Skip to main content

Nokia 7.2 review: The mixed bag mid-ranger

Nokia 7.2
(Image: © Android Central)

Our Verdict

Bottom line: On its own, the Nokia 7.2 is an excellent buy. It has a premium design, fantastic display, and clean software backed by guaranteed updates. It has its fair share of flaws, however, with some of the main points being the sluggish performance and a disappointing ultra-wide camera. The overall value you're getting with the 7.2 is quite good, but competing phones like the Pixel 3a make it a tougher sell.

For

  • Outstanding hardware
  • Display is crisp and colorful
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Clean, up-to-date software
  • Google Assistant button

Against

  • Screen isn't very bright
  • Choppy performance
  • Weak ultra-wide camera
  • Auto-rotate often refuses to work

Last year, one of the best mid-rangers to be released in the U.S. was the Nokia 7.1. The Nokia 7.1 was unmatched in its $349 price tier, offering a feature and value combo that couldn't be ignored.

A lot has changed since then, however. Samsung and Apple are inching towards "affordable" price points with devices like the Galaxy S10e and iPhone 11, Samsung recently brought its A series over to the U.S., and then Google flipped the entire mid-range segment on its head with the Pixel 3a this past May.

The market that the Nokia 7.2 is entering this year looks a lot different compared to the one the Nokia 7.1 thrived in, and while the 7.2 is a really solid phone in many regards, it's not quite as simple of a purchase that its predecessor was.

Nokia 7.2 Hardware and display

Nokia phones have always been known for top-notch build quality, and this is an ideal that the Nokia 7.2 upholds extremely well. The front and back are made out of glass, whereas the frame is a "high-tech polymer that's twice as strong as polycarbonate and half the weight of aluminum." It's technically plastic, but it has a sturdy feel to it that does make it feel like aluminum in the hand.

CategoryNokia 7.2
Operating SystemAndroid 9 Pie
Android One
Display6.3-inches
2280 x 1080
IPS LCD
Gorilla Glass 3
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 660
Memory4GB RAM
Storage128GB
Expandable up to 512GB
Rear Cameras48MP primary camera
8MP ultra-wide camera
5MP depth sensor
SecurityRear fingerprint sensor
Face unlock
Battery3,500 mAh
10W charging
Dimensions159.9 x 75.2 x 8.3mm
Weight180g

Nokia gave the back glass a matte finish, and overall, I really like it. It does pick up fingerprints quite easily, but it's soft to the touch and stands out a bit from traditional glass back designs. Nokia's selling a downright stunning green colorway along with the boring black color I have, and it's the one I'd recommend picking up if you buy the phone.

The fit-and-finish of the Nokia 7.2 is definitely one of its strong suits. The phone feels like it was built with love and care, with a sturdy frame, clicky buttons, and a nice bit of heft giving it the essence of a much more expensive phone.

Speaking of buttons, there are a couple things worth pointing out about the ones on the 7.2. The power button has a built-in LED light that pulses when you receive a notification, and it's equal parts subtle and cool. You can turn it off if you want, but I wish every single phone would adopt something like this.

Moving over the left frame of the Nokia 7.2, you'll find an extra button that can prompt the Google Assistant just by single-pressing it. This is something we've seen on other Nokia phones before, and just like the LED light on the power button, I wish it was the norm across the entire industry.

Just as good as the Nokia 7.1's hardware is its display. You're getting a 6.3-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 2280 x 1080. That's the same resolution as the Nokia 7.1, but the screen is a bit larger compared to the 7.1's that measured in at 5.84-inches.

Just like the 7.1, the Nokia 7.2's display is a joy to look at. The notch has been shrunk down considerably along with a smaller chin, which is great to see considering that was one of last year's biggest complaints. Something that has stayed the same, and for the better, is Nokia's HDR PureDisplay technology.

The Nokia 7.2 has a phenomenal display.

In addition to supporting native HDR content, this also allows the Nokia 7.2 to natively convert SDR videos into HDR ones — resulting in a picture that's brighter and more colorful. You can disable this if you want, but I found it to be quite lovely. It gives everything you watch a noticeable pop, making movies, TV shows, and YouTube clips that much more enjoyable.

On that note, you can also enable the Nokia 7.2's "Dynamic Mode" to have it automatically adjust your screen's color, contrast, brightness, and white balance based on what you're doing. For example, if you're reading a book in the Kindle app, your screen will become warmer as to be easier on your eyes.

There's only one thing about the Nokia 7.2's display that I'm not a fan of, and that's outdoor visibility. The 7.2 has a peak brightness of 500-nits, and in my testing, this resulted in the display being quite challenging to see in direct sunlight. The 500-nit rating is better than something like the Pixel 3a that maxes out at around 338, but it's still not ideal in most outdoor settings.

Nokia 7.2 Performance and battery

Powering the Nokia 7.2 is a pretty typical mid-range affair. It's rocking Qualcomm's Snapdragon 660 processor — an octa-core CPU based on a 64-bit architecture — paired with 4GB of RAM.

This is a fine combination, and for most tasks, it works well. You can scroll through Twitter with ease, fire off emails without any hiccups, and stream Full HD YouTube videos in HDR to your heart's content.

Most folks should be served well by the 7.2's performance, but I couldn't help but notice that it felt more sluggish than I was expecting. Navigating through the UI is often met with choppy animations, scrolling through social feeds/webpages never feels buttery smooth, and the camera app takes a long time to actually capture an image after pressing the shutter button.

The Nokia 7.2 is fine with most tasks, but there's an overall sluggishness to the experience that never goes away.

I experienced similar performance issues with the Nokia 7.1 last year, but I only ever used the phone when it was running Android Oreo. Nokia supposedly improved performance on the 7.1 with a Pie update that arrived not too long after my review was published, but I haven't been able to go back and confirm that for myself.

With that in mind, I was hoping these quirks would be ironed out on the 7.2 with its faster processor and Pie being available out-of-the-box. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case.

While the Nokia 7.2 isn't the fastest phone on the market, it does make up some of those lost points with its battery. The Nokia 7.2 ships with a 3,500 mAh battery, and I was really pleased with the endurance I was able to eke out. If you're conscious about how often you use your phone throughout the day, it is possible to get through two days of use on one charge. At one point, I saw 4 hours and 34 minutes of screen-on-time with 47 hours off the charger before needing to refuel.

Granted, that included turning the Nokia 7.2 off at night, but I also did quite a lot of YouTube streaming throughout the day and regular use of apps like Slack, Gmail, and Chrome. Power-users will likely want to plug in at the end of a heavy day, but I'd be very surprised if you managed to completely drain the battery in a single day.

Rounding out this section of the review, I need to mention something that happened to me during my testing. I plugged the Nokia 7.2 in to charge one evening, I left for a couple of hours to go to a family dinner, and when I came back home, Android had completely derped out on the phone and was forced to the Android Recovery page.

I'm not sure when exactly this happened while I was gone or what caused it, and clicking the "try again" button to reboot Android returned everything back to normal. This could just be a freak thing with the specific model I have, but it's still worth noting in case it's not. I only saw this happen once during my over a week of testing, but the fact that it happened in the first place isn't a very reassuring sign.

Nokia 7.2 Cameras

The Nokia 7.1 took fine photos. They were serviceable for sharing on Twitter and Instagram, but that was about it. Nokia's making a much bigger push for the 7.2's cameras, as evident by the large circular camera housing on the back of the phone. There are a total of three cameras crammed into the Nokia 7.2, including a 48MP primary camera, 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 5MP depth sensor that's used for portrait shots.

Nokia's really pushing the Nokia 7.2's cameras as one of the biggest selling points, and as you might expect, there's a mix of good and bad here.

The 48MP camera captures a lot of detail and generally showcases vibrant colors, but it's not without its faults. Some images tend to be overly sharpened quite easily, deep reds often ended up looking much pinker than they should, and low-light photography leaves a lot to be desired. Taking pictures in environments with lots of good lighting will generally churn out good results, but this is a sensor that can be easily challenged depending on what you're trying to capture. Then again, considering this is a phone that costs $350, the issues it has shouldn't be all that surprising.

The 118-degree ultra-wide camera is a lot of fun to use and opens up new possibilities with the types of photos you can take, but similar to a lot of other phones with an ultra-wide lens, there's a very noticeable decrease in image quality compared to the primary camera. Not only does the ultra-wide camera take much softer pictures, but its color temperature is also drastically different. The two image comparisons below are good examples of this.

Main camera (left) and ultra-wide camera (right)

The building in the first picture (taken with the primary camera) looks true-to-life and has a very blue sky accompanying it. Overall, I'm quite happy with how it turned out! In the second picture, taken with the ultra-wide camera, the building has a noticeable tan/orange tint and is surrounded by a much lighter blue sky. Next, the outdoor shot of my apartment complex, the main camera captured a warm, yellowy morning while the ultra-wide camera is very cool and makes the sky look deep blue.

Main camera (left) and ultra-wide camera (right)

As for the portrait mode (see the above gallery), it's actually pretty good. The detail and color of the primary camera shine through, and Nokia allows you to change the effect and intensity after the fact. However, if you look closely, you'll find that it has a hard time properly keeping hair in/out of focus. Granted this is something a lot of portrait modes struggle with, so considering the Nokia 7.2's price, this is one aspect of the camera I'm rather pleased with.

Nokia 7.2 Software

Next, let's talk about one of the best things about the Nokia 7.2 — its software!

Android 9 Pie is available out-of-the-box, and an update to Android 10 should be coming soon. Just like all of Nokia's other devices, the 7.2 is part of the Android One program. This means a couple of things, the most important of which being guaranteed updates. You get two years of monthly security patches and major OS updates, meaning the 7.2 will see support through 2021.

That level of software support is great to see in the mid-range space, especially when big companies like Motorola and Samsung regularly drop the ball in these regards.

The other aspect of Android One that bodes well for the Nokia 7.2 is the clean UI that's present on the phone. The Nokia 7.2 feels very much like a Pixel device, or whatever "stock Android" is these days. There aren't pesky pre-installed apps to deal with, the included launcher/quick settings are exactly what you'd find on any of Google's phones, and the few customizations Nokia makes (such as the PureDisplay settings) don't get in the way if you have no interest in them.

Software is the thing that Nokia consistently excels at with its phones, and the Nokia 7.2 is no exception to that rule.

Nokia 7.2 Odds & Ends

Lastly, I want to touch on some aspects of the Nokia 7.2 that don't really fit anywhere else in this review. Most of these are little blurbs that just need a short mention, so let's dive in:

  • A USB-C port is used for charging the Nokia 7.2, and that makes me very happy. This is quickly becoming more and more common on less expensive handsets, and I'm thrilled that Nokia's embracing the port with such open arms.
  • The rear fingerprint sensor is very good. It might seem a little archaic with so many handsets opting for in-screen sensors, but personally, I'll take a rear-mounted one over in-screen crap any day of the week.
  • For those of you that still care, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack!
  • An NFC chip is present for contactless Google Pay payments.
  • There's just one speaker on the bottom of the Nokia 7.2. It gets loud enough and sounds fine, but I wish Nokia would have used the top earpiece for a stereo setup like we see on so many other phones.
  • Throughout my entire testing of the Nokia 7.2, I had a weird issue in which the auto-rotate regularly didn't work. I noticed this most often when in the YouTube app, and I'd have to precisely hold the phone upright and then gradually turn it horizontally to get everything to cooperate. It's a very odd bug, and as someone that watches a lot of YouTube, proved to be quite irritating in day-to-day use.

Nokia 7.2 Should you buy it?

I've been hard on the Nokia 7.2 throughout this review, but I don't want that to be misinterpreted as me thinking this is a bad phone. It's actually quite good! Nokia's hardware is as strong as ever, the display is excellent, battery life is a non-issue, and the software package is among the best you'll find in this price segment. Those are all things that bode really well for the phone, and when added together with little touches like the Google Assistant button and LED light, make it that much more enjoyable to use.

Some downgrades are to be expected here and there with mid-range phones, that's just how things go. However, recent competition has made this market that much more difficult to stand out in, and in turn, requires looking at these devices with a fine-tooth comb.

Performance on the Nokia 7.2 is disappointing, as are the cameras. I was really expecting great things in the photo department, but the end results are simply OK from the main camera, along with an objectively bad ultra-wide sensor. I normally wouldn't care about that so much, but considering that you can spend just $50 more for the Pixel 3a (opens in new tab) and get dramatically better pictures (and smoother performance), the Nokia 7.2 finds itself in an odd position.

3.5 out of 5

This is a good purchase if $350 is the very top of your budget, but if you can afford to spend slightly more money, the Pixel 3a is a lot more compelling.

The Nokia 7.2 isn't the phone I'd purchase if I had a budget of around $400, but having more choice in this section of the market is never something I'll complain about. This is a good phone that has some flaws, but overall, does more things right than wrong. If you like the complete package that the Nokia 7.2 offers, purchase with confidence and enjoy your new phone.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

27 Comments
  • I had initially wanted to get this as my next phone, but I think I'm gonna pass and get the OnePlus 7T instead.
  • I was really excited a couple years ago about the Nokia 6. However the somewhat negative reviews then and now have made me a little nervous about getting a Nokia phone. Instead I've opted for Motos. My G7 is a very good phone and I like everything about it except the battery life could be better. But gosh one would think with an Sd 660 and that much ram this Nokia would manage not to be choppy.
  • Hahaha, more fool you, you'll be lucky to see 1 update with any Motorola phone, and that's a major reason why I stay away from Motorola, updates are important to me and I won't be a phone that isn't regularly updated, you should have played with the Nokia 6 for yourself and to try it. But I've got the 8.1 which is better than this phone anyway but my next phone will be the Pixel 3a XL, I'm a Pixel fanboy and had a Pixel 2 XL until I lost it last year and got the 8.1 mainly because of Android One and Nokia"s track record with updates but I've always been a Pixel and Google fan but I'm tempted by the OnePlus 7T.
  • Maybe he's not too concerned with updates? Most people don't need to be on the latest software, they just need a phone that meets they're budget/usage needs
  • It's not just about the software updates, it's about security updates as well and Motorola one of the WORST with updates and that is important to me, the guy is ignorant cares more about the Moto brand. For me as software and updates are my priority and then camera.
  • Version updates are less important to most people. A large number of people are still using Android version going back a few letters, and the new features are not that exciting. Sometimes even counterproductive, as seen with pill navigation which was introduced in Pie and got killed after Pie. But security updates are different. Everyone deserves them. It isn't super important until one day one falls victim to a driveby exploit while browsing some ad, which could lead to identity hijacking. Just like those UK hospitals that was running without protection. People's health are at risk.
  • Version updates are less important to YOU, but not to me, the version updates usually bring performance improvements or exciting new features
  • We know that, but his point was about how MOST consumers (not you) don’t think software (updates) are as important as you do.
  • Considering the useless Google Assistant button a plus is ridiculous.
    As is considering "Clean, up-to-date software" as an euphemism for "bare-bones and featureless software". But of course, this wouldn't be an AC "review" without mindless praise for sh*tty stock Android, something that has zero reflection on the opinion of real consumers who don't like it. So it's 4 cons and 3 pros. The poor performance was more than expected. It's Google's crap version of Android running on an almost 3 year old SoC. If it has problems on an iPixel, imagine the rest.
  • Yawn, rise and repeat, your anti stock Android rants are boring af DJBCS, nobody cares about your opinion anymore you sound like the Brexidiots in the UK, but it's an anti Google and stock Android rant, we get it, you don't like Google's version of Android, I do and so do like minded people like me, I don't like Android skins but OnePlus is an exception because they don't overload the Android system with am ugly UI or preloaded apps and services like Xiaomi and Oppo, I'd say it's the closest to stock Android for a Chinese third party skin which is by far the the best third party skin around but I don't like the UI as much as the Pixel or Android One UI, yes Nokia hasn't been making great phones of late and the 7.2 continues that but my 8.1 and the 7 Plus before it are the best Nokia has produced under HMD Global and don't you dare say that stock Android users aren't real users, we stock Android users are as real a users as your precious Lagsung and crapawei.
  • I love the fanboy oozing from beno's pores. the whatever he has is the best mentality is so funny. then, the lagsung and crapwei word play is the icing on the fanbaby cake. ha ha ha.
  • Clearly punctuation is not important to people like you. Maybe you should find a phone that stresses the importance of typing in a coherent manner. Frankly, you haven't a clue what you're talking about and instead recite nonsense like a parrot.
  • I couldn't care less what you think, stock Android matters to me and and is all I will use, I don't like ugly, bloated custom skins gumming up Android, so stuff you and your custom skins and your opinion.
  • Stock Android has its merits, as does Huawei and Samsung etc’s software. It all depends on the user and what they want/need...the topic is subjective. Frankly I’m not surprised about the mediocre performance, but am that Nokia decided to use the ageing Snapdragon 660 instead of the 670 or 675. The 7.2 is a solid improvement over the 7.1 though. Personally if you don’t need the stock Android then the Samsung A50(s) is a better buy hardware wise. Also, dismissing other people’s opinions as ‘fanboyism/rants etc’ because you disagree with them is illogical. Who knows, they could have said some interesting/true stuff.
  • Of course, when it's Samsung... it's a ray of sunshine...when it Nokia, it's a "mixed bag"...😒🙄 Personally I like Nokia and their device portfolio, the choices and range it offers. They deliver solid, well crafted and designed devices. They aren't perfect and as flashy as their other counterparts, but for the average consumer, I think they are a viable and worthy alternative. I hope HMD Global stays put and keeps going on, expanding their portfolio and array of handsets despite the narrative directed against them by their competitors and their mouthpieces. Hmmmmmm "mixed bag"...the smell of fear LOL...😝😜🤪
  • HMD's launch pricing is usually bad, but after a while some good deal may appear. Wait for 7.2 to drop to $250. (Which is very doable considering a 300 euro 19% VAT included launch price in Europe) They also are pretty bad at making upper mid range phones. If you haven't noticed, all their phone reuse the same design - headphone jack up top, one speaker at bottom, two button on the right, sim tray on the left, fingerprint in the back. They are really lazy by only slightly modifying the notch and camera bump. It's always missing waterproofing, stereo speakers, software customization (even Pixel has customized live wallpaper and gcam, pixel sound, pixel launcher; HMD doesn't invest nearly enough in camera software). They make usable phones at <$300, but any price above can't be justified. I think of it as lower mid tier, better than trash phones you get for free from carriers, but not worth a premium for.
  • They don't need much customisation, this is Android, as Google intended and just the way I like it, HMD Global is doing an ok Job, but apart from the 8 plug and 8.1 (my current phone) the majority of their phones are mediocre but they deliver on their updates unlike most OEMs.
  • Also you can actually buy the 7.2 unlike the 3a in most countries. It also has options for more storage, and that's a pro.
    Also if they can push more into carriers after the Huawei things, that would be nice.
  • My 7.1 has done right by me and then some. Battery life, software/security updates, specs, the user interface, design, has so far been exactly what I needed. I want to stick with them for the long-term. If they continue to deliver devices like this and stay with the Android One programme, then I'm in. I don't need flashy super expensive devices and brands. For me a smartphone is not a "fashion statement" or "lifestyle choice". I need a steady, sturdy device that delivers on my needs and uses as a customer. Give me that and I'm a happy camper. Nokia is it for me...
  • This usually happens with all Nokia phones I've had, when first released they often have choppy performance. Then they fix it with updates. But I feel Nokia isn't trying hard enough even though I've loved my Nokia 8.1
  • I guess it doesn't matter how good of a phone it is if it doesn't work on Verizon.
  • Were can i find that wallpaper ?
  • What almost all reviewers miss with Nokia phones. Is OzoAudio when recording videos. Does this phone support OzoAudio?
  • Yes it does.
  • Considering there is only a 64GB Pixel 3A with no expandable storage, no, i don't think it makes more sense.
    i've gotten tired of Google's "what we think you should have" Pixels that are frankly overpriced.
  • Also it's not sold everywhere. And for me 64GB of storage is a dealbreaker.
  • The Pixel 3a series isn't overpriced (the regular Pixel 3 3 series is overpriced), it's the best phone on the market in the mid range segment and you won't find a better camera or software at the price of the Pixel 3a series and I like Google's approach, because they know better than most consumers and while I would have liked more than 64GB, it's fine for me thanks to unlimited storage for photos and videos plus I've never cared for expandable storage, my only gripe is the Pixel 3a series not getting the same unlimited high res photos as the flagship Pixel 3 series.