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A simple mobile that boasts a QR code scanner

We review the Nokia 2720 Flip phone to see how well it performs as a simple mobile and a COVID-19 check in device.

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Last updated: 09 September 2021

CHOICE verdict

The Nokia Flip may look like a phone you've have seen in the '90s, but it’s smarter than it seems. You get 4G mobile network and Wi-Fi support, social media apps and even a QR code scanner, allowing you to carry out a COVID Safe check-in but importantly only if your state supports web based sign-ins like NSW (some states require you to download an app, which this mobile doesn't support). It features two screens – the external one shows who's calling, while the larger main screen is for viewing messages, capturing very average photos and chatting with your friends and family on apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. The large buttons make for easy dialling, although smartphone users will find the keys a clunky backwards step. Thankfully, support for Google Assistant helps by providing a speech-to-text input option. 

Price: $129
Contact: nokia.com/phones/en_au/nokia-2720-flip

Let's get this out of the way: the Nokia 2720 Flip is not a smartphone, it's a classic flip phone that has a couple of useful smart features. Despite the dominance of touchscreen devices, simple phones continue to be released and the CHOICE phones for seniors test is every bit as popular as our smartphones test.

Unfortunately for people wanting a simple phone, the global pandemic has highlighted one significant flaw – most simple mobiles can't carry out a COVID Safe check-in by reading a QR code. The Nokia Flip 2720 is one of the very few simple phones that can read QR codes, although it does take some effort and configuration. Also – and this could be a dealbreaker depending on which state you live in – the Nokia 2720 Flip QR code reader works through the web browser not a dedicated app, so if your state or territory requires you to sign in using a smartphone app (Android or Apple iPhone), then the Nokia 2720 Flip won't allow you to carry out a COVID Safe check-in.

Apps to stay connected

For a simple phone, you get a lot of connectivity. Aside from 4G support, you also get Wi-Fi and the ability to tether with another smart device. While this may sound fairly useless for a simple phone, it does allow you to hook your Nokia Flip to an iPad or even a laptop.

A few popular apps are loaded on the phone, including Google Maps, YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp. However, lack of support for voice or video chat with WhatsApp may be a turn-off for some users, although you can add voice recordings and videos as attachments.

The phone uses the KaiOS interface which lets you download even more apps. The most important one to consider is a QR code scanner app that turns your simple phone into a COVD Safe check in device. It's not as good as a smartphone app – the camera isn't great and can fail to read in poor lighting conditions – but it does work, with a little preparation and a crash course in using Google Assistant to help keep two-thumb texting to a minimum.

Nokia 2720 Flip specs

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The classic flip phone design opens up to reveal a few useful apps, large buttons and some simple controls.

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When closed, the Nokia 2720 is compact and the clamshell design protects the main screen. But an external screen shows the time as well as anyone calling or texting.

  • Screen: 2.8-inch QVGA main display; 1.3-inch front display
  • Battery: 1500mAh
  • Rear (main) camera: 2MP single lens for photos and video
  • Selfie camera: Not available
  • Video: Yes
  • Storage: 4GB (512MB ROM)
  • Bluetooth and network: Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, A2DP
  • Connectivity:  SIM type Nano SIM, Micro USB (USB 2.0), hearing aid compatibility, Google Assistant button, SD card slot (microSD), SOS call/SMS with ICE support when set to accessibility mode
  • WhatsApp: Messaging only (no audio or video)
  • Audio: Stereo speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Processor: Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform
  • Operating System: KaiOS

Simple design

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The large, backlit keys are easy to see, but the lack of space between keys may be an issue for large or unsteady fingers.

The Nokia 2720 Flip has two separate screens. The external screen lets you see messages or check who's calling, before flipping it open to reveal a main screen and old school T9 keypad. 

The main screen is tiny at 2.8-inches compared to a smartphone, but big enough to see your texts and social media messages. When you're finished, simply flip it closed to hang up calls. 

There is no selfie camera and the main camera is only 2MP, but that's good enough for sharing casual snaps and video on social media or with family and friends.

The keypad has large square buttons that are clear and backlit to see in poor lighting, but there is no separation between each key, which could be an issue for unsteady hands. 

Voice assistant performance

Nostalgia has a way of rewriting the experience of our youth, as many of us conveniently forget how horrible the predictive text experience really was. The most important feature that rescues the Flip 2720 mobile from being a frustrating and dated single-use mobile is Google Assistant. The Google voice assistant functionality on the Nokia 2720 Flip makes communication and text input tolerable, as it works surprisingly well. 

If you want to really get the most out of this mobile, take the time to set up and become proficient in using the Google Assistant speech-to-text feature. You won't regret it.

For example, enter all the details for your Facebook sign in, WhatsApp groups and home address for Google Maps beforehand. Anything you can enter that the app will automatically remember will help minimise the time consuming T9 Keypad entries.

Take the time to set up and become proficient in using the Google Assistant speech-to-text feature. You won't regret it

Also take time to learn how to use Google Assistant for speech-to-text input. There can be a pause between the button press and when you start speaking, but if used properly it can save you a lot of time and effort when entering information.

Simply press the Google Assistant button (the main square button above the 2 key) and the mobile will convert your voice into text. Whether you're replying to a text, entering details into a webform or even conducting a Google search, you'll find it easier to speak it out rather than fumbling around on the keypad. This is important when looking at the biggest potential useful feature in the 2720 Flip: its ability to check in via a QR scanning app.

How to use the QR scanner app

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Open the KaiOS store app, which can be found in the main menu area, and search for 'QR scanner'. Once installed, the QR scanner will read the code and send you to the appropriate website. When checking in to a business or club, simply point the camera at the QR code at the check-in area of the business entrance or shop window and make your selections to sign in.

First use can be a hassle until the webform remembers your details, but it does work and is a much better option than a pen and paper sign in. Bear in mind that the camera lens needs to be wiped very clean to work and the lighting conditions need to be fairly good.

If you need some help on the process to check in using a QR code reader on your phone, NSW Government has more information as well as the option to let you practise on a test QR code. Residents in other states need to check to see if a web-based check-in is possible. If you need to download an additional COVID check-in app then this mobile won't work for you.

Help for searching, searching for help

If you're buying the mobile for a family member who'll be with you when out and about and has no need for the COVID Safe check in or won't be using the Google Assistant feature, you can enable an accessibility mode which turns the Google Assistant button into an alert button for a quick response in times of distress.

A long press on this button triggers a call to five chosen contacts in the address book one by one, on loudspeaker, until it makes a connection to an emergency contact. You can also record the person's ICE (In Case of Emergency) information to give first responders access to important contact and medical information faster.

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