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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
Attractive, standout design
Large, crisp 6.3-inch screen
128GB storage + microSD support
Solid battery life
Good value for price
Cameras can be inconsistent
Middling video recording
The Nokia 7.2 delivers a strong, budget-friendly package. It’s a mid-priced phone with good looks, a great screen, and mostly solid performance.
Nokia’s rebirth as an Android phone maker (under brand licensee HMD Global) has mostly come through affordable and budget handsets, rather than extravagant flagship models—well, aside from the penta-camera Nokia 9 PureView. Most of Nokia’s recent releases are wallet-friendly models that keep some of the company’s iconic Finnish design philosophy and pair it with modest components, typically yielding pretty good overall results.
The Nokia 7.2 is another example of that, building off of the very good Nokia 7.2 and delivering a solidly-capable handset with a large, beautiful screen and a design that punches above its price category. Granted, the $300-400 space is more competitive than ever thanks to Google’s excellent Pixel 3a, but the Nokia 7.2 still makes a strong case for itself. I tested the Nokia 7.2 for more than a week and was overall very pleased with this well-priced handset.
The Nokia 7.2 is one of the most striking mid-range phones that I’ve handled, although color probably has something to do with it. The Cyan Green version I reviewed delivers a gorgeous hue that feels very distinctive across the entire smartphone market—and unlike some phones in this price category, it uses glass on the back instead of plastic. The frosted glass finish dazzles in Cyan Green, and the Ice edition looks similarly sleek, although the Charcoal version doesn’t look to have the same level of impact.
From the front, the Nokia 7.2 also keeps up with current flagship trends, with an extra-tall screen with a water drop-style camera notch at the top and a medium-sized “chin” of bezel at the bottom. Overall, the bezel is a bit chunkier than on pricier flagship phones, and the Nokia logo at the bottom is also a classic tell of a lower-end phone—but those are small complaints. Nokia opted for a plastic frame, but the brushed green look could pass for aluminum from afar.
Nokia put the volume rocker and power button on the right side of the phone, and the power button has a neat trick—a white light that steadily glows and fades if you have a notification. Meanwhile, the button on the left side of the phone lets you pull up the Google Assistant with a press. There’s a 3.5mm headphone port on the top of the frame, thankfully, and a USB-C port alongside the speaker grate on the bottom. The speedy fingerprint sensor sits on the back just below the circular camera module. As is common for cheaper phones, however, there is no IP rating for dust or water resistance, so be careful when it rains.
The frosted glass finish dazzles in Cyan Green, and the Ice edition looks similarly sleek, although the Charcoal version doesn’t look to have the same level of impact.
The Nokia 7.2 ships with a hearty 128GB of internal storage, which should be enough for many users, but you can expand that further by slotting in a microSD card (up to 512GB).
As with other modern Android devices, setting up the Nokia 7.2 is a very straightforward process. Simply hold down the power button on the right side of the screen for a few seconds to begin setup, and then follow the software prompts on the screen. You’ll need to connect to a Wi-Fi or cellular network to continue, log into a Google account, accept the terms and conditions, and choose from a few settings before continuing. You can also restore from a saved backup from another phone, or transfer data from an Android phone or iPhone.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip in the Nokia 7.2 is a mid-range processor, but it’s effective here with Android 9 Pie installed. Getting around the interface is smooth and speedy, although I hit occasional sluggish hitches here and there. That’s common for phones of this ilk, but it’s not detrimental enough to register as a serious concern. With 4GB RAM onboard, those little bits of slowdown are thankfully rare.
In benchmark testing, I recorded a score of 6,020 from PCMark’s Work 2.0 performance test, which is nearly identical to the 6,015 seen on the Motorola Moto G7 (Snapdragon 632) and a bit higher than the 5,757 recorded with the Samsung Galaxy A50 (Exynos 9610). The slightly pricier Google Pixel 3a offers a nice speed bump with its Snapdragon 670 chip, however, which registered a score of 7,413. Surprisingly, the Nokia 7.2’s score is slightly lower than the 6,113 that our reviewer registered with the older Nokia 7.1—but the results can vary slightly from test to test. It’s certainly not a slower-feeling handset.
At least GPU performance is clearly improved on the Nokia 7.2. Using GFXBench, we recorded 8.2 frames per second with the graphically-intensive Car Chase demo, and 46 frames per second with the simpler T-Rex benchmark. Neither touches the kind of performance seen on pricier flagship phones, but both scores are improvements over the Nokia 7.1. They’re pretty close to what we saw on the Galaxy A50, too, and better than what the Moto G7 could muster.
Playing games on the Nokia 7.2 proved to be a totally solid experience, whether it was speedy racer Asphalt 9: Legends or competitive shooter Call of Duty Mobile. Both smartly dialed down the detail and resolution to deliver a pretty smooth frame rate, and neither felt hobbled by the mid-range tech.
On Verizon’s 4G LTE network, I recorded download speeds that were a bit less than I’ve seen with other phones in this testing area. Using the Speedtest.net app, I registered download speeds between 24-29Mbps and upload speeds of 14-27Mbps. Surprisingly, the upload speeds were actually quite a bit higher than usual.
Our Nokia 7.1 reviewer also noted download speeds that were slightly under par, so that might be a recurring trait of this tech. In any case, it’s a matter of a few megabits at most, and the Nokia 7.2 didn’t feel sluggish in everyday usage. It can also connect to 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi networks, and I had no problems with either in my testing.
You don’t have to compromise on screen size to save a bit of money with the Nokia 7.2. This 6.3-inch LCD screen looks and feels sizable indeed, although it makes the phone feel pretty wide at nearly 3 inches across.
It’s a really pleasing screen to look at, too. At 2340x1080, it’s a nice, crisp panel that packs in 403 pixels per inch, plus Nokia’s PureDisplay technology means it’s HDR10-compliant for compatible content. And it’ll also automatically convert standard content to HDR, ensuring you get a pretty vivid picture regardless of what you’re watching. While it’s not the brightest screen I’ve seen on a phone, it’ll get the job done.
Sound quality is carried over from the Nokia 7.1, unfortunately. The Nokia 7.2 has a single driver pumping out sound from the bottom of the phone, and it’s not great. Audio playback is a bit tinny and doesn’t deliver much bass response. We wouldn’t recommend playing music out loud using the speaker, but it’s totally fine for watching videos. Still, you’re better off plugging in headphones (wired earbuds are included) or speakers using the 3.5mm port, or connecting to either using Bluetooth.
The Google Pixel 3a has spoiled us for mid-range camera quality. Like a lot of phones in this price range, the Nokia 7.2 is capable of taking great shots, but doesn’t consistently deliver on that promise. Nokia advertises the back camera module as a triple-camera setup, although the 5-megapixel sensor is strictly for depth data for portrait/bokeh shots—you really only get two useable cameras here.
In ideal outdoor lighting, the 48-megapixel main camera can take really strong shots, packing in plenty of crisp detail with good dynamic range. Indoors, however, or in lower-light scenarios, I’d pick up a lot of blur or muddled shots. It’s very hit-or-miss in those scenarios. Meanwhile, the ultra-wide camera pulls back to give you a wider view for environmental shots and backgrounds. At just 8 megapixels, however, there’s a noticeable downgrade in quality and definition to shots even with strong lighting. They’re often fine, but the main camera shots are clearly better.
Like a lot of phones in this price range, the Nokia 7.2 is capable of taking great shots, but doesn’t consistently deliver on that promise.
On the video front, I found the recording quality to underwhelming. The Nokia 7.2 records at up to 4K resolution, but the resulting footage looked very muddled on detail and a bit washed-out too. While video stabilization is visible from the main camera, the ultra-wide camera footage was much shakier.
The 3,500mAh battery in the Nokia 7.2 is pretty sizable, easily delivering a comfortable full day’s usage. We ended most nights with about 30 percent of a charge remaining, which meant we could’ve gone harder on games and streaming media during the day.
One downside, however, is that the phone only charges at 10W. Fast-charging phones usually offer 15W or 18W, and you won’t get as quick of a top-up on the Nokia 7.2. Also, the phone lacks wireless charging, which is pretty typical for a phone in this price range.
The Nokia 7.2 runs Android 9 Pie out of the box, and Nokia hasn’t done a heavy-handed job of skinning the operating system here. It’s pretty clean overall, and ran smoothly in my experience, as previously noted.
One notable change is that the Nokia 7.2 has gesture navigation permanently enabled, and the option to switch to the classic three-button navbar was nowhere to be found in settings. Mostly, that’s fine—the swipe-based system for switching between apps and getting home works well, although anyone used to the three-button system may encounter a steep learning curve. Also, swiping up on the bottom bar to bring up your apps screen doesn’t feel quite as smooth and seamless as on other current Android phones.
The Nokia 7.2 is an Android One phone, too, which means you’re promised at least two years of Android OS upgrades, along with three years of security updates. That means that you’ll get Android 10 at some point (it’s started rolling out in March), and likely also Android 11 if Google’s usual annual upgrade pattern continues.
The Nokia 7.2 doesn’t look like a $349 phone, thanks to its stylish design—including matte backing glass and a striking green color, at least in the version I reviewed. It also has a great, large screen that impressed. Elsewhere, the performance and camera quality are more typical for a mid-ranger, but those big perks help the Nokia 7.2 feel like a strong value for the price.
In the mid-range category, $50 can make a lot of difference. Shave off $50 and you get the $299 Motorola Moto G7 (see on Motorola), a phone that is comparably equipped in some ways but has a much less distinctive design and struggles to run 3D games. The Nokia 7.2 also has a slight edge on camera quality, too.
Bump up another $50, however, and you upgrade to the $399 Google Pixel 3a (see on Google). The standard Pixel 3a has a smaller screen at 5.6-inch, but it also has the only true flagship-quality camera in this price range, delivering consistently great snaps that the Nokia 7.2 can’t match. If you have the money to spend, it’s well worth it.
The larger-screened 6-inch Pixel 3a XL sells for $479 (see on Google), with a much larger gulf between that and the Nokia 7.2. If a big screen is more important to you than constant camera quality—and you don’t want to come close to spending $500 on a phone—then the Nokia 7.2 might be your best pick after all.
You might also consider the $349 Samsung Galaxy A50 (see on Samsung), which similarly has a big screen and looks pretty slick (despite plastic backing). It has a bit less processing power onboard, but takes pretty good photos and has strong battery life. Overall, we’d put it neck-and-neck with the Nokia 7.2 in terms of value.
Impressive performance for the price.
The Nokia 7.2 is a strong sub-$400 smartphone, with eye-catching design and a great screen, along with solid power and battery life. Camera quality keeps it from being a neck-and-neck rival to Google’s Pixel 3a—but if that’s not your number-one concern or you’re not sold on Google’s own take on Android, then the Nokia 7.2 is well worth a look.