Nokia G21, the latest entrant by HMD Global in 2022, is one of the most aggressively priced smartphone ever by the brand. Nokia is all about providing the best software experience ever for Android fans. They have always been upfront about their software experience, as they don’t inject ads anywhere on the phone, not even in native apps, and also no bloatware. Nokia also promises 2 years of Android updates and 3 years of security updates for this budget phone.
Nokia G21 is all about reliability. It’s a sturdy and well-built device with a 6.5inch HD+ display & 90Hz refresh rate out of the box. It offers up to 3 days of battery life so that you can take it out the whole day with complete confidence. It is powered by a Unisoc T606 processor and Android 11 and is ready for Android 12, so you’re always updated with the latest features that Android comes up with yearly. The box contains Nokia G21, USB-C Cable, 10W Charger, Jelly Cover, and Quickstart guide.
Nokia G21 Review: Design & Build Quality
While the phone has a polycarbonate back, the feel it offers in hand is entirely premium, and the crimped pattern on the back helps a lot in getting a better grip on the phone the whole day. The vertically stacked camera module on the top-left corner of the back blends very well with the overall looks of the phone. The device is 8.5mm thick and weighs 190gms which just feels right, neither heavy nor light.
On the top, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microphone; on the bottom, there is a USB-C charging port, and the 2nd microphone with a bottom-firing speaker. On the right, there is a SIM card slot (which also has a micro-SD card slot and is not hybrid) and a dedicated Google Assistant button. There are volume rockers and power buttons on the right, which also work as the fingerprint sensor.
Overall Nokia G21 is a sturdy smartphone that should easily survive some accidental falls. It’s an elegant smartphone for the price segment and is undoubtedly comfortable to hold and use.
Nokia G21 Review: Display & Audio
Nokia G21 is the first device ever by HMD Global to support a fast display rate of up to 90Hz. You’ll definitely notice that the device is smoother than other devices on standard 60Hz. Kudos to Nokia for providing such an actual perceivable upgrade. Nokia G21 sports a 6.5inch IPS LCD display with HD+ screen resolution. The display with 400 nits brightness is bright enough to keep the display viewable even under the sunlight and stays vibrant always.
The display is big enough to consume media content easily, and the 90Hz refresh makes the interaction with the phone relatively smoother. The colors on display are good, the blacks are slightly deeper, and the tone is warmer. Since Nokia doesn’t mention if the display has Gorilla Glass 3 protection or not, it’s better to protect the display with tempered glass. The display also has a waterdrop notch cutout for the selfie camera at the front, thin bezels on the sides, and a slightly broad chin.
The bottom-firing speaker is quite good and is quite apt for media consumption. It is loud and crisp enough to fill up a small room. There is no distortion or break at high volumes either, be it with speakers or via a 3.5mm headphone jack. In a recent example, I got the chance to test the Nokia G21 with a DJ-level speaker with an amplifier setup on a function, and the only way to run the songs via it was via a 3.5mm headphone jack. A few phones we tried were getting distorted when we increased the volume to full; only the Nokia G21 was able to play any audio, be it from youtube videos or music; it played all with ease without causing any distortion or breaks. There were, of course, other high-end phones as well, but most of them were missing the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Nokia G21 Review: Performance
Powered with Unisoc T606, which has an octa-core CPU with two Cortex-A75 cores running at up to 1.6GHz and six Cortex A55 cores also running at up to 1.6GHz, on paper Nokia G21 with this processor has a better prospect than the Helio G35 which you might have seen on other devices in the similar price range. Paired with up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (which is further extendible up to 512GB using a microSD card), the phone doesn’t feel slow at all; instead, it feels much smoother; thanks to the 90Hz refresh rate too for that. Out of the box, it runs on stock Android 11 and is ready for the Android 12 update soon.
Overall general performance in daily usage is no issue at all, as it does the basics right. I didn’t notice any lags or frame drops, and the phone ensured smooth operation overall the whole day. It handles daily tasks like browsing web pages, watching videos, or editing on google/office apps with ease and is decent for playing games too. The biometric features, i.e., fingerprint scanner or face unlock, both worked fine to unlock the phone without any misses all the time. There is support for dual-band WiFi too.
When it comes to gaming, games like Asphalt 9 worked fine without any issues; in fact, it was the most played game during the review period. Unless you’re a real professional gaming user, Nokia G21 will not disappoint and performs decently when it comes to handling graphics-intensive games. Games like BGMI or COD can also be played without hiccups on low settings, while games like Dr. Driving and Temple Run 2 work smoothly on Nokia G21.
Nokia G21 Review: Camera
Equipped with 3 cameras on the back, i.e., a 50MP AI Camera with an f/1.8 aperture, a 2MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth sensor, Nokia G21 can click some good-looking images in the daylight. There is an 8MP front-facing camera for selfies as well. Both rear and front cameras can record 1080p videos at 30FPS and support OZO audio that filters out the sounds of wind while you shoot a video.
Both camera setups were able to click good images in well-lit environments; the photos looked bright and colorful with natural tones. As the rear camera has a 50MP AI Camera, it is able to capture granular details like shadows and keeps the highlights in check. The latest update we received on the phone during the review period probably also included some improvements for the camera, too, as initially, the camera was sometimes struggling with the autofocus, but after the update, the issue was gone.
Images clicked during the night or in low-lit environments were decent; in fact, the low-light photos were clicked better without the night mode. The front camera does well, too; you probably would find default Photo mode AI camera would click better selfies than the images clicked in portrait mode. The front camera is brutal in capturing granular details on the face, so it was better to keep the beauty mode ON at starting levels to have a balanced image that everyone would like more.
Nokia G21 Review: Battery
Equipped with a 5050mAh battery, Nokia G21 is one of the most reliable phones when it comes to battery life. There are many things that help in the battery’s longevity, i.e., Clean OS, no bloatware, LCD display, better app management, etc. If not up to 3 days without stretching, the battery can easily last for 2 days on regular usage, considering the SOT use per day to be around 3-4 hours per day. The typical usage includes web browsing, playing some games, streaming videos, etc. Since I used this device as a secondary device during the review period, the battery lasted 4 days for me, with around 6 hours of SOT on average.
While this phone supports 18W fast charging, Nokia included a 10W charging adapter in the box, probably because of the price segment. While charging from zero, charging this beast with a 10W charger can take up to 2 hours; I would instead recommend buying a branded 18W charger from outside to take the benefit of the fast charging it offers. A PD-supported adapter can also be used for fast charging this device. Charging the phone for a more extended period or leaving it to charge overnight did not result in the phone getting hot, so that’s another assurance for many who have the same habit of charging the phone overnight.
Nokia G21 Review: Verdict
The Nokia G21 is certainly a better device compared to its predecessor. HMD is taking the right steps in offering a device with the right specs with longer battery life and a better display. The inclusion of the 90Hz refresh rate speaks a lot about the brand listening to the consumers’ feedback and acting on it. If you’re looking for a phone with near-stock experience, want no annoying injected ads (like how Xiaomi or Samsung does), a smooth display, excellent battery life & solid build quality, Nokia G21 could be an ideal choice for you.