OnePlus seems to be incredibly proud of the Nord CE 5G design, and there are a couple of reasons why. Sure, it does look and feel a lot like the original Nord but it's sensibly slimmer and lighter at the same time. The company points out that this is the slimmest phone they've released ever since the OnePlus 6T. And in doing so, they didn't decrease battery capacity, at least compared to the proper Nord. In fact, it has gone up to 4,500 mAh.
The Nord CE 5G tips the scale at just 170g and measures just 7.9mm in thickness. The design itself is also quite simple, as OnePlus points out. No fancy camera modules or curves. The only thing that stands out is the Blue Void color and the soft-touch, matte finish. The back is still made of plastic, but it's not readily apparent that it's not glass.
Probably the best part is that fingerprints don't stick to the back surface. We can confirm this on the Blue Void version, at least. And as for the Blue Void color itself, it's gorgeous. The gradient is mostly uniform and changes color drastically towards the edges - the blue becomes even deeper and goes as far as purple.
Since the phone's main body is rather thin, the vertically-stacked camera module is sticking out prominently. The sides on the back are slightly curved for a more comfortable grip. The matte finish on the back adds to that, and this is one of the grippiest phones we've handled in a while.
The front doesn't deviate much from the 2021 aesthetics with an off-centered punch-hole for the front-facing camera and decently thin bezels all around, including the bottom one. The cutout for the camera could have been a tad smaller, though, and as usual, it eats away a significant chunk of the screen real estate.
The core of the side frame is supposed to be made of aluminum while the material you are able to touch is glass fiber-reinforced polycarbonate or, in simpler words, - a slightly altered plastic. The blue glossy finish goes well with the back panel's color, and it's not apparent that it's made of plastic right away.
The left is where you'd find the volume button and the dual SIM card tray (no microSD slot). The right side of the frame is reserved for the power button, while the bottom sees the return of the 3.5mm audio jack. There's also the loudspeaker grille and the USB-C connector next to the jack.
On the contrary to the power button, however, the fingerprint reader's placement is rather sub-optimal. It's placed a bit too close to the bottom edge of the screen. Just a tad higher wouldn't have required bending your thumb too much.
The OnePlus Nord CE 5G may not be particularly impressive when it comes to materials used for the build, but it's surely one of the better-designed devices out there. It's light, thin, grippy and comfortable to hold, and more importantly, it feels solid in hand.