Review: Nokia 7.2
The first time on Berlin IFA 2019 was quite sensational for Nokia Mobile since it brought the successor of a gorgeous, but somewhat underdeveloped Nokia 7.1. Nokia 7.2 brought improvements in all of the segments of the device.
The PureDisplay was further improved with the Pixelworks, the main camera upgraded to 48 MP, notch reduced to a teardrop one, and industrial design moved to another level. Nokia 7.2 did bring to life a bit of old Nokia heritage but also raised some questions regarding the hardware used. In the few weeks that I spent with a device, I tried to discover all the advantages and disadvantages that you might find useful when deciding whether you want to go for this one, or stay put and wait for the next model. Let’s start with the basic hardware specification and list of all the advantages and disadvantages that Nokia 7.2 is bringing.
Basic hardware specs
Here are the full specs of the device:
- Dimensions:159.92 x 75.15 x 8.25mm / / 81.3% display to body
- Mass: 180g
- Display: 6.3″ FHD+ Waterdrop, PureDisplay, 500nits, 1:1500, NTSC ratio 96%, SDR to HDR, HDR10, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 (both sides)
- Network: GSM, LTE, WCDMA
- Processor: Qualcomm SDM660
- Memory: 4/6GB LPPDDR4x
- Storage: ROM: 64/128GB, uSD up to 512GB, Google Drive
- Camera:Main: 48MP 1/2″ Quad Pixel f/1.79 + 5MP Depth + 8MP f/2.2 Wide angle (118 degree); ZEISS Optics; LED
- Front: 20MP Quad Pixel f/2, ZEISS Optics
- Sensors: Ambient light sensor, RGB sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer (G sensor), E Compass, Gyroscope
- Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n/ac, BT 5.0, GPS/AGPS+GLONASS+BDS+Gallieo
- SIM: Dual SIM
- Extra: USB-c (USB 2.0) OTG, audio jack, 2 mics, FM, The Google Assistant button, Notification led, NFC (SKU 1, SKU 2), Qualcomm® aptX™ audio
- Battery: 3500 mAh
- OS: Android 9 Pie
- Color: Cyan Green, Charcoal, Ice
- Great industrial design
- Notification light
- Decent camera
- Sharp display
- Fingerprint reader not responsive
- Face unlock slow
- UI not polished
- Camera AI not polished
- Earpiece not so loud
- Slow charging
- Old chipset
The box of Nokia 7.2 is already a classic, with a handshake enframed by the soft body lines of the device, and the Nokia logo hovering above it. If you are a collector of Nokia boxes, you can tuck this one on a bookshelf since it has fine printed name of the device and an android logo surrounded by the pure, up to date, secure always with Nokia inscription. The back of the box has a photo of the device in Cyan Green, even though the model we got was is charcoal.
Next to it is the basic list of features with some known logos of Qualcomm, ZEISS, Google Assistant and Pixelworks. In the box, you get the device wrapped in the Google assistant promo foil, SIM door key with a longer needle below the device and quick guide below all of that. Next to it is the box with 10W charger, 1m long USB/USB type C cable, and very basic HS-34 earphones. Check the unboxing post for more details.
Design & ergonomy
You can see that Nokia 7.2 has a nicely designed body, with soft lines right from the box. This design that covers the cold aluminum with the warm composite polymer is a way of Nokia Mobile’s effort to bring Nokia smartphones back to its nordic roots. The polymer is molded on the aluminum frame which is covered with the display on one end, and glass cover on the other. Nokia 7.1 was also a nicely designed phone, but Nokia 7.2 raised the series to the next level. The body of 7.2 is in the meantime simple with flat front and back surfaces, but then again sophisticated with rounded sides and corners. Nokia 7.2 feels solid like a rock in your hand, thanks to the great build and 180 grams, but then again it is warm and gentle to the touch, feeling completely organic, not cold like Nokia 6 or some models later on. I did find it slippery, since I have dry skin on my hands, but haven’t dropped it once. I got used to its slipperiness after a few days, learned how to joggle with it, but silicone cover would solve that problem right away.
The black glass surface dominates the front of the device, which is mostly taken by the 6.3-inch polarized display. The notch got reduced to a teardrop form which adds up to the general softness of this device. I must say that I got used to it right away and didn’t find it a distraction like those bigger and wider notches used on iPhone or the latest Huawei flagship. The notch is there to accommodate a 20MP selfie camera. Just above it is stylish long and thin metal grill that covers the earpiece, and to the right, you’ll notice an ambient light sensor.
The bezels are reduced significantly but are still there, around two millimeters thick on the sides and the top of the device. The bezel is thicker on the bottom part of the front surface, and it so thick it creates a chin, but also a space for the silverish Nokia logo in the middle.
The front glass surface blends gently with the composite polymer. The transition is done superbly so you can’t sens the sharper edges. The sides of the 7.2 are gently rounded. On the right, you will find the very thin and plastic volume rocker button and below it, a power button that has a white notification LED light integrated in it. The light is bright and useful for notifying you of some new unread emails or messages. The buttons are raised enough for you to sense it and a click is nicely defined. Metal buttons would look more profound, but that wouldn’t go well with the polymer surface design.
The left side holds the SIM/MicroSD card tray which is quite long since it is not the hybrid one but can accommodate two SIM and one microSD cards. That would usually be only what is on the left side, but Nokia Mobile started experimenting with the Google assistant button which is situated just below it. It has the same size as the power button, and I would only use it accidentally when I would try to start the camera by double-pressing the power button without looking at the phone. The button is quite useless since you can activate the assistant by voice or use it when you are extending the screen usage time. When you click it, it doesn’t even unlock your device, so the best thing would be to take it off or just make it remappable like on Nokia 2720 Flip.
At the bottom, you’ll find the microphone hole on the left, USB Type-C port in the middle and a double speaker grill for just one speaker on the right side. On top of the 7.2 is another hole for another microphone that is governed by the OZO Audio software, and on the right part, you’ll find a port for the 3.5 mm jack for your headphones.
The 2.5D Gorilla glass back of the device has clean lines that are dominated by circular elements, or the camera module and fingerprint reader. Nokia 7.2 is using a smooth metallic finish glass that has a cool light-refracting effect. It would look even cooler on a cyan green glass back.
The camera module is holding three cameras and an LED fast pulsing flash, which are symmetrically placed inside it. The module is elevated and decorated by a metal ring that didn’t show signs of wear and tear even though I was leaning device a lot on various surfaces. Nokia 7.2 is pretty much stable on flat surfaces since the tip of the module is on 1/3 of the phone’s length, so it is not wobbling while you are typing or surfing the 9gag on the table.
The surface of the camera module is covered with glass, probably Gorilla Glass 3, and in the middle of it is the ZEISS logo. The upper left one is reserved for a 48MP camera, next to it is the 8 MP wide lens camera. The bottom left is the 5 MP depth sensor and the last one is saved for fast pulsing LED flash.
Below the camera module is the fingerprint reader that is relatively fast for unlocking but just sucks at swiping through notifications. It is just unresponsive. Sometimes it takes 5 swipes just to open the dropdown menu, and that is just annoying. I would improve it by cleaning it with wipes for glasses, but when it catches grees from your finger, it just becomes unresponsive again.
The middle part of the back is reserved for the Nokia logo, and at the bottom, you have Android One logo and a standard text engraved that reveals the designer of the device and where its HQ is located.
Nokia Mobile continued using an LCD display that is powered by PixelWorks technology on Nokia 7.2. The 6.3 inch LCD display is sharp, with precisely displayed colors, as you would expect from an FHD+ display with 400 PPI pixel density. The Pixelworks software just adds more color, dynamic range and sharpness to it by digitally converting all its content displayed to HDR10 quality. It is also doing the conversion live, and sometimes can be inaccurate in judging the surrounding color and make your display bluish. Also, it can aggressively raise the dynamic range of some videos that makes them look strange, but mostly it is performing nicely. This technology is great for checking your photos taken by 7.2’s camera, but watching movies can also be great on the device. Of course, if you don’t like the conversion, you can turn off the feature in the settings. There is no problem with the visibility of the screen content on bright sunlight.
The notch on top of the display can’t be hidden, and the only thing I didn’t like is that some icons are not shown, just replaced by a dot if there are more than 7 of them. Anyway, the display is one of the best parts of this device. It would sound better if it was protected by Gorilla 5 glass, but Gorilla 3 will do the job just as well.
Nokia Mobile chose Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 for the next version of Nokia 7.1. This processor is probably one of the best there is, or I should say was in 2017. Actually, it is still working well, but you will notice that Nokia 7.2 isn’t the quickest put there. Everything is working well, and the phone isn’t lagging because of the processor, but a modern one would make it more, well, modern. For example, a Snapdragon 710 would have been a better choice since it is better for running more demanding games like PubG, Call of Duty, but 660 can serve you well if you play some less demanding games. Adreno 512 is doing its job nicely, and 4GB of LPDDR4 is making this phone fluid enough. If you compare it with 636 from Nokia 7.1, this one is a real upgrade that you’ll notice, but there are quicker on the market.
Nokia 7.2 has great reception and you will always have the best connection with the cell tower. Calls are great, even though the earpiece could be a bit louder. There is a nicely performing loudspeaker that reproduces good quality sound and is also good enough for hands-free calls.
WiFi and Bluetooth are working perfectly. WiFi is always full of signal, but mostly thanks to Nokia Beacon router that is delivering a great home network. Unlike my Nokia 7 Plus, Nokia 7.2 is delivering great BT connection to my earphones or car radio. GPS is also working well, and the phone finds a position in a matter of seconds.
Nokia 7.2 doesn’t have a barometer, but there is a digital compass that is quite accurate, gyroscope, ambient light meter, proximity sensor, and magnetometer.
There is also an NFC antenna that enables you the contactless payments with your Nokia 7.2. The position of the NFC antenna is not the best one. It is not situated on top of the device, but around the fingerprint reader which is going to make you lean the whole phone next to the payment machine, and you won’t be able to gently tap some device to connect with the tip of the phone that was possible on som older Lumia phones like 920.
Nokia 7.2 does come with 64GB of internal storage that can be extended by 512GB via the microSD card. If you add Google Photos unlimited high-quality storage, then you won’t be missing space. You can also connect the USB stick over the USB-C port to quickly transfer some files.
Nokia Mobile is faithfull to the Android One club so Nokia 7.2 is running the pure version of Android 9 Pie right out of the box. The phone should be upgraded to Android 10, and even 11 later on, and get three years of monthly security updates. The UI on Nokia 7.2 is the same as on the previous Nokia model, but with some graphical changes seen in the check for update screen. To wake up the screen you can be using the classic way by pressing the power button, or you could go wild and double-tap the screen to wake up. There is also a fingerprint scanner that will wake up the screen and unlock the device in the meantime. If you are using the fingerprint reader, you’ll have to set up another way to unlock your device, for example, a pin or a pattern, but you can also use the face unlock feature. Actually, you won’t be using the latter one since it is slow and usually has problems with detecting your face. I would suggest scan your face with the sunglasses also if you want to open your phone like that. On the lock screen, you’ll see the Google Assistant button and a suggestion chip that will enable you to do some things on the locked screen like checking the weather forecast or setting up the alarm.
After you unlock it, you have the classic pure AndroidOne UI which could be tuned up a bit so it is more fluid. One thing I didn’t like is the removal of the possibility to turn off the Swipe up on Home button option so some of us could use classic Android controls. Anyway, you’ll probably get used to swiping quickly between the apps.
The main camera is something that might attract people towards Nokia 7.2. This device is the first Nokia smartphone to pass the 41 MP mark that was set by the Nokia 808 Pureview. Its 48 MP camera isn’t unique on the market and many other manufacturers are using the same sensor quite successfully. The main idea behind the 48 MP sensor is the pixel binning technology or combination of four 0.8 um pixels into one large pixel that would deliver a nicely composed photo taken with 12 MP camera. You can still be using all of the 48 MP independently, but the result of pixel binning technology is more eye-catching.
The camera is wide and improved by ZEISS certified lenses, actually, all of them are. Below the lenses is the 1/2″ big sensor with 0.8um large pixels that are soaking the light through an f/1.8 aperture.
Next to the 48 MP camera is the 13mm ultra-wide camera that has an 8MP sensor. The aperture is f/2.2 so don’t expect nice ultra-wide shots when the light conditions are bad, even though that camera can deliver. The biggest problem is that the transition between main and ultra-wide is noticeable since those sensors provide photos with different white balance and color. For sensing the depth, Nokia Mobile used a 5MP depth sensor which does have trouble making night shots look sharp out of the pocket. The front-facing camera has a 20 MP sensor that also has the ZEISS lenses. The aperture is f/2.2 which is great for selfies, even in not so nicely lit spaces.
The camera app UI has improved from Nokia 7 Plus or 7.1. It looks the same in general, but it has more features that include Night mode. In the Night mode, the phone takes more shots and stitches it later on. You can even take the shot from your hand, but if you have shaky hands, you’ll see errors where the shots were stitched.
(*photo quality reduced on the site, check flickr)
The main 48MP camera can create good shots in both daylight and low light, but it is far from perfect. I noticed some problems with AI scene detection turned on, so I was mostly using the camera without it. The shots taken with the AI would be over sharpened and have a lot of noise added in the post processing, and I didn’t like the end results. The same issue I noticed without AI scene detection, but the pics would turn out better. But, when you transfer them to your computer and look at them there, you’ll notice a lot of noise when you zoom in on the shot and see how the sharpening algorithms are not tuned well. Then again, on the Nokia 7.2’s HDR10 screen, the shots look great and you’ll mostly be showing them over your mobile phone. I must say that the shots turn out better than on the Nokia 7.1
The 12 MP binned photos do turn out a bit better than the photos taken with all 48 megapixels since oversampling is giving better shots than standard photography. Even more, details can be pulled out from RAW images that Nokia 7.2 is able to record. The daylight shots are crisp with good looking color representation. The dynamic range is great and the smartphones do balance the white correctly. I had trouble focusing while doing a right our of a pocket quick shot, and that issue was even more noticeable during the night or low-light photography. You should always focus manually before you take the shot to get sharper images.
Night shots are decent enough, even without using the Night mode feature. If you get the focus right, then the shots won’t look washed out.
The difference in white balance between the main and ultra-wide camera is huge, and Nokia Mobile should fix that transition. The ultra-wide camera can create a decent photo if the light conditions are right, but the photos can be distorted at the ends from algorithms that are trying to straighten the photo out. That problem could be avoided by some software updates or by adding a bigger sensor in the future model. I would also like to see the transition between the main and wide camera faster.
Selfies are finally great thanks to the 20 MP camera that also uses pixel binning and ZEISS lenses. There can be some noise in the low light ambient, but in general, you can take sharp selfies. There is also a dedicated portrait mode made by ZEISS that offers you to use some effect that ZEISS lenses create with professional cameras. The ZEISS Modern, Swirl, Smooth and Classic blur the background differently, and for the best result, the effect should be scaled at 5. There is also an option to add some hearts or stars
Do check the photos in full resolution on our Flickr account.
The video that the camera 7.2 records is great, but mostly because of the excellent digital stabilization. The EIS is so steady that you question the use of OIS, but optical stabilisation is necessary while shooting night shots. Anyway, the video quality is good, and you can walk around and still film a steady video. The camera is having trouble with white balance, but in the end, videos are OK. The focusing is super fast and correct in videos. The sound recorded by two microphones is also of good quality since 7.2 is using OZO Audio software. The directional audio recording is not available here.
If you are shooting in 1080p, the EIS will be working, but if you choose to go for 4K video, you better take a gimbal. Here is the comparison videos of main and ultra vwide with EIS and main without EIS turned on.
Night videos are not the best in class but the LED light is strong.
Slow motion video is finally slow motion with some advanced editing option inside the app, but don’t use it during the night.
The Li-Polymer battery of 3500 mAh will be enough to push you through the whole day, and there will be around 40% of the capacity left for you to use it next morning if you use it moderately. With some 10 calls, 3 hours of screen time, 55 unlocks, 317 notifications received,15 to 20 minutes of Subway Surfer, I still had 41% of the battery left when went to the bed. If you use the camera more, that the battery will be drained quickly, especially if you are taking a lot of photos and videos.
It is still unknown why Nokia Mobile didn’t include more powerful charging and left Nokia 7.2 with a 10W charger. It takes less than 2 hours for the phone to charge from 15% to 100%, and some 40% for 35 minutes. That was OK since I would charge it over night.
Nokia 7.2 is a nicely designed phone with great build quality that might get in the focus of many people. The 48 MP camera is capable of taking great shots even though it could use some software updates to improve its AI post-processing algorithm, and ultra-wide camera output too. The same can be said for UI in general, and fingerprint reader together with the Pixelworks HDR10 controls whose issues can be easily improved by software updates. The only thing that can’t be updated is the somewhat older Snapdragon 660 that is still working well, but it is showing signs of ageing.
Looking overall, Nokia 7.2 is the upgrade of Nokia 7.1 in every detail. It looks better and is more powerful, but the competition can offer the same hardware for less money which could pose trouble for Nokia Mobile at specific markets. If you don’t care about the ageing processor, and just want a great looking midrange device, you could go for a Nokia 7.2. With time it should get better.
For more details about the phone, do check the Nokia.com pages.
Thanks Nokia Mobile for a review unit.