With the Nord CE, OnePlus has kept things rather simple in the camera department and thank god for that. We are low-key tired of reviewing 2MP macro-dedicated cameras that serve no other purpose than pumping the specs numbers. These cameras are just not equipped for quality macro shots - low resolution, no OIS and no AF in most cases. At least the 2MP depth sensor on the Nord CE helps with the faux bokeh effect.
Anyway, a 64MP primary sensor does most of the heavy lifting. The relatively big 1/1.73" sensor with 0.8µm pixels is paired with an f/1.8 lens, no OIS. The ultrawide camera uses the common (and tiny) 8MP 1/4.0" sensor with 1.12µm pixels. The aperture is f/2.3 while the viewing angle is advertised as 119-degree.
The selfie cam sitting in the cutout is 16MP with f/2.5 aperture, and the sensor measures 1/3.0" in size adopting 1.0µm pixels.
The camera app doesn't stray too much from the Android's typical camera menus - swiping left and right cycles between the different camera modes. The additional camera settings can be found in the upper-right corner of the viewfinder, while the rest of the camera modes that you don't see in the carousel can be accessed by swiping upwards from the bottom of the viewfinder.
A Pro mode is also available, giving you all the control you'd need over the focus, white balance, exposure, iso, shutter speed and there's also a histogram to help you with the exposure balance.
The daylight samples taken with the main camera are about the average of the price class. There is a good level of detail and a wide dynamic range. There's also no readily apparent noise.
These photos are not great by any measure. We spotted the occasional oversharpening - such as around the window frames - but this doesn't affect the overall image quality negatively.
The bigger issue is that the Nord CE main cam consistently produces daylight images with a cooler white balance, which results in a distinct color tinge across the entire image - especially noticeable with whites, such as the building facades and the clouds.
Quality rapidly deteriorates once you go indoors. The photos are softer and lack clarity, but that's all but expected in this class.
Using the full 64MP resolution bears no advantages except maybe enlarging finer details. But this shooting in this mode comes at the cost of overall sharpness, increased noise and larger file sizes.
There's a toggle for 2x zoom, but it's just a crop from the main camera. Expectedly, the results are far from ideal and even further than a proper telephoto quality. The photos are very soft if you examine them from up close. However, the colors and dynamic range are still good.
Overall, these photos are what you'd expect to get in this segment. Probably the only competing device that stands out with its zooming capabilities is the Realme 8 Pro with its advertised 3x lossless zoom, which isn't exactly lossless but does its job quite well.
The commonly used 8MP sensor is hardly a novelty. We'd rate the camera's overall performance as average for the class.
The photos are not very sharp, and the dynamic range is not very wide. There's also a drastic change in color rendition compared to the main camera. The ultrawide unit produces considerably more saturated colors with somewhat of an unnatural look.
In stark comparison, the competition in this class does a better job of managing the noise and rendering sharper subjects.
The low-light performance of this Nord CE's main camera is slightly below average. Contrast and noise are okay, but the photos are lacking in clarity. Light sources are captured well - without much clipping - and shadows are okay.
The Night mode offers some improvement by brightening up the shadows considerably, boosting contrast and sharpening up the image overall.
Unfortunately, the end results don't look very natural - especially the colors - and taking each photo takes a couple of extra seconds. However, we'd still recommend using this mode for all of your low-light photos.
There's no Night mode to go with the 2x zoom, so you just get a worse-looking crop from the center of the main camera's default Photo mode. This means the same processing plus more noise and even softer-looking images.
After dark, the photos by the ultrawide camera come out fuzzy with low contrast and saturation and as if they are out of focus.
The Night mode attempts to fix some of the issues, brightening up and sharpening the photos and bumping up the contrast. However, the results end up looking quite artificial, and the increased contrast comes at the expense of some highlight clipping.
Time for some more pixel-peeping with our photo compare tool where you can see how the OnePlus Nord CE 5G compares to its rivals in capturing our test posters.
Portrait photos shot by the Nord CE are unsatisfactory, to say the least. Pretty much all of the competition captures better-looking bokeh photos. The ones below lack sharpness, fine detail, have prominent noise and the skin tone comes out a bit too pale. The interesting part is that there's almost no difference whether the photos have been taken in broad daylight, close to a window or in a poorly lit environment. On the bright side, the subject is well-exposed, the edge detection algorithm is okay, and the dynamic range is wide.
Selfies taken by the OnePlus Nord CE are very good. There's plenty of fine detail and they offer a wide dynamic range.
The selfie portrait mode is okay, too, even though they are slightly softer. The subject edge detection works well, too.
The OnePlus Nord CE supports video recording up to 2160p@30fps, and it has EIS for that mode too. Recording with the ultrawide camera is also possible, but you'd have to switch to 1080p because the tiny 8MP sensor can't shoot 4K videos.
The main camera's 4K footage looks sufficiently sharp, has quite a bit of detail and has a nice contrast. Dynamic range is wide too - no clipped highlights and shadows aren't too dark; they still hold a fair amount of detail. There's hardly any noise too, and the colors are vivid and pleasant.
The ultrawide video is understandably softer - due to the resolution and the nature of ultrawide lenses. Still, contrast and colors are fine.
As we've already mentioned, EIS is available in 4K mode too, and it looks good too. There's minimal shakiness. Still, we would have appreciated a separate toggle that lets you turn off the EIS when you are recording videos on a tripod or similar because the EIS crops the field of view.
Once you are done with the real-world examples, take a closer look at our video compare tool to see how the OnePlus Nord CE 5G stacks against the competition.