One time a friend messaged me saying his phone broke and asked what’s affordable and reliable that he can buy and use in the meantime. My first instinct was to recommend a Redmi phone. And the Redmi 7A is one such phone that fits what he was looking for — affordable and reliable.
Getting the basics right
This is what Redmi — Xiaomi’s “budget line” — has always been. Something you can rely on when in a pinch, and something you can hold on to long after you’ve gone past that pinch.
The specs won’t jump out at you: Snapdragon 439 chip, 2GB of RAM with either 16GB or 32GB storage that’s expandable up to 256GB via a microSD card slot. But this combo is enough for what I consider basic smartphone needs.
Naturally, you would want access to social media. This phone can Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with no problems whatsoever. However, to get the most out of this phone, I recommend getting the lite versions of these apps. There are also lite versions of Spotify and Messenger that I opted to use while I had this phone on hand.
Lite apps will take up less space — something you don’t have a lot of — and consumes less data. Perfect for this phone. You probably also need to get a bit of work done. For that there’s GMail Go. Another lite app for your convenience.
Of course, it’s also running MIUI 10 which is one of the smoother Android skins out there. Navigating the phone feels snappy enough that you don’t feel shortchanged.
It can game… sort of
Don’t expect to have a lot of games here — not unless you go out of your way to buy a microSD card. I tried Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on this phone and it handled it fine but I constantly got messages of my storage being full.
That said, it should have no trouble playing more casual games. The type you play while waiting in line, trying to pass the time, or just waiting in general. I have no recommendations because the casual ones I know are too old and I don’t know if they’re even in the Play store any more. 😂
Cameras are okay
You’re getting a 12MP rear shooter and a 5MP front-facing camera. Oh simpler times.
The cameras are okay, you just have to make sure you’re at an area with natural light or at least somewhere with a good amount of light to capture respectable shots.
The last few shots were taken indoors with not ideal lighting which is why it’s grainy. You can just say it’s a filter. 😝
Superb battery and other features
Now here’s where this phone is at its best. When it’s powering you through your day. It has a 4000mAh battery and since it’s not supporting a lot of crazy features, you get extended hours on this thing.
I’ve used it as a secondary phone and it takes about three to four days before I even decide to charge it. And it’s not even completely drained at that point. With more regular use, it should last you about a day and a half before you feel the need to reach out for a charger.
The phone also happens to be splash resistant. So you don’t necessarily have to go rushing to find a case to protect it. It’s pretty durable all on its own.
Another feature that some of you might find useful is the FM radio. When you’re at home and not sure what to listen to, you can just fire it app and toggle through radio stations quickly. If you’re in a public area, simply plug in your earphones because yes, this still has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Is the Redmi 7A your GadgetMatch?
At PhP 4,790 (US$ 92) for the base model, to me it’s really that emergency phone or a starter phone. It’s the one you purchase for now as you’re trying to save up for a better, more powerful model.
That said, this will also work as a phone for older folks who simply want a way to stay in touch with their loved ones without having to figure out too many things on their phone. You can get this for your kids too, although getting a phone for your kid isn’t something I actually recommend. Maybe if they’re already in their teens. But I’m not a parent so what do I know.
If you need something that’s no frills, no fuss, and gets the basics just right. It’s hard to find other alternatives at exactly PhP 5,000 or below it. The Redmi 7A is the right choice.
Nokia 3.2 Hands-On: Basic but classy
Nothing fancy but really speedy
Nokia has been stepping up its lineup of budget smartphones. Early in 2019, the brand launched a plethora of budget smartphones that are under the Android One program. One of the budget-friendly smartphones introduced was Nokia 3.2. Eager to have that Nokia experience, I took the phone out for a spin.
It’s cheap… but classy
I had high hopes when I first got the Nokia 3.2 in its box. Seeing it earlier in MWC 2019 made me appreciate its look and vibe. Compared to other budget smartphones, it’s classier and sexier. However, the phone feels a little bit downgraded when compared to its predecessor.
Nokia the 3.1 with an aluminum frame, a plastic back, and corning gorilla glass while the 3.2 used only a polycarbonate unibody design. Its plastic back is smudgy and slippery, but the phone has a tighter grip, thanks to its subtle curved edges towards the front.
Even its buttons are subtly protruding on its sides. On the left is a dedicated Google Assistant button, and on the right are its power buttons and volume keys.
Found on its back are the 13-megapixel main camera, LED Flash, and fingerprint scanner. On the other hand, its top side features a headphone jack, while the micro USB port and speaker grilles are found on the bottom.
It also features a 6.2 inches LCD panel on its front display, with a tall 19:9 ratio. It might be disrupting, but the Nokia 3.2 still sports a small notch, housing its 5-megapixel selfie camera capable of AI face unlock. Even though it might be bigger and taller this time, the Nokia 3.2 is definitely a joy to hold.
Stock Android on a budget
The saving grace for Nokia’s disappointing build (at least for me) is its clean version of Android One. That means there’s no bloatware to take up your limited memory and storage.
Additionally, the Nokia 3.2 comes with Android 9 Pie out of the box. This makes it feel faster than its competitors in the budget segment despite having a 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Fortunately, it provides a microSD card slot up to up to 400GB of storage.
An entry-level performance
Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 429 processor, the Nokia 3.2 performs better compared to its predecessor which carried a MediaTek chipset. In addition, its GPU runs on Adreno 504.
This made the Nokia 3.2 handle graphic-intensive games like Mobile Legends even if it was set on the highest graphics setting possible. There were no delay and lag spikes, ensuring smooth gameplay all throughout.
Decent cameras for your everyday needs
Featuring a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture, the Nokia 3.2 takes decent photos. Depending on the lighting, both of its cameras can either take a vibrant, lively reproduced color during daylight or a slightly desaturated photo on indoor and low-light conditions.
Of course, we can’t really expect budget smartphones to have flagship-like cameras. It won’t have quick auto-focus or any fancy features like blurring your background, but it’s the compromise we’re getting when we follow our tight budget. At the very least, make use of natural light and other camera tricks to improve your photos.
Lasts longer than your partner
If there’s one thing I enjoyed with this smartphone, it’s the humongous battery. Packing a 4000mAh battery, the Nokia 3.2 can definitely last a day on a single charge. It can handle your multimedia use and everyday tasks throughout the day, yet it will still have enough juice left to carry you through the night.
However, for a phone carrying a huge battery, it charges slowly at 10W. This phone might just be good for those who love to charge their phones overnight.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The Nokia 3.2 is a contender in the budget segment. It might have a disappointing build and design, but the phone packs with power, performance, and speed, thanks to Google’s Android One program.
With a starting price of PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) for the 3GB/32GB model, Nokia loyalists will find this a real treat. For people looking for a secondary phone, or a primary phone with no frills and just functions to handle your everyday needs, the Nokia 3.2 could be your GadgetMatch.
However, there are still far better options in the budget category, like the Redmi Note 7 and Realme 3. If Nokia wants to come back in its former glory and capture people looking for an affordable powerhouse, they need to join the battle and beat Realme and Redmi in their game, just like Samsung bending over to compete in the tough budget battlefield.
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