OnePlus Nord CE 4 Review: A Delicate Balance

The OnePlus Nord CE 4 aims to be a solid mid-range device which is expected to deliver the basics going by the brand’s ‘Core Experience’ philosophy. While the Nord CE series started off as a watered-down version of the numbered Nord series, OnePlus has been adding interesting updates that somehow seem to reduce the gap between the CE and non-CE Nord models over the years. This year, unlike previous releases we see OnePlus releasing the new Nord CE 4 before the Nord 4. While there is no indicator that OnePlus will announce a Nord 4 this year, the OnePlus Nord CE 4 seems to have enough new hardware to warrant an upgrade from its predecessor the

OnePlus Nord CE 4 daylight camera samples. Top to bottom: Ultra-wide camera, primary camera, 2X digital zoom (Tap images to expand)


The primary camera captures vibrant images with saturated colours. Dynamic range is impressive, so there is good detail in shadows when shooting in bright daylight. Photos aren’t oversharpened and there is a good amount of natural depth and separation when shooting objects or people. Switching to the 2X digital zoom, the results as expected aren’t too great. These are digital crops from the primary camera and are good to get a better close-up or for framing, but these aren’t of the lossless variety and so you will notice a drop in image quality and detail overall. While it’s possible to get decent photos in 2X mode, the frame needs to be flooded with light.

The phone does not have a dedicated macro camera, so shooting extreme close-ups is not possible like with the previous Nord CE3. However, you can get close enough (15-20 cms) to objects and thanks to the wide f/1.8 aperture, there’s a natural bokeh behind these objects.

While the Nord CE 4 does not have a macro camera/mode, you can get close enough to objects using the primary camera


When shooting in low light, details take a hit and textures appear a bit flat and end up looking like paintings in areas with dim lighting. Dynamic range is on the lower side and so there’s less detail in the shadows and dark areas when shooting street-lit scenes. The photos also appear quite washed out and don’t show accurate colours. Perhaps some optimisation is needed with future updates.

Switching to the ultra-wide camera, the photos have decent dynamic range with good detail in the shadows but appear a bit soft. Texture details are on the lower side and pretty much average for a smartphone at this price point. Low light photos come out soft and blurry.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Low light camera samples. Top: Selfie camera (Night mode), bottom: Primary camera (Night mode) (Tap to expand images)


Shooting selfies in daylight shows decent facial details but shows below-average edge-detection when using the Portrait mode. In low light, selfies are low on facial details and you will need to fire up the flash to get decent results.

Video recorded at 1080p (30fps and 60fps) appeared scaled down, lacking resolution and detail. However, these do a better job at stabilisation than the 4K 30fps footage. 4K 30fps footage appears too shaky when both panning or walking around but it offers better resolution and detail. Sadly, there’s noticeable noise in the 4K footage even when shooting video in daylight. Low light video recordings at any resolution are too noisy to be usable.

OnePlus Nord CE 4 Review: Verdict

The OnePlus Nord CE 4 is a solid upgrade when compared to its predecessor the Nord CE3. It gets users a fresh design with an IP rating, a more powerful processor, decent camera performance and a bigger battery with faster charging.

However when compared to the current competition, its pricing is worrisome. This is mainly because its only standout feature seems to be battery life and fast charging. I really wished that it performed better in the camera department.

At the same price point, there’s devices like the Poco X6 Pro (Review) which offers similar camera performance but is a lot better when it comes to gaming and raw performance, which is something the Nord’s target audience (youth) will desire. There’s also the Motorola Edge 40 (Review) which offers good performance, near-stock software experience, quality cameras, wireless charging and an IP68 rating at a now discounted Rs. 26,999.

At a slightly higher price point, sits the very capable Realme 12 Pro+ (Review) which does not offer the raw performance of the Poco X6 Pro, but has a premium design (with an IP65 rating), excellent cameras with good low-light and telephoto performance and good battery life as well.

It’s a bit hard to recommend the OnePlus Nord CE 4 unless all you are interested in for your next mid-range smartphone upgrade is big battery life and fast-charging, which as we know is not bad on the newer competing smartphones either. But if you are on a tight budget and want a smooth and stable software experience, OnePlus’s Nord CE 4 may just the be right smartphone at the right price.

OnePlus Nord 3 brings some serious upgrades over its predecessor, including some flagship-grade specifications. We discuss this and more on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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