The Nokia 3.2 exudes simplicity outside. It feels durable, runs stock Android 9 Pie, and has a beefy battery to keep the lights on. But what is it like using it on a day-to-day basis? This Nokia 3.2 review is vintage Mobility Arena and we hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed crafting it.
First announced in February along with the Nokia 4.2, the Nokia 3.2 finally made its way to stores around the world in March 2019. It is a budget Android smartphone that seeks to stand out in a market that is extremely crowded. Let’s find out what it has to offer.
Nokia 3.2 Review: Quick Specs
- Body: Polycarbonate shell;
- Screen: 6.26-inch, 720 x 1520 pixels, 19:9 apsect ratio, IPS LCD with a notch.
- Rear Camera: 13MP, f/2.2 auto-focus lens; LED flash; 1080@30fps video recording,
- Front Camera: 5MP fixed focus lens; 1080p@30fps video recording
- Chipset: Snapdragon 429 platform, octa-core CPU clocked at 1.8 GHz, Adreno 506 GPU
- Memory: 2/16 GB or 3/32 GB, plus dedicated microSD slot for up to 400GB expansion
- OS: Pure Android 9 Pie;
- Battery: 4,000mAh, with10W charging
- Connectivity: Dual SIM (4G), Bluetooth 4.2, GPS/GLONASS, Wi-Fi b/g/n, FM radio, microUSB 2.0
- Colors: Black; Steel.
- Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner (on 32GB model only). LED light on power button.
Nokia 3.2 Review: In the box
Opening up the box, we find the following items inside:
- the phone itself (our review unit is the 2GB/16GB model in colour black)
- SIM ejector tool.
- pamphlets, including Quick Start Guide.
- 3.5mm audio headset.
- USB cable.
- 5V2A charger.
Nokia 3.2 Review: Quick Pros And Cons
Before we dive into the review proper, starting with the major pros and cons of this device.
- durable, lightweight polycarbonate build
- beautiful display
- smooth pure Android software performance
- great battery life, plus fast charging
- guaranteed software updates for 2 years anmd monthly security updates for 3 years
- available internal storage is low
Nokia 3.2 Review: The Hardware And Design
The combination of the polycarbonate shell, rounded edges, and the edge-to-edge waterdrop display of the Nokia 3.2 gives it a classy look. But it also feels like it is built to be durable and gives the impression that you don’t have to worry about the phone falling apart even under strenuous use.
The polycarbonate is a fingerprint magnet though.
The volume and power buttons are on the right edge. There is a hardware Google Assistant button on the other side. Both the power and Google Assistant buttons are assymetrical in position.
One interesting feature of the power button on the right edge of the phone is that it lights up when you plug in the phone to charge. It “breathes” when there is a missed call or other notification waiting for you. It is both cool and useful.
A 3.5mm audio jack slot is positioned at the top right edge. At the bottom edge of the phone area microphone hole, USB port, and loudspeaker grills.
Nokia 3.2 Review: The Software
The Nokia 3.2 runs pure Android OS – Android the way Google wants it. There is no custom user interface here. And it works efficiently.
Smartphone users who are used to all the bells and whistles of various custom UIs may not like the simplicity of stock Android, but then that is a personal thing. The bottomline is that it works efficiently.
The Nokia 3.2 has no bloatware. The only pre-installed apps are Google apps. As a matter of fact, using it is like using a Google Pixel. It also means that it will get 2 major Android updates. That means the Nokia 3.2 will get Android Q this year and Android R in 2020.
In addition, it will get monthly security updates for 3 years, so your Nokia 3.2 will stay secure till 2022.
The phone supports split-screen, so you can use two apps on the screen at the same time. I particularly love the Wind Down feature that enables the user set a time when the phone automatically turns off notifications and changes the screen to grayscale for that period each day.
I also like how Android 9 is able to adapt to my notifications preferences. For example, if I constantly swipe away notifications from a certain app, the software will ask me if I want to stop seeing that particular notification, and take action depending on my response. The option to set time limits on individual apps is also available as part of ANdroid 9’s Digital WellBeing suite.
Nokia 3.2 Review: Network And Telephony
Dual SIM with both SIMs supporting 4G networks. However, you can have 4G active on only one at a time. And, yes; it supports Glo’s LTE band 28(700), though the network is currently rolling out 4G on band 3(1800) also.
Call quality is good and the phone holds on to network signals well, as far as we can see.
Nokia 3.2 Review: Playing Music and Video
The Nokia 3.2 has an LCD display that is 6.26 inches in size and with a resolution of 720 x 1520 pixels and of 19:9 aspect ratio. It isn’t a high density display on paper, but it is a clear and beautiful one. And it is smooth. There is a drop notch on it.
We are not great fans of the notch, but millions of people either love it or do not care, so all is well with the world.
Music playback is good as well. There is no built-in music player, though you can play music through Files. Google’s default file manager. It offers you Play-Pause-Skip controls, but that is all. If you want more control over your music play, you can download and install a music player of your choice.
The same goes for video: there is no dedicated video player, but you can play them through Google Files. This gives you limited control too, so you will need to visit the Play Store for a video player of your choice should you want more features.
We are hazarding a guess that this lack of dedicated media players is to keep app storage space down and let users decide whether or not they really need dedicated players.
There is an FM Radio pre-installed, and it requires a 3.5mm cable plugged in.
Nokia 3.2 Review: Photography
How do the cameras on the Nokia 3.2 perform? We have samples for you to examine and draw your own conclusions. Don’t forget to click on them for larger samples. First, here are samples from the 13 MP rear camera.
And it is time to check out the 5 MP, fixed focus selfie cam:
Nokia 3.2 Review: Multitasking And Performance
In regular use, the Nokia 3.2 runs smoothly, partly thanks to the fact that it runs pure Android OS without any extra layer of a custom user interface to impact performance. Using and switching between apps is a generally smooth experience. It has been a while we found an Android smartphone with 2GB RAM this smooth and pleasurable to use.
The one sore point of the Nokia 3.2 2GB/16GB model is how all the user gets out of the box is 6GB. The operating system and pre-installed apps take up a whopping 10GB of the 16GB specified space. A good micro-SD card alleviates the pain, but we would be much happier if the user got at least 10GB out of the box. Thankfully, you can use cards of up to 400GB storage capacity.
The hardware Google Assistant button is a feature that Nokia seems to be embracing and it is here on the left edge of the 3.2. It is the only button on that edge. Instead of saying, “Hey Google” to activate Assistant, just push the button to do that. Press and hold it to have Google listen to you talk. Yes; like push-to-talk. You can se it to make search queries, set reminders, and execute other tasks.
For example, I hold the button and say, “Take a picture”. It launches the camera app, and activates a 3-2-1 countdown, after which it takes a picture all by itself. And it understands the difference between asking it to take a picture and asking it to take a selfie. When I push the button and say, “Take a selfie”, it launches the selfie camera, counts down and shoots. The Google Assistant button is a cool and nifty feature.
For security, there are face unlock, PIN, and password as options. If you want a fingerprint reader, you have to buy the 3GB/32GB model.
Nokia 3.2 Review: Battery Life
The Nokia 3.2’s 4000mAh battery is not only comforting on paper. In everyday use, you will find it convenient as well, lasting you a whole day if you are the average user, and perhaps two full days if you are a less intensive user. The built-in Adaptive Battery feature is really useful and helps to keep power drain to the barest minimum.
It is a good thing that Nokia included a 5V2A charger for fast charging. This speeds up the first 30 minutes of charging a bit, so you get 30% battery charge within that period. Full charging happens in a little over 2 hours. It isn’t the fastest of quick charging, but Quick Charge 1.0 is better than no quick charge at all.
Battery performance is one of the strong points of the Nokia 3.2. Once fully charged, you can generally go about your day without fear of your battery running out.
Nokia 3.2 Review: Why should you buy it?
So, why should you buy the Nokia 3.2? It offers simplicity inside and outside, a smooth user experience, thanks to pure Android OS, the guarantee of software updates and security patches that is hard to find from competing brands, solid battery life, good photography, and hardware durability.
We’d like to give this a 4/5 MobilityArena rating, but the lack of a fingerprint scanner on this 16GB variant robs it of that one point.
At a price of ₦40,000 (or about $139 internationally), it is a little pricier than competing products, but it does offer performance and value that you won’t get from most of them, so it is fair game. This is as close to the Google Pixel experience as you will get at this price point.
Other Nokia 3.2 Resources
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.