Looks aren’t everything. That’s quite the claim to make in a world where being famous on Instagram can make you loads of money — which is fine ‘cos you’ll need the cash for spinal ops from holding all those odd (but photogenic) poses. But looks really don’t matter. They’re nice to have. But they don’t matter.
Nokia’s 7.2 is almost the perfect example of this. It won’t grab your attention by the back of the head and scream “NOTICE ME!” in its face. At least, the Charcoal coloured Nokia 7.2 we had for review won’t do that. But, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice just how bloody attractive the whole package really is.
Out on the plain
Nokia’s budget handset isn’t an Insta attention-getter. It’s a black rectangle, a smartphone distilled down to its essence. The 6.3in display is broken by a notch that holds the front-facing 20MP camera, but that notch isn’t visible when the screen is inactive. The edge is a single clean frame, with power and volume keys on the right, and a Google Assistant button on the left. There’s a headphone port up top and a USB-C charge port at the base. Standard stuff, though it looks understately good.
Around back, there’s not much distinguishing the phone either. A single smooth panel, broken by the camera bump and fingerprint sensor, as well as the Nokia logo, is all you’ll see. There’s nothing flashy here — it’s the difference between hot-pants and an elegant evening dress. The Nokia 7.2 isn’t trying to show off. It knows what it’s packing.
The Nokia 7.2 is a mid-range phone, albeit an impressive example of one. If you’re rocking a budget, as most of the country is wont to do, then this handset should be high on your list of possibles. Most of the reason for that is the software, which we’ll get to in a minute, but the hardware is no slouch either.
There are a couple of spec versions out there but ours featured Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage — the price of which’ll run you about R6,000 out of contract. We jammed this hardware through the usual run of benchmarking, seeing some decent results — especially when it comes to processor performance. Galaxy S8-ish performance, in fact. It’s less impressive on the GPU front — the phone won’t play Fortnite, if that’s your benchmark, but it should handle quite a lot of the other stuff out there with aplomb.
If you care about numbers, the Nokia 7.2 pulled off 337 for single-core performance in Geekbench 5, and 1506 for multi-core. Antutu, it scooped 178256 overall, and in 3DMark’s Slingshot Extreme test it managed 1356 for Open GL ES 3.1 and 1295 for Vulkan, with an average frame rate of 9fps for both. Like we said, it’s speedy enough for daily (and varied) usage but its gaming chops could be better cooked.
The software is the obvious drawcard here. Nokia’s big advantage is its Android One status, a big deal in South Africa where Google’s Pixel handsets are as rare as wholly-honest government officials. We know they exist but nobody’s ever seen one in person.
The upshot is that the Android 9 OS here is the smoothest you’ll use outside of an official Google handset. Operation is smooth throughout, shortcuts are easy to understand and tips and tricks are kept to a minimum. Even if we wish Google would just detect that we’ve used an Android phone some time in the past ten years and stop trying to be so helpful. There’s not much to say about the software. It’s good, it’s fast, it works, it shuts up and leaves us alone. Facebook should take notes.
The software is also responsible for the camera and it’s here that the Nokia 7.2 also excels. It’s quick off the mark in auto mode and capture and reproduction are great. Colours are natural, without being washed out, but you might find yourself wishing for the pop of Samsung’s cameras when it comes to brightly coloured objects. Night Mode is worth playing with as well — software trickery helps your darker shots out a fair amount. The three-sensor setup (48MP/8MP/5MP) lets you switch between standard and wide-field on the fly, allowing you to fire off a range of shots in quick succession. The results are… pretty bloody good for a R6k smartphone.
Nokia 7.2 Verdict
Are there better phones on the market? Well… yes. But you’re not going to find many of them at Nokia’s price point and the 7.2 has the benefit of that whole Android One promise. You know, guaranteed support for Android for at least two years. That means you should be able to run Android 11, whatever that turns out to be, on this thing. Right now, though, it’s a neat balance of speed, features, price and style. It’s not the most eye-catching of phones but it does what it does quickly, cleanly, and without making any fuss. The Nokia 7.2 is quiet, confident, and really quite attractive when you stop to check it out.
Display: 6.3in IPS LCD
Processor: Snapdragon 660 SDM660 (14nm)
RAM: 4GB LPDDR4 1866MHz
Storage: 64GB (51GB available)
Cameras: 48MP f/1.8, 8MP f/2.2, 5MP f/2.4, LED flash (rear), 20MP f/2.0 (front)
Battery: 3,500mAh Li-Po
Dimensions: 159.9 x 75.2 x 8.3mm
Price: R6000 | hmdglobal.com
The best budget phone you'll find on the market right now
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