HMD Global’s sales figures might be a drop in the bucket compared to the likes of Xiaomi and Realme, but it has managed to carve out a niche for its Nokia-branded phones through a portfolio of well-built devices that deliver a clean user experience and long term support. The latest entry is the Nokia 7.2.
In our review of last year’s Nokia 7.1, we found the design pleasing and the cameras to be competent. The performance, however, left us unimpressed. Does the all-new Nokia 7.2 improve on this?
Find out in the Android Authority Nokia 7.2 review.
Updated August, 2020: Nokia 7.2 has now received its August security patch from Google. The 15.47MB file is available globally.
Nokia 7.2 review: The big picture
The Nokia 7.2 has an important role in HMD Global’s portfolio. It sits at that crucial transition from entry-level to mid-range hardware. This is a price-conscious segment, but also one where users start paying more attention to features like design and performance.
With the recent spate of launches, buyers now have ample options available. In India, this includes the absolute latest Redmi Note 8 Pro, as well as solid options like the Realme XT and Realme 5 Pro. In global markets, the Nokia 7.2 faces stiff competition from the Pixel 3a series, which has a series focus on imaging capabilities. Then there are phones like the Samsung Galaxy A50 that bring a large battery, a gorgeous AMOLED display, and plenty good cameras.
With most phones in this class now providing higher-quality cameras, top-notch displays, and fast processors, it becomes increasingly hard for HMD Global to justify its price tag despite the promise of long term updates.
Let’s dig into our Nokia 7.2 review.
What’s in the box
- 10W charger
- SIM ejector tool
- Quick start manual
The box contents of the Nokia 7.2 are as standard as they come. There’s no TPU case included, but you do get a barebones headset. Other contents include the charger, USB-C cable, quick start manual as well as a SIM ejector tool.
- 159.88 x 75.11 x 8.25mm
- Polycarbonate composite frame
- Gorilla Glass 5 back
- Waterdrop notch
- Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
If there’s one thing you can’t fault about the Nokia 7.2, it has to be design. A classic Nordic design steeped in simplicity and without any of the glitzy gradients and colors, the 7.2 still manages to look sophisticated. From the matte glass back to the notification LED hidden under the power button, the phone oozes elegance — which is perhaps the phone’s most notable selling point.
The front of the phone looks rather basic with its waterdrop notch. The bezels on either side are minimal, but the chin at the bottom grabs your attention. I’d have liked a smaller chin here and the bold Nokia logo doesn’t do it any favors. Move over to the side, though, and you start to appreciate the composite materials used here.
The finish and tactile feel of the volume rocker and power button are on point. The same goes for the dedicated Google Assistant key on the left. The latest crop of Nokia-branded phones have integrated notification LEDs into the power button, and it works just as advertised. The side button glows a soft white shade when a notification pops up. It is discrete and retains functionality that many power users love.
Flip the phone over and you can see the sharp attention to detail. The appearance is unmistakably Nokia, and it fits right in with the design language across the company’s portfolio. The matte finish glass back feels luxurious. Bonus: It doesn’t attract fingerprints. We have the black variant here with us, but I found the Cyan Green shade particularly enchanting. The green colorway seems to channel the nordic lights, a throwback to the company’s Finnish heritage, and looks absolutely stunning.
That said, I did not like how much the camera module stood out. It constantly caught my pocket as I slipped it in. A fingerprint scanner is placed below the module and is easy enough to reach. There’s little else to add about the design. Something that did strike me was the quality of haptics on the Nokia 7.2. The haptics aren’t very precise, and typing on the phone doesn’t feel very reassuring.
Also read: Best Nokia 6.2 and Nokia 7.2 cases
Beyond that, there’s a headphone jack on top and a USB-C port on the bottom. This arrangement is common on most mid-rangers these days. The Nokia 7.2 makes a name for itself through its focus on a casual, elegant style that should sit well in most hands.
- Full HD+ LCD display
- Gorilla Glass 3
The display is where things get a bit interesting. The Nokia 7.2 comes equipped with what it calls a “Pure Display”. A marketing moniker for what is essentially an HDR-capable panel. The company also claims that it can convert standard-dynamic-range content to high-dynamic-range in realtime.
The display looks perfectly lovely when viewed head-on. Colors look punchy and vibrant. However, there’s something to be said about the black levels that you can only get on an AMOLED panel. Blacks look a deep grey here and it gets in the way when watching a dark show like Stranger Things on Netflix. Further, there’s visible color shift when you view the phone from sharp angles, which definitely isn’t attractive.
Outdoor visibility is perfectly good. We measured peak brightness levels of about 523nits, which is plenty enough for outdoor use. The display has a noticeably cool tone to it with higher than normal blue levels. The phone has a dynamic contrast mode that can adjust the color temperature and white balance depending on what applications you are running. Within apps, the effect is subtle. The phone can adjust the white balance based on ambient light, and the effect is similar to the night light feature on Android.
- Snapdragon 660
- 4x Kryo 260 @ 2.2GHz, 4x Kryo 260 @ 1.8GHz
- Adreno 512 GPU
- 4GB/6GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- Expandable storage
I’ve long talked about the benefits of software optimization compared to tossing in faster hardware, but a Snapdragon 660 is far from a cutting edge processor. It certainly isn’t the best option in this segment. In fact, the Redmi Note 7S packs the same chipset and costs half that of the Nokia.
Performance wasn't silky smooth, and I observed a few app crashes and lock-ups.
Performance is fine, but it just doesn’t feel quite as snappy as the latest breed of mid-rangers. In India, phones such as the Redmi Note 7 Pro, Redmi Note 8 Pro, and the Realme XT definitely outpace the Nokia 7.2 in sheer power. All three are popular options with higher-end processors.
The Pixel 3a series packs a slightly more powerful Snapdragon 670 processor that gives you a bit more GPU grunt for not a whole lot more money. The Samsung A50 also gives you a bit more single-core performance that is noticeable in day-to-day use.
The 7.2’s iffy performance is most noticeable when apps launch and via frame rates in games. Unfortunately, I noticed a few app crashes and lock-ups as well. This was particularly evident in the camera app, which would get stuck fairly often. This could be chalked up to poor software optimization, but it speaks volumes about the kind of performance you can expect from the Nokia 7.2.
We ran a host of benchmarks on the phone and the results speak for themselves. In AnTuTu, the phone scores 203673 points which lags behind the 228519 points scored by the Redmi Note 8 Pro. The difference is particularly noticeable in GPU-focussed benchmarks. In the 3DMark benchmark, for example, the phone scores just 1351 points.
- 10W charger
- No fast charging
- No wireless charging
The Nokia 7.2 ships with a reasonably sized 3,500mAh battery. It doesn’t necessarily compare to the 4,000mAh and even 5,000mAh cells shipping in some competing mid-rangers, but it should easily get you through a day. We can thank this battery life on software optimization and the mid-range chipset.
The phone doesn't support fast-charging, and has one of the smallest batteries in the segment.
In my testing, the phone easily managed a full day, but I had to charge the phone each night. Charging isn’t the fastest around and topping off the 3,500mAh cell takes about 2 hours. In our WiFi browsing test, the phone managed just over 10 hours of continuous browsing, which is one of the lowest scores we’ve come across amidst mid-rangers.
Wireless charging is hard to find at this price point and you won’t find it on the Nokia 7.2.
- Android Pie
- Android 10 update incoming
The Nokia 7.2 runs a clean, near-stock build of Android with barely any pre-loaded apps other than Google’s own app suite. I’ll take Google’s apps over third-party bloat.
Most of the Nokia-specific tweaks are to the camera app. There’s a robust professional mode, and the implementation is one of the best in the business. The interface is easy to use and offers enough flexibility for those who want to push the imaging capabilities. None of the additions made to the software get in the way.
Additionally, HMD Global promises two years of software updates and an additional year of security updates, which is among the best offered by a phone maker.
As of March 2020, the Nokia 7.2 still hasn’t received the Android 10 update. That’s just a bad look on HMD. In fact, software updates for the phone have been mere maintenance releases. The latest update issued in early March brought with it the February security patch, but no Android 10 upgrade.
Starting April, Nokia started pushing the Android 10 update to the phone and followed it up with a security update that brought the phone to the May 2020 security patches.
- 48MP Samsung S5KGM1, f/1.8
- 8MP wide-angle f/2
- 5MP depth
- 20MP selfie
- 4K video recording
- Lens simulation
Nokia has steadily improved its imaging capabilities over time to reach a point where its cameras are fairly competitive. This is the case with the 7.2, which has a very usable camera even if it doesn’t quite push the boundaries of the segment.
Daylight shots with the standard camera are quite good, but tend to overexpose the image ever so slightly. This results in blown-out highlights, as can be seen in the samples with the sky in the background. Exposure issues aside, the camera does a very good job of capturing detail. It avoids aggressive noise reduction, and the mild noise patterns visible when pixel-peeping are far from offensive.
The wide-angle camera is where things get a bit tricky. There’s a noticeable difference in the metering, and dynamic range is definitely lacking. The highlights are blown out and there is a visible loss of detail in the shadow regions, too. I also noticed significant optical distortion around the corners.
HMD Global really promoted the portrait capabilities of the 7.2, and the phone more or less lives up to the promise. The phone does an excellent job of capturing realistic-looking portraits and exhibits very good edge detection. There are Zeiss lens simulations built-in, so you can have bokeh effects like starry backgrounds and more. Most of these modes work well, though some displayed a very strong cut-out-like effect around edges.
Videos captured on the phone look good, though shooting modes are limited. I found the video from the wide-angle camera to be a bit too dark, but you should be fine as long as you’re shooting in broad daylight. Video recording tops off at 4K resolution at 30fps, and you cannot adjust frame rate. Nokia added its usual picture-in-picture modes where you can shoot with both the front and rear cameras simultaneously.
You can take a look at full resolution image samples by following through to the link.
- 3.5mm audio jack
- AptX support
The Nokia 7.2 sports a headphone jack on top, and delivers generally great-sounding audio. Output is crisp, with no discernible distortion. The audio quality via headphones is neutral and reasonably loud. A basic pair of earphones is included in the box, but you’ll probably want to switch those out for better sounding headphones.
On the other hand, loudspeaker output comes across as a bit thin. It can push some serious air, but puts the focus on highs and mids. It’ll serve fine for phone calls or alarms, but I wouldn’t really push it too loud for music listening.
Nokia 7.2:Snapdragon 660
Nokia 7.2:4GB / 128GB
Nokia 7.2:6.3-inch LCD
Gorilla Glass 3
5V/2A wired charging
8MP wide-angle f/2
Nokia 7.2:CAT 13 LTE
Bluetooth 5.0 with/aptX
Nokia 7.2:159.88 x 75.11 x 8.25mm
Nokia 7.2:Cyan green, charcoal, ice
Value for the money
- Nokia 7.2 4GB RAM, 64GB storage — Rs. 18,599
- Nokia 7.2 6GB RAM, 64GB storage — Rs. 19,599/$349/£249
The Nokia 7.2 is priced oddly in India. Sure, it’s a solid phone with excellent design sensibilities and a capable camera. However, the competition offers all that and much more. The jittery performance is definitely problematic, and the hardware just doesn’t live up to the price.
The Redmi Note 8 Pro is a fantastic piece of kit that offers a lot more power and camera versatility for a lower price point. Similarly, the Realme XT, too, delivers double the storage, more RAM, and a fantastic camera experience for about the same price.
In the US, the 7.2 puts up a fight against some great competitors. The Pixel 3a series is priced just a bit higher, but delivers a superior imaging experience. The 3a matches the 7.2 with the same stock Android experienc, but tacks on a higher quality display and a wide-angle front-facing camera. You could also look at the Samsung Galaxy A50 which is an absolutely fantastic mid-ranger.
Value for the money, the Nokia 7.2 is not. Sure, the stock-like Android experience and promised long-term software support are great, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that there are loads of options offering more bang for the buck.
HMD finally delivered the Android 10 update starting April 2020 and followed it up with the May security patches. However, the latest Android build isn’t enough to make it a credible recommendation. The Chinese competition simply offers a lot more value to the users and has been keeping up with updates. Add to that the versatile set of cameras and a plethora of designs that the likes of the Redmi Note 9 Pro, Realme 6 Pro and Poco X2 provide, and there are much better options to be had.
Nokia 7.2 review: The verdict
Priced lower, the Nokia 7.2 has the potential to be a smash hit, but that’s where the Nokia 6.2 comes in. Between the similar design, and not-much-worse performance, the Nokia 6.2 is better positioned to take a swipe at the competition in some markets.
The Nokia 7.2 packs all the right ingredients, but the inconsistent performance and less-than-competitive battery life is problematic. As it stands, it is just too expensive for what it brings to the table, which makes it too hard to recommend over the excellent competition.
The phone becomes even harder to recommend in 2020 as it doesn’t deliver on competitive internals or the latest version of Android. Unless pure Android is the only feature you are interested in, steer clear of the Nokia 7.2.
This concludes Android Authority‘s Nokia 7.2 review. Please be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below.