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Hands-on with Nokia 2: It’s not about the specs!

Here are our first impressions of the Nokia 2, the most affordable Nokia device by HMD Global.

Published onOctober 31, 2017

After a slew of budget and mid-range devices – Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6 – HMD Global announced its most affordable device as yet, the Nokia 2, priced at €99 ($115).

The Nokia 2 comes with Android 7.1.2 Nougat out-of-the-box, and like with all Nokia devices it comes with the promise of pure and up-to-date Android experience. This means that Nokia 2 will get monthly security updates and will be upgraded to Android Oreo ‘soon’.

If you judge smartphones by their specifications sheet, Nokia 2 is not for you. It packs in modest specifications, not in foolhardiness but backed by obvious conviction and understanding of the market. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 processor, the Nokia 2 packs in just 1 GB of RAM. In the limited time I spent with the device, I found the performance to be generally smooth – although the demo unit did not have any third-party apps installed. It’s not a crawl as many ignorantly expect as soon as they look at the specifications. I’m assuming the hardware optimizes background apps to ensure enough memory is available at all times.

The 8 GB internal storage on the Nokia 2 is of course quite less, more so because less than 5 GB of free space is available out of the box. But thankfully, you can extend storage up to 128 GB with a microSD card, something most users would have to.

The Nokia 2 sports a 5-inch HD LTPS LCD and the 720p display offers nice contrast ratio and looks sharp. It is clearly one of the better screens in this price segment. There’s also Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection which is a sweet addition.

The highlight of the smartphone is it’s much-hyped ‘2-day battery life’. Instead of making a power-bank in the guise of a phone, HMD Global manages to squeeze in a 4,100 mAh battery in a compact chassis and banks on the frugal processor as well as the power-efficient display for that extra juice. We’ll find out if Nokia 2 lives up to that claim when we take it for a spin for a longer duration. There’s no fast charging, mind you.

For a budget smartphone, the Nokia 2 impressed me with its camera performance. I took a few test shots while checking out the device, and the 8-megapixel primary camera looked quite interesting. I’d like to explore it more when I review the device once it’s available. The auto-focus camera comes with automatic scene detection as well as LED flash. There’s also the 5-megapixel fixed-focus front camera which would serve you well for some decent selfies. The Nokia 2 offers unlimited photo and video uploads to Google Photos – a neat deal for a budget smartphone.

The best thing about the Nokia 2 is its design and build quality, which is why I kept it for the last. It looks quite chic with a metal frame milled out of series 6000 aluminum and a sculpted polycarbonate back. The matte finish at the back and the compact form factor owing to a 5-inch display makes gives it pleasant ergonomics and it feels great in the hand. The Nokia 2 looks solid and boasts of design considerations one usually expects on more expensive smartphones.

Overall, the Nokia 2 offers uncluttered Android experience in a smartphone that trades in extravagant innards for practicality and reliability. There’s a thoughtful design that works well in both form and function and a package that might be greater than the sum of its parts.

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