The 4G smartphone market has been crowded by midrangers and expensive flagships and Itel wants to break this monotony through the budget Itel S32 LTE. The phone is actually an upgrade to the 3G Itel S32 they released earlier this year and it boasts of faster connectivity for internet browsing, downloads, uploads and upgraded RAM. You can read our unboxing and first impressions here. Before we get it into it here are its specifications in brief:
- 2GB RAM
- 16 GB internal storage
- 8MP primary camera
- Dual front-facing cameras: 8MP and 2MP
- 4G LTE Support
- 1280 x 720 (HD) screen resolution
- 3000mAh battery capacity
- Android 7.0 Nougat
Now let’s dive in and see if it’s worth your money.
4G LTE CONNECTIVITY
This was a necessary move from Itel since the world is heading for LTE and the OEM doesn’t want to be left behind. The 4G cellular signal was pretty strong and it delivered reliable data speeds wherever I was, especially in areas where the coverage was not the best.
There are many reasons to upgrade to 4G but of the most important ones is to get a faster web connection when you’re not on office Wi-Fi. Also, now that most Kenyan Telcos have 4G networks in a good number of counties this phone wants you to take advantage of that without you breaking the bank.
However, the phone lacks band 28 that supports Faiba 4G. We tried using a Faiba sim card but it failed to even show the network signal.
The 3000mAh battery the phone packs had some impressive stamina as regular use made it last all day. This is after opening multiple chrome tabs, watching Youtube, streaming music, playing games, taking photos, emails and heavy social media. I had to plug it in by the time I was retiring to bed, thus two-day battery life is not achievable.
The Itel S32 LTE comes in a 16:9 ratio display making the phone look wider than the trending 18:9 ratio that everyone seems to be jumping on. Though people with small hands will struggle with one hand operations on the 5.5-inch display, you’ll be glad since you get to enjoy media such as videos very well.You get a screen with a resolution of 720p, which is acceptable for a phone at this price.
Audio is served by a single speaker at the bottom, the speaker produces good audio when you’re listening to music or watching a video and it doesn’t get distorted at loud volumes. The earphones provided have decent sound quality and will suit you well but if you’re an audiophile, I’d suggest getting premium earphones.
At the back is an 8MP shooter with an LED flash. I kept my expectations low considering it’s target market but I was surprised by the pictures it took. Its capabilities are worth the money as the phone takes good photos despite the pedestrian camera specs thanks to HDR and speedy image processing.
The phone also packs a couple of settings to play with from low light, pro, beauty and panorama together with AR like filters. The dual selfie camera packs an 8MP selfie camera and a 2MP wide angle lens for group selfies. You can toggle between the solo selfie or the wide selfie for group selfies. Some of the main camera features are also replicated to the front-facing cameras.
The photos are impressive and you are going to be happy with the results. For low light photos, the quality of the images drops especially if you’ll be shooting under artificial light. For those active on social media, you get instant share buttons so your followers like your latest post.
SOFTWARE AND PERFORMANCE
The phone got boosted to 2GB of RAM and through everyday use, the responsiveness didn’t disappoint but expect a little bit of lagging when using RAM intensive apps such as when playing heavy games. For normal use, it works fine and the experience is fluid and this shows from the performance for example when installing and opening apps, loading photos from the gallery without stuttering.
With the age of music streaming and cloud storage, the 16GB of internal storage will work fine but if you like downloading videos, audio files and memes, it will be limiting. Luckily the phone comes with an expandable storage slot so that you can add your memory card and keep yourself entertained seamlessly.
The Itel S32 LTE has hidden gems within the software, such as a multi-account feature for those who have two social media accounts. In terms of hardware gems, there’s a fingerprint reader on the back and speaking of fingerprints, you will want to use the rigid plastic cover provided to keep off fingerprints from the phone’s glossy back.
The Gripes 🙁
The phone comes with capacitive navigation buttons, which is good as it gives the bottom chin a purpose, though, it was hard using the navigation buttons at night as they are not back-lit.
The Android skin that comes with the phone is irritating and you’ll need to customize it using a launcher and for my case, I used Nova Launcher to enhance its appearance.
Some of the Camera AR filters are poorly implemented. Also, I would have loved if they had implemented the dual setup on the rear camera too for those who would like to shoot portraits.
For a phone at this price range, it ticks a lot of what a budget phone should have and even surpasses that. Compromises definitely have to be made but if they don’t bother you that much, this is a smartphone that’ll be worth your cash.
If you are interested in purchasing one, the phone is sold via Itel branded shops countrywide for KSH 13,500 including 3C hub both on Moi Avenue and Ronald Ngala and ART along Moi Avenue in Nairobi.