Nokia G21 Review: Good Budget Phone for Casual use

Nokia G21 is a recently launched budget smartphone from HMD Global. It claims three days of battery life and promises to come with Android updates for the next two years. A high refresh rate display has also been given in the phone, which is now becoming common in phones below 15 thousand.

There is fierce competition from Redmi, Realme, and Samsung in this segment, and companies are competing to outdo each other by offering something better. The phone stands in the market on the basis of Android One and battery capacity. So would you choose to go with the Nokia G21 while buying a low-budget phone? Here is my review.

Nokia G21 Price in India

The base variant of the Nokia G21 with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage starts at Rs 12,999. Its second variant comes with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB storage, which costs Rs 14,999. The company has introduced it in two finishes – Nordic Blue and Dusk.

Design of Nokia G21

While most smartphones try to come with a glossy finish in the budget segment, the Nokia G21 seems a bit outdated here. It has a textured back panel which is made of plastic like the rest of the phone. But it prevents fingerprints. Along with the phone, the company also gives a case in the box. In the back panel, the square camera module has been given in the top left corner, which does not feel too protruding.

Keeping with the recent design trends, the Nokia G21 has been given flat sides. The corners are curved, so it doesn’t prick in the hand while holding it. The phone has a side mounted fingerprint scanner which is given in the power button. On the same side, there is a volume button slightly above.

The dedicated Google Assistant button has been given on the other side and the SIM tray has been given place. It’s 3.5mm audio jack is given on the top of the phone, while the USB Type C port and speaker are given at the bottom. The Nokia G21 has a 6.5-inch display with an aspect ratio of 20: 9, and has HD+ resolution. It comes with a dewdrop notch which is common in a phone in this price range. The display has a heavy chin at the bottom. Overall the phone seems to be quite strong.

Specifications and software of Nokia G21

The specifications of the phone are quite simple. It is powered by Unisoc T606 SoC which is an entry-level octa-core chipset. It has two ARM Cortex-A75 performance cores and 6 ARM Cortex-A55 efficiency cores. All are clocked at 1.6GHz. The Nokia G21 sports an HD+ display with a refresh rate of 90Hz and a maximum brightness of 400nits. It also has a dedicated microSD card slot to expand the storage.

For connectivity, this smartphone has Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, NFC, and three satellite navigation systems. The battery capacity is 5,050mAh with support for 18W fast charging. The company provides a 10W charger with the phone.

The Nokia G21 runs on Android 11 and comes with the Android One program. This means that you will get the stock Android experience and Android OS updates for two years. The absence of Android 12 is a problem here because most phone makers are now offering only Android 12 devices. My unit had an Android security patch for May 2022. The UI is clean but still, I got apps like ExpressVPN, LinkedIn, Netflix, and Spotify pre-installed. They can also be removed.

Many gesture features are available on the phone, due to which some work gets done quickly. For example, there is a double tap to wake up the screen, flip the phone to reject a call, and double tap the power button to turn on the camera. Apart from this, many other gestures have been given. It also has stock Android features like Digital Wellbeing so that you can track your usage habits.

Nokia G21 Performance and Battery Life

Nokia G21 performs well according to the price. It handles casual games and apps seamlessly. However, more heavy games and apps take time to load. A little multitasking can be done with the 6 GB RAM variant, but it does not get the RAM extension feature which can be useful in the 4 GB variant. The side-mounted fingerprint scanner is quick to unlock the phone. HD+ display quality is average. FullHD Plus displays are now coming in this segment, so some people may be disappointed.

The benchmark scores of the phone will give you an indication of the user experience. The phone scored 198,068 points on AnTuTu. It scored 306 and 1221 points respectively in Geekbench 5’s single and multi-core tests. It scored 34fps and 8.8fps in GFXBench’s T-Rex and Car Chase tests. These scores were on par with budget smartphones such as the Redmi 10 Prime and Samsung Galaxy F22, which fall in the same price range.

Talking about gaming, the phone performed very averagely in games like Call of Duty: Mobile. By default, it was on Low and Medium frame rate settings. The game took a while to load and I also noticed some issues with the rendering of things inside the game. I played the game for 15 minutes but the battery went down by only 2 percent, which is a good thing. By the end of the game session, the phone got a little hot.

In terms of battery level, Nokia G21 has come a long way. Thanks to the economical processor and big battery, the phone lasted for two days in my normal use. In the HD video loop test, the phone lasted 20 hours and 4 minutes, which is a good time. The 10W charger charges very slowly and is only 23 percent charged in half an hour. It was charged 45 percent in one hour. It took 2 hours to get fully charged. Taking an 18W charger would be beneficial here.

Nokia G21 Camera

The Nokia G21 has a triple rear camera setup. It has a 50-megapixel primary camera, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth camera. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel shooter. The camera app is pretty basic and there are different shooting modes you can choose from. The 50-megapixel primary camera clicks photos in 12.5-megapixels by default.

The primary camera takes good photos in daylight which looks good on the phone’s display. When zooming, the details get reduced. In landscape mode, a watercolor-like effect was seen in the photo. In high brightness, the phone quickly enables HDR mode, which improves dynamic range.

The close-up shots of the phone camera came out quite well. Photos were not good in portrait mode. Here the camera was taking 5 seconds with each photo, so it was getting difficult to take photos of the pets. Photos with average details came from its macro camera.

The camera performs average in low light. Things are recognizable but details were missing in the dark parts of the frame. There was some improvement with Night Mode but it was taking 6 seconds to take a photo in which I had to stand still without moving to stop the blur.

Selfies taken in day-light and low-light with the selfie camera were good. Edge detection was good in portrait mode and background blur was well managed.

Talking about video recording, the Nokia G21 can capture 1080p video from the rear camera. There is no stabilization in it, due to which the footage is recorded shaking. Overall its camera performance is average. Had there been a wide-angle camera, a lot could have been done with it.

Our Decision

The Nokia G21 is an Android One smartphone that delivers the stock Android experience, with the promise of software updates for up to two years. Its build quality and battery life are both good. It will be liked by the ordinary user who wants a simple and clean Android interface. Power users might not be impressed by its low power. Camera performance was also low according to me.

If you ignore some of its flaws, then the Nokia G21 is a reliable device for general use, which is not seen much in this price range. If you want more performance in this price, then you can look at Realme 9i or Moto G51. If you are going towards its 6GB variant, then you can also see Redmi Note 10T 5G.

Sunil Kumar writes about smartphones and laptops for Gadgets 360 Tech News based out of Mumbai. He is Deputy Editor (Reviews) at Gadgets 360 Tech News. He has written frequently about the smartphone and PC industry and has an interest in photography as well.

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