POCO X6 over the Nord CE 4 Lite’s version of OxygenOS. I can look past the extra bloatware for satisfying animations and better haptics.

While this is a decent display, the absence of HDR is a problem, especially when the competitor phones are offering HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support. You get a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is also something that phones like the POCO X6 offer.

That leaves you with just the battery, which is probably the only good thing going for it. The design is also not attractive, and I’d prefer its predecessor’s design. Most importantly, recently, the OnePlus Nord 3 received a price cut and costs around the same. With two more years of major OS updates left, this is one hell of a flagship device that I’d choose over the half-baked Nord CE 4 Lite any day.

Ultimately, I feel that the Nord CE 4 Lite has been launched in a market that has no need for it whatsoever. Needless to say, you can and should skip it and go ahead with any of the competing phones I’ve mentioned.

Beebom Score
6
6.5
Design and Build
7.5
Display
6
Software Experience
5.5
Performance
5.5
Cameras
8.5
Battery and Charging
OnePlus Nord CE 4 Lite is a surprisingly bad offering as per 2024 standards, thanks to mostly the decision to go with Snapdragon 695. Due to this chipset, the display doesn't offer HDR content, delivers average gaming performance, and also misses out on 4K video recording. The camera performance, despite a Sony LYT-600 sensor, is not worth it either. The battery department is where the device shines a bit, but that alone is not enough to recommend such an outdated device.
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