During the past year, HMD Global has bolstered Nokia’s handsets on opposite ends of the smartphone market. At the low end, you had compelling but underwhelming handsets like the Nokia 4.2. And in the flagship segment, the Nokia 9 PureView tried to dazzle us with its five-camera array, though ended up falling short.
However, HMD’s always been at its best targeting shoppers right in between those two extremes. The $269 Nokia 6.1 and $349 Nokia 7.1 wowed us because they offered the best mix of everyday performance you could live with, with solid build quality and dependable software.
Just in time for IFA 2019 in Berlin, HMD Global has revitalized Nokia’s midrange portfolio with the new Nokia 6.2 and 7.2, as well as three basic phones that bring style and toughness to an often overlooked category. Here’s how this set of new smartphones is shaping up.
Nokia 7.2 and 6.2: Class-leading displays and a massive camera leap
Whereas the Nokia 6 and 7 series handsets previously differed in many ways, the new 6.2 and 7.2 actually utilize the same chassis and 6.3-inch display. And this time around, there’s no Plus version in the family.
HMD tells us that it focused on making the screen on both models the best available in the budget field. Although it’s an LCD panel, the screen has been HDR-10 certified. Nokia’s PureDisplay software is also built into both handsets for up-converting standard content to HDR-esque quality. That means you should see richer hues and finer gradations in shadows and highlights than would typically be visible on a plain-old SDR screen. The company also says it’s widened the color gamut and improved the accuracy — claims we’re eager to put to the test.
|Header Cell - Column 0
|€209 (U.S. price TBA)
|6.3-inch PureDisplay Full-HD+ LCD with HDR
|6.3-inch PureDisplay Full-HD+ LCD with HDR
|Triple: 48-MP main (ƒ/1.79); 8-MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 5-MP depth sensor
|Triple: 16-MP main (ƒ/1.8); 8-MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.2); 5-MP depth sensor
|Yes; up to 512GB
|Yes; up to 512GB
|Cyan Green, Charcoal, Ice
Both devices incorporate polymer-coated aluminum chassis with 2.5D glass backs, though the Nokia 7.2’s back is finished with a satin sheen. Inside, two different Snapdragon processors will power each device — a 636 chip in the 6.2 and a 660 chip in the 7.2 — alongside 4GB of RAM. The Nokia 7.2, however, gets 128GB of storage, which is double the 6.2’s 64GB.
The other big difference between both phones pertains to their cameras. Both devices employ triple-lens rear cameras with 8-MP ultrawide lenses and 5-MP depth sensors used exclusively to improve portraits. However, where the 6.2’s main sensor is rated 15 megapixels, the 7.2’s is a whopping 48 MP, and benefits from Zeiss optics and pixel binning to deliver optimized 12-MP shots in challenging lighting conditions.
HMD’s cameras have always been some of the finest in the midrange realm. However, after Google upstaged the rest of the industry with the Pixel 3a’s phenomenal camera, it looks to be a tall task for Nokia to improve — even with an extra two lenses at its disposal.
The Nokia 6.2 and 7.2 will be the first phones to support Google Assistant Ambient Mode — a new feature that essentially turns your phone into a smart speaker while it's charging. During that time, the display will readily show reminders, notifications and a slideshow of photos from your library. Ambient Mode will arrive on more phones from other manufacturers in the future, too.
The Nokia 7.2 will launch in the U.S. in late September for $349. We don’t know when the 6.2 will emerge yet or how much it will cost, though HMD has confirmed a price of €209 in Europe, which roughly translates to about $230. Both handsets will be sold unlocked, with support for GSM networks like T-Mobile and AT&T.
Nokia 110, 2720 4G and 800 Tough: Basic phones with modern touches
Not to be forgotten, Nokia’s basic phone repertoire is growing to include three new models. The Nokia 110 adds some basic media playback features to the existing entry-level Nokia 105; the Nokia 2720 4G marks the return of the flip form factor; and Nokia 800 Tough is HMD’s most durable handset yet.
The 2720 and 800 Tough both run KaiOS, which has sort of become the Android of the feature phone world. Both devices come with Google Assistant, Google Maps, WhatsApp and Facebook pre-installed, and because they support 4G, you’ll still benefit from fast data speeds when using these bite-sized apps.
The 800 Tough in particular is a surprisingly compelling candybar. Built to comply with MIL STD 810G specifications, the 800 Tough is IP68-rated and can survive intense climates as well as extreme physical abuse. Its rubberized frame leaves room for a carabiner loop and strap, which are included in the box with the device. The headphone jack, ports and even LED flashlight are all protected by sturdy rubber doors, and the phone is built to last for up to 43 days on standby, HMD says.
We don’t quite know which of Nokia’s feature phone trio will make it to the U.S., though they’ll begin shipping in Europe in mid-September. The 110 will set you back just €18, the 2720 will cost €89 and the 800 Tough will cost €109.
Of course, the Nokia 6.2 and 7.2 are the phones that grab the eye here. We like that HMD has eliminated some of the differences between the models and streamlined its midrange propositions.
The 7.2 looks to be the phone for people who want a better camera for the price and a bit more oomph in terms of performance, while the 6.2 presents a solid jack-of-all-trades option with the same great HDR-equipped display you get in the pricier model. And because this is Nokia we’re talking about, you also get the advantage of Android One software offering relatively quick updates from Google and a guaranteed two years of support. In fact, Nokia’s phones will begin receiving Android 10 before year’s end.
The big question, though, is whether Nokia’s triple-camera bet will pay off. How those lenses compare to the Pixel 3a’s marvelous 12.2-MP shooter will make all the difference. The cameras on Nokia’s new phones looking pretty strong on paper, but then so too did the Galaxy A50’s, and Samsung's gear ultimately paled in comparison to Google’s optics and computational photography knowhow.
Still, if HMD can at least deliver a pair of midrange smartphones that improve upon the very well-rounded 6.1 and 7.1 before them, Nokia’s handsets will once again be worthy of serious consideration from budget buyers.
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Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.