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Budget phones are important to an economy like Kenya. They are usually within the budget of most people and that is why this specific segment is competitive. Smartphones at this budget price range (upto KES 15,000) have compromises obviously when compared to expensive phones in terms of the screen quality, processors used, cameras, build quality and novelty features. However, that does not mean this is usually the case and Nokia 2 has my attention.

Specifications

ProcessorQuad core Snapdragon 212
Display5 inch 1280 *720 LTPS , 294 ppi, 1:1300 contrast ratio
Memory8GB internal + MicroSD support
RAM1GB
Camera5MP selfie, 8MP primary
Connectivity4G, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, MicroUSB port
Battery4100 mAh
ColoursPewter/Black, Pewter/White, Copper/Black
OSAndroid 7.1.1
SensorsAmbient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer (G-sensor), E-compass
ExtrasAluminium frame, Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3, Dual Nano-SIM, Drip protection (IP52 certified)

Design

The Nokia 2 features various materials: Glass at the front, aluminium frame all around and a removable plastic back. It feels quite solid in the hand and this is thanks to the aluminium frame.

At the top, you will find the 3.5 mm jack, mic and two antenna lines, the left is quite bare and on the right, you will find the volume rocker and power button. The volume rocker and power button are quite flush with the frame. At the bottom, you will find the micro-USB port and a second mic, flanked by two antenna lines.

At the front, you will be greeted with the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 that dominates the whole front. The front 5MP selfie camera is under the glass (nice) which means it will be protected against scratches and there is a cutout for the earpiece.

At the back, the 8MP camera and flash are prominent with the Nokia logo at the middle. The speaker is at the bottom right and it is quite loud. Since the Nokia 2 has a removable back, you will find a latch at the center bottom which reveals the non-removable battery at the bottom and sections to add your two nano-SIMs and microSD card slot. The back is a fingerprint magnet, so be careful not to touch the phone with greasy hands or you’ll end up cleaning the phone a lot.

Display

Nokia 2

The Nokia 2 has a 5 inch 720p display that surprised me when I booted it up. The contrast was quite high and I had to check with its specifications to determine how good itis (1:1300), which is as good as what you see on higher end phones.

HMD even decided to use Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the display, which is practically unheard of in this price range. Corning Glass is usually harder to scratch and more resistant breakage than normal glass, so this is a great addition to this phone at this price.

This is a great display and glass combo and the Nokia 2 is unbeatable at this segment.

User Interface

The Nokia 2 runs stock Android and this is something that is a rarity rather than the norm. Most manufacturers skin Android with their own flavour and the decision by HMD to retain stock Android is a dream.

nokia 2 user interface

I’m a fan of stock Android and all of its nuances. The app launcher is a swipe up a way. Google Now cards can be launched by swiping on the homescreen. When you launch Google Assistant, it shows this cool animation on the virtual home button that we see on Pixel devices.

Since the Nokia 2 is running stock Android, you don’t see a case where apps do double work. Google Photos acts as your gallery, Google Chrome is your default browser, Google Calendar is your default calendar, Android Messages is your default messaging app, Google Contacts manages your contacts and many more. The lack of bloatware is a win here.

Performance

The Nokia 2 has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 system on a chip which is at the base of Qualcomm’s offerings. It performs as you expect for a processor at this price range as shown from the Geekbench 4 result below.

nokia 2 geekbench

It also has 1GB of RAM and coupled with the processor, it works well, as long as you don’t open too many apps. It is not the worst you can see at this level, and expect almost the same level of performance as a phone at this price.

I even downloaded my new favourite game Monument Valley 2 and it ran without a hitch.

Nokia 2 Monument Valley 2
Monument Valley 2

Cameras

The Nokia 2 has a 5MP selfie camera and a 8MP primary camera. The cameras are what you would expect at this price range, where they are good for sharing the usual selfie or a snap of a random thing.

The camera interface is akin to what we saw on the Nokia 8: Flash, HDR, timer and the camera switch buttons are on the left and the capture buttons for photos and videos are on the right. Just like the Nokia 8, you can add a digital compass and a level, where I find the latter really cool if you want to take photos that don’t look slanted.

Fortunately for the few of us, there is a ‘manual mode’ which can be obtained by going to capture settings under ‘settings’ and choosing ‘manual.’ This gives you the ability to change your exposure meter, white balance, metering and focus, which is nice if you are the type of person who wants more control over their camera. From the metadata derived from the photos, both the 5MP selfie camera and the 8MP primary camera have f/2.7 apertures which is interesting.

Starting with the primary camera, the phone delivers photos that are quite saturated and punchy, but suffer from dynamic range (which can be recovered using HDR). However, its biggest flaw is focus, so you should be patient with its focus while taking a photo to make sure you don’t get a blurry photo. Here are some samples from the primary 8MP camera:

The selfie camera is not as good as the primary camera and it suffers when light starts to go down.

When it comes to video, the Nokia 2 can record either 480p or 720p video on both the selfie and the primary camera.

Battery Life

The Nokia 2 has a 4,100 mAh battery which is great and should be the case, rather than being a unicorn. Due to the fact that it has a 720p screen and a low end processor, the battery life is the best I’ve ever used on a phone in a while

I was consistently getting between 7-8 hours of screen on time, which is double what I get on my phone. I usually regard a phone with over 4 hours of screen on time good, but this phone is doing numbers double that. This is a guaranteed full day phone for a heavy user like me, who uses the browser, checks tweets, listens to music and plays games. For those users who are not heavy users like me who check their social media accounts rarely, they will find the battery life to be excellent.

Quick pointers

When I booted up the Nokia 2 for the first time, I got a relatively large software update which gave it the latest security patch from Google at the time of writing (November 1, 2017) which is great!

Also, the Nokia 2 offers interesting features that can prove useful:

Battery percentage and clock

You cannot see the battery percentage by default on the Nokia 2 and you have to use a handy trick to get this notification. Swipe down to reveal the settings gear icon, tap and hold on it until it spins to reveal a hidden setting called “System UI Tuner.” This is added within settings as a separate menu and when you tap on it, tap again on “Status bar” and scroll down to “Battery”. Choose “Always show percentage” so that you can monitor your battery percentage easily.

Even cooler is the fact that you can set your clock at the status bar to show time in both hours, minutes and seconds!

Sunlight legibility

The Nokia 2 has pretty good sunlight legibility and there is a setting to improve readability in direct sunlight. This setting is under display settings.

Support

Nokia 2 Nokia care

Nokia 2 features an app called Support which is a great app that informs the new Nokia 2 customer of everything about the phone. It includes a user guide, FAQ, device monitor, support chat, nearest care center info, warranty status and community forums. Check it out if you have questions about the phone.

Conclusion

The Nokia 2 is a rare breed in its class. You should buy the phone for the:

  • Excellent battery life
  • Really good 720p display
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3 is unheard off at this price range
  • Runs stock Android Nougat, which means faster updates
  • No bloatware, so no apps that do the same thing as an equivalent Google app.
  • Dual nano SIM slots plus MicroSD card slot
  • Supports Faiba 4G and VoLTE. This has become a feature people are looking for after JTL launched Faiba 4G recently in Kenya that uses the 700 mhz spectrum.

For Kshs 11,000, this is practically a steal for its price and it definitely stands out among the pack.

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