Nokia 7.2 Review: Nokia finally gets Real, and says “Gimme Red!”

A mid-segment contender from HMD, at long last

by: - Last updated on: October 18th, 2019

Nokia’s road back into the Indian market has been an uneven one so far. Yes, the brand has been warmly welcomed by most of the tech community but the general consumer has been warier. And this, to an extent at least, can be attributed to the perception that most of Nokia’s devices on its comeback trail have been priced slightly on the higher side, especially when compared with the likes of what Realme and Xiaomi (Redmi) are offering. Even while critics have mooned over the joys of pure stock Android and regular updates, consumers have hemmed and hawed about price tags and comparable specs. Even the Nokia 7 Plus, arguably its best device in its comeback, did take a bit of heat for a price tag that seemed a little out of sync with what was available in the market.

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The Nokia 7.2 attempts to fix that. And tries to emerge as a viable contender in the highly competitive mid-segment of the Indian smartphone market. But does it succeed?

Forget that chip…

Some might feel that the former smartphone number one is perhaps still off the pace a little. In case you missed our first cut, the 7.2 is decently specced, but comes with a 6.3 inch full HD+ display, is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, with 4 GB and 6 GB RAM variants, 64 GB storage (expandable), a 3500 mAh battery and has a fingerprint scanner on the back.

Some would go “Oh so 2018!” at that. And we can understand where they are coming from – people now are increasingly getting accustomed to Snapdragon 7 series devices and AMOLED displays in this price band, not to mention batteries of 4000 mAh or more.

The Nokia 7.2 has none of these.

… check that design!

Yet it succeeds in shining more often than not. And literally so in design terms.

There is this glorious myth that Nokia used to make phones that looked relatively plain but were very tough – remember that video of a pavement cracking when a Nokia phone fell on it? Well, like most myths, it was not really true. Yes, some Nokia phones were really sturdy and tough if a little plain, but Nokia could turn on the style when it wanted to – anyone remember its gorgeous Moto RAZR clone, the N76 or the more recent Sirocco edition of the Nokia 8? So yes, while some pundits will keep harping the “Nokia phones built like tanks” line, the fact is that the brand was capable of some very eye-catching design.

It is this facet that it brings to its latest offering in the Indian market, the Nokia 7.2.

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We got the green unit of the device and take it from us, it is perhaps the best-looking device in the sub-Rs 20,000 segment, with its elegantly finished curved glass back. Some might not like the circular protruding camera unit (once oh so Moto, now oh so OnePlus), but we really think that most will be too busy gazing with admiration at the back on which it is placed, which gives the phone a very classy, almost smooth stone-like feel. It is a very premium look. We had said that it was easily the best-looking phone in the sub-Rs 20,000 category in our first cut, and we repeat that. At a time when most mid-segment offerings are going a little overboard with the gradient finish craze, we found the Nokia 7.2 to be an incredibly elegant and classy offering.

Those Zeiss optics finally deliver

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Also adding to the premium experience are the cameras of the device. Now, Nokia was a trendsetter when it came to phone cameras about a decade ago (remember the N95 and its successors?), but it has had slightly mixed results since its comeback. Yes, the “Zeiss optics” have been in place, but the results have never really matched what the competition has been offering. The Nokia 7.2’s cameras, however, deliver a very polished performance. The phone comes with a 48-megapixel main sensor, a 5-megapixel depth sensor, and an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens. This being a Nokia, they all come with Zeiss optics.

And this time they deliver. Yes, there is a tendency to oversaturate colours, but in terms of detail and handling of light and shadow, we would say that the Nokia 7.2 is one of the better phone cameras in its price segment, and is confidently able to hold its own against the likes of Redmi Note 7 Pro, Vivo Z1x and Realme. We actually think the color reproduction from the main sensor is better than what we got from the higher-end Nokia 8.1 (which incidentally is available for a lower price now). Even the portrait shots came out very well, although sometimes a bit of the subject got blurred or a bit of the background sharpened. Nokia has thrown in some special features in the portrait mode, allowing you to change the kind of bokeh effect you get – a nice touch, we think. We also like the way in which the camera suggested that we try portrait mode when we were taking a snap of a person. Nice touch, really. Low light photography deserves a special mention, as we felt the Nokia 7.2 delivered some very good shots in terms of color, although detail sometimes tended to get lost.

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That said, as in some other devices, we really felt that the wide-angle lens’ utility got undermined by its relatively low megapixel count. The moment we switched to wide mode, we not only saw some of the detail go missing but also the colors seemed to change subtly. We would not go so far as to call this a deal-breaker but would simply recommend using the main sensor for your photography when detail and color are more important than a slightly wider perspective. The front-facing 20-megapixel camera, however, gets a very good score in our book, especially as it seemed to void aggressive smoothing of the skin and deliver reasonably realistic results. Portrait mode on the selfie camera is particularly impressive, although sometimes the camera “unblurred” people in the background, leading to some very interesting results.

Not a spec monster, but a performance pro

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Its cameras and design make the Nokia 7.2 special, but its chip drags it back into slightly more normal territory. The Snapdragon 660 was a very good processor, and was a star performer in the Nokia 7 Plus, but then the 7 Plus was released in early 2018. A lot of chippy water has passed under the processor bridge since then, and while the 660 remains a good performer, it no longer is the sort of leader of the mid-segment pack that it once was. Yes, it handles image processing well enough and is a smooth operator in casual gaming waters but head towards the likes of PUBG and the newer Asphalt games and the lags start to creep in. These would have been acceptable a year or so ago perhaps but the presence of Snapdragon 675, 710 and 712 chips at lower price points have made us harsher judges. We are going to be painfully blunt about it – if you are into heavy-duty gaming but on a tight budget, this is not the device for you (we would recommend something from the Vivo Z series, really).

For some that would perhaps be the signal to put a “RIP” sign on the prospects of the Nokia 7.2. We would, however, beg to differ. For, the fact is that while it is not a benchmarking barnstormer, the Nokia 7.2 is still a very good phone. The display might seem a little on the darker side in bright sunlight but actually is very good for viewing videos and text. And if you are looking at multitasking and running Chrome with a number of tabs open, the Nokia 7.2 will handle them with ease, and will not skip a beat if you have all your social networks buzzing in the backdrop of regular apps. Of course, this being a Nokia device, you get stock Android (Android Pie out of the box, with 10 en route, and surely not too far away given Nokia’s excellent update record).

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Then there is the battery. 3500 mAh might sound relatively small in comparison to the 4000 and 5000 mAh batteries we are seeing (Samsung has even thrown a 6000 mAh one in the mix), but in combination with that Snapdragon 660 chip, it was able to see off a day of normal use quite easily, and even go beyond with some care (Nokia claims two day battery life but we think that is a slight overstatement). There will be those who might miss fast charging (the phone comes with a 10W charger), but on the flip side, that smaller battery does get charged faster. Of course, this being a Nokia, call quality was very much on point. We are not convinced about the dedicated Google Assistant button (it is on the left) but it can be handy once one gets used to it.

Here’s looking at the Mi-s and Me-s, Red and Real!

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The Nokia 7.2, starts at Rs 18,599 for its 4 GB/ 64 GB variant (the 6 GB/ 64 GB variant is available for Rs 19,599). Some might think that is slightly on the higher side. But just consider what you get:

Very good design.
A very able, if slighter older, processor.
A good display.
Very good cameras.
Stock Android (with a great update record)
Decent battery life.
Generally smooth performance.

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Unlike its mid-segmented predecessors that used to lag well behind offerings from the competition, the Nokia 7.2 actually manages to go toe to toe with them. If you are a spec hunter, you might not get too impressed by the chip on the Nokia 7.2 and might hem and haw about the battery. But if you are looking at a phone that looks premium and takes great pictures and for the most part, performs very smoothly, the 7.2 could well be the phone for you. The Redmi and Realme mid-segments might beat it in terms of newer processors and larger batteries but the 7.2 closes the gap on them in terms of the camera on them and opens up a gap of its own in terms of design. Add the stock Android with regular update factor and a battery life that while not being outstanding is more than adequate and we guess Realme and Redmi have reason to look over their shoulders.

And if that does not tell you something about the Nokia 7.2, nothing will.

Buy Nokia 7.2 on Flipkart

  • Great design
  • Good cameras
  • Smooth general performance
  • Not a high-end game master
  • Processor on the older side
  • No fast charging or dust/water resistance
Review Overview

It has been trying to make its presence felt in the mid-segment of the Indian smartphone market but has been coming up short in the spec-price department. But Nokia is looking to change that with the 7.2, which might finally be the first Nokia to have what it takes to rattle the Redmi-Realme cage.


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