Powerful smartphones have become more affordable, and no, we aren’t just talking about flagship-class models in the sub Rs. 40,000 segment. Today, we’re talking about the under Rs. 8,000 segment in which you can now get good phones such as the Realme C2 (Review), Infinix Smart 3 Plus (Review), and Redmi 7 (Review). These smartphones offer decent performance and features considering their low prices. The Infinix Smart 3 Plus, for example, is one of the few phones to sport a triple camera setup with a dedicated low-light camera sensor. HMD Global seems to be eyeing a spot for itself in the sub-Rs. 8,000 segment, and has launched the Nokia 2.2 for this reason. Is this smartphone capable of pulling it off, or will it fall short? We put it through our tests to find out.
Nokia 2.2 design
The Nokia 2.2 is a budget smartphone, and that is evident from the use of plastic for its construction. This smartphone has a tiny footprint and will easily fit in your palm. It has a 5.71-inch display with a dewdrop notch. The borders around the display are thick but acceptable for the price. HMD Global has picked the thick bottom chin to slap a Nokia logo on. The earpiece sits between the frame and the display.
HMD Global has positioned the power and volume buttons on the right, and all three are easy to reach thanks to the overall size of this smartphone. There’s also a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left. This button can be used on any screen to summon the Google Assistant, and you can use the walkie-talkie mode to keep the button pressed while you give a command.
Releasing the button stops the Assistant’s listening function and starts processing your command immediately, which helps speed up interactions with the Google Assistant. You do get the option to switch off this action in the settings, but we would’ve liked to be able to make this button do something else, if necessary.
The Nokia 2.2 has a Micro-USB port at the bottom along with a primary microphone, while a 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top. At the back, there’s a single camera along with an LED flash. This phone misses out on a fingerprint scanner just like the Realme C2, but a few other phones at this price — such as the Asus ZenFone Max M2 (Review) and Redmi 7 (Review) — do sport one.
The back panel of the Nokia 2.2 is removable and so is the battery. If you would like a smartphone with a removable battery, this is one of the few ones out there. It is a dual SIM device and has two Nano-SIM slots as well as a dedicated microSD card slot. The loudspeaker is at the back.
Nokia 2.2 specifications and software
The Nokia 2.2 has modest specifications. It is powered by the MediaTek Helio A22 SoC just like the Xiaomi Redmi 6A. This isn’t the most powerful processor at this price point by any means, but it should be capable of handling basic day-to-day tasks. The Nokia 2.2 is available in 2GB RAM with 16GB storage and 3GB RAM with 32GB storage, and we had the 3GB RAM variant for review. The base variant is priced at Rs. 6,999 while the higher variant is priced at Rs. 7,999.
The 5.71-inch display sports an HD+ 720×1520 pixel resolution with a 19:9 aspect ratio. HMD Global does offer you the option to tweak the colour temperature of the panel. It had decent viewing angles and could get bright enough to be visible outdoors, in our experience. However, we found that there was a vignetting effect around the notch which was clearly visible against a white background.
Connectivity options on the Nokia 2.2 include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, dual 4G VoLTE, and GPS. The battery capacity is 3000mAh.
Like other Nokia-branded smartphones, the Nokia 2.2 is a part of the Android One platform. It runs stock Android Pie with just one additional app called My Phone, which is for after-sales support. The Nokia 2.2 is guaranteed to receive two years of major OS updates and three years of monthly Android security updates.
This smartphone was running the June security patch which is very recent. The Nokia 2.2 does have an edge over the competition here considering that many manufacturers tend to forget about software support, especially for entry-level smartphones.
The Nokia 2.2 also gets Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing feature which helps monitor smartphone usage.
Nokia 2.2 performance, cameras, and battery life
Having already reviewed the Xiaomi Redmi 6A (Review) and Tecno Camon i4 (Review), we have a fair idea of how the MediaTek Helio A22 performs. While scrolling through the Android menus and switching between apps, we did notice lag. Larger apps take longer than usual to load because the processor isn’t very powerful.
Since the Nokia 2.2 misses out on a fingerprint scanner, HMD Global does offer face recognition. This feature uses the 5-megapixel selfie camera to recognise you and unlock the smartphone. We found the process to be slow, and it took even longer in low-light conditions.
We ran benchmarks to see where the Nokia 2.2 stands with respect to its competition. In AnTuTu, the Nokia 2.2 managed to score 63,627 points which is on par with other smartphones powered by the same processor. In PCMark Work 2.0, it scored 4,638 points. The Nokia 2.2 failed to run Geekbench 4 but managed 256 points in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme OpenGL. It also managed 21fps in GFXBench T-Rex and 8.1fps in Manhattan 3.1.
If you are planning on picking the Nokia 2.2 for gaming, it wouldn’t be the wisest choice. We ran PUBG Mobile on this smartphone and it defaulted to the Low preset with the graphics set to Smooth and frame rate set to Medium. Even at these settings, we noticed lag during gameplay, and the in-game audio was also laggy which made the experience even more frustrating. Game load times were also significantly long, which was annoying.
Basic games like Hill Climb Racing 2 fared better and were playable without any lag or stutter
Now let’s talk about the cameras. The Nokia 2.2 has a single 13-megapixel camera at the back, and a 5-megapixel selfie shooter. The camera app is basic and has time-lapse, panorama, Google Lens, and square modes to choose from apart from the usual photo and video modes. It has a quick toggle for HDR, and you can set it to auto where it kicks in automatically if the scene demands it.
There is noticeable lag in the viewfinder which needs to be accounted for before you hit the shutter button. Photos taken with the Nokia 2.2 were decent in daylight, but the phone did struggle to get the exposure right. Most photos taken during the day were overexposed.
The phone was slow to focus when shooting macros, and the results weren’t as sharp as we expected. The camera was also slow to save shots and get ready to let us take the next one. Photos taken in low light were dark and had a lot of grain. However, the camera did manage to deliver brighter images using HDR. Since there is no night mode, we recommend that you take low-light shots with HDR enabled.
There is no portrait mode, so you won’t be able to take shots with blurred backgrounds. The selfie camera is also strictly average. Photos lacked detail and also looked washed-out. HDR is available for the selfie camera but it did not seem to make a difference in our experience.
Video recording maxes out at 1080p for both the primary as well as the selfie cameras. However, video is saved in the old 3GP format, whereas most other smartphones save videos in the MP4 format. Since there is no video stabilisation, you will get shaky results. We also noticed a focus hunting issue while recording video.
The Nokia 2.2 packs in a 3000mAh removable battery that delivers good battery life. The MediaTek Helio A22 is a frugal processor and helped this phone delivered over a day of battery life while running benchmarks, shooting camera samples, an active WhatsApp account, and half an hour of gaming. However, the phone wasn’t as efficient in our HD video loop test, in which it only managed 10 hours and 10 minutes of playback. Charging does take over an hour and a half with the supplied charger.
The Nokia 2.2 is yet another offering in the sub-Rs. 8,000 segment. With its Rs. 7,999 price tag, the 3GB RAM variant of the Nokia 2.2 faces competition not only from new smartphones that are aggressively priced, but also from older models that have dropped in price or are being discounted.
The Nokia 2.2 does stand out since it is among the few that are guaranteed to get software and security updates. However, the processor is weak and camera performance is also below average. If you are looking for good software support, you should consider picking up the Nokia 5.1 Plus (Review) when it goes on sale, as we have already seen it selling for Rs. 7,999. It is better choice than the Nokia 2.2 in every respect.