As we broach the new decade, buying a smartphone has become somewhat of a fraught experience. Depending on your home market, it's relatively easy to walk into a carrier store and leave equipped with a $1000+ phone that didn't cost anything upfront. It masks the true cost of the device through two or more years of monthly payments, similar to a loan.
But that phone still costs what it costs, and it's overkill for those who just want something that works. Thankfully, we're well past the point where a $250 phone "just works" — the Nokia 6.2, the latest in the Finnish upstart's line of Android One-powered budget devices, brings a relatively sharp knife to the gunfight of smartphone competition, and it manages to walk away with a few well-earned jabs.
At a glance
Bottom line: The Nokia 6.2 is a solid, if uninspired, budget phone that gets the job done. With a modern design, snappy performance, and excellent rear camera, it's worth the money. But the occasional performance hiccup and poor front-facing camera hamper the excitement somewhat. Still, you can't do much better for $250.
- Nice, modern design
- Rear cameras produce photos of excellent quality
- Two years of software updates through Android One
- Poor selfie quality
- Slow charging speeds
- Performance stutters
- Doesn't work on Verizon or Sprint in the U.S.
Nokia 6.2 What I like
When you're buying a $250 phone, how strict do you want to keep with a typical evaluative rubric? Should the phone be made of metal, or is plastic OK? Should it run flawlessly, or are a few hiccups good enough? Should your camera be able to see in the dark, or is some grain allowed?
To my mind, a phone like the Nokia 6.2 shouldn't be scrutinized to the same extent as one double or triple its price, mainly because it's not promising the world. But what it does promise — a well-designed product that gets the job done in almost every situation — it delivers.
|Operating System||Android 9 Pie
2280 x 1080
Gorilla Glass 3
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 636|
Expandable up to 512GB
|Rear Cameras||16MP primary camera
8MP ultra-wide camera
5MP depth sensor
|Security||Rear fingerprint sensor
|Dimensions||159.9 x 75.1 x 8.3mm|
The phone looks almost identical to the $350 Nokia 7.2, which we reviewed in the waning months of 2019, and which Joe Maring and may others thought underwhelmed for the price, mainly because it didn't stand up to others in its price bracket. The Nokia 6.2 is even less powerful than that, with cameras that perform even worse, and yet it's hard to heavily criticize such a reality.
Big and round, the 6.3-inch screen has a 1080p resolution and enough attractive adjectives to get a passing grade: lovely, saturated colors; decent viewing angles; and an HDR rating that allows for such content to be accurately conveyed.
Touch response is good, though the aging Snapdragon 636 chip doesn't do the phone's overall responsiveness any favors, and brightness levels should suffice except in the harshest of sunlight.
The right side of the phone has a power button that doubles as a blinking notification light, which I genuinely found useful when placed on a table, while the left has a dedicated Google Assistant key that most Nokia phones now come equipped with (and works in conjunction with the Android One-based software on board).
I used the phone long enough to feel like its 3,500mAh battery was good enough to get through a day of use, and the Android 9 Pie-based software felt always identical to any Pixel phone, barring a few missing Google-specific features. I received two monthly security updates, going from November 2019 to December, and then recently to January, though Android 10 still seems elusive for Nokia's lower-priced models (I received the update a couple of weeks ago on the Nokia 9 PureView, all the good that it did to save that disaster of a phone).
The phone's rear has three camera sensors, a 16MP main sensor, an 8MP ultra wide-angle and a dedicated depth sensor. While I'd be cautious in praising the Nokia 6.2's camera system too much, for the price ayou're getting a very good set of tools, including a primary camera that performs very well outdoors and a depth sensor that's often able to stitch a seamless portrait.
And while the ultra wide option feels cobbled together from cheap parts, it's always nice to have the option on-hand, especially coming from the Pixel 4 which has the opposite problem.
Nokia 6.2 What I don't like
If you're to take the Nokia 6.2 on specs alone, you may want to avoid the thing entirely. The Snapdragon 636 is aging out quickly, which is likely how Nokia was able to price the phone $100 lower than its Snapdragon 660-powered counterpart.
The moments of slowdown were seldom and seemingly random, but I immediately noticed how leisurely apps opened or how often, with just 4GB of RAM, apps would be killed in the background.
The 8MP front-facing camera is outright terrible: hazy and unable to distinguish detail, I'd avoid using it altogether, even out of desperation. If selfies are a priority, just avoid this phone altogether.
From a cellular perspective, the Nokia 6.2, like all Nokia phones, only works on GSM-based carriers, so you can't use it on Verizon or Sprint or any of their subbrands or MVNOs. That cuts out a pretty large portion of the U.S. buying public, but the phone works great on T-Mobile, AT&T and most other carriers around the world.
And finally, the phone may have a large 3,500mAh battery, but charging it takes forever — nearly two hours — thanks to slow 10W charging on-board.
Nokia 6.2 Should you buy it?
The value proposition for a phone like this is very simple: you're getting a well-designed piece of hardware with acceptable but aging specs at a very reasonable price. Nokia employs Android One on all of its phones, which means a least one platform update and at least two years of monthly security patches.
Some reviews of this phone point out that there are many phones in its price range that offer better specs, but most of them, from companies like OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi and Huawei, are not available in North America. The Nokia 6.2's most direct competitor is the $250 Moto G7 Power, which is similarly spec'd (though with a much larger battery) but falls behind on the software experience. If I had the choice, I'd buy this one.
A decent choice
The Nokia 6.2 is a solid, if uninspired, budget phone that gets the job done. With a modern design, snappy performance, and excellent rear camera, it's worth the money. But the occasional performance hiccup and poor front-facing camera hamper the excitement somewhat. Still, you can't do much better for $250.
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