OnePlus Nord CE announced — and it’s an incredibly cheap 5G phone

OnePlus Nord CE 5G
(Image credit: OnePlus)
OnePlus Nord CE 5G specs

Starting price: £299
Display: 6.4-inch FHD AMOLED
Refresh rate: 90Hz
Rear cameras: 64MP main (f/1.8), 8MP ultrawide (f/2.3), 2MP monochrome (f/2.4)
Front camera: 16MP selfie (f/2.5)
CPU: Snapdragon 750G
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Battery: 4,500 mAh
Charging: 30W wired
OS: Android 11 with OxygenOS11
Colors: Blue Void, Charcoal Ink, Silver Ray
Size: 6.3 x 2.9 x 0.3 inches (159.2mm x 73.5mm x 7.9mm)
Weight: 5.9 ounces (170g)

Update: The second-generation Nord CE has arrived, so check out our OnePlus Nord CE 2 review.

With the newly announced OnePlus Nord CE 5G, OnePlus has given a mild refresh —and a big discount — to one of the best cheap phones around, at least if you live outside the U.S.

Over the course of a brief but meta-humor-filled presentation announcing the phone today (June 10), we learned that the best parts of the Nord experience have stayed, or even been improved. That includes the price of the Nord CE 5G, which will cost just £299 — about $425 — when it goes on sale in less than two weeks.

"CE", as OnePlus explained in its presentation, stands for "Core Edition." It's meant to signify that even though this is a low-price phone, it still sticks to OnePlus' oft-repeated "fast and smooth" mission. Following feedback from its uniquely loyal users, OnePlus has taken out a few components from the original OnePlus Nord, but what it's left in and upgraded make the entry price more than worth it.

Here's what we know about the OnePlus Nord CE 5G following the reveal by OnePlus.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G price and availability

OnePlus is offering its forum users the chance to pre-order the OnePlus Nord CE 5G from now through midnight on June 12. Pre-orders of the phone arrive from June 14. Miss the forum pre-order window, and you'll have to wait until June 11 to pre-order it normally from OnePlus, Amazon U.K., Three or John Lewis, with the retail launch coming on June 21. 

The U.S. is being left out of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G launch, just as it missed out on the original OnePlus Nord launch last year. Ultimately, OnePlus released a different phone in the U.S. — the OnePlus Nord N10 5G — and that seems to be the game plan this time around. OnePlus has already confirmed that the sub-$250 OnePlus Nord N200 will be announced soon for its U.S. customers, though we don't have an official date.

As noted, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G costs £299. That's £80 less than the debut price of the OnePlus Nord last year. For context, the Google Pixel 4a 5G — another cheap 5G phone — sells for £499 in the UK.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G design and display

The AMOLED display on the OnePlus Nord CE 5G remains the same as the original Nord, measuring 6.4 inches, and offering an FHD resolution, and a 90Hz refresh rate. It also offers an always-on display like before too. A less positive inheritance from the first Nord is that the body is again not IP-rated, just "splash-proof." OnePlus usually skips out on getting an official IP rating as a way of keeping costs down on its phones.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

(Image credit: OnePlus)

Horrifyingly, there's no alert slider on the side of the Nord CE. This signature OnePlus feature was present on the original, but seems to have gone walkabout. But perhaps as an apology, OnePlus has added a headphone jack. This was not present on the first Nord, and will be popular with users who don't want to pay out for wireless headphones yet.

OnePlus has managed to pare down the Nord CE's body to 7.9mm thick from 8.2mm. It's not much of a difference, but it makes the OnePlus CE 5G the skinniest phone from OnePlus since the OnePlus 6T.

You get some new colors to choose from, too — the matte-finished, fingerprint-resistant Blue Void, which also features some strange dark blue highlights on the left and right edges; the glossy Charcoal Ink, and the pearlescent Silver Ray.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G: Cameras

The main camera on the OnePlus Nord CE 5G has been boosted from a 48MP sensor to a 64MP sensor, which should mean more detail in your shots. While you get a better main camera sensor, you actually get two sensors fewer overall. 

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

(Image credit: OnePlus)

The original Nord's depth and macro cameras are gone on the Nord CE, replaced with a 2MP mono camera for adding texture to black-and-white shots. Meanwhile on the front, the ultrawide selfie camera that the original Nord boasted is gone, with the single remaining camera being a standard 16MP model.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G specs

OnePlus is using a new chipset, the Snapdragon 750G. While it's from a lower class of chip than the Snapdragon 765G, the silicon is still 5G ready, and OnePlus promises it's actually got better performance with a 20% CPU increase and 10% GPU increase.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

(Image credit: OnePlus)

While the chipset is new, the memory variants remain the same, you can have either 8GB RAM with 128GB storage for the basic price, or the top model with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage for £369 ($520). Whichever option you pick, that's plenty of memory for a phone of this price.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

(Image credit: OnePlus)

OnePlus has stuffed a little more battery capacity into the Nord CE, taking it up to 4,500 mAh; the original Nord made do with a 4,115 mAh power pack.

The new CE phone uses the same 30W wired charging — or Warp Charge 30T in OnePlus' own words — but a few tweaks to the charging brick means you still get 70% charge from half an hour plugged in.

The Nord CE comes out of the box with Android 11, rather than the original Nord's Android 10. OnePlus promises two years of OS updates and three years of security updates, which is a fairly generous deal for a low-cost Android phone.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G outlook

We can't wait to give the Nord CE a try. In some ways it's a pity to see some of the original OnePlus Nord's most unique features chipped away to make a more conventional smartphone. However at this price, OnePlus threatens to overturn the mid-range phone market. 

As much as we love the Google Pixel 4a, our current pick of the best cheap phones, it offers far less hardware while costing quite a bit more (£349 in the U.K.) than OnePlus is asking for the Nord CE.

Stay tuned for our full review of the OnePlus Nord CE as soon as we get our hands on the new phone.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.