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Nokia 2.2 first impressions: Android One certification is the only thing going for this

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At a quiet launch event in New Delhi today, HMD Global launched a new smartphone in its budget Nokia 2 series – the Nokia 2.2. The smartphone is priced very similarly to the new Realme C2 (review) and the Xiaomi Redmi 7 (review). Its 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage variant is priced at Rs 6,999 and the 3 GB RAM and 32 GB model is priced at Rs 7,999.

While the device did not impress on first look, what’s attractive is that Nokia 2.2 is the cheapest smartphone available in India that comes with the Android One program. But is that enough to make the device one of the best in the category? Here is what I found in my first impressions of the device.

The phone has an old-world charm

When I first looked at the phone, I immediately felt that familiar light plastic build in my hand. You will hear that familiar hollow sound plastic makes. And considering what the phone’s competitors offer, the Nokia 2.2’s body immediately feels cheap. But then when I turned the phone around, I realised there was the little pull-out-the-back-cover-from-here cavity at the rear of the phone. I pulled it and found the removable battery that so many of us haven’t seen on smartphones for a few years now.

Nokia 2.2 features a 13 MP rear camera sensor. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

When you unbox the phone, you see the battery wrapped in a separate section, and the rest of the device separately. Just like the old days! The battery is 3,000 mAh.

Having said that, I love how compact the phone is. Its rounded edges offer a comfortable grip on the phone, and even though the plastic back is glossy, it doesn’t feel slippery in the hands.

Most of the ports and buttons are placed like the usual, however, like its recently launched Nokia 4.2, it houses a dedicated trigger button for the Google Assistant.

Nokia 2.2 has a removable 3,000 mAh battery. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

I have seen better displays in this category

As compared to the competition, the Nokia 2.2’s display looks underwhelming. It has a 5.7-inch HD+ display, with 400 nits of brightness and a 19:9 aspect ratio. The colours look dull and on scrolling the brightness to 100 percent, the blue tint in the screen is prominent.

Nokia 2.2 sports a 5.71-inch HD+ display. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

Realme C2 and Redmi 7 are stiff competitors

When it came to using the phone, it was like some bad omen had struck. I played with two phones in the experience zone, and they both hung for a few seconds, and there was a lag in the touch response. The test unit was equally laggy. At the time of writing, I had only logged in my Gmail account on the device, and the phone lagged at every app launch. The lag during the camera app launch was borderline annoying.

The Nokia 2.2 has the usual button and ports system. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

With the 2/3 GB of RAM and MediaTek Helio A22 chipset, I am waiting to see how the phone does when I also transfer the 100-odd apps that I usually have on my phone.

The camera on the device offers a 13 MP rear sensor and a 5 MP sensor on the front for selfies. Again, on paper, that camera setup feels underwhelming, considering both Realme C2 and Redmi 7 offer dual-camera setup at the rear. I took a few images from the Nokia 2.2. Like all other Nokia phones, it does some heavy AI edits and does offer a decent quality. But I clicked these pictures in bright ambient light, so they were bound to look good.

Nokia 2.2 runs Android Pie. Image: tech2/Nandini Yadav

The Nokia 2.2 also comes with an AI night mode, which uses an AI algorithm to improve low light shots. I was unable to test the night shots, but you will soon get the detailed camera performance details in my upcoming review of the phone.

One thing which feels good about the phone even on the first impressions, is the Android 9 Pie-based stock user experience. In the past, we have seen Nokia deliver timely Android updates. So getting those on an entry-level phone should also be guaranteed as part of the Android One promise. So far, this was the only silver lining on the Nokia 2.2. Let’s see how it performs when I review it.

Conclusion

Nokia 2.2 definitely did not impress me much in the limited time I spent with it. Realme C2 offers way more and that too at a lower price. Redmi 7, too, is a great performer in the segment.

The entry-level smartphone market is a stiff spot to be in. So far, Android One promise is the only thing that has me looking forward to reviewing the phone. But let’s see if other departments change my first impression in the full review.

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