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OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite vs Samsung Galaxy A54: What’s the difference?

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite is the latest tempting budget phone from OnePlus, representing the cheapest way to get into the OnePlus ecosystem at just £299 while offering premium specs like a large 120Hz display, a large battery life, fast charging and a high-res main rear camera.

The question is, how does it compare to Samsung’s popular Galaxy A54? The A54 boasts a gorgeous AMOLED display, Samsung’s latest mid-range processor, a capable 50MP lens and all-day battery life, after all.  

Crucially, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite comes in at a whopping £150 less than Samsung’s £449 mid-ranger, so can it really compete with Samsung’s best? You might actually be surprised. 

Design and screen

When it comes to general design, the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite and Samsung Galaxy A54 don’t look all that different, with both sporting the same general look, down to the minimalistic camera housing on the rear – though the Nord CE 3’s cameras take up much more room than the A54s. 

Instead, the differences in design between the two smartphones are more nuanced. 

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G in-hand
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The 8.2mm-thick Galaxy A54 has a flat design on both the front and rear much like the Galaxy S23, whereas the 8.3mm-thick OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite has gone down the curvy route with the combination of a flat display and a slight 2.8-degree bend on the back cover to make it fit that little bit nicer in hand. 

Considering the large 6.72-inch display on offer from the Nord, that’s certainly appreciated. 

There’s also a difference in the materials used, with the Nord CE 3 Lite opting for an all-plastic body while the A54 hopes to look and feel that little bit more premium with a glass rear and polycarbonate body. 

It seems like Samsung has this one in the bag then, but the plastic of the Nord CE 3 Lite isn’t standard – it’s produced using a coloured injection moulding process that gives it a much firmer feel in the hand than standard plastic. It’s still not quite glass-level, but it does feel very nice.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on grass
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

That’s complimented by the gorgeous, vibrant Pastel Green finish, and there’s a more muted Chromatic Grey finish also available, though Samsung also has that front covered with the A54’s Lime, Violet, Graphite and White finishes. 

Elsewhere, both phones sport a USB-C port for charging, a power button and volume controls, though the OnePlus also sports a 3.5mm headphone jack – a feature that didn’t make it to the A54 despite still being a popular feature of many budget and mid-range smartphones. The A54 does have IP67 water resistance though. 

The two companies also differ when it comes to display, not only in terms of sheer size but the tech on offer. The 6.72-inch Nord CE 3 Lite measures the larger of the two, but size isn’t everything. While the Galaxy A54 has a smaller 6.4-inch display, it’s an AMOLED panel that delivers much better colours and deeper blacks than the LCD display of the Nord CE 3 Lite.

Samsung Galaxy A54 in-hand
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The two are fairly evenly matched with both offering a 120Hz refresh rate, though Samsung’s panel is brighter with a 1000nit peak brightness compared to 680 nits of the Nord CE 3 Lite.

So, it really comes down to whether you want a smaller, higher-quality panel or a larger display that might not look quite as good when watching movies on Netflix. 


The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite has a main 108MP lens with fairly decent specs like a 1/1.67-inch sensor, a fairly wide f/1.75 aperture and 9-in-1 pixel binning tech that delivers large 1.92um pixels for more detail and better light capture. The high resolution also allows the phone to offer a digital 3x lens, though OnePlus says this is much more than simply cropping in on a full-res 108MP image.

That’s flanked by a 2MP macro able to take photos as little as 4cm away, and a 2MP depth assist camera to improve portrait photography.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite camera module
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

That certainly sounds like a decent setup, but the eagle-eyed among you will notice that there isn’t an ultra-wide camera. That’s a conscious decision on OnePlus’ part to hit the tempting £299 price point, and rather than sticking in a low-quality ultrawide, it spent more time and money on the main sensor – aka the one people use the most often. 

It makes sense to me – I’d rather a single higher quality lens than a smattering of terrible lenses – but I’m sure there will be some that hate the idea. 

The Samsung Galaxy A54, on the other hand, sports a main 50MP sensor with OIS, a fairly wide f/1.8 aperture and PDAF autofocus tech that I was fairly impressed with in my review, particularly when it came to colour and detail. It has the signature vibrancy of Samsung phones that aren’t quite true to life but great for sharing on social media.

Camera module on the Samsung Galaxy A54
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That’s backed up by a 12MP 123-degree ultrawide lens for capturing more of a shot, and a 5MP macro lens similar to that of the OnePlus.

It seems Samsung is the winner here when it comes to sheer versatility, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Nord CE 3 Lite actually performs.   


Performance is one of the main areas where the two smartphones really differ. 

The OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite packs a Snapdragon 695 5G chipset, which while decent, was first announced back in 2021. Compared to the Exynos 1380 of the Galaxy A54 that was announced just weeks prior to the smartphone’s reveal, it’s looking a little bit long in the tooth. 

I’ve not yet benchmarked the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite so I can’t say for sure, but I’m expecting it to fall short of the Galaxy A54’s newer, more power-efficient chipset. Whether that’ll be noticeable in day-to-day use, however, is another story.

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite on a table
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

That’s paired with 8GB of RAM as standard across both smartphones, a particular plus given the Nord CE 3 Lite’s cheap price tag, with the Nord also able to deliver an extra 8GB of RAM using spare ROM in particularly power-heavy tasks. 

That’s paired with 128GB with the Nord, while the Galaxy A54 can be picked up with either 128- or 256GB of storage. Both have a microSD card slot that can expand storage up to 1TB, so don’t feel pressured to get more storage at purchase.   

Both have downward-firing stereo speaker support that should make watching videos feel a little bit more immersive, but OnePlus has taken things a step further with what it calls an ultra volume mode that allows the speaker to go ‘up to 200%’ in particularly loud environments. It’s a first for a OnePlus phone, but chances are it’s not the last time we’ll see it. 

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite's 200% volume mode
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Software-wise, both phones ship with Android 13, though the A54 comes with Samsung’s OneUI 5.1 and the Nord CE 3 Lite comes with OnePlus’ OxygenOS 13.1. 

Battery life should be fairly equal between the two smartphones with both sporting a large 5,000mAh battery. However, OnePlus has the edge with 67W SuperVooc charging that delivers a full charge in 41 minutes, compared to the 25W charging of the Galaxy A54 that I’ve found takes around 90 minutes for a full charge. 

Early thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy A54 is more capable in most areas compared to the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, but considering it costs £150 more, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. 

What’s most surprising is that it’s not a clear-cut winner, with OnePlus managing to compete with much more premium smartphones with a nice design, large display, a solid main camera and some of the fastest charging I’ve seen at the price point, though I’ll withhold my final thoughts until I’ve reviewed the OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite in full. 

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