Nokia G21: The Nokia G21 arrives just under a year after the G20 arrived on the scene. As with other manufacturers, the G series is home to middlemen who focus on affordability and offer a reliable product rather than chasing gimmicks.
The G21 is a herald of a new design language for the company. Earlier models featured a centered circular camera, what was once affectionately called an “Oreo”. This model changes to a rounded rectangular bulge that is bent at the corner.
It’s not a totally groundbreaking design, but it feels like a novelty after a few years with the Oreo look. Unfortunately, the “let’s try something new” attitude doesn’t apply to the rest of the phone.
Nokia G21 Speacifition
Before getting into that, we should congratulate the phone where it deserves. HMD has been pretty conservative with its chipset selection. Even the Nokia X100 and G300, which are as tall as Nokias today, use a Snapdragon 480 chipset. The G21 opts for a Unisoc T606. While Unisoc chips don’t like the hype of, say, a Dimensity, this one is pretty competent.
Admittedly, part of what makes it stand out is that the Nokia G20 had an Helio G35 chipset with eight Cortex-A53 cores. For context, the A53 was announced in 2012 and was replaced by the A55 in 2017. The T606’s two Cortex-A75 cores are also from 2017, but they are “large” cores, offering far superior performance. Even the six A55 cores paired with the A75s are faster and more energy-efficient than their predecessors.
Nokia G21 Display
Another plus point is that the 6.5” LCD has been upgraded to a 90 Hz refresh rate. This makes the user interface smoother, which is important for how fast a smartphone feels no matter what the benchmarks do. say. Also, the phone comes with the Widevine level needed to stream Netflix HD videos, so you should see a noticeable improvement in picture quality while watching a new show.
We also praise the HMD for using a triple card slot – which is enough for two phone lines and an extension of memory. Plus, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, which makes high-quality, low-latency sound affordable at a low price.
This is where we start to run out of praise. The 6.5-inches screen has a resolution of 720p+, the same as the G20. A 1080p+ display would be a good reason to recommend this phone – such displays are very common in this price range, but there are a few options.
You can point out that Nokia comes with a clean Android, unlike Galaxy and Redmi (but not unlike Motorola). Sure, but HMD decided to pre-install ExpressVPN and Spotify, which isn’t a great look if you’re looking for purity.
A bigger concern is that the phone will arrive with Android 11. HMD promises 2 years of OS updates, so this should see Android 13. For example, Nokia X10 and X20 launched in June 2021 with Android 11 and were updated to 12 in December. If HMD keeps up that pace, the G21 will be running Android 12 by the end of the year. And then Android 13 next year and that’s probably it. Okay, most phones in this price range aren’t running Android 12 yet, but it doesn’t look like the HMD has an edge here either.
The new 50MP camera is a standout feature of the phone, but surprisingly there is little detail on the sensor and lens. Instead, HMD focused on Super Resolution and Night Mode features. Let’s test for ourselves how well they work, but that might not distract us enough to notice what’s missing.
The Nokia G20 had an ultrawide camera – with a 5MP sensor, it wasn’t great or anything, but it was there. The Nokia G21 camera only has a macro camera and a depth sensor next to the main module. We would do an ultrawide over either (or both) of them any day of the week.
Another not very complete upgrade is the battery. The 5,050mAh capacity is plenty and the HMD promises 3 days of battery life. That sounds great – and it is, but the G20 had the same capacity and the same promise to last 3 days between charges.
The real update is that the phone supports 18W fast charging now (USB Power Delivery 3.0). However, it only ships with a 10W charger, so you’ll need to supply your own. It is very likely that you already have an 18W charger, but the 10W will be in the drawer. And if you don’t have an 18W charger, that’s not an upgrade for you (it’s not free anyway).
Nokia G21 Pricing (expected)
Speaking of price, the Nokia G21 starts at €170, €10 more than the G20. This is a precarious spot as just €10-30 more could buy a more capable phone. For example, a Redmi 10 costs €10 more and does 90 Hz at 1080p+. A Moto G31 and a Galaxy M21 2021 are in the same price category and have 1080p+ AMOLED panels. You can even buy a 5G phone for €200 or a little less and that’s beyond the capabilities of the Unisoc T606.
Depending on where you live, the Nokia G21 might seem under-specified for its price, or it might be one of the few phones under €200 with a solid battery and real commitment to the manufacturer’s software support. If that’s the case, check back in a little while to see how it performs in our tests.