Our Verdict

Cheap phones can be great, but the Nokia 2's poor performance and seriously lacking storage makes it a real pain to use.

For

  • Good display color
  • Great battery life
  • Low price

Against

  • Terrible performance
  • Very limited storage
  • Poor cameras

Nokia's phone range doesn't mess about with confusing names. The higher the number, the better the phone is.

The Nokia 2 is not a high-end phone then, just one rung above the most basic model. However, it still costs $99.99 (£99.99, AU$115). We have a right to expect a decent experience.

We're fully okay with the concept of cheaper phones with basic specs but the Nokia 2's dismal performance makes it a pain to use. It is just too slow, even given the price. That said, there are some good points to be found here.

Nokia 2 release date and price

  • Out now
  • Costs $99.99 (£99.99, AU$115)

The Nokia 2 is out now and costs $99.99 (£99.99, AU$115). It is not quite the cheapest phone going but is a mobile you can buy SIM-free without decimating your monthly budget single-handed.

HMD Global (the company behind recent Nokia phones) plans to release a Nokia 1 later this year for $79.99 (£79.99, around AU$145). It has a slightly smaller screen and may offer somewhat better day-to-day performance as it has the Android One Go operating system instead of 'full' Android.

Key features

  • A big, long-lasting battery
  • Metal sides

The Nokia 2 is a basic smartphone for those who want something that doesn't cost a lot SIM-free, or that comes 'free' on an affordable contract.

There are a few neat parts to this phone, though. It has metal sides rather than a pure plastic frame, and the screen is surprisingly vivid for a low-end model. The Nokia 2's battery is also huge at 4,100mAh, letting it outlast any big-name phone in this class.

A Snapdragon 212 chipset and 1GB of RAM aren't going to impress anyone, though, including the little green guy who lives inside Android. 

The cameras are basic too, with much worse image quality than the Moto G5, and that phone isn't dramatically more expensive these days.

Design

  • Plastic removable rear, aluminum sides
  • Chunkier than some, but still fairly small
  • No water resistance

The Nokia 2 looks like a relative of Nokia's old Lumia phones. It has a pull-off plastic battery cover, curved to feel good, but the sides are anodized aluminum rather than plastic.

Some phones with metal sides manage to feel quite high-end even with plastic rears. The Nokia 2 doesn't, because of the plastic's curve and that you can feel there's a slight air gap under the battery cover. It doesn't have the pleasing density of a unibody design.

However, considering the price we're happy with the Nokia 2's build. Pull off the back and you'll see the battery is locked under a metal plate. We're long past the days of complaining about not being able to manually replace batteries, though, and this should help avoid shorting the cell out if the phone gets wet.

The Nokia 2 has no water resistance, though. There are no rubber seals anywhere.

One positive point is the Nokia 2 does not seem especially heavy or fat even though it has an unusually large battery. It's 9.3mm thick and 161g, so is empirically quite chunky, but hides this fairly well.

Metal edges aside, there's nothing fancy to the Nokia 2's hardware. It uses a rapidly-aging micro USB charge socket, and there's no fingerprint scanner. We're so used to rear scanners in Android phones, a finger has reached for that non-existent panel numerous times.

Screen

  • Good color for a cheap phone
  • Limited resolution not a huge deal
  • Gorilla Glass protection

The Nokia 2's screen is one of its stronger elements, even though it doesn't sound that good at all on paper. It's five inches across and has a resolution of just 720p. The Moto G5 and Huawei P10 Lite both have 1080p screens.

It’s not a huge issue, though. 720p still looks fairly sharp at this size, and obvious pixelation is only evident in small fonts.

Color and contrast are both remarkably good, giving the Nokia 2's display a rich and potent appearance. There's no customization of the color profile, but it looks perfectly fine as-is.

HMD Global hasn't skimped too much on protection either. A pane of Gorilla Glass 3 sits on the screen. It's not the latest version of this toughened glass but will still keep scratches away if you treat the phone reasonably well.

As you'd hope, there's an auto brightness setting, and it works fairly well.