itel S32 Review: affordable dual selfie camera phone

We have had the itel S32 with us here at MobilityArena for about two weeks now and put it to use in a number of scenarios. Our review is ready and so is my verdict. Before we dive into the review proper, we shall have a look at the major pros and cons of this budget smartphone.

itel S32 review - itel S32 in hand

itel S32 Review: Quick Pros And Cons

Key FeaturesCons
Good visual appealCameras struggle in poor lighting
Rear camera takes good landscape photos
Good battery life

itel S32 Review: Hardware/Design

itel S32 unboxing photos phone rear

The itel S32 is a solidly built smartphone with 2.5D curved display. I found it quite pleasing to the eyes the first time I set my eyes on it, and I still find it good-looking till now, so I wasn’t crushing. Others I have showed it to also think that it has a rather nice design.

itel S32 Review: Software

itel s32 dual selfie camera

itel has customised the software a little bit. The icons and drop-down menu do not have the stock Android look, though the Settings menu has been largely untouched. However, when you get to the Update menu, you will find that heavy customisation has been done there with a bright red interface.

Underneath that, the S32 runs Android 7 Nougat.

itel S32 Review: Network, Telephony

The S32 is a 3G smartphone (the S32 LTE has 4G) with dual-SIM functionality. The phone’s Network Mode can peg to 2G and 3G, and has an AUTO mode as well that allows the phone to switch between 2G and 3G depending on prevailing network conditions.

Phone calls are okay on the S32. Nothing bad, and nothing outstanding. We have found nothing to complain about.

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Travelling to the US? The S32 does not support US networks’ GSM bands 850 MHz and 1900MHz but it will work on 3G networks that support band 2100MHz.

itel S32 Review: Display and Multimedia

The S32 has a bright display. Sunlight legibility isn’t so good though, but then there are not many smartphones in this price range that have good sunlight legibility. You have to crank the brightness all the way up to have any chance at using it in the tropical sun.

One great feature is the ability to turn on Blue-ray eye protection to reduce strain on your eyes by blocking harmful blue light.

We watched online videos on the 5.5-inch display of the S32 and it handled them well. Audio quality over headphones is good. The maximum loudness is okay but isn’t so high that you need one of those “possible ear damage” warnings for.

BoomPlay is built in as the default music player. In addition to being a good music player, the app is great for discovering new music – local music especially – and allows you to both stream and download tracks.

Downloading tracks require that you either become a Premium subscriber or you make a purchase. Purchases can be made via recharge card, phone airtime, Paga or PesaPal. Streaming is free of charge besides your mobile data or WiFi costs. Streaming music over a stable 3G connection is smooth and without issues. BoomPlay is great but annoys me with its constant notifications that seem impossible to turn off. Just give the user control over notifications, and I would be fine with it.

The app now lets you send and receive files, and even share the app itself to another device, without using data. Yes; that reminds me of Xendar. Who is complaining though, as long as no intellectual rights were violated?

itel S32 Review: Photography

itel S32 review dual selfie camera

itel S32 dual selfie camera

Let’s have a look at the dual selfie camera first. Here are some sample photos taken with it. The first is a day-time outdoor selfie, and the second was taken indoors around 9am.

Also read:  itel S32 hands-on review and photos

itel s32 dual selfie camera mo in car

itel s32 dual selfie camera mo ozone

As selfie cameras go, the S32’s selfie camera does well in good lighting, even though you will see that unpleasant artificial processing in photos taken, but struggles in low light situation.

itel S32 rear camera

On to the rear camera and we have sample photos too. The first was taken at dusk, while the second was taken indoors at around 9am.

itel s32 rear camera mega chicken dusk

itel s32 rear camera ozone indoor

The main camera is quite decent in its class, and particularly has good colour reproduction. It takes good landscape photographs.

With both cameras, the photos taken are adequate for sharing to Instagram or other social networks, which is what the majority of smartphone users use selfies and photos for. They are okay cameras. The rear camera displays flashes of brilliance under the right conditions. Of course, bear in mind that this is a budget smartphone. It is difficult to put in great cameras at this price point.

itel S32 Review: Multitasking/Performance

With a Quad-Core 1.3GHz processor and just 1GB RAM, performance is not great. You will notice the lag when you launch an app. You will notice it between the moment you tap a text field and when the keyboard pops up. But it isn’t unusable. It works. This is not a smartphone for people who have enjoyed 3GB RAM devices – unless circumstances force you to use it.

If you have never experienced a more powerful processor and more RAM, you won’t know the difference anyway, so you are good. Do note that it has consequences. For example, some WhatsApp messages did not come in until we opened up WhatsApp. That is a consequence of the low RAM.

However, the phone never once threw up any out-of-memory error in the two weeks it has been with us.

If you love benchmark figures, here are the best scores we recorded on the itel S32:

  • AnTuTu: 17,169
  • Geekbench: 278 Sigle-Core Score / 755 Multi-Core Score
  • 3DMark: 1,924 Ice Storm Extreme
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Internal storage is only 16GB, which means that if you save a lot of images and videos, you will need to put a micro-SD card in the phone.

itel S32 Review: Battery life

There is no fast battery charging built in, so it takes about 4 hours to charge the 3000mAh battery up from almost empty. I got it up from 19% to 68% in 2 hours the last time I plugged it in.

Battery life of the S32 is quite good. You won’t find the need to run around with your charger.

itel S32 Review: Final Words

One quirk we faced with the S32 was that whenever we woke up the display, we often got a prompt that said, “Do not cover the top of the screen” with instructions to press the power and Volume Up buttons to dismiss it. This happens even though our hands were not covering that area. The message also popped up whether or not we used the protective case with the phone.

Besides that, the itel S32 has performed as expected of a smartphone in its class and with its specifications. It looks better than many mobiles in its class. Actually, it looks more expensive than it really is. If you have a budget of N32,000 and want a smartphone that has some visual appeal and good cameras, this is one.

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Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

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