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Nokia 2 Camera Review: A few little surprises

Nokia’s newest affordable handset, the Nokia 2, has just arrived on UK shores and we’ve tested out its low-cost camera chops to see whether saving money means sacrificing capability.

Nokia 2 Camera Review: Hardware

At £99 the 2 is the most affordable Android-based Nokia you can lay your hands on right now (with the upcoming Nokia 1 hot on its heels). Despite the low price tag, the phone packs in a pair of surprisingly high-resolution snappers.

On the back, you’re working with an 8-megapixel autofocus sensor sporting a fairly wide-angle lens and an f/2.6 aperture, accompanied by a single LED flash.

The selfie snapper meanwhile is a 5-megapixel fixed-focus effort and that’s about everything HMD has divulged on it.

Nokia 2 Camera Review: UI and Features

The Nokia camera app is arguably the most interesting aspect of the 2’s photographic feature-set.

The clean viewfinder features quick toggles for flash, AutoHDR (which is enabled by default), three and ten-second timers and the camera switcher.

The shutter button on the other side is surrounded by a gallery shortcut, video mode switcher and a shooting mode pop-out menu, which lets you jump between Photos, Beautify and Panorama (rear camera only). Flip to video mode and this pop-out menu instead lets you shift recording speeds between half and up to three times that of real-time.

It’s the camera’s settings menu that packs in a few surprises. You can enable a compass and choose to have the data tied to your snaps, initiate an on-screen level, a grid overlay and even drop in custom watermarks. You can toggle common settings like the shutter sound, location tagging and burst mode, along with tweaking volume control behaviour.

What we weren’t expecting to find on such an affordable device, however, was any level of manual control, but by fiddling in the Capture Settings sub-menu, the viewfinder will then display simplified controls for metering, focus, white balance and even exposure (-2/+2).

It’s important to note that the Nokia 2 is a relatively underpowered phone; something we touch on in greater depth in our full Nokia 2 review. It’s an issue that’s particularly prevalent when using the camera. The app takes a long time to open up and the shutter is far from snappy, especially if Boost Light is enabled, as it effectively quadruples the amount of shutter lag you’ll have to endure.

Read next: Nokia 2 Tips & Tricks Guide

Nokia 2 Camera Review: Photo Quality

Overall the Nokia 2’s cameras lack dynamic range, meaning lighter areas become blown out all too easily, not to mention colours consistently appear drab and washed out as well.

The main snapper struggles to resolve fine detail anywhere in frame, but stay still and low light shots are actually possible.

The front five-megapixel camera meanwhile fairs a little better, provided you hold it at the right distance. Assuming there’s plenty of light around you can expect usable selfies and even at max settings, the Beautify tool proves competent without being overbearing.

Nokia 2 Camera Review: Video Quality

Across both cameras, you only have the option of 480p SD or 720p HD resolution recording and even at the higher setting, like stills, footage again is missing any fine detail.

If the phone’s lack of a camera bump didn’t tip you off there’s no hardware or software-based image stabilisation either, so footage is as jerky as your hands are when filming. What’s more, the focus needs to be coaxed into refocusing between different subjects.

The cherry on this lacklustre cake is that all footage is accompanied by equally underwhelming audio recording, but at least, unlike the iPhone X, it’s in stereo.

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