A decent buy at Rs 9,999?
Launched in December 2022, the Nokia C31 is the latest addition to the company’s C series. The Nokia C Series is aimed at the entry-level smartphone segment for people who may be taking a step towards a feature phone. Over the years, this segment has come to be dominated by Xiaomi Redmi, which has consistently released affordable smartphones with impressive specifications. Currently, Nokia C31 it is available for Rs 9,999 for the 3GB + 32GB variant that we used for this review. In comparison, its predecessor C21 Plus ( review ) is listed at Rs 10,299. So how does the Nokia C31 stack up against its C-series sibling and the rest of the competition? Read our review to find out.
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Nokia C31 review: Design and display
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Inside the box you will find the smartphone, USB Type-B charging cable, 10W power adapter, SIM eject tool, quick guide and product and safety information booklet. The smartphone measures 169.2 x 78 x 8.6 mm, which is slightly larger than the C21 Plus. A plastic frame holds the smartphone together, unlike the aluminum frame used on the C21 Plus. The C31 is also the heavier phone of the two, weighing in at around 200g.
The plastic back of the Nokia C31 has a textured finish similar to the C21 Plus, but it’s been dialed in a bit and feels much better to hold. The camera unit features a 13MP primary shooter, a 2MP depth sensor and another 2MP macro lens. The rectangular camera island carries the signature look of the C series, but draws more attention thanks to the presence of a third lens. The speaker is located at the bottom of the rear panel, while the fingerprint sensor is placed in the middle.
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Nokia continues to stick with micro USB charging for its entry-level smartphones. You’ll find the charging port at the bottom of the phone along with the microphone, while the headphone jack finds its way to the top. The SIM and memory card slots are located on the left side, while the volume rocker and power button have been placed on the right side of the phone.
Nokia has increased the screen size on the C31, which now gets a slightly larger 6.75-inch IPS LCD display. Nokia even reduced the frame around the display and improved the notch for the selfie camera. The result is a much improved look that looks a class above the category it’s in. There’s still a thick chin down there, though, which we won’t be seeing anytime soon.
We wanted a better touch response when browsing the phone. The smartphone seems to be half a step behind in responding to swipes and presses. It’s something you’d expect from an entry-level smartphone before, but Nokia’s competitors are quickly upping their game in this price segment. However, what the C31 lacks in touch response, it makes up for in display size and video clarity.
We played all kinds of content on the C31, from YouTube videos to Netflix movies. The smartphone held up quite well and provided unparalleled clarity to the HD videos we played on it. Thanks to the massive display and narrow bezels, the experience is completely immersive. The brightness is also optimal for outdoor use. The rear-mounted speaker tends to muffle the sound output when pressed against your palm. You can work around this by holding it with your hand or resting the phone on a makeshift stand. With an IP52 rating, the C31 is dustproof and even splashproof.
Nokia C31 review: Performance and cameras
The Nokia C31 is powered by the Unisoc SC9863A and runs on Android 12. It is interesting to see that Nokia has not opted for the ‘Android Go’ OS which is meant for budget smartphones. The overall speed, while not lightning fast, is decent for a smartphone in this category. There were no lags when playing video and the phone handled basic functions quite well. Switching between apps took a little extra time, but eventually we got used to the phone’s pace. However, we were impressed by the speed of the fingerprint scanner and face unlock.
The smartphone handled basic games like Candy Crush and Subway Surfers with ease, although the whole thing could definitely have been helped by a faster touch response. The phone struggled with FPS games like Garena Free Fire Max as we experienced frequent lag and frame drops. Speaking of benchmarks, the Nokia C31 scored 139 points in the single-core test and 775 points in the multi-core run using Geekbench 5. In comparison, the C21 Plus scored 127 (single-core) and 479 (multi-core) points. .
While Nokia is running Android 12 on the C31 to handle the software duties, we’d prefer if it also gave it a processor bump. The stock Android 12 comes with improved privacy features along with a handy “translate” feature. You can easily point your phone’s camera at the text and it will translate it for you instantly. The software is loaded with some bloatware that we recommend uninstalling before you start using the smartphone. On the other hand, Nokia has promised 2 years of security updates for the C31.
The Nokia C31 packs a huge 5050 mAh battery. Nokia claims that the C31’s battery will last 3 days, but with moderate to heavy use, the smartphone will last a day and a half. After a full day of moderate usage that included 2-3 hours of OTT content, frequent social media browsing and regular WhatsApp usage, we were left with 30-40% charge. While the battery life can be phenomenal, it takes up to 3 hours to fully charge the phone thanks to the micro-USB charging port. Maybe it’s time for Nokia to switch to Type-C charging.
For the camera test, we took a lot of outdoor and indoor pictures with the Nokia C31 in different lighting conditions. Nokia has added an additional 2MP macro lens for close-up shots alongside a 13MP primary shooter and a 2MP depth sensor. There is also a 5MP selfie camera on the front.
The primary 13MP shooter performs well in good lighting conditions. The shots we took outside in daylight came out well composed with a decent amount of detail. The images lacked a bit of sharpening, which perhaps would not have been possible with a better processor. However, the camera perfectly balances the colors without losing them from the resulting image. HDR also does a satisfactory job. We were impressed with Portrait mode, which produced a good range of colors for different subjects and was decent at edge detection. Unlike the C21 Plus, there is no panorama mode on the Nokia C31.
In low light conditions, the camera struggled to take decent pictures. The images had a significant amount of noise and an overall grainy appearance. Having a flash and night mode on hand helped to take slightly better pictures, but it still wasn’t up to par. This is something to be expected from any entry-level smartphone.
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At Rs 9,999, the Nokia C31 is a decent buy, which could have been even more attractive to customers if Nokia had gone for a better processor and Type-C charging. If you’re primarily looking for a smartphone to watch content, the C31 would still stand out among its competition. The smartphone’s camera performance is also quite satisfactory. The construction of the C31 is also a clear point in its favor, as the textured plastic back provides a nice feeling when holding the smartphone, which is definitely better than the C21 Plus.
Could use a better processor
No Type C charging
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