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[REVIEW] Nokia 3.2 strikes the right balance regarding features, experience and price

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Nokia 3.2
HMD Global, the home of Nokia has shown great understanding of the Nigerian market with the introduction of Nokia 3.2. Yes, this is the market that appreciates stylish but budget smartphones. Nokia 3.2 strikes the right balance between features, experience and price.
Nokia 3.2

Nokia 3.2 in the box

Nokia is bullish now. This tells us that the brand will offer bang for the buck devices to recapture its former glory.

The device offers the latest smartphones features such as biometric face unlock and Adaptive Battery, personal interaction via the Google Assistant Button.

Nokia 3.2 also has a large display with a modern waterdrop notch design and a large 4000mAh battery (with 2-day battery life). Don’t get it twisted, Nokia 3.2 offers a stock Android experience with the promise of timely updates.

Nokia 3.2

Nokia 3.2

What! We noticed something – the quad-core SoC at the heart of device the imaging hardware seems less impressive than what we’re now used to seeing at this price level. Has the company cut costs in the right places, or is the Nokia 3.2 just another budget phone that is destined to lay down arms in the face of intense competition? Let’s dive right deeper into our review and find out!

Nokia 3.2 Design:

Definitely, you will find the design appealing. The phone has a polycarbonate unibody with curved sides that extend all the way to the 2.5D curved glass on the front. The rear panel looks like glass and has a reflective finish.

However, it attracts dust particles and smudges rather quickly, and we found this to be more easily visible on the Nokia 3.2’s black variant we tested for this review. Well, Nokia 3.2 comes in a steel grey colour option as well which might be more protective against dust.

With the adoption of polycarbonate for this device, as the user you need to be careful. Yes, the phone’s glossy rear panel gets scratched easily, and we noticed a lot of scuff marks within just a week of using the phone. If you want to prevent this, you’ll have to buy a protective case as the retail package does not include one.

Nokia 3.2

Accessories found in the box

We also noticed the phone has a large profile, which means one-handed usage is not easy to achieve. For instance, the right side has the volume rocker and the power button, which also doubles as a notification light. It is quick different from the power button on the Nokia 4.2, which is surrounded by a ring of light, the power button here has a thin white strip in the middle that lights up when a notification arrives.

Well, we take solace in the fact that it is not as bright as the one on the Nokia 4.2, the power button indicator on the Nokia 3.2 gets the job done just fine.

Google Assistant

There is a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left, a feature that is hard to find on a phone in the sub-N45,000  price segment. Some OEMs are actually teasing phone users with AI-cameras and the price of such devices are outrageous sort of. Now, there is something unique about Nokia 3.2 – the Google Assistant helps you get things done throughout your day. A single press brings up the Google Assistant; while double-pressing the button opens a page populated with contextual information and suggestions based on your activity and location.

Nokia 3.2

Nokia 3.2

Simply press the Google Assistant button to get directions, make calls, listen to music and get quick answers to your questions. In day-to-day scenarios, you might find yourself relying on Google Assistant to:

  • Take a motion picture (which is exclusive to Nokia Phones)
  • Open Pro-Camera (Also exclusive to Nokia Phones)
  • Call/text
  • Check a voicemail
  • Read SMS/text messages
  • Navigate your way to a location
  • Take you to the nearest mall or shop
  • Set your calendar/time
  • Locate the nearest petrol station
  • This is artificial intelligence at work!!
Nokia 3.2

With Android 9 Pie security is top notch in the device

Well, you can choose to disable the Google Assistant button, but you the warning is that can’t remap it to perform any other task.

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Nokia 3.2 comes with Android 9 Pie out of the box

Nokia 3.2 comes with pure, secure, and up-to-date, Android™ 9 Pie reinforced with Android One!

The Nokia 3.2 launches with Android 9 Pie out of the box. It joins the comprehensive line-up of Nokia smartphones in the Android One family, which means it delivers the latest Android innovations and software experiences.

Nokia smartphones with Android One offer great storage and battery life right out of the box and come with three years of monthly security patches and two major OS updates.

Android 9 Pie includes AI-powered features to make your device smarter, faster and adapt to your behaviour as you use it, so your smartphone experience gets better with time.

Secured for productivity

The Nokia 3.2 will receive three years of monthly security patches and two major OS updates, as guaranteed in the Android One program.

In addition, Google Play Protect scans over 50 billion apps per day to keep your phone safe from malware, making the Nokia 3.2 among the most secure phones on the market.

It also comes with easy access to helpful innovative services including the Google Assistant, which helps you get things done throughout the day, as well as Google Photos with free unlimited high-quality photo storage.

The Nokia 3.2 3GB/32GB variant is great for professionals as it is validated by the Android Enterprise Recommended program and comes with a fingerprint sensor at the back of the device for secure access.

Digital Wellbeing

Android 9 Pie features offers Nokia 3.2 users the opportunity to start digital wellness programme. The Google’s full Digital Wellbeing feature allows you to set Wind-Down options thereby limiting the app usage to manage phone addiction.

To use the app:

  • Click on setting
  • Select Digital Wellbeing option
  • Customise a variety of settings

Of note is the Wind-Down mode. It automatically turns your phone screen to grayscale at a targeted time and also disables vibrations and sounds. So, this is a great feature to explore, especially during weekend when the body needs undisturbed rest.

From the Digital Wellbeing dashboard, you can afford to set time limits on individual apps to control usage. You should try it out!

One other peculiar thing about Android 9 Pie which Nokia 3.2 comes with is the ability to analyse your notification preferences. If you consistently swipe away a certain type of notification, it will eventually ask if you would like to stop showing that kind of notification.  This is a great plus to Nokia 3.2 smartphone.

Camera

Nokia 3.2

Camera

The rear camera module is ever so slightly raised, while the fingerprint sensor sits below it. The bottom of this phone has a Micro-USB port and speaker, while the 3.5mm headphone jack can be found at the top.

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On the left, you will also find the SIM tray, which can house two Nano-SIMs and simultaneously a microSD card of up to 400GB capacity.

Nokia 3.2

The USB port

Battery:

The Adaptive Battery feature limits battery usage from apps you don’t use often, and App Actions predicts what you’re about to do so you can get to your next action quickly.

Nokia 3.2 specifications and features

Processor: The Nokia 3.2 packs a 6.26-inch HD+ (720×1520 pixels) display with a 19:9 aspect ratio and a waterdrop notch at the top. This new phone is powered by the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 processor.

Variants: The Nokia 3.2 comes in two variants — the base variant with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage and a higher-end variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage priced at N43,000 which is the one we have for review.

Connectivity: For connectivity, there’s 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS/ A-GPS, FM radio, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a Micro-USB port with OTG support. Authentication is handled by face recognition and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Nokia 3.2

Nokia 3.2 comes with 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS/ A-GPS,

Meanwhile, the Nokia 3.2 2GB RAM variant misses a fingerprint sensor. HMD Global ought to know that this omission on a phone of that design in 2019 is a bit on a low side.

Light sensor: The phone comes with ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and accelerometer. There is Qualcomm aptX audio codec support, which means as a user you can listen to high-quality music over wireless headphones.

Nokia 3.2 packs a single 13-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.2 aperture and 1.12 micron pixels. We expected to see this phone with a secondary depth sensor, as nearly all phones in this segment offer dual rear cameras.

Selfies are handled by a fixed-focus 5-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 aperture and 77-degree field of view.

Simply put, Nokia 3.2’s camera app is quite basic with little to explore in terms of photography tools, but thankfully, there is Google Lens integration and it worked fine.

Software: The Nokia 3.2 is a part of the Android One programme and runs Android 9 Pie as stated earlier. Our review unit ran the May security patch, which is an update of the February 2019 Android security patch.

When it comes to software, the Nokia 3.2 outclasses many of its rivals with the promise of assured OS updates for at least two years. The phone will continue to receive security updates for up to three years, which not many phones in this price bracket can claim to offer.

Nokia 3.2

Nokia 3.2 has a good screen size for movie fans

As for the user experience, well, stock Android certainly has a lot of fans for its relatively clean design and no-frills, no-fuss approach. Another advantage is that the Nokia 3.2 won’t annoy users with lots of bloatware and pesky ads, something Android skins such as MIUI are criticised for.

The Nokia 3.2 offers the usual set of Android tools including Adaptive Battery, Digital Wellbeing, Ambient Display, and Adaptive Brightness. Stock Android means users miss out on a tonne of features available on custom skins like the ability to run two instances of popular apps like WhatsApp, a bike mode, and a dedicated gaming mode.

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Nokia 3.2 performance, cameras, and battery life

The Nokia 3.2 offers a large 6.26-inch HD+ (720×1520 pixels) display with a density of 269ppi. But the large display of colour reproduction wasn’t all that good. Also colours didn’t look punchy on this screen, and even though the brightness was decent, the reflective panel was slightly not as we expected.

Using the phone you will discover that regular productivity and social media apps are running without a hitch. But the performance limitations of the quad-core SoC become apparent while playing games such Asphalt 9.

To sum up, Nokia 3.2 is suited for multitasking or gaming but not for heavy users in this bracket.

The fingerprint sensor on our review unit worked well. The Navigation gestures are supported.

As far as camera experience goes, the Nokia 3.2 offers entry-level imaging hardware with just the basic camera controls. The camera UI offers just three basic modes at the bottom — photo, video, and square.

The ‘more’ button will let you choose between panorama, time-lapse, and Google Lens. There is also a beauty mode, that lets you adjust the strength of beautification by moving a slider, but there are no fine-grained controls. At the top, you can find the HDR, timer and flash buttons.

The camera performance of Nokia 3.2 is just decent for the price; it did not struggle with locking focus, a problem which plagued the Nokia 4.2, and we also didn’t have to deal with the same slow shutter issue.

Indoor photos taken in well-lit conditions looked decent, but they weren’t particularly sharp.

Nokia 3.2

Sample of Indoor photo snapped with Nokia 3.2

Nokia 3.2

A sample of outdoor photo snapped with Nokia 3.2

Nokia 3.2

A sample of outdoor photo snapped with Nokia 3.2

The exposure slider is a little too aggressive at brightening or dimming a frame, which sometimes made it difficult to capture a photo in which the subject did not appear unnecessarily dark or bright.

Selfies captured by the 5-megapixel front camera on the Nokia 3.2 can be classified as average at best. The front camera tended to brighten photos by default and did a fair bit of skin smoothening without even using the beautification filter.

Nokia 3.2

Picture taken with the (selfie) front camera

As far as videos go, the front and rear cameras on the Nokia 3.2 can both record at full-HD and HD resolutions. Videos shot by the rear camera had decent clarity and colours, but they are plagued with jerkiness due to lack of any stabilisation technology.

The battery of the Nokia 3.2 is its key highlight, especially as power remains a huge issue in this clime. With regular usage that involved Internet surfing, social media usage, occasional calls, around two hours of music playback, and a little bit of casual gaming, the phone easily went beyond a day of usage. We found that the Nokia 3.2 still had around 30 percent of its power left in the battery at the end of the day. Great, right?

Verdict

We firmly believe that HMD Global delivered Nokia 3.2 for those looking for a phone with a large display suitable for multimedia consumption, and also one that packs a large battery that easily lasts over a day. And even though the display quality could have been better, the Nokia 3.2 delivers on those two counts. The Secured and Android timely updates are great bonuses for a budget smartphone and we believe that at the price range of N43,000 (depending on the retail shop and one’s bargaining power), the Nokia 3.2 (which is the higher-end version with 3GB of RAM) is a match for the value the competition offers in this market.

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