Nokia C32 Review: A feast for the eyes, but does it back it up with power?
We’ve been using the newly launched Nokia C32 for a week, here’s what we think about the smartphone.
After its acquisition by HMG Global, Nokia has built a diverse portfolio of products, mostly in the entry-level & budget smartphone categories. The Nokia smartphones we tested in the past turned out to be pretty decent products that can easily hang with the likes of Redmi, Samsung, and others. The recently launched Nokia C32 is priced just under Rs 10,000 and seems to be one of the more attractive options in Nokia’s catalogue. We’ve been using this smartphone for the last week as our daily driver. Here is our in-depth review Nokia C32 review.
Nokia C32 review: Design and Display
Inside the box, you get the smartphone, a power adapter, a USB Type-C charging cable, a clear soft plastic case, a SIM ejector tool, a quick start guide, and a safety info booklet. The C32 is the first Nokia smartphone in this price range to get USB Type-C charging. A welcome addition, which we hope gets incorporated into other Nokia offerings as well.
The highlight of the smartphone is its glass back. You rarely ever get to see a glass panel in this price segment (or even the one above it), but Nokia has somehow pulled it off. It is safe to say that the C32 has the best in-hand feel out of all the devices in this price segment. It is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but a quick wipe with a clean cloth takes care of everything. The camera cutout on the back panel is still made out of the same quality of plastic as the rest of the C-series lineup. There’s a gold ring around the main sensor, matching the gold Nokia branding at the centre of the glass panel.
Holding the phone together is a plastic frame, that houses all the essential ports and keys. Up top, you get the 3.5mm headphone jack while the microphone, USB Type-C port, and speaker grille are housed at the bottom. The SIM tray is placed on the left edge and the volume rocker along with the power key lies on the right edge. The power key also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. It’s pretty quick and responsive but could have been placed a bit higher to accommodate the natural motion of the thumb.
Nokia has gone for a 6.5-inch IPS LCD display on this smartphone. While it may be a smaller unit than the one on C31, it sports the same specs. The 720 x 1600p is a far shout from Full HD, but it is on par with other smartphones in this segment. The bezels around the display get thicker along the chin. The selfie camera is housed in a waterdrop notch which is shallower and wider than the one on C31. We liked the touch response offered by this display. It registered even the lightest touches and provided a nice scrolling experience.
We even watched a bit of video content across different OTT platforms. Even though it doesn’t have a Full HD display, we didn’t mind the quality of images replicated on the screen. The richness of colours and image sharpness was ideal. The speaker, while not too loud, offers a decent audio output. You won’t be reaching for your headphones every time you play something on the phone. Overall, the Nokia C32 is a good smartphone to binge video content.
Nokia C32 review: Performance and Cameras
While Nokia may have gotten the design and styling dead on, what really matters is how the smartphone holds up in day-to-day use. Let’s start with the general specs. Nokia C32 is powered by the Unisoc SC9863A1 SoC, which does not come as a surprise as every entry-level Nokia smartphone is powered by some variation of this chipset. The only difference is that this is 22nm SoC while the others have a 28nm processor. There are two storage options on offer – 64GB and 128GB. Both variants come with 4GB of RAM.
Nokia’s choice of SoC for its budget smartphones continues to be underwhelming. There’s a very noticeable lag in performance while carrying out routine tasks. Switching between apps takes longer than it should. The load time for apps isn’t impressive either. Running multiple power-intensive apps in the background can throttle the speed of the device. Even the pictures shot using the rear camera take some time to process. The gaming performance is passable for games like Candy Crush and Subway Surfers, but we wouldn’t recommend this phone for titles like COD Mobile or Genshin Impact. We ran the Geekbench 6 test on Nokia C32 and it returned a score of 194 points on the single-core test and 820 points on the multi-core test.
You get the stock Android OS experience on Nokia C32. Unlike other C-series smartphones, you get the full version of Android 13 instead of the ‘Go Edition’. There’s a lot of bloatware on the device, which is something you should expect from every budget smartphone. We’d suggest taking some time out and uninstalling these apps before you begin using the smartphone. The stock Android experience on this smartphone is decent. We did notice that features like Magic Eraser and the Blur tool were locked behind the Google One paywall. While other Android manufacturers offer these tools for free on their skins, stock Android users will have to purchase a Google One subscription to use them.
The battery life of this smartphone is very impressive. The 5,000mAh battery unit can easily last more than a day even if you put it to heavy use. We used this device to stream content, play games, browse the web, and use IM apps. We were always left with around 40-50% charge at the end of the day. You don’t have to worry about plugging in the charger every night. While Nokia claims a 3-day battery life on this device, it is only attainable if you use it conservatively.
This year’s Nokia C32 gets a big camera upgrade. The 12MP primary lens on the C31 has been replaced by a 50MP sensor on the C32. There’s a 2MP macro lens on the rear camera array as well. Nokia has gotten rid of the 2MP depth sensor, which is a pretty good call. The selfie camera also gets a small upgrade, with an 8MP sensor replacing the 5MP one.
As you’d expect, the camera performance gets a big boost with these upgrades. The 50MP primary sensor takes decent shots in bright outdoor conditions. One of the biggest issues with smartphone cameras in this price range is that they produce soft images. The Nokia C32 shakes off this reputation and delivers pictures with a good amount of detail in them. The images are sharp with deep colours. The pictures take some time to process once you click them, but the results are quite satisfactory.
Switching to Portrait Mode, we were surprised to find the number of effects on offer. The portrait shots we took using this phone came out better than we expected. The edge detection and background separation were on point. Lowlight photography still remains a struggle for budget smartphones. The shots we took with Night Mode did not do a good job of brightening the subject. The 8MP selfie camera puts up a good performance, though. The pictures may be a tad soft, but they replicate accurate skin tones. While shooting selfies, the image processor has the tendency to make the image more contrasty, especially if it is being shot under artificial lights. Hopefully, Nokia will patch this with an update. We mostly used the front camera for video calls and did not have any issues with it.
The Nokia C32 has a lot of things going for it. The glass back massively elevates the ‘premium factor’ and the upgraded cameras deliver a great performance when compared with other devices in this category. A slightly powerful processor would have made this smartphone THE device to beat in this price range. We’d recommend this device to casual users and buyers who are looking for a secondary/burner phone under Rs 10,000. The Nokia C32 is currently priced at Rs 9,499.
Nokia C32: Pros
Nokia C32: Cons
Could use a better SoC
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