Google got wireless charging right on the Pixel 4

Google sort of botched wireless charging on the Pixel 3 last year. Only customers who bought the company’s own Pixel Stand accessory and a very small selection of third-party chargers were able to juice up the Pixel 3 at the fastest possible wireless charging speeds. Everyone else using their existing mats and charging stands were limited to a much slower 5-watt charge. But Google has righted this mistake with the Pixel 4.

According to Mishaal Rahman of XDADevelopers, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL support 11-watt wireless charging. This is confirmed on a page for the device at the Wireless Power Consortium, and has also been further verified through direct testing.

Any Qi-compatible charger that can output 11W or more should be able to recharge the Pixel 4 at that maximum power level — no Pixel Stand or expensive, made-for-Pixel certification required.

As Rahman notes, Google never mentioned or highlighted the Pixel 4’s ability to charge faster on a wider array of charging pads in the run-up to launch. Maybe the company just decided to quietly get rid of its weirdly strict approach and bring the new Pixel closer in line with other Android flagships that offer fast wireless charging. The Pixel 4 might strike some people as overpriced, but at least you can save on a charger if you’re sold on Google’s latest phone.

TikTok is the latest platform to pull ISIS propaganda videos

According to WSJ, the videos showed things like corpses being paraded through the streets, ISIS fighters and women who call themselves “jihadist and proud.” Some videos were set to catchy songs, and some used TikTok filters with stars and hearts. They were shared by nearly two dozen accounts.

The videos have been removed, and in a statement provided to Engadget, a TikTok spokesperson said:

“Content promoting terrorist organizations has absolutely no place on TikTok. We permanently ban any such accounts and associated devices as soon as identified, and we continuously develop ever-stronger controls to proactively detect suspicious activity. This is an industry-wide challenge complicated by bad actors who actively seek to circumvent protective measures, but we have a team dedicated to aggressively protecting against malicious behavior on TikTok.”

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have fought their own battles against terrorist content, and now that TikTok has become one of the most popular apps in the US, it will likely face similar challenges. The company has hired thousands of content moderators and its policies prohibit terrorist and criminal organizations from using the app. As we’ve seen on other platforms, keeping terrorist propaganda at bay requires constant and evolving vigilance.

Nike will drop exclusive, limited-edition sneakers inside ‘NBA 2K20’

So how, exactly, can you get access to these gems? Well, for starters, there’s going to be Nike MyPlayer Nation, a new mode that lets you pick your favorite team and play online against others in a mirrored version of the NBA’s 2019-2020 season game schedule. In it, depending on how well you play, you can start unlocking the ability to buy Nike’s Gamer Exclusives by reaching specified milestones — which will change throughout the NBA season. Nine of these GE models will be unlocked and redeemed that way in NBA 2K20 and, after you link your Nike and 2K memberships in the SNKRS app, you can buy them from there.

Nike

Nike and NBA 2K20 are dropping the LeBron 17 “‘Bron 2K” on October 29th.

The remaining GE is a new color of LeBron James’ latest Nike signature shoes, dubbed the LeBron 17 ‘Bron 2K, which will drop in a different way than the others. For this particular design, Nike will be using its SNKRS Cam feature, one that will require you to have your smartphone ready, find a relevant graphic in the game and then scan it with the SNKRS app to unlock and buy a pair. But first, you’ll need to get your NBA 2K20 MyPlayer’s rating to 98 or 99 (higher than James’ 97), and then win a MyPlayer Nation game during the NBA season. From there, you’ll have to act fast: Even if you manage to access a GE, they will be only be available while supplies last.

If you recall, that SNKRS Cam experience is similar to when Nike launched an Air Jordan 1 in Fortnite, an idea that was created for both gamers and sneakerheads. This merging of digital and physical worlds to sell hyped sneakers is something that Nike has been experimenting with for the past couple of years, as it looks to technologies like augmented reality to offer something new for consumers. At the same time, these kind of drops can help the company fight bots, aka automated systems that resellers use to try to buy basically any product that’s launched in limited fashion.

Nike told Engadget the partnership with 2K Sports is only for this year’s game, NBA 2K20, although don’t be surprised to see its Gamer Exclusives come back in the future if they turn out to be popular. The MyPlayer Nation mode will be live on 2K20 starting October 22nd.

The affordable HTC Exodus 1s puts a full Bitcoin node in your pocket

HTC has just announced a new, more affordable version of its Exodus 1 smartphone — a device that comes with a built-in hardware wallet for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The new HTC Exodus 1s costs 219 euros (around $244) and allows owners to buy, sell, send, receive, lend, and borrow cryptocurrency directly from the device. The HTC Exodus 1s also boasts software tools that enable it to run a full Bitcoin node. This functionality is built atop a basic, budget Android phone.

“We are providing the tools for access to universal basic finance; the tools to have a metaphorical Swiss bank in your pocket,” Phil Chen, decentralized chief officer at HTC said in a press release. “Full nodes are the most important ingredient in the resilience of the Bitcoin network and we have lowered the barrier to entry for any person to run a node, which is simply a computer, mobile in our case, participating in the global Bitcoin network that propagates transactions and blocks everywhere, which is the foundation and fundamental definition of a peer-to-peer cash system.”

HTC Exodus 1s

If you’re wondering what all this means, we interviewed Chen last year and he explained what a blockchain phone is and why you might want one. Right now, this is only likely to pique the interest of people trading in cryptocurrency or gaming collectibles, but by offering a much more affordable device, HTC is hoping to tempt more people who are curious to dip a toe in the water.

The original HTC Exodus 1 could only be purchased with cryptocurrency on release and at relatively high prices to begin with, close to $1,000, though it was later sold more conventionally for $699. The HTC Exodus 1s is much more affordable at 219 Euros, which is around $244 at the time of writing.

Even the best cheap phones cut corners, so it won’t be a shock to find that the HTC Exodus 1s has modest specs. We’re talking about a phone that runs Android 8.1 Oreo, with a separate secure enclave that handles all your crypto transactions. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 inside with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and room for a MicroSD card, which is just as well because the full Bitcoin ledger is 260GB right now and growing at 60GB per year. If you wanted to, you could put it on a MicroSD card and you’d be able to verify and relay transactions directly from the Exodus 1 without having to connect to a centralized third-party. You’ll also find a 5.7-inch display, 13-megapixel cameras front and back, and a 3,000mAh battery in the new phone.

The HTC Exodus 1s made its debut appearance at the Lightning Conference in Berlin, where it is on sale immediately using the Lightning payment network. You can also order it at the HTC Exodus website, but this initial launch is only for Europe, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. More territories, possibly including the U.S. will follow at a later date.

Editors’ Recommendations

The best Asus ROG Phone 2 accessories to help you master mobile games

You’ve bought your Asus ROG Phone 2, and now you want to make the most out of its incredible gaming ability. Asus sells a surprisingly large number of accessories to make the ROG Phone 2 a great gaming companion, but they don’t come cheap, so which ones should you get first?

We’ve tried out all the accessories for the ROG Phone 2, to see which ones are worth your investment.

Games come first

Asus ROG Phone 2
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Before getting into the accessories, what about the games? All the best Android games available from Google Play (and outside, if you’re a Fortnite player) will work on the ROG Phone 2, but some are specially developed to take advantage of the phone’s hardware and software features. Before buying accessories, make sure you’re going to play the right games.

Asus has a list of games that support the 120Hz screen, resulting in an impressive 120-frames-per-second gameplay. It’s not an exhaustive list, but there’s plenty to be going on with. Notably, Fortnite and PUBG Mobile are missing, and are stuck at 60fps by default. If the game you play isn’t on the list, don’t be too saddened, the ROG Phone 2’s 120Hz screen will still make games running at 60fps or 30fps look better than on phones with a lesser display.

Other games come with special in-game goodies, including Asphalt 9, Rockman X Dive, and Shadowgun Legends. Additionally, these three can be played using the Kunai controller, the TwinView Dock, or in the case of Shadowgun and Rockman, both are supported.

Asus ROG Phone 2
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

No, this won’t make you play games better, but it will help your phone survive a short fall, and it looks awesome too. The case slips on over the back of the phone and covers the top and bottom of the device, leaving the sides open. Clip it on, and the ROG Phone 2 applies a special theme on the device, while on the back the RGB lighting shines through the Republic of Gamers logo. Even the camera flash unit lights up in matching colors.

Kunai Controller – $150

Asus ROG Phone 2
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

This is the add-on if you want to transform your ROG Phone 2 from a phone to a portable games console with physical controls. Once connected, it looks a little like a Nintendo Switch, and you can even remove the controllers and use them wirelessly too. The phone fits into a flimsy skeleton-like frame and links to the controllers through the USB Type-C connector. There’s no lag when the phone and Kunai controller are connected this way.

Games that support the Kunai controller natively are limited at the moment. Asphalt 9: Legends is one that does, and it’s fun to play this way. It feels more like a true gaming experience than using the touchscreen, and with TouchDrive active, it’s more satisfying to play too. However, when you use the Kunai with games that don’t support, you may run into problems.

Most games with touchscreen controls can be configured to use the Kunai, using a key mapping option from the slide-in menu. It’s a little confusing to use at first, but once you’ve worked out how to fix the controls it’s easy to configure games. However, your experience playing the games will vary. For example, R-Type does not respond well to the analog joystick, and playing the game with the touchscreen is far easier.

If you play Asphalt or Shadowgun Legends, then you will get the most benefit from the Kunai controller. If not, then you may want to wait and see what other games are developed with native support before jumping on one. Out of all the accessories, this is probably the one that’s most versatile, and more people will find a use for it due to its functionality not being restricted to one or two games.

Asus ROG Phone 2
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

An expensive accessory, the TwinView dock is still a really interesting addition to the ROG Phone 2. It has its own 6.59-inch, 120Hz touchscreen, a second massive 5,000mAh battery, and a built-in fan to keep the phone cool. Like the Kunai controller, game support is limited to Asphalt 9 and Shadowgun Legends; but the experience is really excellent. Touch controls are isolated on the phone screen, while gameplay is shown on the TwinView Dock 2’s screen.

Without a game playing, the second screen can play YouTube videos, or show any content from apps installed on the ROG Phone 2, while you do separate tasks on the phone’s screen. You’re limited only by the ability to show apps in landscape orientation. You don’t have to worry about battery drain either, as the internal cell keeps your phone topped up. It comes in its own zip-up carry case too.

While it’s a fun accessory, the price is very high, and with only limited game support at the moment it’s tough to recommend the TwinView Dock 2 to anyone that doesn’t play supported titles.

best asus rog phone 2 accessories wigig
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The final piece of the ROG Phone 2 gaming puzzle we recommend is the WiGig Display Dock, which turns your phone into a games console that’s playable on your television. Use an HDMI cable to connect the dock to your TV, and then through a massively fast 60Ghz Wi-Fi link to your phone, all your games can be played on the big screen. It’s really simple to use as well and can be up-and-running within a few minutes. Use the ROG Phone 2 and there is no additional setup, and that’s a big benefit.

Asus promises zero-latency (or at least, under 20 milliseconds), and I never noticed any when playing a selection of games. It’s best when paired with the Kunai controller for a more tactile game console-style experience, but it’s acceptable with the touchscreen too. However, it’s ideally suited to playing landscape games, rather than vertically scrolling or portrait orientation games.

While you’ll get the best from the ROG Phone 2 paired with the WiGig Display Dock, it will actually work with any smartphone, increasing its usefulness in the home. At $330 it’s not cheap, and it does face competition from traditional games consoles and services like Google Stadia and Apple Arcade. However, if you really are invested in mobile gaming to the point where you want to see it on a larger display, this is an easy, fast way to do it.

Even if you only choose one accessory for the ROG Phone 2 — and we’d recommend the Kunai controller if you’re only going to buy one — it does help make it a more varied, more enjoyable gaming device. Have fun!

Editors’ Recommendations

Samsung reportedly working on under-display camera for 2020 smartphone

Samsung is reportedly targeting a 2020 release for under-display camera technology, which will further “clean up” the front of smartphones, leaving only the screen.

The first smartphone with an under-display camera will launch next year, according to Korean website The Elec. The report follows what Yang Byung-duk, vice president of Samsung’s mobile communication R&D group, said in a briefing in March, where he disclosed that the company is working on making the camera hole invisible, with the goal of finally creating a full-screen smartphone.

The under-display camera will be a progression from the punch hole cutouts for the cameras of the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10. Samsung used a machine called the Hole in Active Area, or HiAA1, for manufacturing the displays of this year’s flagship smartphones. The company has reportedly received the first HiAA2 equipment that will be used to make the under-display cameras that will launch next year.

The first Samsung smartphone that will feature an under-display camera has been the subject of debate. The Elec claimed that the technology will launch on the Galaxy Fold 2, which will make an already complicated smartphone even more difficult to make. Samsung will need to figure out issues such as distortions and light bleeding, which may be caused by the foldable screen. Adding the new camera technology to the next Samsung foldable smartphone will also likely further drive up the device’s price.

Reliable Samsung insider Ice Universe disagreed that the under-display camera will roll out on the Galaxy Fold 2.

The leaker claims that the under-display camera will not be on the Galaxy Fold 2 nor the Galaxy S11. Interestingly, he did not mention the Galaxy Note 11, so there is the possibility that the technology will debut on the device. There is also the chance that it will roll out on an A-series smartphone, as Samsung has a history of testing out new features in non-flagship devices before bringing them to its flagship lines.

Samsung is not the only smartphone manufacturer working on an under-display camera though, as Oppo and Xiaomi are also developing their own versions of the technology. Samsung fans, meanwhile, are hoping that the feature will indeed roll out next year.

Editors’ Recommendations

Faces are the Pixel 4's kryptonite

Thankfully, Google is already working on a fix for that, saying it is adding mandatory eye-detection fix to Face Unlock in the coming months. The thing is, there are still several important issues Google needs to address to make Face Unlock a feasible authentication method. Until then, I can’t in good conscience recommend the Pixel 4 to anyone, no matter how amazing the cameras are.

My first issue with Face Unlock, aside from the soon-to-be-patched eye detection flaw, is that it only allows me to add one facial print. On the iPhone, you can have one alternate “look.” As my colleague Chris Velazco pointed out in his review, the Pixel 4 doesn’t recognize me as the same person with and without makeup on. When I set up Face Unlock with a bare face, I couldn’t get into my phone when I was done up. When I set it up with makeup on, I couldn’t log in after washing my face. This was a problem regardless of how much makeup I was wearing. The Pixel 4 had trouble recognizing me even when I used a smaller amount, and only logged me in about 50 percent of the time.

Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL

This might not seem like a problem to people who don’t use cosmetics, but if you’re ever going to alter the way you look at all, say for Halloween, your wedding night, or a killer Drag routine, you’ll probably have to rely on your pin instead.

That brings me to my second and biggest problem with Face Unlock — it’s the only biometric option on the Pixel 4. This wouldn’t be as huge an issue if not for the fact that many apps these days offer a fingerprint sign-in option to reduce the number of times you have to punch in a (hopefully) complicated password on a tiny phone keyboard. For things like financial services or Evernote, you’re often required to sign in each time you leave the app. That’s great: it makes it much harder for anyone who picks up your phone to get at your sensitive information. But it also gets annoying if you have to re-enter your excessively long and complicated alphanumeric password all the time.

iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max

With a fingerprint scanner, this is less frustrating. The problem is that the Pixel 4 doesn’t have one, and Face Unlock doesn’t work as a stand-in here. When Apple replaced the fingerprint sensor with Face ID on the iPhone X, it solved this issue by making sure that all apps that supported Touch ID would also work with Face ID. Basically, the app asks your iPhone if you have the right fingerprint or face. It’s iOS that actually approves or denies your log in, so it doesn’t even matter which method you’re using.

On the Pixel 4, though, there is no such widespread integration of Face Unlock. Developers of individual apps will have to work to enable the feature. Meanwhile, you’ll just have to keep manually entering your password until Google finds a way to let you securely log in to these apps with your face.

My final gripe about the Pixel 4 specifically with regards to my face is its selfie camera. I’ve had issues with the Pixel 3 selfie camera app squishing my mug to look rounder and flatter than it really is. When I brought this up with Google back when I was reviewing the phone, the company explained this was a result of wide-angle distortion correction. I wasn’t happy with the explanation, but I was able to work around this by using a third-party app to snap my selfies.

Pixel 4 selfie camera distortion on Instagram Story

Face distorting in real time on an Instagram Story shot with the Pixel 4

On the Pixel 4, though, I can’t avoid this distortion. I was horrified to see, when recording an Instagram Story on the new flagship, that my face was distorted in real time. You can see it in this GIF above. It’s possible that the updates to the Pixel 4’s viewfinder interface that let you see HDR and exposure changes in real time are also causing this distortion to happen across all other apps. (Google hasn’t responded to our query about this.) Since I recorded that video, the distortion appears to have been reduced slightly, but it still squishes my selfies just enough to make me look more bloated than I am.

It appears that on the Pixel 4, the correction is happening at an underlying software level that also affects other apps. This means I can no longer use a third-party camera to capture a more-accurate snapshot of my face, and will have to find some creative means to do so on the new phone.

But even if I manage to figure that out, the Pixel 4 has too many inconveniences stacked against it, and poor battery life to boot. I don’t take pictures of stars in the night sky enough to warrant changing over to the Pixel 4, but I do snap plenty of selfies and front-facing videos on Instagram so for someone like me, this is important. Sure, some of my issues have to do with vanity, but I don’t want to buy a device knowing it will actually make my life harder. I want a phone that makes my life a little easier and makes me feel good about myself. Sadly, as much as I like the Pixel 4’s cameras, clean software and clever Assistant, I don’t think I can make the switch.

Half of all iPhones are already on iOS 13 less than a month since release

The installation of iOS 13 is moving forward at a pace that Google can only dream of for Android. It took less than a month from the mobile operating system’s release on September 19 for it to be adopted in half of all iPhones.

According to figures published by Apple on October 15, 50% of all iPhones have already upgraded to iOS 13, with 41% staying on iOS 12 while the rest remain on earlier versions. However, when taking into account only the devices that were released in the last four years, those that have installed iOS 13 was up to 55%, followed by 38% on iOS 12 and 7% on earlier versions.

iOS 13 took 26 days to hit 50% of all iPhones, a few days slower compared to iOS 12, which took only 23 days. The difference is not much though.

The adoption rate of iPadOS, meanwhile, is moving slower than that of iOS 13, but still at an impressive pace. The new operating system, created specifically for Apple’s tablet, has been installed in 33% of all iPads, with 51% still on iOS 12 and 16% on earlier versions. When considering only the versions that were released in the last four years, the iPads that have upgraded to iPadOS were up to 41%, followed by 51% on iOS 12 and 8% on earlier systems.

Apple’s tight ecosystem of hardware and software has allowed it to maintain quick adoption rates for its mobile operating systems, which Google has not been successful in replicating for Android. Google has apparently stopped publishing adoption rates, so there is no information on how many Android smartphones have installed Android 10 since it was released last month.

Apple rolled out iOS 13 with a bevy of new features and improvements, including the long-requested Dark Mode, the Find My app that combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends, an updated Health app and HomeKit, and the redesigned Reminders app, among many others. Our iOS 13 tips and tricks article shows iPhone owners how to make the most out of the new mobile operating system.

iOS 13, however, has not been void of problems, such dropped calls, lost contacts, and battery drain. It does not appear that the adoption rate of the new mobile operating system was affected much though, as iPhone owners continue to upgrade.

Editors’ Recommendations

Tim Cook to serve as chairman at Chinese business school amid Hong Kong outcry

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been appointed chairman of the advisory board for Tsinghua University’s economics school in Beijing, according to local news reports and a Chinese-language meeting summary noted by Apple Insider.

Cook will reportedly assume the role for the next three years, and recently acted as chairman for a meeting, as the South China Morning Post notes. Cook has been on the board in the past, as has Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who recently took on Chinese censorship in a public speech about free expression. Major Chinese government officials have also served on the board, as the Post reports. Cook succeeds Breyer Capital founder Jim Breyer in the role.

While Cook isn’t the only tech industry executive to have served on the board, his chairmanship comes at a particularly fraught moment for Apple, when any relationship with China is likely to be closely scrutinized. The company faced a wave of criticism earlier this month when it removed a crowdsourced map of Hong Kong police presence from the App Store that was used by pro-democracy protestors. Cook defended the decision in an email to employees, arguing that the app had become a dangerous tool for tracking police — an idea that the app’s developers have pushed back on.

Apple’s move even attracted a letter from a bipartisan group of United States lawmakers that included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ted Cruz. “We urge you in the strongest terms to reverse course,” the lawmakers wrote, “to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.”

Nokia 7.2 review: Nokia aims high but misses the mark

Nokia 7.2

Nokia 7.2 review: Nokia aims high but misses the mark

“The Nokia 7.2 aims high but misses its target: the Google Pixel 3a.”

  • Android One promises fast updates
  • Elegant design, nice build quality
  • Large and modern-looking screen
  • Adequate battery life
  • Affordable
  • No Verizon or Sprint support
  • Occasional stutters and lag
  • Photos can be blurry
  • Google Pixel 3a is better in almost every way

Google’s Pixel 3a flipped the table on budget smartphones. It brought a fantastic camera experience down to an affordable $400 price point. It also receives version and security updates straight from Google, a feature that’s lacking even on flagship phones. These are the features HMD Global wants to emulate with its latest Nokia 7.2.

Yet it doesn’t quite get there. The Nokia 7.2’s performance is not as good as the Pixel 3a’s. Battery life is adequate, but not as good as the Pixel 3a’s. The camera experience is solid, but the Pixel 3a goes above and beyond.

See a theme?

At $350, it’s cheaper than its prime target’s original $400 price, except you can find the Pixel 3a for $300 already. If the Pixel 3a didn’t exist, I’d heartily recommend the Nokia 7.2. Yet it does, and HMD can’t keep up.

Sophisticated design

The Nokia 7.2 is among the most stylish phones you can buy in its price range. The corners are rounded, and the circular camera module in the center looks nicer than the vertical camera system on its predecessor, though it owes inspiration to Motorola phones.

There’s a beautiful effect that plays upon the rear glass when it catches the light, especially on the Cyan Green color, where the Nokia 7.2 looks more sophisticated. It also comes in Ice and Charcoal, but Cyan Green is the one I’d pick.

nokia 7.2 rear
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s protected by Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and the back. HMD says it’s using a polymer composite around the frame that’s double the strength of polycarbonate, but lighter. That means the Nokia 7.2 is more durable than the average mid-range phone, but the most important parts of the phone are still made of glass, so you’ll want to use a case. Thankfully, the glass has a matte texture on the back, which keeps it free of fingerprints and smudges. It’s a shame there’s no IP68 water resistance to cover all the bases, but it’s splash-proof, so it should be fine in the rain.

Build quality is HMD’s strength, and it continues to deliver phones that feel like they deserve a higher price tag. I can’t say the same for Google’s Pixel 3a, which admittedly feels low-rent.

Despite its 6.3-inch screen size, the Nokia 7.2 is usable with one hand (though I do have large hands). The fingerprint sensor is easy to reach, the rounded edges are smooth to the touch, and help the phone fit ergonomically into my palm.

There’s a beautiful effect that plays upon the rear glass when it catches the light, especially on the Cyan Green color.

There’s a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left side if you want to call it up quickly, and the power button on the right edge doubles as an LED notification light for those who want a visual cue when alerts come in. It’s a feature we’ve seen before on the Nokia 4.2 earlier this year. It’s helpful when this side of the phone is facing me, but I’d prefer an always-on display, which is not available.

The buttons are clicky and feel nice to press, but I can’t say the same for the haptic feedback; the vibrations don’t feel pleasant. Making it up is the existence of a headphone jack, which I’m sure a lot of people will be happy to see.

Nice screen, good audio

The 6.3-inch screen looks modern, thanks to the slimmed-down bezels, and the teardrop notch where the selfie camera rests is a whole lot more elegant than the wide notch on the Nokia 7.1 from last year. It’s still an LCD panel, so blacks don’t look deep, but it uses HMD’s PureDisplay technology, so SDR content is up-scaled into HDR (it supports the HDR10 standard on select apps).

Nokia 7.2 screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

That means richer colors and higher contrast, and the screen certainly delivers. Shows like Disenchantment on Netflix look excellent, even outdoors, and episodes of Hot Ones on YouTube produce natural colors. There’s solid detail, too, thanks to the 2,280 x 1,080 resolution.

I had no trouble using the phone outdoors in bright sunlight, though I did have to crank the brightness to the max of 500 nits.

Ultimately, there never was a time that I thought the Nokia 7.2’s camera beat the single 12-megapixel camera on the Pixel 3a.

On the audio side, the phone can get loud and the quality is surprisingly strong, with clear highs and mids, but the bass is incredibly weak. It’s great for listening to movies and videos, but you’ll want to plug in for music or connect to a Bluetooth speaker.

Camera: quantity over quality

48-megapixel cameras are becoming more and more commonplace with phones like the Motorola One Vision and the OnePlus 7 Pro utilizing them. Whether they’re needed on smartphones is debatable, as more megapixels don’t necessarily translate to a better camera, and that’s best exemplified on the Nokia 7.2. By default, the camera takes 12-megapixel photos as it uses a process called pixel binning to merge pixels together, so they can take in more light. It should mean the camera can take nice low-light photos, but that’s not the result I found.

It can take adequate photos during the day, with decent detail, though colors can look a bit muted at times. Problems start to creep in as the day goes on. The phone can take solid low-light photos, but it’s not consistent. You need to stay as still as possible because there’s no optical image stabilization. Any movement will result in a blurry photo. It doesn’t help that the phone isn’t the fastest to snap photos.

Use the dedicated Night mode, and the problem is exacerbated. If you’re not using a tripod, these photos can look blurrier most of the time, though colors are improved. One perk is the dedicated Pro mode, so if you know how to change the shutter speed and ISO, you can snap some better photos than the auto mode. Ultimately, there was never a time that I thought the Nokia 7.2’s camera beat the single 12-megapixel camera on the Pixel 3a.

Below are a few comparisons with the Pixel 3a, and you can see how much more Google’s phone retains detail and more appealing colors. For more comparisons, check out the video above.

There’s also an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens on the back of the Nokia 7.2, and it helps you take in more of a scene. I frequently didn’t want to use this lens because the images don’t look great even at high noon. Detail can look blotchy, skies are often blown out due to poor HDR (or lack thereof), and colors are done. Good luck trying to get a usable photo in low-light too — the Night mode doesn’t fare well here either.

Here are some examples next to the iPhone 11 as reference (yes, I know the iPhone 11 is $350 more).

A 5-megapixel depth sensor is employed on the rear for a new feature in the camera’s Portrait mode called Zeiss Bokeh Styles. It borrows from the rich history of Zeiss lenses to mimic bokeh — or blur — styles and applies them behind a subject. You can choose from Zeiss Swirl, Zeiss Smooth, and Zeiss Modern, along with other options.

The effect is aggressive. If you like the style it’s going for, you’ll have fun here, but I recommend bringing down the blur effect all the way down to a level 2 or 3 instead of the default 5. When it works, you can snap some great portraits.

nokia 7.2 girl good portrait
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Nokia 7.2 doesn’t do a great job of accurately outlining a subject in a portrait. It makes mistakes more than other phones like the Pixel 3a, and when that’s paired with the aggressive portrait effect, it looks heavily processed.

Below, the Pixel 3a’s shot looks so natural, as though the photo was shot on a DSLR. The bokeh effect is solid, detail and colors are strong, and there aren’t any mistakes. The Nokia 7.2’s portrait, taken with the 20-megapixel selfie camera, completely messes up the table, weirdly blurring it out. Elements of the photo are overexposed and the colors aren’t quite right, though detail is solid.

If your background isn’t too busy and there’s strong lighting, you can take nice portraits with either the front or rear cameras. But if conditions aren’t optimal, the photos don’t look great.

The Nokia 7.2 can snap photos I’ll happily share, and if you asked me a year ago, I’d say it’s a great camera system. But Google has changed the game with the Pixel 3a and its excellent camera experience, and Nokia’s attempt now feels outdated.

Performance and Android One

Now we come to the Nokia 7.2’s Achilles’ heel: performance. I had a strange experience with this phone. I went through three units because the first two drove me up the wall with constant freezes and hang-ups. The performance was so frustrating on those initial models that I frequently found myself swearing, uh, quite audibly. That’s never a good sign.

After talking back and forth with HMD — I even sent video proof that my 7.2 was acting wonky —  the company sent me a third unit. I suppose the third time’s the charm, as it finally worked.

Even then, it wasn’t perfect. There’s a Snapdragon 660 processor inside with 4GB of RAM, a step up from the Snapdragon 636 inside last year’s Nokia 7.1. While it can perform most day-to-day tasks without too much of a struggle, it does stutter here and there and also freezes occasionally (particularly when switching apps). Don’t expect apps to launch at rocket speed or games to load up and run well, either. Alto’s Odyssey and Pako: Forever were playable, but I did notice a few skipped frames.

Here are a few benchmark results:

  • AnTuTu 3DBench: 170,826
  • Geekbench 5 CPU: 325 single-core; 1,462 multi-core
  • 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 1,290 Vulkan; 1,343 OpenGL

These scores are a little higher than the results from the Pixel 3a, which uses the better Snapdragon 670 and scored 159,554 on AnTuTu. Yet overall, I had a better experience with Google’s phone. Performance is smoother with fewer stutters, and I had no trouble playing games like PUBG: Mobile, though on lower graphical settings.

If you’re not a power user, you only use a handful of apps, and you don’t play demanding games, the Nokia 7.2 will be sufficient. HMD’s phone does step up its storage game over the Pixel, though, offering 128GB base internal storage and support for a MicroSD card if you need more.

As is the case with most HMD Nokia phones, the Nokia 7.2 is a part of the Android One program. That means you get a promise of three years of security updates and two operating system upgrades. While it’s running Android 9 Pie at the moment, it will get Android 10 soon.

nokia 7.2 apps
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

This is a big deal because there’s a dearth of budget and mid-range smartphones that offer this level of software support. Fast updates mean new features — like Android 10’s dark theme — and it also keeps your phone secure thanks to bug patches. Motorola, one of HMD’s main competitors in the U.S., is only offering one year of version upgrades for its mid-range phones with “industry-related security updates,” which means whenever there’s a big security issue. Phones like the Moto E6 aren’t getting a single OS upgrade. It’s quite remarkable what HMD is doing.

The interface is utilizing stock Android, so it’s clean, slick, simple to use, and there’s no bloatware (unless you count Google apps as bloat). The main changes are in the camera app, where HMD has added its own features.

There’s a dearth of budget and mid-range smartphones that offer this level of software support.

All that said, Google’s Pixel 3a is a rung up the ladder as it will get updates even faster for the same length of time. It already has Android 10, for example.

Battery life

The Nokia 7.2 will get you through a full workday with medium use and a full day with light use with its 3,500mAh battery. I often arrived home around 6 p.m. with 30% remaining. Battery anxiety starts to creep in whenever I decided to extend my night out, though — around 9:30 p.m. it hit 15%.

It fared poorly in a standard video playback test, where we play a 1080p YouTube video at full brightness over Wi-Fi. It lasted 5 hours and 2 minutes, well behind competitors like the Pixel 3a, which lasted 9 hours and 12 minutes. This test isn’t a good indicator of real-world usage, but the Pixel 3a will easily last you a full day with medium use.

There’s a USB-C charging port, and it charges up quick enough, hitting 100% around the hour and a half mark. There’s sadly no wireless charging, but most phones in this price range don’t have it.

Price, availability, and warranty information

The Nokia 7.2 is $350 and is available from Amazon and Best Buy. Do note that the phone only works on GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile.

HMD Global offers a standard limited warranty, which protects the phone from manufacturing defects one year since the date of purchase.

Our take

The Nokia 7.2 great build quality with a nice design, a strong screen experience, along with decent performance and battery life. Its camera system is solid, but it doesn’t hold up to competitors like Google’s Pixel 3a.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes. The Google Pixel 3a. It’s an improvement in almost every way, with better performance, longer battery life, a nicer AMOLED screen, and a stunning camera. It can also be found for less than its original $400 price tag, even cheaper than the Nokia 7.2.

Check out our best cheap phones guide for more.

How long will it last?

The Nokia 7.2 will last two to three years before its performance might start to suffer and the battery life begins to degrade. Thankfully, the software experience will still be up-to-date as it runs Android One and will continue to get updates until 2022.

Should you buy it?

No. It’s difficult to recommend the Nokia 7.2 when the Pixel 3a is simply better in every way, especially when it can be found for less.

Editors’ Recommendations