HMD Global’s newest offering checks all the right boxes; but severely trails the competition.
In 2019, the entire dynamic of the smartphone industry has witnessed a seismic shift. No longer do we find budget or midrange models with less than spectacular specifications. Brands like Xiaomi, vivo, OPPO, Infinix, Tecno and even Samsung are launching handset after handset with specifications that were once reserved to smartphones in the premium midrange segments. The competition in this space is extremely stiff with each brand outdoing the next. With November officially upon us, smartphones under 20K with 64MP cameras are rapidly becoming the norm. This is forcing rival brands to shuffle their thought process in a bid to outdo one another. For brands, this is a rather scary proposition; however, for consumers, this wealth of options is akin to a paradise and the saying “The customer is king” certainly holds true.
Over the last couple of years, with HMD Global at its helm, Nokia has seen a resurgence and their strategy of launching smartphones with the clean Android One UI coupled with premium-ish specifications have seen them rise once again to the top. This year alone, the brand has launched a handful of smartphones that have seen sales boom as they are offering unique features with a premium design that has managed to entice consumers to give Nokia a go. One thing that’s been a major pain point though is that the price just doesn’t justify the features on offer as several brands are offering much more at a price that pales in comparison with Nokia’s handsets.
The Nokia 7.2 which was recently launched in India; unfortunately, doesn’t buck this trend. Priced at Rs 18,599, the Nokia 7.2 comes with a decent design, a triple camera configuration on the rear, an immersive 6.3-inch dewdrop display, and most notably, the Android One UI that’s based on Android Pie.
Having spent a few days with this model, we break down whether the Nokia 7.2 is worthy of your hard-earned cash.
When it comes to design, Nokia is right at the top with the best out there. They are second to none and can compete with the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and every other top tier brand. This has never been an area where HMD Global and Nokia lack. Thankfully, this design philosophy transcends on to the Nokia 7.2 and it is one of the most beautiful devices to ever step into the market.
The Nokia 7.2 is by far one of the most premium and stylish looking handsets in the sub-Rs 20K price range and it comes with rounded corners and a circular camera module. This module looks classy and is reminiscent of the Motorola G7 style setups. This implementation of the circular camera module is one that is being gradually adopted by several brands with the OnePlus 7T also sporting a similar sort of setup.
The handset features a polycarbonate rear with a matte finish that screams sophistication and even though it is built using plastic, it still has the heft of a premium handset. Very few brands can get away with using a plastic rear and yet making it premium and this reminds us of Nokia in its prime where they would launch premium smartphones that exude appeal. On the rear we also find a traditional fingerprint scanner that gets the job done.
The handset doesn’t have any flex and weighing 180g, it is still on the heavier side but the weight distribution is what separates this model from the budget plastic finishes out there.
The buttons on this model are similar to other handsets launched by the company this year with the power button on the right doubling as a notification light. It features a breathing LED indicator that glows softly whenever you receive an alert. On the other side, there is the button which pulls up the Google Assistant. The use of this button is a smart choice especially since the use of virtual assistants is growing rapidly especially in a country like India. Apart from this, the bottom comes equipped with a USB Type-C port while the top features the 3.5mm headphone jack. It is good to see that HMD Global are in no mood to ditch this feature given that the current trend of smartphones is rapidly going anti-3.5mm.
The Nokia 7.2 comes with a large, beautiful 6.3-inch IPS LCD display. Although the screen is one of the better ones out there; it is a shame that the brand is sticking to this type of screen as several smartphone manufacturers are launching devices in this price segment with AMOLED screens and in-display fingerprint scanners.
With that being said, you may find the display to be on the tad larger side; so, reaching for the notification tray or the quick settings will require your other hand. On the other hand, it can be argued that due to the size of the display; the Nokia 7.2 can be a great device for media consumption without being completely unmanageable.
The screen sports an FHD+ resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels and doesn’t have the pixel density of some of the flagship handsets out there, but is still great for displaying high definition content. HMD has also made it HDR10 capable and the PureDisplay as the brand calls it uses its Pixelworks processor for upscaling standard definition content into HDR — which is always a good thing.
The Nokia 7.2 comes with dewdrop display and sports an 82.4 per cent screen-to-body ratio. This makes it ideal for extended gameplay or binge-watching sessions without much of the content being cut off. Interestingly, the brand also comes with Night Light which does a decent job of tinting the display for relaxed viewing in low-light conditions. With this feature, the handsets reduce the blue light levels which are known for helping your eyes as it minimises strain.
Apart from the cameras, the highlight of the Nokia 7.2 is its Android One UI. This is the cleanest OS you’ll get on a handset apart from Google’s Pixel lineup of devices. Based on Android 9 Pie, the Nokia 7.2 comes with Google’s 2018 software and you can rest easy knowing that it will be soon updated to Android 10; since it is a part of the Android One program.
As stated earlier, being an Android One handset, you get an absolutely clean UI and the only major customisation here is in the camera app. Apart from the custom camera interface, you get a buttery smooth and premium experience and it is devoid of all the UI elements or bloat that’s associated with other brand’s skins that sit on top of Android. Being a barebones UI, you get an extremely intuitive experience that’s unrivalled and it comes with all the core apps that Google has to offer. This adds to the overall experience and Google when it comes to apps is extremely robust on what they have to offer.
Being an Android One handset, the biggest advantage here is that it doesn’t come with duplication of apps which means there’s no other mail app besides Gmail, no Gallery app apart from Google Photos and no addition calendar app other than Google Calendar. Alternatively, if you are used to a third-party app from another developer, you can easily download it from the Google Play Store.
And lastly, being an Android One handset, you will be assured of getting upgraded to major Android OS updates for the next two years and security updates for the next three years. This is what separates the Nokia 7.2 from rival brands and this is one of the only reasons why we can recommend this model over others.
The Nokia 7.2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC and while this may not be the speediest chip on the block; the use of the clean Android UI on top of it makes it a smooth customer. The SD660 is by no means the newest chipset out there but it offers a buttery smooth navigational experience and light tasks are taken care of with ease.
When it comes to multi-tasking, the Nokia 7.2 powers through with ease and even playing high-end games is well handled. During the testing period, we tried some games like PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9 and the handset did as advertised; however, it is worth mentioning that when the in-game settings are cranked up to the max, there is a lot of stutter and lag noticed. So, it is highly recommended that you use the medium settings for games like this to get the best out the Nokia 7.2.
The Nokia 7.2 is paired with either 4GB or 6GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage which can be expanded to 512GB extra with a microSD card. For review, we received the lower-end variant and in the Geekbench 5 benchmarking tool, we got a single-core score of 339 points and a multi-core score of 1471 points. In AnTuTu, the handset produced a score of 172740 points and as a reference, it defeated 12 per cent of other handsets out there.
Overall, the performance is as expected from a handset with these specifications.
When it comes to the optics used here, HMD Global has done a decent job with the configuration and the Nokia 7.2 comes with a 48MP primary sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera and a 5MP depth sensor. The camera app is pretty loaded and features all the traits that are found in a flagship handset. The Nokia 7.2 can capture zoomed-out or ultra-wide shots, portrait images with adjustable bokeh modes as well as a Pro mode where the White balance, ISO and other functionalities can be tweaked.
The camera, by default, captures images at 12MP as it uses a process that’s known as Pixel binning. This merges the pixels which helps the sensor capture more light. The 48MP primary sensor does a great job in capturing images in well-lit conditions as there is plenty of detail and colours are quite balanced but a tad bit on the muted side. The punch is lacking a bit that’s found in rival smartphones which have vibrant colours that have their own appeal. Low-light images aren’t the best here and in theory, they should shine due to the pixel binning technology; however, the performance is pretty inconsistent. To capture the best possible low-light images, you will need to have the handset held extremely still as there is no optical image stabilisation here. Also, the shutter speed isn’t the fastest we have seen which more often than not results in blurred photos.
There is a dedicated Night mode here and in this setting, you will notice that colours to appear natural; however, you have to hold the camera extremely still or use a tripod for the best possible images. If you like tinkering around with the settings, the Pro mode should be your fancy as it allows you to alter the shutter speed and the ISO levels and this helps in taking better captures.
The handset comes loaded with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens which helps bring in more of the scene and this will be great for landscape photography or shooting a group photo. The performance is as you would expect, but nothing to actually scream home about. The 5MP depth sensor can be used to capture portrait shots and in conjunction with a feature called Zeiss Bokeh Styles, you can adjust the type of background blur. Over here, in this mode, you can not only adjust the amount of blur but also choose from a variety of styles such as Zeiss Modern, Zeiss Swirl, Zeiss Smooth and others.
The Nokia 7.2 comes with a 20MP front-facing camera that’s up to the task in most lighting conditions but doesn’t compare with higher-end smartphones such as the Galaxy Note 10 or the iPhone 11. However, it does a decent job in capturing skin tones and there is a lot of detail noticed.
The battery life on the Nokia 7.2 is less than spectacular and it comes packing a mere 3500mAh battery. During the testing period, while using the device as our primary driver, it barely lasted up to 6 pm before we had to put it for charge. However, it has to be stated that we receive an extreme amount of calls in a day; accessed social media apps that are quite battery hungry like Instagram and Facebook as well as played some high-end games like Asphalt 9. Also, it is worth mentioning that our typical day starts at 5 am, so, lasting till 6 pm with extremely heavy usage is by no means bad. However, battery life is subjective and it may differ from person-to-person.
The handset charges pretty rapidly as well; so, to top it up using the bundled adaptor can get you from 0 to 100 per cent in just over an hour and a half. Which isn’t bad by any means.
The Nokia 7.2 comes with a starting price of 18,599 while the higher-end version costs Rs 19,599. For what it has to offer, these handsets are far too expensive. The only reason we recommend this handset is because of it being a premium-ish Android One device where you can get updates for the next three years and also be one of the first smartphones to receive Google’s big Android releases. If this is all you care about, then the Nokia 7.2 is the handset for you. If not, then there are several other options out there which offer a lot more bang for your buck at a much better price than the Nokia 7.2.