Nokia 7.2 vs. Nokia 7.1: Reset your expectations of what $350 will buy

Nokia 7.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The budget Nokia 7.2 is a temptingly affordable Android One phone that offers a raft of improvements over its predecessor, the Nokia 7.1. We felt the Nokia 7.1 set a new standard for the price bracket when it was first released, but the best cheap phones have been improving rapidly over the last 12 months. If you’re interested in what difference a year makes, and you’d like to dig into the differences between the Nokia 7.1 and 7.2 and find out exactly what $350 buys you today, then you’re in the right place.

Specs

Nokia 7.2 Nokia 7.1
Size 159.9 × 75.1 × 8.3 mm (6.29 × 2.96 × 0.32 inches) 149.7 × 71.1 × 8mm (5.89 × 2.79 × 0.31 inches)
Weight 180 grams (6.35 ounces) 160 grams (5.64 ounces)
Screen Size 6.3-inch PureDisplay IPS LCD 5.8-inch PureDisplay IPS LCD
Screen resolution 2,340 × 1,080 pixels (409 pixels-per-inch) 2,280 × 1,080 pixels (435 pixels-per-inch)
Operating system Android 9.0 Pie Android 9.0 Pie
Storage space 128GB 64GB
MicroSD card slot Yes Yes
Tap-to-pay services (NFC) Google Pay Google Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
RAM 4GB 4GB
Camera Triple lens 48-megapixel, 8MP wide angle, and 5MP rear, 20MP front Dual 12-megapixel and 5MP rear, 8MP front
Video 2,160p at 30 fps, 1,080p at 60 fps 2,160p at 30 fps, 1,080p at 30 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C,  3.5mm headphone jack USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack
Fingerprint sensor Yes (back) Yes (back)
Water resistance Splash resistant No
Battery 3,500mAh

Fast charging (Quick Charge 3.0)

3,060mAh

Fast charging 18W

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support T-Mobile, AT&T T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon
Colors Charcoal, Cyan Green, Ice Midnight Blue, Gloss Steel
Price $350 $350
Buy from Amazon, Best Buy Amazon
Review score Hands-on 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

Nokia 7.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Snapdragon 660 processor in the Nokia 7.2 is Qualcomm’s current top mid-tier chip; it’s significantly faster and offers improved graphics over the Snapdragon 636. Both phones have an ample 4GB of RAM. Storage-wise the 128GB available in the Nokia 7.2 is double what the Nokia 7.1 has, but both can accommodate MicroSD cards.

There’s another clear advantage in the battery department for the Nokia 7.2, which has a 3,500mAh capacity compared to the 3,060mAh in the Nokia 7.1. The Nokia 7.2 does have a larger display to power, but we still expect it to outlast the Nokia 7.1. Both support fast charging via the USB-C port, but not wireless charging.

Winner: Nokia 7.2

Design and durability

The most immediately apparent change here is the jump in size; the Nokia 7.2 is much bigger than the Nokia 7.1. It doesn’t look drastically different from the front — that notch has been chiseled down to a teardrop, and the bottom bezel is slimmer, though it is still there and still bears the Nokia name. Around back there are larger differences. You’ll still find a centrally located, recessed fingerprint sensor, but the camera module above it is now round to accommodate an extra lens. It reminds us of Motorola phones like the Moto G7. Both the Nokia phones retain an audio jack and there’s little else to separate them.

There’s no IP rating with either phone, though the Nokia 7.2 is described as splash resistant. The Nokia 7.2 also has a polymer composite body that’s strong and light, and just like its predecessor, the Corning glass back and front is tough Gorilla Glass 3.

Winner: Nokia 7.2

Display

Nokia 7.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Nokia 7.2 has a 6.3-inch screen that’s bright, colorful, and boasts a decent contrast ratio despite being LCD rather than OLED. It also boasts HDR10 support, which is great to see in a budget phone, but all of this is true of the Nokia 7.1 as well. The difference is really that the display in the Nokia 7.2 is bigger and the notch is smaller; most people will likely appreciate the extra space.

Winner: Nokia 7.2

Camera

Nokia 7.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Easily the fastest improving aspect of smartphones over the last couple of years, cameras are getting better and better. Impressive multi-lens setups are filtering down to the budget end of the market and the Nokia 7.2 is a prime example. Nokia has packed in three lenses here, combining a 48-megapixel main shooter, an ultra-wide 8-megapixel lens, and a 5-megapixel lens for accurate depth sensing. The long-standing partnership with Zeiss Optics continues and that main 48-megapixel camera will employ Quad Pixel technology to combine the data from four pixels into one, to turn out much higher quality 12-megapixel shots, just like the Motorola One Vision. The Nokia 7.2 also boasts a 20-megapixel front-facing camera capable of the same Quad Pixel processing.

The Nokia 7.1 can’t compete here. We felt the dual 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel main camera was capable, but it struggled in low light. It also relied upon a basic 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

Winner: Nokia 7.2

Software and updates

Nokia 7.1 Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

One of the things we love most about the Nokia 7.1 is that it is part of the Android One program which guarantees monthly security updates for three years, Android version updates for two years, and no unnecessary preinstalled bloatware. We’re pleased to see that the Nokia 7.2 is also an Android One phone. Both should be getting Android 10 soon. The Nokia 7.2 also has a dedicated Google Assistant button and will support something called Ambient mode, which employs A.I. to show contextually useful information about things like your calendar events and commute times. It can also display photos like a digital photo frame while the phone is charging.

Winner: Nokia 7.2

Special features

Nokia 7.2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Budget phones rarely have much in the way of special features and this pair is no exception. They have unusually good screens for the price and Nokia is really pushing camera capabilities with the new 7.2, but there’s nothing unusual that jumps out in this category to sway you one way or the other.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The Nokia 7.2 costs $350 and it will work on T-Mobile or AT&T, and there may be support for other carriers in the works. The Nokia 7.1 was also $350 on release, but you can find it for as low as $250 now. It will work with AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and a few smaller carriers.

Overall winner: Nokia 7.2

You would expect the new version of a phone to be better, so it’s not a surprise that the Nokia 7.2 wins. It offers improvements over the Nokia 7.1 across the board with a faster processor, more storage, a bigger battery and screen, and a more versatile camera. Swift updates with Android One and tighter Google integration are the icing on a tasty looking cake. The fact Nokia has packed in all these upgrades and managed to release at the same price makes the Nokia 7.2 irresistible. If you can’t stretch to $350, then a heavily discounted Nokia 7.1 might just reel you in, but the Nokia 7.2 is clearly a superior phone.

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