Nokia’s journey back to the center of the Indian smartphone market has mainly been marked by mid-rangers and budget offerings. And the Nokia 7.2 leads the way this year. The smartphone includes everything Nokia wants users to enjoy: a seamless, premium design, a clean Android interface and regular updates. But is that enough to last in such a competitive market? Let’s find out –
The Nokia 7.2 competes with the likes of the Redmi Note 8 Pro, Realme 5 Pro and the like. Most of these best-selling mid-rangers now bring segment-defining features like a Snapdragon 7-series SoC, plenty of RAM and storage, HDR displays and what not. The Nokia 7.2 keeps it simple. There is a Snapdragon 660 under the hood that powers an Android 9 based stock Android interface. Lacking many features common to mid-rangers, the chipset is capable enough to keep the software running smoothly. But going forward, the phone may feel sluggish as apps and games get more intense. My fears were confirmed by the benchmark scores and how they compare to the bestseller scores. You can see them below –
On AnTuTu, the Nokia 7.2 was only comparable to smartphones launched in the first half of 2019. By the second half, with phones like the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Realme 5 Pro coming in, the Nokia 7.2 couldn’t quite match the performance. Still, the Geekbench scores are quite impressive as it takes a smartphone powered by the Snapdragon 712 and the MediaTek Helio P90. However, the 3DMark score is still quite low.
But benchmarks only tell part of the story. Despite an older processor, you won’t really have any problems using the smartphone as a daily driver. The pure, standard Android interface ensures that there is no delay in operating the user interface. But apps take a significant amount of time to open, especially the most popular ones like Facebook and Instagram. Games like PUBG Mobile also took over a minute to get to the main menu. So this is clearly not the fastest smartphone in the segment, but it is easy to use. I will give that.
I did try out a few games on the Nokia 7.2 to see how the frame rates and stability numbers compare to the competition. On Call of Duty: Mobile, the Nokia 7.2 delivered 60 FPS at 84% stability, while PUBG Mobile ran at 30 FPS at 97% stability and Asphalt 9 at 30 FPS at 89% stability. The game stats were a revelation after the mediocre performance on benchmark results. The Nokia 7.2 proved to be quite capable as a gaming device, despite the lack of a dedicated game mode and all the bells and whistles that other mid-rangers tout as gaming improvements. While we didn’t get the best graphics quality and load times were often too long, there wasn’t a single drop in the frame once you were playing the map. That’s what counts in the end, and that’s what the Nokia 7.2 delivers flawlessly.
The good thing about the Nokia 7.2 is that no matter what other Android smartphone you come from, you will feel right at home with it. Even if you come from a Xiaomi or Realme smartphone, the user interface is quite intuitive and easy to use. Not much of a learning curve there. There’s an app drawer that shows relevant apps at the top, giving you quick access, and whatever critics say, gestures on Android 9 aren’t that bad. It takes some time to get used to the pill-shaped home button at first, and the two-step process of accessing the app drawer is definitely tedious, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.
The Nokia 7.2 is also a showcase of all of Google’s additions to Android 9, and in the future it will also get Android 10’s native features, including live captioning, dark mode, and more. So if you are looking for enhanced features popular in Realme and Xiaomi smartphones, this is not the one to get. While using the smartphone as a daily driver, I realized that this is an excellent option for those who just need the basics. Not much bloatware with the Google ecosystem of apps dominating your use, and a clean interface that doesn’t distract you from the work at hand.
The Nokia 7.2 comes with a 3500mAh battery that charges with a regular 10W charger. Charging speed is definitely an issue as I had to keep the phone plugged in for over two hours to charge it up. No fast charging here. But the battery, thanks to all the energy optimizations that Android 10 brings, can easily last a day. I used it at events to take photos and videos, send and receive messages through multiple apps, and play a few games, and by evening there was about 20 percent charge left. That’s just decent compared to the rest.
In our battery life tests, the Nokia 7.2 lasted 568 minutes with PCMark Work 2.0 Battery Test, which translates to a screen time of about nine hours, which is pretty decent. 15 minutes of PUBG Mobile drained the battery by about 4 percent, while 30 minutes of Big Bang Theory on Netflix drained about 6 percent.
After the penta-camera setup on the Nokia 9 PureView, the Nokia 7.2 brings a triple camera setup. No, the camera settings are not related anywhere, but HMD has continued to work with Zeiss optics to develop the camera. On the Nokia 7.2 you get a 48MP primary sensor with f/1.8 aperture, along with an 8MP ultrawide sensor and another 5MP depth sensor. So technically only two of the three lenses are used for shooting. The third is capturing depth information for photos. Nokia uses the Pro camera app for this, where you can use more or less all the options just by fiddling with the shutter button. Swipe up to access professional controls and swipe left or right to switch between portrait, night, and video modes. Switching between lenses is also easy, as the option is located directly above the shutter button, while the top shelf is sprinkled with extra options that might not look very aesthetically pleasing, but I found it quite useful.
Here’s how the camera performed –
The primary 48MP camera is quite good at taking photos during the day, provided there is enough light. The AI scene recognition kicks in almost immediately and you can see the phone applying the extra settings in real time through the viewfinder. I especially liked the HDR capabilities of the camera. Shooting in direct sun should have darkened the shadows on most other mid-range smartphones, but the Nokia 7.2 manages to get a lot of detail out of the shadows, even from the ultra-wide angle lens. The Nokia 7.2 also doesn’t apply too much saturation and contrast to the photos, and the colors appear much more natural than others. Now this may not suit users who are used to enhanced colors that most AI algorithms usually do. The camera is also very good at reproducing textures, as you can see in the puppy photo.
In low light, the camera performance of the Nokia 7.2 decreases significantly. That was previously the case with most smartphones, but offerings from Realme and Redmi have really set a benchmark for low-light photography this year, and the Nokia 7.2 is struggling to compete with it. You can see in the two pictures above how the details are clouded. We used night mode to get the shots (which also takes a good 4-5 seconds to get the shot), and while the brightness and colors are mostly good, the detail and sharpness are lacking.
Portraits and selfies
Portrait mode and selfies come out pretty well. The background blur looks a bit artificial and there are areas of the hair that are faded, but overall the detail and sharpness are on point.
Design and display
The Nokia 7.2 is beautifully made. HMD used a new technique to mill this with polycarbonate, but I bet you wouldn’t even realize it’s plastic. We received the Charcoal Black variant of the device and there was a murmur of appreciation right after it came out of the box. Despite the use of plastic and a gigantic, protruding camera bump, the Nokia 7.2 looks good and stands out from the crowd. Most polycarbonate smartphones look cheap these days, but the Nokia 7.2 is not one of them. Instead, you get a breathing power button that alerts you when a notification is pending, a USB-C port, and rounded corners. The phone is also quite easy to hold and use. It is not slippery and it is not a fingerprint magnet. But from the front, the Nokia 7.2 now looks quite old-fashioned. There is quite a large notch and a thick chin with the Nokia logo engraved on it. The company could have dropped the logo placement and extended the bottom panel a little more. There is a single speaker on the bottom and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top.
The 6.3-inch display is another plus of the Nokia 7.2. The LCD panel works like an OLED panel thanks to Nokia’s Pure Display technology, which simply means that the panel has an increased dynamic contrast ratio that makes blacks appear blacker despite a backlight illuminating the pixels in the LCD. Nokia has also managed to get HDR10 certification for the display, although we’re not sure if this is primarily a 10-bit panel. Despite HDR certification, content from Amazon and Netflix will not play in HDR. You can only watch HDR videos on YouTube. The phone also has a special chip to convert SDR videos to HDR, but I didn’t see a big difference in videos or games. Nevertheless, the 6.3-inch LCD went up to 558 lux in maximum brightness under the sun, and went down to 5 lux in minimum brightness in the dark.
The Nokia 7.2 may not look that powerful, but it is a joy to use. Perfectly suited to the lightweight Android interface, the Snapdragon 660 provides reliable performance when performing usual daily tasks, as well as gaming. The camera is the dark horse and delivers consistently good results, provided the subject is well lit. Low-light images are a weakness, however. The Nokia 7.2 is also one of the best-looking smartphones in its segment, despite a polycarbonate body and quite a large camera bump.