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OnePlus Nord CE 5G Camera review: A simpler Nord shooter

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102
camera

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G is an affordable entry-point to the OnePlus Nord line, situated just below the original Nord in price and features. This Advanced segment phone sports a 6.43-inch 90-Hz 2400 x 1080 pixel AMOLED display, and is powered by Qualcomm’s 750G 5G chipset with 6, 8, or 12 GB of system memory and 128 or 256 GB of storage. There are three cameras on the back: a 64 MP main wide module that bins down to 16 MP output, an 8 MP ultra-wide camera, and a 2 MP monochrome module.

Read on to find out how the OnePlus Nord CE 5G performs in our DXOMARK Camera tests.

Key camera specifications:

  • Primary: 64 MP sensor with 0.7 µm pixels, f/1.79 lens, PDAF
  • Ultra-wide: 8 MP sensor, f/2.25 lens, 119° field of view
  • Monochrome: 2 MP sensor, f/2.4 lens
  • LED flash
  • 4K video at 30 fps (tested), 1080p at 60/30 fps, slow motion: 1080p at 120 fps, 720p at 240 fps, time lapse mode

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 3000 test images and more than 2.5 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary


OnePlus Nord CE 5G
102
camera
109
photo
47
zoom
89
video

Pros

  • Generally accurate target exposure indoors and outdoors
  • Generally vivid and pleasant colors
  • Exposure in preview is generally accurate
  • Video exposure adaptation is fast and accurate when scene changes
  • Face tracking in videos is effective
  • Video white balance is accurate in low light

Cons

  • Stills detail is low, especially in low light
  • Noise often visible in stills
  • Ghosting and fusion artifacts in stills
  • Stills AF is slow in most conditions
  • Portrait exposure usually inaccurate at night
  • Pink cast in outdoor videos
  • Strong ghosting and ringing artifacts in videos
  • Scene integrity artifacts in low light videos
  • Residual motion and frame-to-frame sharpness differences often visible in videos

With an overall score of 102, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G lands below most of its competitors in the Advanced segment, slotting in one point under the Realme 8 Pro. It scores six points lower than the original Nord, which is more expensive (but still in the Advanced category): to keep costs lower, the Nord CE 5G drops optical image stabilization and makes due with a less capable chipset.

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G delivers accurate exposure and pleasant color in this high dynamic range scene.

Its Photo score of 109 is mid-pack in the Advanced segment, besting Apple’s iPhone SE 2020 by a single point. The main camera captures accurate exposures with generally vivid, pleasing color, but the score is pulled down by a lack of detail, slow autofocus, and more noise than we like to see.

The Zoom composite score of 47 is solid for this category, and ties the original Nord. Tele performance is a shade less impressive than that phone but still respectable, tying the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G, particularly impressive given the lack of a dedicated tele module. Wide performance is actually a bit better than the original Nord, which scores four points lower, and not far off the pace from the best Advanced devices.

The video score of 89 is near the bottom of the Advanced rankings, though it does beat the Realme 8 Pro by three points. Going by the numbers, the OnePlus Nord CE 5G turns in an acceptable but not barnstorming performance overall. Thanks to its solid exposure score it will capture a nice-looking photo more often than not, and even though some performance areas leave room for improvement, the phone manages to deliver fairly even performance at an attractive price.

Below you can find detailed analyses and image samples for all Photo, Zoom, and Video sub-attributes, along with comparisons with some of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s competitors.

Photo

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G achieves a Photo score of 109. In this section, we take a closer look at each sub-attribute and compare image quality against competitors.

Exposure and Contrast

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

91

111

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (111)

In these tests we analyze target exposure, contrast, and dynamic range, including repeatability across a series of images. Tests are undertaken in a wide range of light conditions, including backlit scenes and low light down to 1 lux. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This chart shows the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s dynamic range at different light levels.

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s dynamic range is wider than the comparison devices in bright to moderate light levels, with its lead shrinking in low light.

Color

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

93

107

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (107)

In these tests we analyze color rendering, skin tones, white balance, and color shading, including repeatability across a series of images. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s color performance in bright light.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, accurate white balance with pleasant skin tones
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, slight yellow-green cast
Realme 8 Pro, slight pink cast with reddish skin tones

Autofocus

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

90

109

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders
Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (109)

In these tests we analyze autofocus accuracy and shooting time, including repeatability, in the lab. We test focus failures, depth of field, and tracking of moving subjects using perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This graph shows autofocus performance of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G in low light (20 lux) compared to the competition.

AF speed and accuracy at 20 lux, on a tripod: OnePlus Nord CE 5G is slower than the reference phones.

Texture

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

87

111

Xiaomi Mi 11
Best: Xiaomi Mi 11 (111)

In these tests we analyze texture on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

This graph shows the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s texture measurements in the lab.

Texture comparison: The level of detail is generally lower than the comparison devices (with some variability) in bright light, and falls precipitously in low light.

Noise

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

66

99

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (99)

In these tests we analyze noise on faces and objects, including objects in motion, in a range of light conditions, using several lab test setups and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s noise performance in low light.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, low light noise
OnePlus Nord CE 5G, crop: high luminance noise
OnePlus Nord 2, low light noise
OnePlus Nord 2, crop: noise well controlled
OnePlus Nord, low light noise
OnePlus Nord, crop: fine luminance noise visible

Bokeh

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

55

80

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (80)

For these tests we switch to the camera’s bokeh or portrait mode and analyze depth estimation, bokeh shape, blur gradient, and repeatability, as well as all other general image quality attributes mentioned above. The score is derived from perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s bokeh simulation outdoors.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G
OnePlus Nord CE 5G, crop: depth estimation artifacts very visible
Realme 8 Pro
Realme 8 Pro, crop: slight depth estimation artifacts
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, crop: slight depth estimation artifacts

Night

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

23

82

Huawei Mate 40 Pro+
Best: Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ (82)

In these tests we shoot a selection of images in pitch-black darkness as well as with city lights in the background providing some illumination. We shoot sample images with the camera at default settings in both flash-auto and flash-off modes. We analyze all image quality attributes but we pay particular attention to exposure, autofocus, and color. We do not test night modes that have to be activated manually.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s night performance in flash-auto mode.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, flash-auto: portraits are sometimes overexposed
Realme 8 Pro, flash-auto: portraits are sometimes underexposed
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, flash-auto: exposure accurate in challenging low-light scenes

Artifacts

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

61

75

Google Pixel 4
Best: Google Pixel 4 (75)

In these tests we check images for optical artifacts such as vignetting, flare, lens softness in the corner, distortion, and chromatic aberrations, as well as for processing artifacts such as ghosting and fusion errors, hue shift, and ringing.

This sample shows artifacts in the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s photos.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, artifacts
OnePlus Nord CE 5G, crop: ghosting

 

Preview

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

48

80

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (80)

In these tests we analyze the quality of the preview image and the differences between preview images and captured images, particularly in terms of exposure, dynamic range, and bokeh effect. We also check the smoothness of the field-of-view changes in the preview image when zooming with both buttons or when using the pinch-zoom gesture.

This graph shows the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s preview performance.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, preview exposure is accurate but dynamic range more limited than final image
OnePlus Nord CE 5G, final image with target exposure as previewed but more highlight detail

Zoom

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G achieves a Zoom score of 47. The Zoom score includes the tele and wide sub-scores. In this section, we take a closer look at how these sub-scores were achieved and compare zoom image quality against competitors.

Wide

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

34

57

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (57)

In these tests we analyze the performance of the ultra-wide camera at several focal lengths from 12 to 20 mm. We look at all image quality attributes, but we pay particular attention to such artifacts as chromatic aberrations, lens softness, and distortion.

These samples show the performance of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s ultra-wide camera in indoor conditions.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, ultra-wide: accurate exposure
OnePlus Nord CE 5G, crop: high noise
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, ultra-wide: some highlight clipping
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, crop: some noise visible
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, ultra-wide: highlights badly clipped
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, crop: noise better controlled

Tele

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

56

140

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (140)

In these tests we analyze all image quality attributes at focal lengths from approximately 40 to 300 mm, paying particular attention to texture and detail. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

These samples show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s tele performance in indoor light with a low zoom setting.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, close range zoom
OnePlus Nord CE 5G, crop: noise lower than references, but detail is also low
Realme 8 Pro, close range zoom
Realme 8 Pro, crop: fine detail is lost, noise is low but visible
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, close range zoom
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, crop: detail is higher but rendering is unnatural from oversharpening, noise is high

Video

The OnePlus Nord CE 5G achieves a Video score of 89. A device’s overall Video score is derived from its performance and results across a range of attributes in the same way as the Photo score. In this section, we take a closer look at these sub-scores and compare video quality against competitors.

In our Video tests we analyze the same image quality attributes as for still images, such as white balance and color rendering, but we also include such temporal aspects as speed, smoothness and stability of exposure, and autofocus.

NOTE: The sample video clips in this section are best viewed at 4K resolution

Exposure and Contrast

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

78

118

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (118)

These video stills show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s video exposure characteristics in outdoor light compared to the competition.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, video still: accurate target exposure on face
Realme 8 Pro, video still: accurate target exposure on face
Oppo Find X3 Pro, video still: accurate target exposure on face

Color

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

77

105

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Best: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (105)

These video stills show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s video color in outdoor light compared to the competition.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, video still: slight pink cast
Realme 8 Pro, video still: accurate color
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, video still: slight green cast

Autofocus

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

75

109

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (109)

These sample clips show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s video autofocus performance.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, face tracking and stablization smooth outdoors

Realme 8 Pro, some visible focus tracking instability

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, some focus instabilities

Texture

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

84

97

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Best: Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (97)

These video stills show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s video texture performance compared to the competition.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, video still: detail is high compared to references (note that this frame is 4K, while comparisons are FHD)
Realme 8 Pro, video still: detail is lower
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, video still: detail is lower

Noise

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

81

105

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Best: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max (105)

These video stills show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s video noise performance compared to the competition.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, video still: noise is high in areas without detail (note that this frame is 4K, while comparisons are FHD)
Realme 8 Pro, video still: noise is slightly visible
Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, video still: noise is slightly visible

Artifacts

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

60

94

Oppo Find X2 Pro
Best: Oppo Find X2 Pro (94)

For video artifacts, we check for the same kinds of artifacts mentioned in the Photo section, along with such video-specific artifacts as frame rate variation in different light conditions, judder effect, and moving artifacts (artifacts such as aliasing, color quantization, and flare can often be more intrusive when moving than in a still image).

This video still shows some of the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s video artifacts.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, video still: ghosting on hand

Stabilization

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

80

102

Huawei P50 Pro
Best: Huawei P50 Pro (102)

In these tests we analyze residual motion when handholding the camera during recording, as well as when walking and running with the camera. We also look for stabilization artifacts such as jello effect, sharpness differences between frames, and frame shift (abrupt changes of framing).

These sample clips show the OnePlus Nord CE 5G’s video stabilization compared to the competition.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G, noticeable sharpness differences between frames

Realme 8 Pro, minor sharpness differences between frames

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, minor sharpness differences between frames

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