it is a known fact, phones have become cheaper, and cheaper phones have become better. It would be impossible a couple of years ago to get a good experience on a smartphone at less than $100 (Ksh. 10,000). I got my first smartphone in 2012. It had a 2.8 inch screen with 240×320 resolution, 832 MHz processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage (which was basically around 2.8GB), 2MP fixed focus camera without flash, no front camera, ran Android 2.3 and had a 1200mAh battery. The price I picked it up for was Ksh. 10500.
When Google announced the Android Go project a few months ago, I wondered what they were playing at. After consideration, I concluded, this project was meant to introduce the many people who still buy feature phones to smartphones. And to give them a smooth experience despite the devices having low end specs.
Imagine the experience you would have on a phone with 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, and a 1.3Ghz processor running the normal version of Android a OnePlus 6 swipes through with 8GB RAM, 256GB storage and a processor that can power a Windows Laptop. It is an unfair comparison. The 1GB RAM phone will struggle. Things won’t work. Yet, before Android Go, this was the experience for millions of people who are buying such devices. So Google decided to fix this with the Android Go Project.
What Google has done with Android Oreo (Go Edition) is make it lighter so that devices with such specs (1GB RAM or less) can get a better feel. So when you launch an Android Go phone, you’ll get Google Go apps, and a better, much smoother experience than you would get if it ran the official Android Oreo. Enter the itel A32F device:
Not a single person I’ve shown the itel A32F has been able to correctly guess the price from just looking at the device. First person told me it was around Ksh. 9,500. Second person said Ksh. 8,500, but I had told them the specs. The rest said it is an itel so it is definitely not over Ksh. 10,000. The official price of the phone is Ksh. 6,500 on Kilimall.
itel A32F Specifications and Price in Kenya
|5.0 inch 480×640 resolution
|Front Camera: 2MP with Flash
Back Camera: 5MP with Flash
|Quad-core 1.3 GHz
|RAM and Storage
|1RAM; 8GB internal storage (expandable to 32GB)
|Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition)
|Doesn’t Support 4G Networks
|Fingerprint scanner, Plastic Back Cover
it is at pricing where itel really got it right for me. Why? Well, one, it is cheaper than the Nokia 1 which has the same specs, but a smaller screen and no fingerprint scanner. Two, it is cheaper than almost every other mentionable Android device while offering the latest version of Android (Android P isn’t as yet official). And three, it is almost getting into Feature phone pricing as we’ve seen feature phones costing as much as Ksh. 5000 with the revamped Nokia 3310. So, without even delving into how it performs, you’re already getting a good deal.
What stands out:
- Fingerprint Scanner
The major selling point for this device, and what I am sure will woo many people into getting it is the fact that there’s a fingerprint scanner. Something that has fast become essential (haha iSheep). I thought it would be a mediocre fingerprint scanner. Oh I will struggle with it. Oh it wouldn’t be accurate. I was surprised and impressed.
One, the scanner is pretty fast and accurate. Two, you can assign different fingers different roles so when you touch the scanner, phone automatically opens and launches a particular set app. Three, for a small 5 inch phone, the placement is really good and your hand quickly reaches the scanner without much issues (yeah Nokia 6 couldn’t do that).
So if you’re thinking of getting this phone and are wondering maybe the fingerprint scanner will be a disappointment. No it won’t.
Display and Design:
It is definitely not a bright panel when outdoors. Though from the top picture you can see one can use it outdoors without much of a hustle. Why the display stands out for me though is because of the competition: it has a much brighter, more vibrant screen that that of the Nokia 1.
In terms of design, you would be forgiven to think this is a metal finish. Nope, it just looks so. I like that it has a comfortable feel on the hand and that you can rock it without feeling you’re missing out on expensive better looking devices.
There’s the usual itel skin on top. I personally hate the UI colours itel uses. But the customizations have introduced gestures and small extra functionality like a freezer (for apps you don’t use), Accelerate functionality to clear up RAM and boost device performance and Boomplay which is basically Transsion freely advertising their music steaming app.
The 2050mAh battery is good enough for daily normal use. This isn’t a gaming device, though it will handle many light games. If you’re using it for social media, light web browsing and listening to music, the device will last you a day without needing extra charge. Nothing from the display to the processor is demanding, so the small removable battery lasts you long enough.
What could be better:
- Given the price point, it is honestly hard to complain about things like storage, performance, oh this oh that etc. But…
- Cameras: both the 2MP front camera and the 5MP back camera could be better. Yes, they are decent at this price point. No, the images aren’t as sharp as you’d want them. Of course, you can use them for essential things like a video call, and taking usual pics. Nothing will stand out, but again at this price nothing to complain about.
Who’s the target?
itel went further ahead with this device by offering a different touch on the software experience, adding a fingerprint scanner, and giving it a more serious display compared to the Nokia 1, and with that they somewhat widened the target market. So basically anyone who wants a phone can get this device. But more so, as I said pointed out in the second paragraph, it is targeted at people who are getting their first smartphone or people who are on a budget and this is the most they can folk out.