Nokia 2 review

You get what you pay for, and you don't pay much here

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Interface and reliability

  • Plain Android 7.1.1
  • Very limited storage
  • Terrible performance

Nokia phones take Android as Google makes it. There's no custom interface, no obvious attempts to put the Nokia stamp on the software.

The only app added to the Nokia 2 is Support, which offers help using your new phone. It's for the best that no other extras are pre-loaded though as there's very little free space. There's 8GB of storage, leaving just a gigabyte and change of space to actually install apps.

That will get eaten up quickly.

At the time of review the Nokia 2 runs Android 7.1.1, but HMD Global plans to upgrade it to 8.0 along with some Android Go downgrades

Go is a version of Android made for devices with low RAM and storage, and this phone could really do with Android Go proper.

Android runs very poorly on the Nokia 2, making even basic tasks a headache. Press the home button and it can take up to three seconds for icons to appear on the home screen. Web pages load slowly even with a solid 4G or Wi-Fi connection. Every part of the phone runs at half speed. If that.

It's a reminder that 1GB of RAM is just not enough to make an Android phone run well. It hasn't been for years. HMD Global claims performance will improve when the Nokia 2 starts using Android 8.0 with parts of Android Go, but as the core software will still be 'full' Android, it's hard to imagine a truly dramatic change.

There are other knock-on effects of the limited 1GB of RAM too. The Nokia 2 tends to boot out background apps even if they've been cleared for background operation in the Settings part of the phone.

Using Podcast Addict, the app regularly gets auto-suspended even if you're listening to a podcast. The same happens with Spotify. It gets irritating, quick.

Movies and games

  • Weak speaker
  • Most games run okay
  • 8GB of storage is a hindrance for gamers

Despite the lack of RAM, some high-end games run fairly well. The Nokia 2 doesn't have enough storage to let us install Asphalt 8, but Real Racing 3 runs just fine. It looks good, and while there's some sign of frame rate dips, it's not enough to spoil the game.

Limited storage alone is enough to make sure the Nokia 2 is not a good gaming phone, though. The Moto G5 is a lot better, especially as it has a sharper screen.

The same applies to movies. You can stream movies on the Nokia 2 but there's not enough room to store your own unless you slot in a microSD card.

Video would benefit from a larger screen as well. While five inches offers a good compromise between size and pocketability, it does seem small once you've experienced a few bigger displays.

The Nokia 2's speaker doesn't add much to the appeal either. There's a single outlet on the back, and the output is quite thin-sounding, and not that loud.

Performance and benchmarks

  • Very low-end hardware
  • Pitiful RAM

This phone's insides are not well-suited to its software. There's a Snapdragon 212 chipset, which has caused performance issues in previous cheap Androids, and just 1GB of RAM. This is barrel-scraping stuff, and just slightly more expensive phones from Huawei, Honor and Lenovo/Motorola are dramatically more powerful.

The Nokia 2 scores just 980 points in Geekbench 4, well below the 2,377 points the Moto G5 manages.

Not only does the phone have just four cores, they are of the Cortex-A7 type. This is a creaky old chipset core. It did the trick back in 2013 with the original Moto G, but it doesn't cut it for a $100/£100 phone in 2018.

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.